Emperor Aurangzeb at the Siege of Golconda, 1687.

This gouache painting was created by an unknown Indian artist sometime in the mid-to-late 18th century, but it depicts an earlier event: the siege of the city of Golconde in south-central India by the last great Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb (reigned 1658–1707). Golconde was famous for its fort, palaces, factories, and ingenious water-supply system, as well as the legendary wealth from the city’s diamond mine. Aurangzeb was Sunni, while the rulers of the Deccan were Shia who accepted the suzerainity of the shah of Persia and resisted Mughal expansionism. Under the direction of the emperor himself, the city was besieged for eight months. It fell in October 1687 as the result of a bribe. In the foreground of the painting, the aged emperor sits on a litter with attendants, supervising native cavalry and artillery as they attack the walled and fortified city in the background. A breach has been made in the sandstone walls which the Mughal troops are traversing. The painting is from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.


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