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SHAHAB UDDIN MUHAMMAD SHAH JAHAN I (full title: Al-Sultan al-‘Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Abu’l-Muzaffar Shahab ud-din Muhammad, Sahib-i-Qiran-i-Sani, Shah Jahan I Padshah Ghazi Zillu’llah [Firdaus-Ashiyani]) ruled India from 1628 until 1658.

FROM ‘KHURRAM’ TO SHAH JAHAN: The blue-eyed of the Mughal Royals, the young ‘Khurram’ impressed his father the Emperor Jahangir with his intense military successes of 1617 against the Lodi in the Deccan, which effectively secured the southern border of the empire.The grateful father rewarded him with the prestigious title ‘Shah Jahan Bahadur ‘, which implicitly sealed his inheritance. The name Shah Jahan comes from Persian meaning “King of the World.”

 

The Cause of the Taj Mahal

The Mughal Empress: Mumtaz Mahal [1593 AD – 1631 AD]

Despite her frequent pregnancies, Mumtaz traveled with Shah Jahan’s entourage throughout his earlier military campaigns. She was his constant companion and trusted confidant and their relationship was intense.

She died in Burhanpur [1631 AD] in the Deccan (now in Madhya Pradesh) during the birth of their thirtheenth child, a daughter named Gauhara Begum. She had been accompanying her husband whilst he was fighting a campaign in the Deccan Plateau. Her body was temporarily buried at Burhanpur in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad originally constructed by Shah Jahan’s uncle Daniyal on the bank of the Tapti River. Her original grave still lies here.

Burhanpur was never intended by her husband as his wife’s final resting spot. As a result her body was disinterred in December 1631 and transported in a golden casket escorted by her son Shah Shuja and the head lady in waiting of the deceased Empress back to Agra. There it was interred in a small building on the banks of the river Yamuna.

Shah Jahan stayed behind in Burhanpur to conclude the military campaign that had originally bought him to the region. While there he began planning the design and construction of a suitable mausoleum and funerary garden in Agra for his wife, a task that would take more than 22 years to complete, the Taj Mahal.

Today, the Taj Mahal stands as the ultimate monument to love and homage to her beauty and life.

The contemporary court chroniclers paid an unusual amount of attention to Mumtaz Mahal’s death and Shah Jahan’s grief at her demise. In the immediate aftermath of his bereavement, the Emperor was reportedly inconsolable.

Apparently after her death, Shah Jahan went into secluded mourning for a year. When he appeared again, his hair had turned white. His back was bent, and his face worn. Since Mumtaz had died on Wednesday, all entertainments were banned on that day. Jahan gave up listening to music, wearing jewellery or rich and colourful clothes and using perfumes for two years. Jahan’s eldest daughter, the devoted Jahanara Begum, gradually brought him out of grief and took the place of Mumtaz at court.

The Queen Mumtaz Mahal’s personal fortune valued at 10,000,000 rupees was divided by Shah Jahan between Jahanara Begum, who received half and the rest of her surviving children.

Immediately after the burial in Burhanpur, Jahan and the imperial court devoted themselves to the planning and design of the mausoleum and funery garden in Agra, now known as the Taj Mahal or fondly, The Taj!

 

His early years saw him receive a cultured, broad education and distinguish himself in the martial arts and as a commander of his father’s armies in numerous campaigns, where he became responsible for most of the territorial gains of his father’s reign. Khurrum also demonstrated a precocious talent for building, impressing his father at the age of 16 when he built his own quarters within Babur’s Kabul fort and redesigned several buildings within Agra fort.

He was the fifth Mughal ruler after Babur, Humayun, Akbar, and Jahangir. While young, he was a favourite of Akbar. Like Akbar, he was eager to expand his empire. Even while very young, he could be pointed out to be the successor to the Mughal throne after the death of Jahangir. He succeeded to the throne upon his father’s death in 1627. He is considered to be one of the greatest Mughals and his reign has been called the Golden Age of Mughals.

Shah Jahan erected many splendid monuments, the most famous of which is the Taj Mahal at Agra. The Pearl Mosque at Agra, the palace and great mosque at Delhi. The celebrated Peacock Throne, said to be worth millions of dollars by modern estimates. He was the founder of Shahjahanabad, now known as ‘Old Delhi’. Other creations of Shah Jahan also include the Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas within the Red Fort in Delhi.