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Explained: 700 plus countries in India bearing Moghal names today

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Written by ZEESHAN SHAIKH, Edited by Desplained Desk | Mumbai |

Updated: September 15, 2020 12:42:55 PM


uttar pradesh, mughals, yogi adityanath mughals, mughal museum, mughal museum in agra, renamed mughal museum, yogi adityanath in mughal museum, indian expressAn interpretation of the Mughal Museum in Agra. The museum, under construction, was designed by Studio Archohm in partnership with David Chipperfield Architects. (Source: archohm.com)

Questioning “how Mughals can be our heroes”, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday (September 14th) decided to appoint The next “Mughal Museum” in Agra after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

An official spokesman said the Adityanath government stood for nationalist ideology and “everything that falls into the submissive mentality will be exterminated”.

“How can our heroes be swamps?” said the spokesman. “Shivaji’s name itself will bring a sense of nationalism and self-worth.”

How strong is the Moghal settlement throughout India?

Mughal rule (1526-1857) is inextricably intertwined with the history and culture of India. In addition to the historical monuments they have left behind, the most visible legacy of their rule today is in the various towns and villages across India that bear their names.

Of the 6 lakh cities, towns and villages that make up the country, up to 704 bear the name of the first six Mughal emperors, i.e., Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb.

The empire was at its strongest during the period from the rise of Akbar to the throne in 1556 and the death of Aurangzeb in 1707. The dynasty was founded by Babur, who defeated the Sultan of Delhi Ibrahim Lodhi in the first battle of Panipat in 1526 and decided on four upcoming years. Babur’s son Humayun lost control of the kingdom during a period of unrest, which saw the Afghan Sur dynasty settle over a very large part of North India from about 1540 (when Sher Shah Suri defeated Humayun at the Battle of Kannauj) until 1555- 56

uttar pradesh, mughals, yogi adityanath mughals, mughal museum, mughal museum in agra, renamed mughal museum, yogi adityanath in mughal museum, indian express The Prime Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. (Express Photo: Vishal Srivastav)

Which Mughal emperor has the most places named after him?

The most obvious legacy is that of Akbar, who today has 251 villages and towns that bear his name. He is followed by Aurangzeb (177), Jahangir (141), Shahjahan (63), Babur (61) and Humayun (11).

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And where are these places?

Most of these places are in North and Central India, where the heart of the Mughal empire was located.

Among modern Indian states, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 396 of its villages and towns with 1 loop plus bearing the names of the Moghals.

UP is followed by Bihar with 97, Maharashtra 50 and Haryana 39.

Nearly half of these countries bear independent names such as Akbarpur, Aurangabad, Humayunpur and Babarpur; however, there are also syncretic names like Akbar Nivas Khandrika and Damodarpur Shahjahan.

The most common name is Akbarpur, of which there are nearly 70 across the country, followed by Aurangabad, which is the name of 63 countries. (A clear example is the city and district with this name in both Maharashtra and Bihar; the two Aurangabads are also the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha constituencies in these two states.)

What prompted the UP government to rename the museum in Agra after Shivaji?

Since coming to power in 2017, the Adityanath government has renamed several places in the state: the important railway junction Mughalsarai was renamed si Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar, Allahabad and Prayagraj, and Faizabad and Ayodhya. The renaming is in line with Sangh Parivar’s ideological commitment to regain the lost “original” glory of India in pre-Islamic times.

Shivaji’s association with Agra is generally remembered for his spectacular escape from Mughal captivity to the city in 1666. Shivaji was persuaded to visit the Aurangzeb court with promises that he would not be harmed; however, he received a cold reception from the Emperor and a guard was stationed around the building in which he was being held. A few months later, Shivaji and his son made their daring escape, being sent to the guards hidden in baskets, while an assistant who claimed to be him was shot sick inside the building.

The move to place Shivaji’s name on a building in Agra also means an attempt by the BJP to steal a march on its bitter rival Shiv Sena, who, although he had spoken of renaming Aurangabad (Maharashtra) for two decades last, has not been able to do so yet.

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