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Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar (Urdu: جلال الدین محمد اکبر Hunterian Jalāl ud-Dīn Muḥammad Akbar), also known as Shahanshah Akbar-e-Azam or Akbar the Great (14 October 1542 – 27 October 1605),[2][3] was the third Mughal Emperor. He was of Timurid descent; the son of Emperor Humayun, and the grandson of the Mughal Emperor Zaheeruddin Muhammad Babur, the ruler who founded the Mughal dynasty in India. At the end of his reign in 1605 the Mughal empire covered most of northern and central India. He is most appreciated for having a liberal outlook on all faiths and beliefs and during his era, culture and art reached a zenith as compared to his predecessors.

Akbar was 13 years old when he ascended the Mughal throne in Delhi (February 1556), following the death of his father Humayun.[4] During his reign, he eliminated military threats from the powerful Pashtun descendants of Sher Shah Suri, and at the Second Battle of Panipat he decisively defeated the newly self-declared Hindu king Hemu.[5][6] It took him nearly two more decades to consolidate his power and bring all the parts of northern and central India into his direct realm. He influenced the whole of the Indian Subcontinent as he ruled a greater part of it as an emperor. As an emperor, Akbar solidified his rule by pursuing diplomacy with the powerful Hindu Rajput caste, and by marrying Rajput princesses.[5][7]

Akbar's reign significantly influenced art and culture in the country. He was a great patron of art and architecture [8] He took a great interest in painting, and had the walls of his palaces adorned with murals. Besides encouraging the development of the Mughal school, he also patronised the European style of painting. He was fond of literature, and had several Sanskrit works translated into Persian and Persian scriptures translated in Sanskrit apart from getting many Persian works illustrated by painters from his court.[8] During the early years of his reign, he showed intolerant attitude towards Hindus and other religions, but later exercised tolerance towards non-Islamic faiths by rolling back some of the strict sharia laws.[9][10][11] His administration included numerous Hindu landlords, courtiers and military generals. He began a series of religious debates where Muslim scholars would debate religious matters with Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians and Portuguese Roman Catholic Jesuits. He treated these religious leaders with great consideration, irrespective of their faith, and revered them. He not only granted lands and money for the mosques but the list of the recipients included a huge number Hindu temples in north and central India, Christian churches in Goa.

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