Akbar was only thirteen years old at the time of Humayun’s death.
When his father died, Akbar was at Kalanaur in Punjab and therefore his coronation took place in Kalanaur itself in 1556.
It was his tutor and Humayun’s favourite and confidant Bairam Khan, who served as the regent of the Mughal emperor from 1556 to 1560.
He became the wakil of the kingdom with the title of Khan-i-Khanan.
One of the major achievements of his regency period was the defeat of Hemu and the Afghan forces in the second battle of Panipat in 1556, who were posing a serious threat to the Mughal Empire.
Akbar started a policy of expansion after overcoming initial problems and consolidating his hold on the throne.
Akbar started his policy of expansion with central India.
In1559–60 the first expedition was sent to capture Gwalior before moving towards Malwa.
Malwa in central India was ruled by Baz Bahadur.
Baz Bahadur was defeated and fled towards Burhanpur.
Gondwana, an independent state in Central India ruled by Rani Durgawati, widow of Dalpat Shah, was conquered and annexed to the Mughal empire in 1564.
Akbar’s campaign against Rajasthan–
Akbar was fully aware of the importance of Rajput kingdoms and wanted them as allies.
He tried to win over the Rajputs wherever possible and inducted them into Mughal service.
He also entered into matrimonial alliances with the Rajput rulers like Bharmal.
Raja Bharmal of Amber was the first to enter into alliance with Akbar.
The Rajput kingdoms like Merta and Jodhpur were also occupied.
However, Maharana Pratap, the ruler of Mewar posed most serious challenge to the Mughal emperor and did not submit before Akbar.
After a prolonged struggle and siege of the fort of Chittor, Akbar succeeded in defeating the Mewar forces.
By 1570 Akbar had captured almost the whole of Rajasthan.
Akbar’s campaign against Afghan–
Akbar’s compaign against Afghans started with Gujarat in 1572.
One of the princes, Itimad Khan, had invited Akbar to come and conquer it.
In a short time most of the principalities of Gujarat were brought under his control.Akbar organized Gujarat into a province and placed it under Mirza Aziz Koka and returned to capital.
In 1574, Akbar along with Munim Khan Khan-i-Khanan marched towards Bihar.
In a short time, Hajipur and Patna were captured and Gaur (Bengal) was also taken away.
With this the independent rule of Bengal was ended in 1576.
By 1592, the Mughal mansabdar Raja Man Singh also brought the whole of Orissa under the Mughal rule.
A series of conflicts arose in some regions of the Mughal empire in 1581. Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat and the north-west were main centres of unrest.
The Afghans were at the root of these problems since they were overthrown everywhere by the Mughals.
Apart from this, Akbar’s policy of strict administration of jagirs was also responsible for this.
A new policy was adopted, according to which the jagirdars were asked to submit the accounts of the jagirs.
This created dissatisfaction and jagirdars rose in revolt.
But soon the Mughal forces were able to successfully crush the rebellion in Bihar, Bengal and adjoining regions.
Akbar’s campaign against Punjab and North West–
In the Punjab, Mirza Hakim was creating problems for Akbar and he attacked Lahore.
Akbar decided to march towards Lahore himself.
Hakim Mirza immediately retreated and Akbar controlled the whole region.
He gave first priority to organize the protection of North-West frontiers.
After this he marched towards Kabul and conquered the territory.
Akbar gave the charge of Kabul to his sister Bakhtunnisa Begum.
Later on Raja Man Singh was appointed governor of Kabul and it was given to him in jagir.
Another important development in the North-West region was the rebellion of Roshanai who captured the road between Kabul and Hindustan.
Roshanai was a sect established by a soldier who was called Pir Roshanai in the region.
Akbar appointed Zain Khan as commander of a strong force to suppress the Roshanais and establish Mughal control in the region.
Sayid Khan Gakhar and Raja Birbal were also sent with separate forces to help Zain Khan.
In one of the operations Birbal was killed with most of his forces.
Akbar deputed Raja Todar Mal and Raja Man Singh to suppress the rebellion and they were successful in defeating the Roshanais.
Kashmir was annexed to the Mughal Empire in 1586.
By the year 1595, the complete supremacy of Mughals over North-West region was established.
Akbar’s campaign against Deccan–
In 1591, Akbar sent offers to the Deccan states asking them to accept Mughal sovereignty, but there was not much success.Now Akbar decided on a policy of aggression.
The first expedition was dispatched to Ahmednagar under the command of Prince Murad and Abdul Rahim Khan Khanan.
In 1595, the Mughal forces invaded Ahmednagar.
Its ruler Chand Bibi decided to face the Mughals.
She approached Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur and Qutub Shah of Golkonda for help but with no success.
After heavy losses on both sides, a treaty was worked out and Chand Bibi ceded Berar to Mughals.
After some time Chand Bibi attacked Berar to take it back. The Mughals suffered heavy losses but could retain their position.
After Prince Murad’s death in 1598, Prince Daniyal and Khan Khanan were sent to Deccan.Ahmednagar was captured.
Adil shah of Bijapur also expressed allegiance and offered his daughter in marriage to Prince Daniyal.
Now Mughal territories in Deccan included Asirgarh, Burhanpur, Ahmedanagar and Berar.