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Inspired by the universal great empires, in the Mughals' splendid cities, peoples of many traditions mingle under monuments of grand design.

Descendants of the Turkish-Mongol conqueror Timur, the Mughal emperors dominated first the north then the majority of India in the second half of the 16th century. This dynasty of great builders, celebrated for the splendor of its monuments, developed a sophisticated architectural style over the centuries that blended central Asian styles and cultures.

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After being pushed out of Samarkand by the Uzbek invaders, Babur, as King of Kabul, conquered the Delhi Sultanate and founded the Mughal Dynasty between 1525 and 1529. His empire’s territory originally stretched from Punjab to Bengal and was expanded by his successors to finally encompass the entire Indian subcontinent. The long reigns of Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb (1556–1707) saw the rise of a potent and prosperous Muslim power that constituted the height of the empire’s rise. The opulence of these states at this time is reflected in the variety and profusion of monuments built for their emperors and other members of the court. The empire’s cities were bestowed with grand mosques, fortresses, and palaces. While located in Agra for many years, the capital city was eventually transferred in 1636 to a new city called Shahjahanabad, located in the Delhi area. Characterized by its monumental proportions and shapes, Mughal architecture blends the different styles developed in Samarkand, Persia, and northern India. Despite their southward expansion, central Asia remained a powerful image for these rulers: they chose Mughal as their name in memory of the universal Mongol and Timur empires. Their dynasty opened up these territories to Indian merchants who established bustling outposts in Afghanistan, Persia, Caucasia, and all the way to the provinces of the Russian Empire. Business on these trade routes allowed India to capture a large part of the immense flow of silver coming out of New Spain, which was being put into circulation by Dutch merchants.

Did you know?

Emperor Shah Jahan is responsible for some of the most famous monuments of the Mughal period. With a passion for architecture, he commissioned the second Shalimar Gardens, the Red Fort, and the Taj Mahal.