Fifty miles north of Delhi, a Mughal army defeats the forces of Hemu, a Hindu general who was trying to usurp the Mughal throne from 14-year-old Akbar, the recently proclaimed emperor. The Mughals, whose culture blended Perso-Islamic and regional Indian elements, established an empire in the north of India in the early 16th century. Victory at Panipat assured Akbar’s ascension, but the empire he inherited from his father was greatly diminished after decades of Mughal defeats against the Hindus and Afghans.
Under a series of able regents and then under his own brilliant leadership, Akbar brought the Mughal empire to unprecedented glory, extending Mughal power over most of the Indian subcontinent. Akbar the Great, as he is known, was as capable an administrator as he was a general, and he twice married Hindu princesses to ensure the unity of his empire. Although he never renounced Islam, he took an active interest in other religions and his court was a center of learning and culture. Akbar died in 1605. The Mughal Empire declined in the 18th century.