Shah Jahan - Life History

Shah Jahan is one of the prominent Mughal emperors. He was born to Emperor Jahangir in 1592 and was named Khurram, meaning joy in Persian language by his grandfather, Akbar, the great Mughal emperor. For his utmost gallantry and victories over the land of Mewar, Deccan and Kangra, he was rewarded with the title of Shah Jahan Bahadur by his father.

Shah Jahan wedded Arjumand Banu Begum in 1612 and later named her as Mumtaz Mahal, being in love with her immense beauty and intelligence; Mumtaz Mahal meant Jewel of Palace in Persian language. As per historians, Mumtaz Mahal was the light of his life and the other marriages that the emperor had in course of time were just performed to maintain good relations with the princely states. Mumtaz Mahal accompanied the king in every affair, be it hunting or wars and was by his side as a friend, philosopher and guide. Hence death of the empress in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child left the king in dismay. As a tribute to his endless love towards Mumtaz Mahal, he decided to build a historic monument and hence Taj Mahal was constructed.

A true patronage of art and architecture, Shah Jahan looked after every part of the construction himself. He was involved in the complete planning of Taj Mahal. When the construction of Taj Mahal was over, it turned out to be a spotless beauty, grand with its white marble structure, glittering with silver entrances, gold leaved designs, floral paintings and motifs. Studded with semi-precious stones, Taj Mahal was inscribed with Arabic inscriptions of Quran, the holy book of Islam. The enchanting ripples of River Yamuna and the four by four shaped lush green meadows enhanced the beauty of the edifice. Taj Mahal, the hard work of 22 years and 22000 artisans is still the pride of India, being one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Besides Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan also gifted India with some architectural masterpieces, like the Moti Masjid (now in Lahore, Pakistan), Jama Masjid and Red Fort. The Peacock throne, embellished with gemmed peacocks and tree of diamonds, rubies and pearls was the royal seat of Shah Jahan and is still considered as a celebrated art work. Shah Jahan earned the name of ‘Engineer King’ for his monuments of luminous beauty and flawless proportions. Agra, Ajmer, Delhi, Lahore, Kashmir and Kabul are some of the places where the emperor left his mark with magnificent buildings.

The fate of Shah Jahan, the ‘Prince among builders’ was tragic. When his son Aurangzeb defeated his elder brother Dara and declared Shah Jahan as an incapable ruler, the saddest part of his life began. Shah Jahan was arrested and had to spend the rest of his life at Agra Fort, till his death in 1666. It is said that every day he lived in captivity he spent looking at Taj Mahal and after his death he was placed beside Mumtaz’s grave in the memorial.

Hence, Taj Mahal not only stands as an epitome of pristine beauty but also is wrapped with chronicles of ancient India.

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