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The term Moghul, also spelled Mughals or Mogul, is a cognate to Mongol (cf. “Mongolia”) and refers to descendants of a group known as the Timurids, a group that once inhabited the central Asian area of Mongolia that was famously controlled by Ghengis Khan. They are linguistically related to the Turks, but assimilated Persian culture and the Islamic religion, which they carried to India. Muslim groups first began to acquire areas of northern India, and had established themselves in Delhi by the 12th century. In 1526, Babur the Mughal, a descendant of Genghis Khan, conquered Punjab and began what is known as the Mughal Empire. Culturally, it brought administrative practices, art, architecture and literature, as well as Islam, to India. It is also known for its influence on Indian cooking.
The Mughals were a Turkic-Mongol group whose rule eventually encompassed most of India, beginning in the early 1500s and lasting until the mid 1800s, when the last Mughal emperor was deposed by the British East India Company. They were descendants of the Mongol warriors Timur (Tamerlane) and Genghis Khan. During the Mughal Empire, India flourished as an economic and cultural center with madrassas (Islamic schools) teaching science, philosophy, and languages. India became a center of Islamic culture during Mughal rule.
One of the legacies of their empire is architecture and art. Akbar, for example, was a patron of the arts and constructed the new capital city of Fatehpur Sikri in a style that combined the artistic styles of Iran and Central Asia with those of the Hindus and Muslims in India. Akbar, who might have been illiterate, also commissioned illustrated manuscripts by artists who combined Persian, Muslim, and Hindu traditions in a way that created a new Mughal style. In addition, the Mughals were well known for their construction of gardens in the Persian style. Babur, the first Mughal emperor, built gardens, and this tradition was continued by later emperors.
Later, Shah Jahan constructed many architectural marvels, including the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, and the Lahore Fort. In addition, he commissioned paintings and illuminated calligraphy that were often compiled in albums. The Mughal emperors' patronage of the arts created paintings and book art that are still prized today for their beauty. In addition, the classical musical style developed in the Mughal court is still played in India and is referred to as Dhrupad.
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