A rab traders had visited the western coast of India since 712 AD, but it was not until the 11th century that the Muslims began to make themselves felt. In 1001, Arab armies invaded through the Khyber pass. Led by Mahmud of Ghazi, they raided just about every other year for 26 years straight. When they returned home after each raid, they left behind ruined cities and devastated armies. After this period, the Muslims did not return again for about 150 years. They returned again in 1192 under Mohammed of Ghor. Ghor s armies destroyed the Buddhist temples of Bihar and by 1202 had conquered the most powerful Hindu kingdoms along the Ganges. At his death in 1206, Ghor had conquered the far north of India from the Sultanate of Delhi. Turkish kings ruled this area until 1397, when the Mughals invaded under Timur Lang (Tamerlane) and ravaged the entire region.
Islamic India fragmented after the brutal devastation Timur Lang left in Delhi, and it was every Muslim strongman for himself. This would change in 1527, however, when the Mughal (Mongol) monarch Babur came into power. Babur was a complicated, enlightened ruler from Kabul who loved poetry, gardening, and books. In 1526 Afghan princes in India asked for his help. He conquered the Punjab and quickly asserted his own claim over them by taking Delhi. This was the foundation of the Mughal dynasty, whose six emperors would comprise the most influential of all the Muslim dynasties in India.
Babur died in 1530, leaving behind an ineffectual son, Humayun. However, Humayun's own son, Akbar, would be the greatest Mughal ruler of all. Akbar, unlike his grandfather, was more warrior than scholar, and he extended the empire as far south as the Krishna river. Akbar tolerated local religions and even married a Hindu princess, thus establishing a tradition of cultural acceptance that greatly contributed to the success of the Mughal rule. In 1605, Akbar was succeed by his son Jahangir, who passed the expanding empire along to his own son Shah Jahan in 1627.
Although he spent considerable time subduing Hindu kingdoms to the south, Shah Jahan left behind the colossal monuments of the Mughal empire, including the Pearl Mosque, the Royal Mosque, the Red Fort, and the Taj Mahal (tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal). Jahan's campaigns in the south and his extravagant architecture necessitated increased taxes. This disturbed his subjects and, in 1658, Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurungzebe, who sought power for himself.
Unlike his ancestors, Aurungzebe wished to eradicate local Hindu traditions. His intolerance prompted fierce local resistance. Though he expanded the empire to include nearly the entire Indian subcontinent, Aurungzebe could never totally subdue the Mahrattas of the Deccan, who resisted him until his death in 1707. Aurungzebe's three sons disputed over succession, and the Mughal empire crumbled, just as European imperialism was commencing.
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