Reordering Nature: Power Politics in the Mughal Shikargah
journal article
The Mughal shikargah (hunting ground) defies conventional spatial and functional definitions. Although fragmentary, references to the imperial shikargah in Indo- Mughal literature, memoirs, biographies, gazetteers, and documents suggest that the typology of the shikargah cannot be reduced simply to one form of natural terrain; nor was hunting game its sole purpose. The shikargah was conceptualized to accommodate multifarious functions. Whether areas of wilderness or dedicated preserves, the spaces used for hunting were transformed into public arenas in which the emperors could enact the hunt. In addition, other alterations to the natural environment enabled the occurrence of courtly activities. As the stage for imperial ceremonials and for the meting out of justice, or as sites of encampment and halting during royal inspection tours, the shikargah was inextricably linked to the administration and bureaucracy of the Mughal Empire. The hunt was also a pretext to mobilize armies for reconnaissance and intimidation of restive provinces, during which the shikargah became a venue for military training and armed intervention. Using the framework of the hunt to interpret natural landscapes, this article aims to examine the physical and political processes of modification underlying the Mughal shikargah, those that carried with them semiotics of political power and control.

Keywords: Mughal; courtly functions; hunting park; landscape transformations; political power; shikargah
Parpia, Shaha. "Reordering Nature: Power Politics in the Mughal Shikargah." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 7, Number 1 (pp. 39-66) , edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2018.
landscape architecture (discipline)