A Subah was the term for a province (state) in the Mughal Empire. The term was also used by other polities of the Indian subcontinent. The word is derived from Arabic and Persian. The governor/ruler of a Subah was known as a subahdar (sometimes also referred to as a "Subeh"[1]), which later became subedar to refer to an officer in the Indian Army and Pakistan Army. The subahs were established by badshah (emperor) Akbar during his administrative reforms of the years 1572–1580; initially, they numbered 12, but his conquests expanded the number of subahs to 15 by the end of his reign. Subahs were divided into Sarkars, or districts. Sarkars were further divided into Parganas or Mahals. His successors, most notably Aurangzeb, expanded the number of subahs further through their conquests. As the empire began to dissolve in the early 18th century, many subahs became effectively independent or were conquered by the Marathas or the British.

In the modern context, subah (Urdu: صوبہ) is a word used for province in the Urdu language mainly in Pakistan.

History

Initially, after the administrative reforms of Akbar, the Mughal empire was divided into 12 subahs: Kabul, Lahore, Multan, Delhi, Agra, Avadh, Illahabad, Bihar, Bangal, Malwa, Ajmer and Gujarat. After the conquest of Deccan, he created three more subahs there: Berar, Khandesh (initially renamed Dandesh in 1601) and Ahmadnagar (in 1636 renamed as Daulatabad and subsequently as Aurangabad).

Jahangir increased the number of subahs to 17 during his reign; Orissa being carved out of Bangal in 1607. The number of subahs increased to 22 under Shah Jahan.[2] In his 8th regnal year, Shah Jahan separated the sarkar of Telangana from Berar and made it into a separate subah. In 1657, it was merged with Zafarabad Bidar subah. Agra was renamed Akbarabad in 1629 and Delhi became Shahjahanbad in 1648.[3] Kashmir was carved out of Kabul, Thatta (Sindh) out of Multan, and Bidar out of Ahmadnagar. For some time Qandahar was a separate subah under the Mughal Empire but it was lost to Persia in 1648.

Aurangzeb added Bijapur (1686), Sira (1687)[4] and Golkonda (1687) as new subahs. There were 22 subahs during his reign.[2] These were Kabul, Kashmir, Lahore, Multan, Delhi, Agra, Avadh, Illahabad, Bihar, Bangalah, Orissa, Malwa, Ajmer, Gujarat, Berar, Khandesh, Aurangabad, Bidar, Thatta, Bijapur, Sira[4] and Haidarabad (Golkonda).[5] Aurangzeb made Arcot a Mughal subah in 1692.

The Sikh Empire (1799–1849), originating in the Punjab region, also used the term Suba for the provinces it administered under its territorial delineation, of which there were five.[6]

Current usage

In modern usage in Urdu language, the term is used as a word for province, while the word riyasat (Urdu: ریاست) ("princely state" in English) is used for (federated) state. The terminologies are based on the administrative structure of British India which was partially derived from the Mughal administrative structure. In modern times, the term subah is mainly used in Pakistan, where its four provinces are called "Subah" in the Urdu language.

List of Subahs of the Mughal Empire

Akbar's original twelve subahs

The twelve subahs created as a result of the administrative reform by Akbar(Mughal Emperor):

# Subah Capital(s) Year of establishment Year of disestablishment Cause of disestablishment
1 Kabul Subah (Kashmir Sarkar added in 1586) Kabul 1580 1738 Captured by Nader Shah
2 Lahore Subah Lahore 1580 1758 Captured by Raghunath Rao
3 Multan Subah Multan 1580 1756 Captured by Ahmad Shah Durrani
4 Ajmer Subah Ajmer 1580 1758 Captured by Jayappaji Rao Scindia and Ram Singh
5 Gujarat Subah Ahmedabad 1573 1758 Captured by Damaji Rao Gaekwad
6 Delhi Subah Delhi 1580
7 Agra Subah Agra 1580 1761 Captured by Suraj Mal
8 Malwa Subah Ujjain 1568 1743 Captured by Bajirao I and Balaji Baji Rao
9 Awadh Subah Faizabad, later Lucknow 1572 1722 Captured by Saadat Ali Khan I
10 Illahabad Subah Illahabad 1580 1772 Captured by Tukoji Rao Holkar and Visaji Krushna Biniwale
11 Bihar Subah Patna 1576 1765 Captured by Hector Munro
12 Bengal Subah Tanda (1574–95)
Rajmahal (1595–1610, 1639–59)
Dhaka (1610–1639, 1660–1703)
Murshidabad (1703–72)
1576 1765 Captured by Hector Munro

Subahs added after 1593

The subahs which added later were (with dates established):

# Subah Capital Year of establishment Year of disestablishment Cause of disestablishment Emperor
13 Thatta Subah Thatta 1593 1737 Captured by Noor Mohammad Kalhoro Akbar
14 Berar Subah Ellichpur 1596 1724 Captured by Asaf Jah I
15 Khandesh Subah Burhanpur 1601 1760 Captured by Balaji Baji Rao
16 Ahmadnagar Subah
(renamed Daulatabad in 1636)
(further renamed Aurangabad)
Ahmadnagar (1601–1636)
Daulatabad
Aurangabad
1601
(conquest completed in 1636)
1724 Captured by Asaf Jah I
17 Orissa Subah Cuttack 1605 1751 Captured by Raghoji Bhonsle I Jahangir
18 Telangana Subah Nanded 1636 1657 Merged into Bidar Subah Shah Jahan
19 Qandahar Subah Qandahar 1638 1648 Captured by Abbas II
20 Kashmir Subah Srinagar 1648 1752 Captured by Ahmad Shah Durrani
21 Balkh Subah Balkh 1646 1647 Captured by Abd al-Aziz Khan
22 Badakhshan Subah Qunduz 1646 1647 Captured by Abd al-Aziz Khan
23 Bidar Subah Bidar 1656 1724 Captured by Asaf Jah I
24 Bijapur Subah Bijapur 1684 1724 Captured by Asaf Jah I Aurangzeb
25 Golkonda Subah (later Haidarabad) Haidarabad 1687 1724 Captured by Asaf Jah I
26 Sira Subah Sira 1687 1766 Captured by Madhavrao I
27 Arcot Subah Gingee 1692 1710 Captured by Saadatullah Khan I

Gallery

Subahs of the Mughal Empire (North India)
Subahs of the Mughal Empire (South India)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ George Clifford Whitworth. Subah. An Anglo-Indian Dictionary: A Glossary of Indian Terms Used in English, and of Such English Or Other Non-Indian Terms as Have Obtained Special Meanings in India. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. 1885. p. 301.
  2. ^ a b Mahajan, V.D. (1991, reprint 2007). History of Medieval India, Part II, New Delhi: S. Chand, ISBN 81-219-0364-5, p.236n
  3. ^ Habib, I (2003). The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556-1707, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-565595-8, pp.8n, 451
  4. ^ a b Imperial Gazetteer of India: Provincial Series 1908, pp. 175–176
  5. ^ Habib, I (2003). The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556-1707, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-565595-8, p.4
  6. ^ Herrli, Hans (1993). The Coins of the Sikhs. p. 10.

References

Further reading