Essay on Modern South Asia

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Answer one (and only one!) of the following questions in research essay format
(1200-2000 words or between 5-10 pages; double-spaced; 12 point font)

Note: Please cite your sources as footnotes or endnotes. You may use material from the internet,
but it is restricted to 20 percent of your total sources. Internet material must be supported with
citations to it, web addresses, and access dates. If you do not know how to cite information in
footnotes, endnotes, or the equivalent please let me know. Please ensure that material from the
web is accurate! Do this by comparing it with the written record. Also, please make use of the
readings on the thumb drive for this project which are also your class readings. I underline
things that are important and things on which your essay will be graded.
1. Discuss the varieties of ‘humanism’ which may be excavated from the memoirs of
Zahiruddin Babur, the Babur-nāmah.
2. Explore the links and the references to the Timurid legacy of the first three Mughal
3. The Emperor Humayun is often marginalized in Mughal studies. Discuss why and
possible avenues down which Mughal scholars may travel to rectify this situation.
4. From the perspective of orthodox Muslim ulema in the court of Akbar perhaps the most
damaging act on the emperor’s part was the organization of the Dīn-i-Illāhī. What was
this institution in your opinion: a religion? a personality cult? a shrewd political
stratagem? a combination of some or all three? What was the history which led to its
formation and on what previous precedents did Akbar probably base it? Keep in mind as
you think through your essay the enchanted Mughal universe about which we have been
5. The city of Fatehpur Sikri is a masterpiece of Akbar’s political and dynastic ideology (i.e.
the Akbari Constitution). Describe the city and explain how such ideologies are manifest
in the placement and architecture of its buildings. The weight of your grade will be on
bringing out the symbolism of the city and its buildings and how these figured in Akbar’s
political stratagem (that is please do not simply discuss the buildings which is a sure way
to fail the assignment).

6. By the time we come to the 1570s Akbar and his courtiers have instituted a style of
courtly and regal comportment and behavior that is today legendary. Discuss this by
providing examples and the underlying meaning behind this symbolism.


Describe the city of Fatehpur Sikri and explain how such ideologies are manifest in the placement and architecture of its buildings.

Akbar the Great

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Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar was a third Mughal Emperor. He reigned from the period of 1556 to 1605. He was the successful general with a strong personality and he enlarged the Mughal Empire and included the Indian Subcontinent from north of Godavari river. Akbar’s influence and power extended over a country due to the Mughal political, economic, military and cultural dominance. He was accorded as “the Great” due to his accomplishments. He also established a centralized system during his empire. He adopted the policies which won his support for the non-Muslims. Akbar was the patron of culture and art. He liked literature and also created library over 24,000 volumes that were written in Urdu, Greek, Arabic, Latin, Kashmiri and Persian.

In Fatehpur Sikri, he established the library for women. His courts at Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Delhi, became the centers of letters, learning and arts. Akbar’s reign also influenced the Indian history course. Akbar created a strong and powerful military and effective social and political reforms. He died at the age of 63 in 1605. And he was the son of Humayun and Hamida Banu Begum.

Akbar’s political and dynastic ideology

Akbar was the greatest ruler of Mughal dynasty. The Constitution of Akbar has information about the Akbar’s reign. He was introduced in medieval times and faced great response. He abolished taxes in the year 1564. He was believed on the true religions and support to all the religions and legal the inter-cultural and inter-religious marriages by his marriage.

His father Humayun ruled for many years. Akbar’s records also include unbeaten campaigns of the military which consolidated the Mughal rule in Indian Subcontinent. Akbar’s organizational calibration and skillful structural were based on the authority and military powers of the Mughal army.  He had created the most powerful army of Mughals. Akbar builds Agra with Red Fort along the Jamuna River. E the most sensitive ruler of the Mughal emperies. His ideology was to promote culture and art rather than the destruction. He took an interest in painting style of European that was the different one at that time from Eastern style. His ideology was basically based on the humanness. He was considered to be the different ruler but he was the most effective one too. Akbar supported Hinduism and expression for their religious and cultural climate. (Moosvi, 2017)

During his ruler period, he combined the elements of Hindu, Persian and Islamic designs and then sponsored the brightest and best minds people including musicians, philosophers, poets, engineers and artists in his courts at Fatehpur Sikri.

City of Fatehpur Sikri

In the 16th century the city of victory Fatehpur Sikri was seemed to be the capital of Mughal Empire by Akbar. The city was founded in 1571 and was completed in 1610. It was the town in the Agra District of India. Its name was derived from Sikri village. Akbar’s son was also born at Sikri village in 1569. In 1573, Fatehpur Sikri started knowing as “City of Victory” after the victory of Gujarat campaign by Akbar. The city had mosques, tombs and forts which was built by Akbar. (Ali, 2013)

Architectural Significance of Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri was the place from where the architectural styles were converted into some new strain. Akbar planned to build this on the Persian principles, but due to the influences of adopted land had gone through the Indian embellishments. All the building at Fatehpur Sikri were made with red stone. The buildings reflect the influences in regional architectural diverse of Akbar uniquely designed in holistic style. (Jutla, 2012)

The dynastic architecture of the Fatehpur Sikri was the model on the Timurid styles and forms. It is ranked among the best and most visited place in India.  It is connected with Jaipur, Delhi and some other places. That was the masterpiece by Akbar. Fatehpur Sikri counted among architectural legacies of Emperor Akbar. Many beautiful palaces, mosques and halls were located in that city. Some major monuments at Fatehpur Sikri are:

  • Diwan-i-Khas-Hall:

It is popularly called as “Ekstambha Prasada.” It is served as a royal chamber of Akbar. The Hall of the Private Audience is a best distinctive among the buildings at Fatehpur Sikri. The structure has rectangle stores having the flat roof with pillared kiosks that rise over the corners. It occupies a central position with the massive platform of circular stone. Through the platform, a stone radiated bridge along with a diagonal hall connects the galleries that surround the upper portion. Behind all these arrangements, the Emperor wanted to occupy the central position for the gathering of various communities from different religions. There are around four kiosks that are located in the middle of the court. The design is based on the Persian style architecture with precious stones and fine sculpture.

  • Buland Darwaza:

It the most important monuments at Fatehpur Sikri. This gateway has a height of around 54 meters. It is the largest in the world. It was built to commemorate the Gujarat victory of Akbar. It is a main entrance gate to the palace and from Agra it is 43km. In 1575 it was made for celebrating the success of Akbar. It is a blend of Mughal and Persian architecture. (Frail, 2011)

  • Panch Mahal:

This building has five stores. It is situated very close to the Zenana or Harem quarters that is fitting from the functioned palace. The Panch Mahal’s architecture was inspired by the Buddhist temple. It comprised four floors and constructed in the decreasing size. Its ground floor has 84 pillars which support the structure. It is meant for royal ladies shelter and mistresses. At the top story, the panoramic view from there is visible.

  • Jama Masjid

Akbar personally builds Jama Masjid in Fatehpur Sikri. This Mosque also called as Friday Mosque. It designs reflect Iranian architecture. A rectangular Mosque has central nave with the two halls and single dome.  Two chambers in square shapes are crowned with the domes. This mosque shows the transition phase in Islamic art. The architectural elements include Persian elements. The interior of the Masjid is adorned having paintings of a watercolor depicting re stylized designs with a floral touch. Akbar was enthusiastic for this mosque.

  • Birbal Bhawan

It was built as Akbar’s harem in 1571. It was built for the queens. It has the architecture of Mughal type with Persian art. It is carved with the red sandstones columns and arches. It is known and famous for intricate design with domed architecture to keep the building cool in summers. It was near the Jodha Bai Palace. It has the most elegant structure that depicts the Mughal architectural style. It has beautiful greenish lawns and gardens.

  • Tomb of Salim Chisti

This tomb in Fatehpur Sikri was built in the honor for Salim Chisti. In India it is the finest example of the Mughal architecture. It is noted as the religious center for the Muslims. The tomb has 1m high entrance portico. (Mahmood, Denan, & JahnKassim, 2014) The tomb building has marbles screens covered on all the sides. It is carved beautifully and ivory-like appearance. The door is carved with the bears and arabesque patterns from Quran. The painted and carved tomb has the while floor of marble having Quran verses and have a blue background. The white floor has multicolored stones on the tomb chamber.

  • Ankh Micholi Treasury

It is built by Akbar for the romantic believe with women of the harem. The walls of Ankh Micholi has the treasury with gold and silver coins. There are three halls in the building with equal size. The halls have the central court with interconnected corridors. The walls of the building are made of rubble masonry. The gold coins in coffers were kept on the floor with the bags.


The City of Fatehpur Sikri is the masterpiece having world heritage monuments in them by Akbar. It reflects the Akbar political and social ideology in architecture and spatial order. It is a city where Urban planning, urban design and Mughal architecture contributes. The buildings at Fatehpur Sikri are linked with each other by the series of the interlocking courtyards. Akbar was the revolutionary man who established new social orders on equality based for fostering social harmony and unity. The building at Fatehpur Sikri shows the secular and unique approach of Akbar. He made a powerful political and social statements by his urban and architecture design. The city has the world biggest and building buildings made by Akbar. The buildings are too grand that inspires the story of Akbar.



Frail, T. (2011). The Ancient Architecture of Fatehpur Sikri. Simthsonia.

Jutla, R. S. (2012). Fatehpur Sikri: A Utopian Approach to Urban Planning and Design . Journal Articles.

Mahmood, S., Denan, Z., & JahnKassim, S. (2014). Architectcture as a celebration of the multi-culturalism.

Moosvi, S. (2017). Akbar’s enterprise of religious conciliation: The early phase, 1561–1578: Spontaneous or motivated. Sage Journals.


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