Relations of Aurangzeb with the Deccani states can be categorized into three phase as −
The First Phase between 1658 and 1668;
The Second Phase between 1668 and 1681;
The Third Phase between 1681 and 1687; and
The Fourth Phase (between 1687 and 1707).
The treaty of 1636, by which Shah Jahan had given one-third of the territories of Ahmednagar state as a bribe for withdrawing support to the Marathas, and promised that the Mughals would “never never” conquer Bijapur and Golconda, had been abandoned by Shah Jahan himself.
In 1657-58, Golconda and Bijapur were threatened with extinction. Golconda had to pay a huge indemnity, and Bijapur had to agree to the surrender of the Nizam Shah’ territories granted in 1636.
After becoming emperor, Aurangzeb had to face two problems viz −
The rising power of Shivaji, and
Persuading Bijapur to part with the territories ceded to it by the treaty of 1636.
In 1657, Kalyani and Bider had been secured. Parenda was secured by bribe in 1660.
Angered by Adil Shah’s attitude of non-cooperation, Aurangzeb ordered Jai Singh to punish both Shivaji and Adil Shah.
Jai Singh was an astute politician. He told Aurangzeb, “It would be unwise to attack both these fools at the same time“.
Jai Singh had suggested that the Maratha problem could not be solved without a forward policy in the Deccan — a conclusion to which Aurangzeb finally came 20 years later.
The campaign for the conquest of the Deccan would be long and arduous and would need the presence of the emperor himself with large armies. But as long as Shah Jahan was alive, Aurangzeb couldn’t afford to go away on a distant campaign.
With his limited resources, in 1665, Jai Singh’s Bijapur campaign was bound to fail. The campaign recreated the united front of the Deccani states against the Mughals, for the Qutb Shah sent a large force to aid Bijapur.
The Deccanis adopted guerilla tactics, luring Jat Singh on to Bijapur while devastating the countryside so that the Mughals could get no supplies. Jai Singh found that he had no means to assault the city, since he had not brought siege guns, and to invest the city was impossible.
In the Deccani campaign, no additional territory was gained by Jai Singh. The disappointment of failure and the censures of Aurangzeb hastened Jai Singh’s death and he died in 1667.
In 1668, the Mughals secured the surrender of Sholapur by bribery.
During the period of 1668 to 1676, the power of Madanna and Akhanna (two brothers of Golconda) had increased. They had virtually ruled Golconda from 1672 to almost till the extinction of the state in 1687.
The brothers had attempted to establish a policy of tripartite alliance among Golconda, Bijapur, and Shivaji. However, this policy was periodically disturbed by faction fights at the Bijapur court, and by the over-weening ambition of Shivaji.
In 1676, Mughals attacked Bijapur and overthrown the Khawas Khan (the regent of Bijapur).
Aurangzeb, further, invited Bahadur Khan and Diler Khan who had good relations with the Afghan faction in Bijapur was placed in command. Diler Khan persuaded the Afghan leader Bahlol Khan to join in an expedition against Golconda.
In 1677, the failure of the Mughal-Bijapur attack was in no small measure due to the firm leadership of Madanna and Akhanna.
In 1679-80, Diler Khan again attempted to seize Bijapur, but failed; probably, because of lack of equipment and forces to fight against the united forces of the Deccani states.
In 1681, when Aurangzeb went Deccan in pursuit of his rebel son, Prince Akbar, he first ordered his forces to fight against Sambhaji (the son and successor of Shivaji), meanwhile making renewed efforts to separate Bijapur and Golconda from the side of the Marathas.
Aurangzeb’s dividing policy could not bring any beneficial result. The Marathas were the only shield against the Mughals, and the Deccani states were not prepared to throw it away.
Failure of Aurangzeb made him anxious and he decided to force the issue. He invited Adil Shah and asked to supply a vassal to the imperial army and facilitate the Mughal army a free passage through his territory and also to supply a contingent of 5,000 to 6,000 cavalry for the war against the Marathas.
Adil Shah, on the other hand, appealed for help from both Golconda and Sambhaji, which was promptly given. However, even the combined forces of the Deccani states could not withstand against the full strength of the Mughal army, particularly when commanded by the Mughal emperor or an energetic prince, as had been demonstrated earlier. In spite of being the presence of Emperor Aurangzeb and prince, it took 18 months to siege.
The success of Mughals, provided replenishing justification for the earlier failure of Jai Singh (1665), and Diler Khan (1679-80).
Following the downfall of Bijapur, a campaign against Golconda was inevitable.
In 1685, despite stiff resistance, the Mughals had occupied Golconda. The emperor had agreed to pardon Qutb Shah in return of a huge subsidy, the ceding of some areas, and the ousting of two brothers Madanna and Akhanna.
In 1688, Qutb Shah accepted Mughals conditions and subsequently, Madanna and Akhanna were dragged out on the streets and murdered. In spite of this acceptance, Qutb Shah could not protect his monarchy.
Aurangzeb had triumphed but he soon found that the extinction of Bijapur and Golconda was only the beginning of his difficulties. The last and the most difficult phase of Aurangzeb’s life began now.
After the downfall of Bijapur and Golconda, Aurangzeb was able to concentrate all his forces against the Marathas.
Apart from invading Burhanpur and Aurangabad, the new Maratha king, Sambhaji (son of Shivaji) had thrown a challenge to Aurangzeb by giving shelter to his rebel son, Prince Akbar.
Sambhaji took a peculiarly passive attitude towards Prince Akbar, spending his energies in a futile war with the Sidis on the coast and with the Portuguese.
In 1686, prince dashed into the Mughal territory, but repulsed. Discouraged, Prince Akbar escaped by sea to Iran, and sought shelter with the Iranian king.
In 1689, Sambhaji was surprised at his secret hideout at Sangameshwar by a Mughal force. He was paraded before Aurangzeb and executed as a rebel and an infidel.
As historians observed that this was undoubtedly a major political mistake on the part of Aurangzeb. He could have set a seal on his conquest of Bijapur and Golconda by coming to terms with the Marathas.
By executing Sambhaji, he not only threw away this chance, but provided the Marathas a cause. In the absence of a single rallying point, the Maratha sardars were left free to plunder the Mughal territories.
Rajaram, the younger brother of Sambhaji, was crowned as king, but he had to escape when the Mughals attacked his capital.
Rajaram sought shelter at Jinji on the east coast and continued the fight against the Mughals from there. Likewise, Maratha resistance spread from the west to the east coast.
Aurangzeb, after 1690, concentrated on annexing to the empire of the rich and extensive Karnataka tract.
During the period between 1690 and 1703, Aurangzeb stubbornly refused to negotiate with the Marathas. Rajaram was besieged at Jinji, but the siege proved to be long drawn out.
Jinji fell in 1698, but the chief prince, Rajaram, escaped. Maratha resistance grew and the Mughals suffered a number of serious reverses. The Marathas recaptured many of their forts and Rajaram also managed to come back to Satara.
From 1700 to 1705, Aurangzeb dragged his exhausted and ailing body from the siege of one fort to another. On the other hand, floods, disease, and the Maratha rambling bands took fearful toll of the Mughal army. All these gradually lead to apathy and disaffection among the nobles and the army.
Many of the jagirdars made secret pacts with the Marathas and agreed to pay chauth if the Marathas did not disturb their jagirs.
In 1703, Aurangzeb opened negotiations with the Marathas. He was prepared to release Shahu (the son of Sambhaji), who had been captured at Satara along with his mother.
Aurangzeb was prepared to grant Shivaji’s swarajya to Shahu and the right of sardeshmukhi over the Deccan, thus recognizing his special position.
Over 70 Maratha sardars actually assembled to receive Shahu. However, Aurangzeb cancelled the arrangements at the last minute, as he was uncertain about the intentions of the Maratha.
By 1706, Aurangzeb was convinced of the futility of his effort to capture all the Maratha forts. He slowly retreated to Aurangabad while as exulting Maratha army hovered around and attacked the stragglers.
In 1707, when Aurangzeb breathed his last at Aurangabad, he left behind an empire, which was deeply distracted, and in which all the various internal problems of the empire were coming to a head; later led to decline of the Mughal Empire.