Horses have decided the fate of empires.
In pre-colonial India, horses were used in wars, hunts and rituals. Horses were also the symbol of a ruler’s prestige. The mansabdar system during the Mughal rule – primarily under Akbar –institutionalised the use of horses. Rajput nobles would be given military positions according to the number of horses they had in their cavalry.
But it was in 18th century India when the importance of horses really showed – socially, culturally and politically.
After the Mughal empire started to decline, a number of regional kingdoms rose. As did the Maratha empire. At the same time, European colonisers were making inroads into the country. And horses became an important part of all these conquests.
Horses started showing up in paintings, manuals and even had their own portraits.
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