Mughal–Safavid War (1649–53)

Mughal–Safavid War (1649–53)

Mughal–Safavid War
Part of Mughal–Persian Wars

The Surrender of Kandahar, a miniature painting from the Padshahnama depicting Persians surrendering keys to the city to Kilij Khan in the year 1638.
Date 1649–1653
Location Afghanistan
Result Safavid victory
Kandahar falls again to the Safavids.
Safavid Empire  Mughal Empire
Commanders and leaders
Abbas II of Persia
Mehrā Khan
Autar Khan
Shah Jahan
Kilij Khan
Murad Baksh
Dara Shikoh
12,000 Zamburak
18,000 Sowars
110 cannons
Casualties and losses
5000 7000

The Mughal–Safavid War of 1649–1653 was fought between the Mughal and Safavid empires in the territory of modern Afghanistan. The war began after a Persian army, while the Mughals were at war with the Janid Uzbeks, captured the fortress city of Kandahar and other strategic cities that controlled the region. The Mughals attempted unsuccessfully to regain the city.


The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan receives Persian Safavid Ambassadors in the year 1636.[1]

The Safavids had territorial claims over Kandahar since the reign of Shah Tahmasp. The overthrown of Humayun, the Mughal Emperor, is known to have gained the support of Shah Tahmasp in return for his permission to allow the Safavids to capture Kandahar. Subsequently, conflicts emerged in the region during the reign of the another Mughal emperor, Jahangir, because most of the populace opposed Safavid rule and often served in the Mughal Army.

The reign of Shah Jahan over the Mughal empire was marked in the northwest by a continuous struggle against the powerful Persians for what is now Afghanistan. In 1639, the armies of Shah Safi of Persia captured Bamyan and it appeared that they would attack Kandahar next. Shah Jahan, assisted by Kamran Khan and Malik Maghdood, had marched on Kandahar and negotiated the surrender from the Persian commander, Ali Mardan Khan, in 1638. He expected the Persians to attempt to regain the city soon and so he ordered that the wall be repaired rapidly while a large Mughal army based in Kabul protected the area. When no Persian attack came, in 1646 the Emperor sent his son, Murad Baksh, to invade Uzbek-controlled Badakhshan. In the following year, Aurangzeb, another son, routed an Uzbek force outside of Balkh and captured the city.[2] Though victorious in the field, the Mughals were unable to secure the conquered territories and Shah Jahan was forced to recall his armies from Badakhshan.


The siege of Kandahar's Safavid garrison in May 1631.

Encouraged by the Mughal reversal in Badakhshan,[3] in the summer of 1648 Shah Abbas II marched from Isfahan with and army of 40,000 and after capturing Bost he laid siege to Kandahar and easily captured it after a brief siege on 22 February 1649.[4] The Mughals attempted to retake the city in 1651 but the arrival of winter forced them to suspend the siege.[4]

Shah Jahan sent Aurangzeb with 50,000 soldiers to recapture it, but although he defeated the Safavids outside the city he was unable to take it.[5] His artillery train proved unable for the task.[6] Aurangzeb attempted to take the fortress city again in 1652. Abdul Aziz, Khan of Bukhara, had entered into an alliance with Shah Abbas and in May 1652, he dispatched 10,000 troops to Kabul in May to harass the Mughal supply lines.[7] Though not strong enough to lift the siege, the Uzbeks endangered a Mughal convoy of 2,000 who were escorting one and a half million silver coins to the besieger's army at Kandahar.[7] After two months of fighting Persian resistance[6] and the growing activities of the Uzbeks,[4] Aurangzeb was forced to abandon the campaign.

In 1653 Shah Jahan sent his favorite son, Dara Shikoh, with a large army and two of the heaviest artillery pieces of the empire,[5] but after a five-month siege the Mughals couldn't manage to starve the city, and the attempt to breach their walls by cannon fire also failed.[5] The Mughals finally gave up all attempts to recover Kandahar.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Abdul Hamid Lahori (1636). "Shah Jahan Receives Persian Ambassadors". Padshahnama. 
  2. ^ Chandra 2005, p. 226
  3. ^ Cambridge 1986, p. 299
  4. ^ a b c Iranica
  5. ^ a b c Chandra 2005, p. 228
  6. ^ a b c Kohn 2007, p. 338
  7. ^ a b Burton 1997, p. 266