Northern India – Mughal Empire

William Baffin1625

Kalakriti Archives

Kalakriti Archives
Hyderabad, India

The first broadly accurate map of Northern India, by the English adventurer William Baffin, based on geographic intelligence obtained at the court of Emperor Jahangir.

This revolutionary map embraces the entire Mughal Empire, and extends from Afghanistan and Kashmir in the north, down south to the middle of the Deccan, and from the mouths of the Indus in the west to Burma in the east. While far from scientific, and featuring some obvious inaccuracies (notably, areas in the upper part of the map are placed way too far to the north), it is the first map of Northern India to possess a basic level of planimetric accuracy.

The Indus River is shown to enter the Arabian Sea in the correct location, in what is now the Sindh, as opposed to Gulf of Khambhat, as shown on previous maps. While the path of the Ganges River is incorrectly shown to flow in a general north-south direction, its depiction here is a vast improvement over previous maps. The course of the ‘Jemni fluvis’ (Yamuna River) is delineated with a relatively high degree of accuracy.

The map divides the empire into the Mughal subhas (provinces), some of which have names that correspond to modern Indian states, including ‘Chishmeere’ (Kashmir), ‘Penjab’ (Punjab), ‘Guzarat’ (Gujarat), ‘Orixa’ (Odisha), and ‘Bengala’ (Bengal).

Near the center of the map is ‘Agra’ (the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1526 to 1649), while many other cities are labeled, including ‘Delli’ (Delhi), ‘Lahor’ (Lahore), ‘Adsmeer’ (Ajmer), ‘Gwaliar’ (Gwalior), ‘Patna’, ‘Candahor’ (Kandahar), ‘Cabull’ (Kabul), ‘Dekaka’ (Dhaka), ‘Suratt’ (Surat), ‘Diu’, ‘Chaull’ (Chaul), ‘Mesulapatnam’ (Machilipatnam).

Prominently featured is the ‘The Longe Walke’, a strait road shaded by trees, representing the great Mughal Trunk Road, which connected Agra with Lahore.

Importantly, the map is predicated on geographical information supplied by the Mughal Court to Sir Thomas Roe, the English ambassador to Emperor Jahangir. In 1619, Roe imparted this intelligence to the eminent cartographer and explorer William Baffin, who devised the present map.


  • Title: Northern India – Mughal Empire
  • Creator: William Baffin
  • Date Published: 1625
  • Location Created: London
  • Physical Dimensions: 32.2 x 37.5 cm
  • Type: Document
  • Medium: Copper engraving with hand colour
  • Title (Original): A Description of East India: conteyning th[e] empire of the Great Mogoll.
  • Creator's Lifetime: 1584/1622

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