A Comprehensive Compendium of History, Culture, Lifestyle and Tourism of Odisha

The Mughals in Odisha


1. Odisha Under Akbar
2. Odisha Under Jahangir
3. Odisha Under Shahajahan
4. Odisha Under Aurangzeb

The Muslim conquest of Odisha created a new chapter in the medieval history of Odisha. Mukundadeva, the last independent Hindu king of Odisha was killed by the Afghans in 1568 A.D. With this the independence of medieval Odisha came to an end. After that the local rulers became mere puppets in the hands of the Afghan Governors of Bengal. However, it was Akbar who defeated these Afghan rulers and established Mughal rule in Odisha.

From 1576 A.D. to 1605 AD., nearly thirty years were spent by the Mughal officers of Bengal to drive away the Afghans from Odisha but they were very much unsuccessful in their mission. Though, after the fall of Daud, Odisha was annexed to Akbar’s empire but Mughal administration could not be implemented effectively in the province till the death of Akbar. With the death of Hussain Quli Khan in 1578 AD. Muzaffar Khan Turbati was appointed as the Governor of Bengal and Mausum Khan Afghan was appointed as the Governor of Odisha.

 The Mughal government now appointed some Afghan Jagirdars in Odisha who were constantly being harassed by Muzaffar Khan. Masum Khan, the administrator of Odisha now got a chance to organise the Afghans of Odisha and became ready to have a show down with Mughals.

Akbar and the Afghan rebels

After regularizing the administration of Odisha, Todarmal returned to Delhi in 1582 AD. In the meanwhile, Khen-i-Azetn was appointed as the Governor of Bengal. Qutlu Lohani, another great supporter of Daud Karrani, now appeared in the political scene and established his authority over Odisha supported by Masum Khan. He advanced towards Hoogly and defeated Muhammad Nizat Khan, the Mughal Fauzdar of the place at Salimabad. On hearing this, Akbar dispatched a vast army at the command of Ktien-i-Azem who proceeded to Katigang to teach a lesson to the Afghan rebels.

Preparation for the war

The Afghan rebels, led by Masum Khan and Qutlu Lohani, met the Mughal army on 27 March, 1583. The Afghans were defeated at the hands of the Mughals. The Afghans now had no alternative but to conclude peace with the Mughals. At this juncture, Khani- Azem was transferred from Bengal as its climate did not suit him and Shahbaz Khan was appointed as his successor. Qutlu Lohani broke the peace treaty with the Mughals and as a natural corollary, a fight took place between Qutlu and the Mughals on 15 July, 1583 A.D. near Burdwan. In this battle, the Afghan commander Bahadur Kuruh was defeated. After that, the Afghans rushed towards Odisha.

Submission of Lohani

In the meanwhile, Akbar sent an army to keep an eye on the frontier of Odisha. Qutlu Lohani organised the Pathans and met the Mughals of Burdwan. Wazir khan led the Mughal army and defeated the Afghan chief. Being defeated, Qutlu Lohani marched towards Jaleswarand there, he surrendered himself before the Mughal army by presenting sixty elephants to the Mughals. T’iat situational surrender was diplomatic strategy by Qutlu Lohani. After regaining strength, the Afghans renewed their attack and plunder over Burdwan. By pursuation of the Mughals, Isa Khan, Masum Khan and other Afghan leaders left the companion of Qutlu Lohani and surrendered to Akbar. Qutlu Lohani enjoyed his days in Odisha unperturbed by Mughal attacks. No doubt, the Mughals had their sway over Bengal but Odisha remained the stronghold of the Afghan Chiefs until it was finally conquered by Man Singh in 1593 A.D.

The Mughal-Afghan Treaty

When Qutlu Khan Lohani was enjoying his days in Odisha, Akbar sent one of his ablest general Raja Man Singh to deal with the Afghans. The march of the imperial army prompted Qutlu Khan to make himself ready for the fight with the Mughals. To that effect, he sent Bahadur Kuruh, an Afghan General. Assisted by Umar Khan, Khwaja Isa and others Bahadur Kuruh inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Mughal army led by Jagat Singh, the son of Man Singh at Raipur. In the meanwhile, Qutlu Khan Lohani breathed his last and his son succeeded him. As he was a weak ruler, his Wazir Khwaja Isa sued for peace with the Mughals which was accepted by Man Singh. The treaty between the Afghans and Mughals was signed on 15 August, 1590 A.D. The terms of the treaty were as follows:
1. The name of the emperor should be used on the coins and the Khutba is to be read in his name.
2. The Afghan ruler of Odisha should be both obedient and loyal vassal of the emperor.
3. Jagannath (at Puri) and its surrounding districts would be ceded to the emperor.

Condition of Raja Ramachandradeva

From the treaty, it appears that it neither satisfied the Afghans nor Ramachandradeva, the then king of Odisha. Very cunningly by influencing Akbar, Man Singh had inserted a clause in the treaty for the protection of the principal Hindu religious institution of Jagannath against any Afghan oppression. This was a diplomatic trick to encourage the support of the Hindus of Odisha towards the benevolent Mughal rule based on the principle of toleration. Then, why Ramachandradeva was not satisfied? It was only because his power and position as the custodian of God Jagannath had not been at all reflected in the treaty. On the other hand, the Mughals became the custodian of God. Of course, the conquest of Odisha by Man Singh never put an end to the Afghan hostility. Now, Khwaja Isa, the Wazir of Nasir Khan, paid allegience to emperorAkbar and ruled for two years according to the terms of the treaty. With his death in 1592 A.D., Nasir Khan, with his followers, captured the temple of God Jagannath defying Mughal authority and seized the crown land of Puri. Undoubtedly, Raja Ramachandradeva backed the Afghans. Again, Man Singh marched with a grand Mughal army to deal with the Afghans. On 10 April,J 592 A.D., a stiff resistance the Mughal army faced from the Afghans on the bank of river Suvarnarekha. However, a determined Mughal army defeated the Afghans and chased them towards Cuttack via Jaleswar and Bhadrak.

Fall of Sarangagarh fort in the hands of the Mughal army

Being hard pressed by the Mughal army, the Afghans could not maintain their stand at Cuttack. Their stronghold, Cuttack fell into the hands of the Mughals. The Afghans fled away to the fort of Sarangagarh. At this juncture, Man Singh first started towards Khurda and Raja Ramachandradeva shut himself at the fort. It was difficult on his part to send any help to the Afghans at Sarangagarh. After a weak resistance, the Afghans surrendered and Sarangagarh fell. Man Singh besieged Khurda Ramachandradeva showed his loyalty at Akbar and made peace with Man Singh in 1593. He was recognised as the ruler of Khurda by Akbar and the protector of the Jagannath temple at Puri. He was offered a rank of a Mansabdar of three thousands and five hundreds. With the surrender of Ramachandradeva in 1593, the Mughal conquest of Odisha was complete and that put an end to the Afghan rule in Odisha. Hence, Odisha permanently formed a part of the Mughal empire till it was conquered by the Marathas.