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the First Mogul Emperor of India


Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur was born on February 14, 1483, in the kingdom of Farghana, in what is now Uzbekistan. He was a direct descendant of two of history's greatest conquerors -- Genghis Khan and Tamerlane (Timur). He ascended the throne of Farghana at the age of 14, upon the death of his father, Umar Sheikh Mirza.

Babar's reign faced trouble almost from the beginning. Soon after taking the throne, he began a campaign to conquer Samarkand, which had once been Tamerlane's capital. The campaign was unsuccessful, and Babar was forced into exile. He spent two years wandering the wildnerness, gathering followers as he went. In 1504, he and his army crossed the Hindukush into what is now Afghanistan and conquered Kabul. From Kabul, Babar crossed into the Indian subcontinent and laid claim to the Punjab, which had been conquered by Tamerlane one hundred years earlier. He would invade India four more times over the years, with the final battle of conquest being fought at Panipat in 1526, as a result of which he laid claim to the Sultanate of Delhi.

Before Babar could establish what became the Mogul Empire, he first had to consolidate his power in central India. Prior to his arrival most of India was controlled by various Hindu princes, each of which ruled over small independent kingdoms. A number of these princes united under Rana Sanga, the Raja of Mewar, and formed an army against Babar. Fearing that his own men would panic at the sight of such a large force, Babar vowed to never drink again if his army prevailed. The two armies met in the Battle of Kanwaha, fought near Agra, on March 16, 1527. Babar's forces won a decisive victory, and Babar stayed true to his word. Having now completed the conquest of central India, Babar could legitimately claim the title Emperor of Hindustan. He would not get to enjoy his new empire for long, however.

Sometime around 1530, Babar's eldest son Humayun fell seriously ill. In a religious ceremony, Babar is said to have transferred his son's illness to himself, thus sacrificing his own life to save that of his son. As Humayun recovered, Babar's illness grew worse. He died in Agra on December 26, 1530; he was buried at Kabul, as per his wish.

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This page was last updated on December 26, 2018.