Shah Jahan (r. 1627–57) pursued a westward expansionist policy, relo-cating his court to Kabul for two years in pursuit of this goal. During the height of Shah Jahan’s reign, the Mughal Empire was the most advanced in the world, the leading light in commerce, culture, and architecture, wealthy beyond the ability to catalog its riches. Among the architectural works created during his reign was the Taj Mahal, the tomb of Jahan’s beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. But Shah Jahan’s reign also marked the beginning of the empire’s decline, signaled by rebellions in lower Sind, the collapse of Mughal rule in the Deccan, and a stagnating economy.
After crippling the agricultural sector by overtaxing farmers, the Mughals began raising taxes on urban enterprises, traders, and artisans. The government entered into trading agreements with European compa-nies to raise revenue. With wealth becoming concentrated and revenues falling, the nobility sought wars as a way of expanding Mughal territory and gaining more revenue, but wars proved increasingly expensive and unsuccessful. Still, the royal court continued in its lavish ways.
One region in which warfare did prove successful was the Deccan, which had slipped from the empire’s grasp since Akbar’s conquests of 1595–1601. Three of the ﬁ ve Deccan Sultanates—Ahmadnagar, Berar, and Bidar—were reabsorbed into the Mughal Empire. The other two, Golkonda and Bijapur, became tribute-paying states.