Mughal Conquest of Bengal

The conquest of the independent Indian state of Bengal by Mughal forces ensured the continued growth and economic prosperity of the flourishing Mughal Empire.

Summary of Event

Bengal, which recognized Mughal emperor Akbar’s government before 1572, also sent regular tribute to Akbar. Akbar’s relatively stable rule of Bengal ended, however, with the death of Sultan Sulaiman Karrani in 1573 and the accession of his youngest son, Daud Khan, who had ordered a reading of the khuṭba (an Islamic sermon), naming him ruler. Also, Daud Khan besieged Zamaniya, a frontier stronghold of Akbar. He was adequately equipped to do so, given his 140,000 infantry, 40,000 cavalry, 20,000 pieces of artillery, 3,600 elephants, and hundreds of war boats. Bengal;Mughal conquest of
Mughal Empire
Daud Khan Karrani
Munim Khan

Akbar attempted to deal with Daud remotely because he was then occupied with the Rājputs and Gujaratis. Munim Khan, governor of Jaunpur, was ordered to march against Daud. Munim did so, meeting him at Patna, but instead of battling, they made peace. Munim met his old friend Ludi Khan, Daud’s prime minister, and began negotiations. They came to a generous peace agreement; unfortunately, neither Daud nor Akbar was happy with the terms. Daud killed Ludi and confiscated his property. Akbar, however, realized that it would not be advantageous to lose a valuable governor and general in his new empire, so Munim was given a second chance and again was ordered to attack Daud’s forces.

Following the above directive, Munim Khan laid siege to Patna, where Daud had taken shelter. Munim realized that Daud’s forces offered a fairly strong defense, and he appealed to Akbar for reinforcements. In 1574, Akbar marched against Daud, reinforced by the generals Todar Mall and Man Singh. Akbar attacked Hajipur, the supply source of the forces at Patna, which was on the opposite bank of the Ganges River. Hajipur was captured easily, and it was only a slightly greater feat when Akbar subdued Patna shortly thereafter. Akbar decided that his work was done, appointed Munim governor of Bihar Bihar and Bengal, left General Todar Mall to assist Munim, and then returned toĀgra, instructing Munim to continue the onslaught against Daud with an army of twenty thousand.

Munim continued to advance toward Bengal Bengal , capturing what was then its capital, Tanda, on September 25, 1574, and also controlling Satgaon, an important port and cultural center. Daud retired feebly into Orissa, but Munim and Todar followed him. Daud prepared for battle by digging trenches in Hajipur and building a defensive wall. By this time, his armies had been reduced significantly and had few reserves on which to draw, whereas the Mughal forces remained strong and had plenty of relief soldiers.

The armies met at Tukaroi on March 3, 1575, the beginning of the Bengali summer, well before the monsoon period and after the pleasant winter. Tukaroi was a river village that formed the border between Orissa and West Bengal. Initially, it seemed that victory would belong to Daud. Munim Khan had to retreat but was pursued by Gujar Khan; several officers in the Mughal army were killed. Ultimately, however, Daud was defeated and fled Tukaroi for refuge at the fort of Katak.

Katak was easy to locate. The Mughal forces laid siege to the fort soon after, and Daud surrendered on April 12, 1575, signing the Treaty of Katak. The terms of the treaty required Daud Khan to cede both Bengal and Bihar to the Mughals, but it did allow him to keep the far-less-lucrative Orissa.

For six months, Munim Khan attempted to create a moderately tepid regime in Bengal and Bihar, and Daud remained under control in Orissa. However, once Munim Khan was killed by plague in October, 1575, Daud redoubled his rebellion and fomented conflict in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. Daud reconquered the lands as far as Teliagarhi, which was then the northwestern limit of Bengal and an important pass for travel. Thus Daud again was the lord of western and northern Bengal

When word reached Akbar, he appointed Husain Quli Beg governor of Bengal, titled him Khan-i Jahan, and ordered him to attack Daud. Khan-i Jahan, supported by Todar Mall, advanced on Tanda, Daud’s capital. Geography worked in Daud’s favor, as he was able to block their route through the narrow Rajmahal pass between the Ganges on the northwest and the hills on the southeast. Khan-i Jahan first met Daud’s forces at Teliagarhi and was victorious, taking possession of the pass and using it to enable continued mobility. Daud and the other Karranis, however, continued to resist the Mughals from Orissa. Khan-i Jahan promptly marched toward Rajmahal. Daud’s forces fought the Mughals at Rajmahal on July 12, 1576. Finally, Daud was captured and executed, resulting in triumph for the Mughals but disorganization for the rebels. The victory also ensured there would be no resistance to the Mughals’ consolidation of power.


Bengal’s prosperity, one of the richest regions of India because of its agriculture, helped to fund Mughal expansion. In addition, by 1580, the Portuguese had established a settlement in the region under Akbar’s approval, and so, in addition to agrarian productivity, Bengal offered economic and political gain through trade with the Europeans.

It was clear that the possession of Bengal was integral to the growth and prosperity of the Mughal Empire, so quelling rebellions, whether they were the products of Karrani resistance to Mughal overlords or jealous factionalism within the Mughal Empire, was essential to the continued central strength of Akbar’s empire. Bengali remoteness and relative discontent under Mughal rule, however, made the region an excellent bridgehead of the British Empire in India, leading to the establishment of British East India Company rule beginning in 1757.

Further Reading

  • Eaton, Richard M. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1706. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Part of the Comparative Studies on Muslim Societies series, this work identifies Bengal as a “frontier” for the spread of Islam into India, and as a frontier of ideas and nationhood.
  • Gommans, Jos. Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and Highroads to Empire, 1500-1700. New York: Routledge, 2003. Offers a superb overview of the Mughal Empire’s military methods of conquest, concentrating particularly on Akbar, whose reign afforded the greatest expansion.
  • Sarkar, Jadunath. The History of Bengal. Delhi, India: B. R., 2003. Part of a multivolume history of Bengal, volume 2 examines Bengal under Islamic rule prior to the British takeover. Sarkar includes a discussion of the tumultuous transfer of power from Daud Khan to Mughal rule.

1540-1545: Shēr Shāh Sūr Becomes Emperor of Delhi

1556-1605: Reign of Akbar

Feb. 23, 1568: Fall of Chitor

1580-1587: Rebellions in Bihar and Bengal

Feb., 1586: Annexation of Kashmir