Urban formation and cultural transformation in Mughal India


  • Rukhsana Iftikhar Punjab University




India was comprised of many villages before the arrival of Muslim. Those Muslim invaders, who conquered India and established their rule, essentially belonged to the urban ruling classes. In early Turkish Empire (1206 – 1266), ruling classes have developed numerous urban centres across India. In Muslim period, Iqta system provided opportunities to Turko – Afghan communities to have luxurious life style which provoked skill workers, artisan and architect to migrate from villages to urban centres. Early towns and cities flourished around the military garrison. These towns also emerge as cultural centers with the passage of time. Early cities like Daultabad, Fatehpur Sikri and Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) were royal capital cities. Some of the major cities like Kabul, Agra, Allahabad, Lahore and Multan were developed near major road (Grand Trunk Road). Many towns like Dholpur, Jodhpur, Sirohi, Asirgarh and Ajmer were inhabited near non metalled roads . European travelers also narrated the glory and significance of these cities and towns in their accounts. They compared Indian cities with Europe, like Fatehpur Sikri was larger than London and Delhi was not less urbanized than Paris. These urban centers were not only the administrative units but also considered as cultural centers in Mughal State. Emperors sometimes generated the economic activities in these urban centers. Many factories in Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri supplied many precious articles in the King’s wardrobe. People brought their masterpieces in the capital cities just to get the acknowledgement of kings and nobles. This paper analyzes the development of major urban centers in the period of Mughals (most illustrated dynasty of the Muslim civilization). It also highlights the cultural transformation of Muslims under the influence of native rulers. It also deals with the mediatory classes which were so powerful in these urban centers. These classes paved a way for English rule in India.Urbanization was its zenith in the age of great Mughals. Many of the Mughal cities like Delhi, Agra,Ahmadabad, Benaras and Cambay are still survived and having a rich culture of cosmopolitan cities. ( It is an oral presentation.)


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How to Cite

Iftikhar, R. (2016). Urban formation and cultural transformation in Mughal India. International Planning History Society Proceedings, 17(1), 319–329. https://doi.org/10.7480/iphs.2016.1.1363