Although the Mughal empire was created and sustained by military warfare, it did not vigorously suppress the cultures and peoples it came to rule, but rather equalized and placated them through new administrative practices, and diverse ruling elites, leading to more efficient, centralised, and standarized rule. The base of the empire's collective wealth was agricultural taxes, instituted by the third Mughal emperor, Akbar. These taxes, which amounted to well over half the output of a peasant cultivator, were paid in the well-regulated silver currency, and caused peasants and artisans to enter larger markets.
The relative peace maintained by the empire during much of the 17th century was a factor in India's economic expansion. Burgeoning European presence in the Indian ocean, and its increasing demand for Indian raw- and finished products, created still greater wealth in the Mughal courts. There was more conspicuous consumption among the Mughal elite, resulting in greater patronage of painting, literary forms, textiles, and architecture, especially during the reign of Shah Jahan. Among the Mughal UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Asia are: Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Red Fort, Humayun's Tomb, Lahore Fort and the Taj Mahal, which is described as, "The jewel of Muslim art in India, and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."
Contemporaries referred to the empire founded by Babur as the Timurid empire, which reflected the heritage of his dynasty, and this was the term preferred by the Mughals themselves.
The Mughal designation for their own dynasty was Gurkani (Persian: گورکانیان, Gūrkāniyān, meaning "sons-in-law"). The use of "Mughal" derived from the Arabic and Persian corruption of "Mongol", and it emphasised the Mongol origins of the Timurid dynasty. The term gained currency during the 19th century, but remains disputed by Indologists. Similar terms had been used to refer to the empire, including "Mogul" and "Moghul". Nevertheless, Babur's ancestors were sharply distinguished from the classical Mongols insofar as they were oriented towards Persian rather than Turco-Mongol culture.
Another name for the empire was Hindustan, which was documented in the Ain-i-Akbari, and which has been described as the closest to an official name for the empire. In the west, the term "Mughal" was used for the emperor, and by extension, the empire as a whole.