14 October 2009

Postal Systems in Mughal Period - Under the reigns of Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb

MEDIEVAL INDIA (1030 – 1757 AD)
Part 10

Jahangir’s chief contribution to postal history is with respect to his ascendancy over Bengal in eastern India. He appointed the Darogah or superintendent of the Dak Chowki for receipt and dispatch of letters to and from Dhaka, capital of Bengal since 1610, at every provincial headquarters. The pigeon post was also introduced for carrying messages from Bengal to Orissa and Rajmahal to Murshidabad.

A Sadar post office in the district, served to carry mail by hand to the Collector, wherever he was based at that point of time.

The practice of reimbursing the Mansabdars by cash was done away with. Instead, their services were paid vide revenue assignments from the land. The lands assigned were liable to transfer during a Mansabdar's tenure of service and were revocable. The Mansabdar was however allowed advances from the treasury, which were recovered in full upon his death as in a death duty.

Avenues with trees were laid out in the routes of Agra to Attock in the West and Agra to Dhaka in the East. In the former route a pillar at every kos sporting a sign, was constructed, as also a well at every 3 kos. Speed of transmission for the traditional mail runner service, was recorded at 80 kos in a day.

Though governance came under strain with Shah Jahan’s costly and unsuccessful campaigns to subdue the Hindu Maratha Confederacy, the postal system, was greatly improved.

Stricter rules related to postal laws and orders were enforced. Postal runners were bound by structures that dictated a minimum postal mileage of 1 jaribi kuroh in one ghari (hour), failing which a penalty was imposed, equaling a quarter of their salary. Aurangzeb’s growing religious intolerance undermined the stability of the empire. Expansion of his realm into the Deccan and South India sapped the resources of the empire while provoking strong resistance from the Marathas, Sikhs, and Rajputs.

Voyages and Travels III - Alexander Hamilton’s account of East India,
Tuzuk-i-Jahangir (Memoir's of Jahangir) translated by Alexander Rogers
Tarikh-i-Farishta (History of the Rise of Mohammedan Power in India) translated by General John Briggs
Mughal Administration - Jadunath Sarkar

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.

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