The Great Story of Shah Jahan with Taj Mahal

The Great Story of Shah Jahan with Taj Mahal

Table of Contents [Show]

Shah Jahan


Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal, situated on the southern bank of the Yamuna river in Agra is one of the most beautiful buildings of the world. It was built as a mausoleum by Shaj Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal ('Chosen one of the Palace'( from which the name Taj Mahal has orginated. The building of the Taj was commenced around 1632 to plans prepared by a council of architects from India, Persia, Central Asia and beyond. More than 20,000 workers were employed daily and it took 22 years to complete at a cost of 40 million rupees. The whole complex is made of Makrana marble and the mosque is made of red Sikri sandstone. The Taj Mahal alsocontains the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal (died 1631) and Shah Jahan (died 1666). The Taj Majal is regarded as the supreme achievement of Mughal and perhaps Indian architecture of all time. The following words inscribed inside the Diwan-i-Khas (yet another creation of Shah Jahan ) may be used to describe the Taj Mahal which has been looked upon as a symbol of love.
Agar Firdaus bir ru-yi zamin ast
u hamin ast, u hamin ast, u hamin ast
(If there is any heaven upon this earth,
it is this, it is this, it is this)
The Taj Mahal at Agra, perhaps the most magnificent memorium ever built, was the creation of Shah Jahan. This and many other architectural creations of the Mughal age can be attributed to him. Besides this, his ability as a general and an administrator, made him a welcome ruler after the impotent government of his father, Jahangir.

Prince Khurram, (Shah Jahan's name before he became Emperor) was born of a Hindu mother in Lahore (now in Pakistan) in 1592. He was the third son of the Mughal emperor Jahangir and Rajput princess Manmati. In 1612, he married Arjumand Banu Begum, niece of Jahangir's wife Nur Jahan and became one of the close associates of Nur Jahan's faction. In 1622, ambitious to win succession, he rebelled, ineffectually roamed the empire and then reconciled with Jahangir in 1625. After his father's death in 1627, with the support of Nur Jahan's brother, Asaf Khan, Shah Jahan was able to proclaim himself emperor in Agra in 1628.

Shah Jahan's reign of thirty years marks the zenith of the Mughal empire. He ruled from 1627 to 1658 Ad. Shah Jahan's reign was notable for success against the Deccan States. He commanded two expeditions to the Deccan as a prince and spent a considerable period in Deccan during the rebellion against his father. Mughal power was also temporarily extended to the North West. In 1646 Mughal forces occupied Badakshan and Balkh, but in 1647 Balkh was lost and attempts to reconquer it in 1649, 1652 and 1653 failed. Qandhar was also lost in 1649 to the Persians. In 1648 Shah Jahan transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi, creating the new city of Shahijahanabad. Shah Jahan encouraged men of letters and arts. He extended patronage not only to Persian but also to Hindi and Sanskrit. The arts of painting and calligraphy were also patronised. His court was one of great pomp and grandeur. His collection of jewels was probably the most splendid in the world. The Kohinoor was one of the jewels in his collection. Shah Jahan had an almost incomparable passion for construction. The exquisite Peacock Throne with a canopy supported on twelve pillars adorned with precious jewels was his creation. At Agra, he undertook the building of two great mosques, the Moti Masjid and Jama Masjid (Great Mosque). At Delhi, Shah Jahan built a huge fortress-place complex called the Red Fort as well as the Jama Masjid, which is among the finest mosques in India. But his greatest, most splendid and most memorable creation which has made for him a place in history, is undoubtedly the Taj Mahal. The Taj Majal was a superb mausoleum erected in the memory of the favorite of his three queens, Mumtaz Mahal (mother of Aurangzeb). 

Shah Jahan also attempted to systematize the administration, particularly the Mansabdari System by reducing the high salaries of the mansabdars and compelling them to maintain in their services the exact number of troops prescribed for their several ranks.

Shah Jahan has generally been characterised as the very ideal of a Mulsim monarch. He was a more orthodox Muslim than Akbar and Jahangir but a less orthodox one than Aurangzeb. He proved a relatively tolerant ruler towards his Hindu subjexts. However he is also held responsible for setting in motion influences that finally led to the downfall of the empire. His fruitless expeditions to Central Asia and his love of buildings brought the empire on the verge of bankruptcy.

Shah Jahan's last days were too long a tragedy. He fell ill in September 1657 and this precipitated a struggle for succession among his four sons. Aurangzeb emerged victorious and kept Shah Jahan in confinement for eight long years. He was constantly rebuked and insluted by Aurangzeb and was blamed for everything. At the last stage of life, he wrote in agony,
"Praised to be the Hindus as they even offer water to their deads,
Thou my son, a marvellous Mussalman, holdeth me in life for water."