Akbar’s expansion of his empire began with the conquest of northern India. First of all, he sent a strong force to Malwa. Baz Bahadur, the ruler of Malwa, was defeated and the state annexed to the Mughal Empire.
Next Akbar sent his forces to Gondwana ruled by Rani Durgawati. She offered tough resistance but was overpowered. The state of Gondwana thus passed into the hands of the Mughals.
Akbar now turned his attention towards Rajputana. He was aware that the Rajputs were very brave people and it was very essential to win them over. So he first tried to have friendly relations with them.
The alliance with Akbar was that of raja Bihari Mal of Amber. He got his daughter Jodha Bai married to Akbar. The Mughal emperor honored the Raja’s family by offering Bhagwan Das and Man Singh, (the son and grandson of the Raja respectively) high posts in the Mughal court. Man Singh later proved to be one of the ablest generals of medieval India. He won for Akbar most of the territories that formed a part of the Mughal empire.
But Rana Udai Singh, a scion of the Sisodias, refused to accept Akbar’s offer of friendship. He instead chose to fight with Akbar. Akbar attacked Mewar in A.D. 1567 and captured the fort of Chittor. Rana Udai Singh had to flee to the hills. After the fall of Chittor, the fort of Ranthambore too fell.
The other Rajputs of Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur submitted in A.D. 1570.
Rana Udai Singh of Mewar died in A.D. 1572 but his illustrious son Maharana Pratap Singh did not yield. He decided to carry on the struggle with the Mughals to free his motherland from them. In A.D. 1576, Akbar sent Man Singh to subdue the Maharana. A fierce battle was fought at Haldighati where the Maharana was defeated.
In A.D. 1572-73, Akbar led an expedition against Gujurat. It was a port of great importance to Akbar. Akbar defeated its ruler Muzaffar Shah and to commemorate the victory, got the Buland Darwaza constructed at Sikri.
In 1576, Bengal and Bihar were annexed to the Mughal kingdom.
Kabul was under the charge of Mirza Hakim. In A.D. 1580, he invade Punjab. Akbar himself marched against him and compelled Hakim to acknowledge his suzerainaty. In A.D. 1586, Hakim died and Kabul was annexed to the Mughal Empire.
Likewise Kashmir, Sind and Multan were added to the Mughal Empire. In 1595, Baluchistan and Kandhar were also annexed and thus the chain of the defense of the North-West Frontier Province was completed.
Having fully secured his way over northern India, Akbar thought of conquering the Deccan. One reason was that he wanted to overthrow the Portuguese who had established their factories along the seacoast and were also building up their naval power.
From A.D. 1595-1601, Akbar sent expeditions to the Deccan to subdue the Portuguese, Chand Bibi of Ahmadnagar and to capture Asirgarh.
Having completed all his conquests, Akbar thus controlled a very vast empire. It extended from Bengal in the east to Afghanistan in the west comprising Kabul and Kandhar. In the north, it extended from the mighty Himalayas to the Godavari in the Deccan. In A.D. 1605, Akbar died and was buried at Sikandra, near Agra.