Akbar was the first among the Mughal emperors to have affected conquests beyond the Vindhyas. His successors, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, made considerable additions to the Mughal province of the Deccan. Aurangzeb, as viceroy of the Deccan, was desirous of effecting further expansion, but was prevented from fulfilling his objective owing to Shah Jahan’s opposition.
The Deccan Policy of Aurangzeb was very aggresive. Aurangzeb’s accession in 1658 gave him an opportunity to fulfill his aggressive designs with regard to Deccan. The three powers in the Deccan with which he had to deal were the Marathas and the two Shiah states of Bijapur and Golkunda. But up to 1681, Aurangzeb won on appreciable success in the Deccan. This was because Prince Shah Alam, the Governor of the Deccan for eleven years, was lacking in vigor and enterprise. Besides, the Emperor was prevented from giving whole-hearted attention to affairs in the Deccan because of his pre-occupations with his wars with the northwestern frontiers tribes, on one hand and the Rajputs on the other.
The death of Shivaji in 1680 brought about a change in the Deccan situation and the Emperor lost no time in taking full advantage of it. The situation, however, was complicated because of Prince Akbar who had fled to the court of Shambhuji, Shivaji’s son and successor. The Emperor personally came over to the Deccan. His objects were two-fold, viz., to crush Sambhuji and to overpower the rebel prince. Akbar, however, took to flight and Aurangzeb thought it prudent to suspend vigorous action against the Marathas till he had overthrown the kingdoms of Golkunda and Bijapur.
Accordingly in April, 1685, the Imperial army besieged Bijapur and captured it. In January 1687 Aurangzeb directed his operations against Golkunda and compelled it to submit in September of the same year. After the fall of these two Muslim states Aurangzeb turned his attention against Sambhuji. One of the Mughal general succeeded in capturing the Maratha king and the unfortunate captive was put to death with horrible torture in March, 1689.
Thus by 1689 , though it seemed like the Mughal Empire of Aurangzeb has reached the height, in reality , it was the beginning of the decline of Mughal Empire. The Marathas found a new leader in Rajaram, Shivaji’s younger son, and frustrated all attempts on the part of the Mughals to extend their authority. After Rajaram’s death, his valiant Queen, Tarabai, carried on the war with the Mughals with unusual vigor and compelled the Emperor to retire to Ahmednagar which soon became the grave of his mortal body as well as his military reputation.
Aurangzeb’s Deccan policy was a miserable failure. His wars against Bijapur and Golkunda did not ease the task of the Marathas, as some writers suggest, but these alienated the Shia Muslim sentiment. His drive against the Marathas involved him in heavy expenses and brought him no success.
The Mughal Empire under Aurangzeb was huge and it was not possible for one person to control everything. The number enemies of Aurangzeb were rising every-day. Though, Aurangzeb could defeat his enemies, he could not get complete control over them.
The endless war in the Deccan exhausted his treasury, the Government turned bankrupt, the soldiers starving from arrears of pay, mutinied. The Deccan ulcer ultimately ruined Aurangzeb.