A "Subah" is a province of the former Mughal Empire. The governor of a "subah" was known as a "subahdar", which later became "subedar" to refer to an officer in the Indian Army. The "subahs" were established by the emperor Akbar during his administrative reforms of 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.


Initially, after the administrative reforms of Akbar, the empire was divided into 12 subahs: Kabul, Lahor, Multan, Delhi, Agra, Avadh, Illahabad, Bihar, Bengal, Malwa, Ajmer and Gujarat. After the conquest of Deccan, three more subahs were created: Berar, Khandesh (initially named Dandesh in 1601) and Ahmadnagar (in 1636 renamed as Daulatabad and subsequently as Aurangabad). At the end of Akbar’s reign, the number of subahs was 15, which was increased to 17 during the reign of Jahangir. Orissa was created as a separate subah out of Bengal. The number of subahs increased to 22 under Shah Jahan.Mahajan, V.D. (1991, reprint 2007). "History of Medieval India", Part II, New Delhi: S. Chand, ISBN 81-219-0364-5, p.236n] 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 1629 and Delhi became Shahjahanbad in 1648. [Habib, I (2003). "The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556-1707", New Delhi: Oxford University Press, ISBN 019 565595 8, pp.8n, 451] . 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) and Golkonda (1687) as new subahs. There were 21 subahs during his reign.Mahajan, V.D. (1991, reprint 2007). "History of Medieval India", Part II, New Delhi: S. Chand, ISBN 81-219-0364-5, p.236n] These were Kabul, Kashmir, Lahore, Multan, Delhi, Agra, Avadh, Illahabad, Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, Malwa, Ajmer, Gujarat, Berar, Khandesh, Aurangabad, Bidar, Thatta, Bijapur and Haidarabad (Golkonda). [Habib, I (2003). "The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556-1707", New Delhi: Oxford University Press, ISBN 019 565595 8, p.4] During the reign of Bahadur Shah, Arcot became a Mughal subah in 1710.

ubahs of the Mughal Empire

"'Akbar's original 12 "subahs":
* Kabul (Kashmir added 1586)
* Lahore
* Multan
* Ajmer
* Gujarat (capital Ahmedabad)
* Delhi
* Agra
* Malwa (capital Ujjain)
* Awadh or Oudh (capital Lucknow)
* Allahabad
* Bihar (capital Patna)
* Bengal (capital Rajmahal)

later "subahs", with date established:
* Berar (1596) ceded by Ahmednagar (capital Ellichpur).
* Khandesh (1601) (capital Burhanpur)
* Ahmednagar (partial conquest 1601; conquest completed 1635)
* Bijapur (1684)
* Golconda (1687) (capital Hyderabad)
* Vijayanagar (1687) (capital Penukonda)



* Keay, John (2000). "India: a History". Grove Press, New York.
* Markovits, Claude (ed.) (2004). "A History of Modern India: 1480-1950". Anthem Press, London.

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