Mughals : Shah Jahan

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Arrival | Rajputs & Portuguese | Babur | Khanwah | Humayun | Sher Shah | Akbar | Din-Illahi | Haldi Ghati | Administration | Jahangir | Shah Jahan | Aurangzeb | Last Mughals | Europeans | Nadir Shah 

Shah Jahan was a man of greater mark, though less attractive than Jahangir, in spite of his obvious faults. Shah Jahan was a man of great executive ability, to which he added a love for the magnificent and a refined artistic sense, specially for architecture. Shah Jahan (1592-1666) was the fifth ruler of the Mughal Empire in India. He became ruler in 1628. At his succession he executed all the male Mughal collterals , the descendants of his brothers and uncles, although at that time they had little political significance. During his reign, the Mughals reached their golden age, with vaults crammed with treasures and with architecture in magnificent style. He was in a special sense the architectural director of the day and there seems to be little doubt that the great buildings of his reign, the Taj Mahal, the Delhi Fort, and Jama Masjid, and the reconstruction of the Agra Fort, would not have been what they are without his personal inspiration and direction.

Shah Jahan is best remembered for the perfectly proportioned Taj Mahal, an immense tomb of white marble built for his wife in Agra, India. These and other buildings still stand as examples of Mughal glory. His romantic love for Mumtaz Mahal (his wife) did not hesitate to expose Mumtaz to the rigours of travel in all states of health so that she died at the age of 39 after giving birth to her fourteenth child. The dynasty began its decline because too much money was spent on luxuries and too much effort was wasted in war. Shah Jahan's reign was a troubled one, and one of his sons took his throne by force.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful and costly tombs in the world. The Indian ruler Shah Jahan ordered it built in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1629. The tomb stands near the city of Agra, in northern India, on the south bank of the Jumna River. About 20,000 workers were employed in its construction, completed after some 20 years by about 1650.

According to tradition, the Taj Mahal was designed by a Turkish architect. It is made of white marble and rests on a platform of red sandstone. At each corner of the platform stands a slender minaret (prayer tower). Each tower is 40.5 metres high. The building itself is almost 57 metres square. A dome covers the centre of the building.

It is over 21 metres in diameter and 36.5 metres high. Passages from the Muslim holy book, the Quran, decorate the outside along with inlaid floral patterns. A central room contains two cenotaphs (monuments). Visitors can see the monuments through a carved alabaster screen. The bodies of Shah Jahan and his wife lie in a vault below. The tomb stands in a garden.

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