Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 2 February 2014





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Shah Jahan, a tale of romance and art

Emperor Shah Jahan's reign registered a memorable landmark in the history of Moghul empire. It is believed that the royal coffers were full to the brim with priceless articles and wealth and incredibly charming edifices and mini-palaces were raised in the cities of Lahore, Delhi and Agra.

Young Shah Jahan had a tendency for vandalism and depravity which appeared inherent in him and ran counter to his subsequent sobriety and composed nature.

Taj Mahal

However, this composed nature that came over him in the latter period of his life was largely owing to the bereavement from his "Soul partner" Mumtaz Begam Mahal - an inexpressibly poignant theme of romance in history.


If we are to count on the records of Burnnier, a traveller, Shah Jahan brutally attacked the city of Hugely which lay surrounded by a moat by using a large body of troops (150,000)! In the course of the attack which lasted three months, the troops removed the water from the moat, submerged a ship with 2,000 women and children in flight and took about 4,000 people to Agra as prisoners of war.

After indescribable torture, some of the prisoners of war were forcibly converted to his faith and some others were made to be trampled to death by elephants.

Here, more people died of fever and famine according as Burnnier's records claim. Burnnier further records that the child captives became tragic victims at the hands of soldiers and while some others were given rigid duties at the royal palace. No other group of people to have undergone greater level of brutality has not been recorded in recent history.

Jahangir's death virtually left the throne for "Bhurum" (Shah Jahan), the successor who married Princess Mumtaz Begam Mahal the daughter of Azaap Khan. History reports how a royal conspiracy was in operation to overthrow Shah Jahan but Azaap Khan brought him back from Deccan to declare him the legal emperor. Shah Jahan's younger "Sharier" was proved to be the chief conspirator.

Finally, Shah Jahan brutally blinded his younger brother after imprisonment and destroyed all who were the masterminds behind the plot to oust the legal emperor. However, his matchless love for Mumtaz was totally amazing - a love which contrasted visibly from the conventional emotional relationship between a king and a queen. The breath takingly beautiful dome of Taj Mahal (symbolic of eternal love) was masterminded by Shah Jahan in loving memory of his favourite queen Mumtaz Mahal who died prematurely.

Mumtaz was fortunate enough to attract the infallible love and affection undivided from the emperor. Tragic enough, Mumtaz died on delivering a baby. Although the Moghul princes were amply blessed with the privilege of polygamy, Shah Jahan was ever immutable in his determination to reject remarriage.


Ultimately emperor fell prey to an utter frustration and he is said to have locked himself up in a dark room whereby his hair had absolutely turned grey. There is an interesting episode within this prolonged ordeal in the dark room. Once a lady from his concubine (named Thuldaazi ) attempted to approach the emperor, a total recluse but the grief stricken lover is quoted to have said,

"Go you lady! away! In the dead of night you try to plaque me - fatigue me with your carnal urges. My life is long gone and I see no difference between life and death now. I feel pity on you but you can never be Mumtaz.

Shah Jahan

This door I will open after seven days. Do leave me alone...." However, ruthless and tough minded Shah Jahan might have been these words are redolent of his undisguised love for the dead queen.

Mentally, paralysed by the untimely death of his cherished wife, the emperor was firmly bent on erecting the greatest wonder of India, on the banks of river Jumma. It was Taj Mahal.

The abrupt, severe melancholia which came over the emperor on the death of Mumtaz Mahal explicitly shows how far he had loved her and how much emotionally dependent he was on his love for her.

It is said that the emperor was highly impressed by the exceptional poetic genius of Mumtaz who often wrote fragments of poetry on love during their walks in the garden.

However, as a clear offshoot of a heavy blanket of depression, Shah Jahan fell sick and a greater level of political instability pervaded in the empire as a battle of succession among his sons ensued. The emperor had established his favourite son Darashiko in Panjab as the regent but his youngest son Auranzeb, with inborn depravity and brutality rose against him to capture the throne.

Here, the battle was between mutually contrastive brothers namely Darashiko who was considered to be generous, sympathetic and charismatic and Auranzeb who was absolutely marked with ruthless, depravity and craft.


This political instability originated with the final collapse of the emperor as a sick person.

The decisive battle between the two forces finally left Auranzeb victorious who came to Agra and appropriated all the wealth in the state coffers.

Moreover, the new emperor employed all plans to capture his brother and finally assigned a slave called Nazaar the task of bringing Darashiko's head back to Auranzeb's Palace.

Nazaar beheaded Darashiko after a long chase and Auranzeb ordered it to be put into a bowl of water. Provocated by this inhuman slaughter, people around the palace stoned Nazar to death and labelled him a dead traitor.

Thus Auranzeb adopted a dictatorial attitude within the empire and ruined virtually every force that thwarted his imperial intentions.

Auranzeb's barbarism was made public when he directed his ill will towards his old fragile father (Shah Jahan). Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the "Red Fort" from where he could look at the matchless monument of Taj Mahal from a small window. He was nursed by his loving daughter "Jahanara" until he breathed his last in the Red Fort with his eyes fixed on Taj Mahal.

The beautiful Taj Mahal majestically towering skyward takes the visitor back to a world of unfailing love, hatred, depravity and tragedy that once landed India into an upheaval during Moghul empire.

Donate Now |
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)

| News | Editorial | Finance | Features | Political | Security | Sports | Spectrum | Montage | Impact | World | Obituaries | Junior | Youth |


Produced by Lake House Copyright 2014 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor