Akbar whose full name was Jalal-ud-Din Mohammad Akbar was born at Amarkot in Sind when Humayun was running for shelter from place to place.
He was crowned in a small town in Punjab at the age of about thirteen in 1542. As a matter of fact there was no throne or kingdom whose emperor he was declared.
By dint of extra-ordinary courage, hard work and diplomacy and patience he overcame all the challenges he had to face in his early life. Fortunately for Akbar, during his early life, he had an able tutor and guide in Bairam Khan.
Political and economic conditions when Akbar ascended the throne:
Akbar’s kingdom in name only:
Dr. V.S.Smith has very rightly pointed out that Akbar had only a few districts of the Punjab under his control. At the time of the death of his father Humayun in Delhi, Akbar was in Punjab. Delhi was under the control of a Mughal governor Tardi Beg.
Rajput chiefs’ growing power:
The Rajput’s were enjoying independent status in the states of Mewar, Jodhpur, Ranthambore, Kalanjar, Jaisalmer etc.
Power of Afghan chiefs:
Malwa and Gujarat were still in the hands of Afghan chiefs.
Independent states in the West:
Multan and Sind were ruled by independent kings.
Sikander Sur, governor of Punjab wanted to gain independence.
Bihar and Bengal:
Adil Shah was in control of the territory from Bihar to Chunar.
Doab and Sambhal:
Ibrahim Sur, a claimant of the throne of Delhi was occupying the Doab and Sambhal.
Kabul had declared independence.
The states of Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Gol Kunda, Bidar, Berar and Khandesh were absolutely independent. However they were in continuous wars with the Hindu empire of Vijayanagara.
Growing power of Hemu:
Hemu, the Prime Minister of Adil Shah of Bihar was increasing his influence. After the death of Humayun, Hemu captured Agra and Delhi. He very easily defeated the Mughal governor of Delhi and assumed the title of ‘Vikramaditya’ and declared himself as an independent ruler of Delhi.
Miserable financial condition:
The Mughal treasury was empty. A terrible famine was raging in Delhi and Agra.
Difficulties faced by Akbar:
From above it is clear that Akbar had to face very difficult and formidable challenges-both political and financial. He was a ruler in name only. Several governors had declared independence. Afghans were still struggling to regain their power and prestige. Rajput rulers had consolidated their positions. Akbar was still a minor. Financial position of the Mughals was very weak. Akbar was in Punjab when his father Humayun died at Agra.
Territorial expansion of Akbar:
Akbar had inherited a very small territory when he ascended the throne. He was surrounded by enemies from all sides. But he was helped and guided by Bairam Khan for about four years i.e. 1556 to 1560 – the most difficult years for Akbar. Thereafter Akbar himself organised the state of affairs and carried out his policy of conquests and brought almost the entire country under his control.
Following were his major conquests:
1. Conquest of Delhi and Agra (1556).
2. Conquest of Gwalior (1558)
3. Conquest of Ajmer (1560)
4. Conquest of Jaunpur (1960)
5. Conquest of Malwa (1560)
6. Conquest of Chunar (1561)
7. Conquest of Gondwara (1564). Brave defence by Rani Durgawati Jauhar ceremony by the Rani.
8. Conquest of Ranthambhor (1569)
9. Conquest of Kalinjar (1569)
10. Submission of Jodhpur (1570)
11. Submission of Bikaner (1572)
12. Conquest of Gujarat (1572)
13. Conquest of Bihar (1575)
14. Conquest of Bengal (1575)
15. Conquest of Mewar and the battle of Haldighatti (1576) and entire struggle (1568 to 1597)
16. Conquest of Kabul (1585)
17. Conquest of Kashmir (1588)
18. Conquest of Sind (1590)
19. Conquest of Qandhar (1595)
20. Conquest of Deccan (1595-1605)
Chand Bibi of Ahmednagar fought against the Mughals very bravely. But after her death at the hands of her own army, the Mughals established their rule over Ahmednagar.
Akbar invaded Khandesh and captured its capital.
Extent of Akbar’s Empire:
Akbar’s empire was very vast and it extended from Bengal in the east to Afghanistan in the west and from Kashmir in the north to river Godavari in the south. Akbar had divided his vast Empire into 15 provinces.
Abul Fazal in his Ain-i-Akbari has given the following names of Akbar’s provinces:
(5) Ahmedabad (Gujarat)
(12) Malwa and three provinces in the South i.e.
(14) Khandesh and