Subah The provincial unit of the Mughal empire was called Subah. The administrator in charge of a subah was called as Subahdar. The empire was divided into twelve subahs in the 24th year of the rule of emperor Akbar. Those were Allahabad, Agra, Ayodhya, Ajmir, Ahmedabad, Bihar (capital – Patna), Bengal (capital – Rajmahal), Delhi, Kabul, Lahore, Multan and Malwa. Later, the newly conquered areas like Berar of Deccan, Khandesh and Ahmednagar (named as Doulatabad in 1636 AD and afterward renamed as Aurangabad) raised the number of subahs fifteen. During the rule of emperor Jahangir, Orissa and Kashmir were given the status of subah, totalling the number of subah to be seventeen. During the establishment of the subah system, Orissa and Bengal were made into one subah which afterward was turned into two separate subahs. During the rule of emperor Shahjahan, there were intotal twenty-two (22) subahs. In the 8th year of his rule, he separated Talangana from Berar and gave it the status of a new subah. Emperor Aurangzeb affirmed Bijapur and Golkonda as new subahs in 1686 AD and 1687 AD and thus raising the number of subah to twenty-one (21). In 1710 AD, the state of Arkut in the south was included as a new subah in the Mughal empire.

By the end of the 18th century, there were massive changes in the Bengal Subahs as regards its geographical location, internal administration and relation with the central government. A primary idea about the subah may be obtained from the Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazal. However, his report about the boundary of Subah Bangla is not all accurate. [Nasrin Akhter]