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Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan(also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan,(, Persian: ) (January 5, 1592 January 22, 1666), (full title: Shahanshah Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Malik-ul-Sultanat, Ala Hazrat Abu'l-Muzaffar Shahab ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan I, Sahib-i-Qiran-i-Sani, Padshah Ghazi Zillu'llah, Firdaus-Ashiyani, Shahanshah E--Sultanant Ul Hindiya Wal Mughaliya) was the emperor of the Mughal Empire in South Asia from 1628 until 1658. The name Shah Jahan comes from Persian meaning "Ruler of Everywhere". He was the fifth Mughal emperor after Babur, Humayun, Akbar, and Jahangir. While young, he was favourite of his legendary grandfather, Akbar the Great. Shah Jahan was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan through Timur and was the heir of the Mughal Empire of Babur, he is also alleged to have been a descendant of Charlemagne.

At a young age, he was chosen as successor to the Mughal throne after the death of Emperor 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 the Mughals and one of the most prosperous ages of Indian civilization. Like Akbar, he was eager to expand his vast empire. In 1658, he fell ill and was confined by his son Emperor Aurangzeb in the Agra Fort until his death in 1666.

The period of his reign was the golden age of Mughal architecture. Shahanshah Shah Jahan erected many splendid monuments, the most famous of which is the legendary Taj Mahal at Agra built 1632-1648 as a tomb for his beloved wife, Empress Mumtaz Mahal. The Moti Masjid, Agra and many other buildings in Agra, the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid in Delhi, mosques in Lahore, extensions to Lahore Fort and a mosque in Thatta also commemorate him. The famous Takht-e-Taus or the Peacock Throne, said to be worth millions of dollars by modern estimates, also dates from his reign. He was also the founder of the new imperial capital called Shahjahanabad, now known as Old Delhi. Other important buildings of Shah Jahan's rule were the Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas in the Red Fort Complex in Delhi and the Moti Masjid in the Lahore Fort. Shah Jahan is also believed to have the most refined of the tastes in arts and architecture and is credited to have commissioned about 777 gardens in Kashmir, his favourite summer residence. A few of these gardens survive and attract thousands of tourists every year.



Early years

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, rescuing his serviceman using a Matchlock during a campaign. Baadshah Shah Jahan was born as Prince Shihab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram, on January 5, 1592 in Lahore, Pakistan as the third and favourite son of the emperor Jahangir from his Rajput wife Gossaini. The name Khurram-Persian for 'joyful'-was given by his grandfather Akbar. His early years saw him receive a cultured, broad education and he distinguished himself in the martial arts and as a military commander while leading his father's armies in numerous campaigns against Mewar(1615 CE, 1024 AH), the Deccan Sultanates(1617 and 1621 CE, 1026 and 1030 AH), Kangra Fort(1618 CE, 1027AH). He was responsible for most of the territorial gains during his father's reign. Shah Jahan was also very well known and praised for his bravery, as a young man he is known to have rescued an imperial serviceman from an ambushing lions.

He also demonstrated a precocious talent for building, impressing his father Jahangir at the age of 16 when he built his quarters within his great grandfather the Mughal Emperor Babur's Kabul fort and redesigned buildings within Agra fort. He also carries the universally famous titles like "The builder of marvels ". Shah Jahan was also chosen by his father Jahangir to acknowledge the Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri and early manual on statesmanship and administration in the Mughal Empire.


Mumtaz Mahal

In 1607 AD (1016 AH), Prince Khurram, also known as Shah Jahan, was betrothed to Arjumand Banu Begum who was just 14 years old at the time. She was also the niece of the famous queen of Jehangir-Nur Mahal. She would become the unquestioned love of his life. They would, however, have to wait five years before they were married in 1612 AD (1021 AH), on a date selected by the court astrologers as most conducive to ensuring a happy marriage. After their wedding celebrations, Khurram "finding her in appearance and character elect among all the women of the time," gave her the title Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace).

Asaf Khan IV]].

Mumtaz Mahal had 14 children. Despite her frequent pregnancies, she travelled with Shah Jahan's entourage throughout his earlier military campaigns and the subsequent rebellion against his father. Mumtaz Mahal was utterly devoted she was his constant companion and trusted confidante and their relationship was intense. She is portrayed by Shah Jahan's chroniclers as the perfect wife with no aspirations to political power. This is in direct opposition to how her aunt Nur Jahan had been perceived. Mumtaz died in Burhanpur in 1631 AD (1040 AH), while giving birth to their fourteenth child, a healthy baby girl. She had been accompanying her husband while 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.

The intervening years had seen Khurrum take two other wives known as Akbarabadi Mahal (d.1677 CE, 1088 AH), and Kandahari Mahal (b. c1594 CE, c1002 AH), (m.1609 CE, 1018 AH).

According to the official court chronicler Qazwini, the relationship with his other wives "had nothing more than the status of marriage. The intimacy, deep affection, attention and favor which His Majesty had for the Cradle of Excellence [Mumtaz Mahal] exceeded by a thousand times what he felt for any other."


Jahangir receives prince Khurram of his returns from deccan Inheritance of power and wealth in the Mughal empire was not determined through primogeniture, but by princely sons competing to achieve military successes and consolidating their power at court. This often led to rebellions and wars of succession. As a result, a complex political climate surrounded the Mughal court in Shahzada Khurram's formative years. In 1611 his father married Nur Jahan, the widowed daughter of an Afghan Noble. She rapidly became an important member of Emperor Jahangir's court and, together with her brother Asaf Khan, wielded considerable influence. Arjumand was Asaf Khan's daughter and her marriage to Prince Khurram consolidated Nur Jahan and Asaf Khan's positions at court.

In the year 1614, Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) commanded a vast Mughal Army consisting of over 200,000 Sowars and subdued the Rajput Maharana of Mewar, who surrendered and submitted to Prince Khurram.

Khurram's intense military successes of 1617 CE (1026 AH) against the Lodi in the Deccan effectively secured the southern border of the empire and his grateful father rewarded him with the prestigious title 'Shah Jahan Bahadur'(Brave King of the World) which implicitly sealed his inheritance. Court intrigues, however, including Nur Jahan's decision to have her daughter from her first marriage wed Shah Jahan's youngest brother Shahzada Shahryar and her support for his claim to the throne led Khurram, supported by Muhabbat Khan, into open revolt against his father in 1622.

The rebellion was quelled by Jahangir's forces in 1626 and Khurram was forced to submit unconditionally. Upon the death of Jahangir in 1627, Prince Khurram succeeded to the Mughal throne as Shah Jahan, King of the World, the latter title alluding to his pride in his Timurid roots and his ambitious the history. Shahanshah Shah Jahan's first act as ruler was to execute his chief rivals and imprison his step mother Nur Jahan. This allowed Shan Jahan to rule without contention.

Administration of the Mughal Empire

Durbar]]. Although his father's rule was generally peaceful, the empire was experiencing challenges by the end of his reign. In 1628, immediately after becoming Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan's forces were ambushed by Sikh rebels, the Emperor organized an assault, which caused almost all the Sikhs, including Guru Hargobind and his mercenaries to flee.[1] Shah Jahan repulsed the Portuguese in Bengal, capturing the Rajput kingdoms of Baglana, Mewar and Bundelkhand to the west and the northwest beyond the Khyber Pass. He then chose his 16 year old son Aurangzeb to serve in his place and subdue the rebellion by the Bundela Rajputs led by the renegade Jhujhar Singh. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan then chose his son Aurangzeb to become the Subedar of Deccan and ordered the annexation of Ahmednagar and the overthrow of the Nizam Shahi dynasty.

Shah Jahan and his sons captured the city of Kandahar in 1638 from the Safavids, prompting the retaliation of the Persians led by their powerful ruler Abbas II of Persia, who recaptured it in 1649, the Mughal armies were unable to recapture it despite repeated sieges during the Mughal Safavid War.

Evidence from the reign of Shah Jahan in the year 1648 states that the army consisted of 911,400 infantry, musketeers, and artillery men, and 185,000 Sowars commanded by princes and nobles and were maintained out of the revenues of the Mughal Empire which amounted to 120,071,876,840 dams. During his reign the Marwari horse was introduced becoming Shah Jahan's favorite and various Mughal Cannons were mass produced in the Jaigarh Fort. Under his rule, the empire became a huge military machine and the nobles and their contingents multiplied almost fourfold, as did the demands for more revenue from the peasantry. But due to his measures in the financial and commercial fields, it was a period of general stability the administration was centralised and court affairs systematized.

The Mughal Empire continued to expand moderately during his reign as his sons commanded large armies on different fronts. Above all it is obligatory to mention here that India became the richest centre of the arts, crafts and architecture and some of the best of the architects, artisians, craftsmens, painters and writers of the world resided in his empire, it is believed that the Mughal Empire had the highest gross domestic produce in the world.

The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan also intended to construct his capitol at Agra as an urban center that would rival both Istanbul and Isfahan in all its wealth and cultural lifestyle.

Foreign Relations

The Surrender of Kandahar, a miniature painting from the Padshahnama depicting the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's successful capture of the city in the year 1638.[2]

The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan gave orders in 1631 to Qasim Khan, the Mughal viceroy of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their trading post at Port Hoogly, the trading post was heavily armed with cannons, battleships, fortified walls, and other instruments of war.[3] The Portuguese were accused of trafficking by high Mughal officials and due to commercial competition the Mughal-controlled port of Saptagram began to slump. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was particularly outraged by the activities of Jesuits in that region particularly when they were accused of abducting peasants.[4] On September 25, 1632 the Mughal Army raised imperial banners and gained control over the Bandel region and the renegade garrison was punished.[5]

While he was encamped in Baghdad, Sultan Murad IV is known to have met the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's ambassadors: Mir Zarif and Mir Baraka, who presented 1000 pieces of finely embroidered cloth and even armor. Murad IV gifted them with the finest weapons, saddles and Kaftans and ordered his forces to accompany the Mughals to the port of Basra, where they set sail to Thatta and finally Surat.

The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had exchanged ambassadors and documents with the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV, it was through these exchanges led by the Mughal ambassador Sayyid Muhiuddin and his counterpart the Ottoman ambassador Arsalan Agha, that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan received Mimar Yusuf, Isa Muhammad Effendi and Ismail Effendi, two Turkish architects and students of the famous Koca Mimar Sinan Agha. Both of them later comprised among the Mughal team that would design and build the Taj Mahal.

Mir Jumla II, who in the 1640s had his own ships and organized merchant fleets that sailed throughout: Surat, Thatta, Arakan, Ayuthya, Balasore, Aceh, Melaka, Johore, Bantam, Makassar, Ceylon, Bandar Abbas, Mecca, Jeddah, Basra, Aden, Masqat, Mocha and the Maldives. His merchant fleet could only be rivaled by Abdul Goffur of Surat although other nobles such as Asaf Khan and Safi Khan owned seaborne vessels.

Patronage of the arts

The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, using his Matchlock during a hunting expedition.

Shah Jahan's reign saw some of India's most well-known architectural and artistic accomplishments. The land revenue of the Mughal Empire under Shah Jahan was higher than that of any other Mughal ruler. The magnificence of Shah Jahan s court was commented upon by several European travelers and by ambassadors from other parts of the world, including Francois Bernier and Thomas Roe. His famous Peacock Throne, with its trail blazing in the shifting natural colors of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, was valued by the jeweller Tavernier at 6 million pounds sterling.

Under Shah Jahan's rule, Mughal artistic and architectural achievements reached their zenith. Shah Jahan was a prolific builder with a highly refined aesthetic sense. Among his surviving buildings are the Red Fort and Jama Masjid in Delhi, the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore, sections of the Lahore Fort(such as Sheesh Mahal, and Naulakha pavilion), and his Tomb of Jahangir.

Legend has it that Shah Jahan wanted to build a black Taj Mahal for himself. There is no reputable scholarship to support this hypothesis, however, nor for other horrific legends that Shah Jahan maimed, blinded, or killed those responsible for designing and building the Taj Mahal.


The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his eldest son Dara Shikoh.

When Shah Jahan became ill in 1658 CE (1067 AH), Dara Shikoh(Mumtaz Mahal's eldest son) assumed the role of regent in his father's stead, which swiftly incurred the animosity of his brothers. Upon learning of his assumption of the regency, his younger brothers, Shuja, Viceroy of Bengal, and Murad Baksh, Viceroy of Gujarat, declared their independence, and marched upon Agra in order to claim their riches. Aurangzeb, the third son, and ablest and most virile of the brothers, gathered a well trained army and became its in chief commander, he faced his elder brother and heir apparent Dara's army close to Agra and completely defeated him during the Battle of Samugarh. Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and put him under house arrest in Agra Fort.

Jahanara Begum Sahib, Jahan's first daughter, voluntarily shared his 8-year confinement and nursed him in his dotage. In January 1666 (1076 AH), Shah Jahan fell ill with strangury and dysentery. Confined to bed, he became progressively weaker until, on 22 January, he commanded the ladies of the imperial court, particularly his consort of later years Akbarabadi Mahal, to the care of Jahanara. After reciting the Islamic declaration of faith (Laa ilaaha illa l-laah) and verses from the Quran, he one of the greatest of the Mughal Emperors died.

Princess Jahanara planned a state funeral which was to include a procession with Shah Jahan's body carried by eminent nobles followed by the notable citizens of Agra and officials scattering coins for the poor and needy. Aurangzeb refused to accommodate such ostentation and the body was washed in accordance with Islamic rites, taken by river in a sandalwood coffin to the Taj Mahal and was interred there next to the body of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Contributions to architecture

Shalimar Gardens]], comprising over four-hundred fountains, were built by the Mughal emperor. The Taj Mahal is the most notable example of Islamic architecture in South Asia it was constructed according to the commands of the famous Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.

Shah Jahan left behind a grand legacy of structures constructed during his reign. He was one of the greatest patrons of Islamic architecture. His most famous building was the Taj Mahal, now a wonder of the world, which he built out of love for his wife the empress Mumtaz Mahal.

Its structure was drawn with great care and architects from all over the world were called for this purpose. The building took twenty years to complete and was constructed from white marble underlaid with brick. Upon his death, his son Aurangazeb had him interred in it next to Mumtaz Mahal. Among his other constructions are Delhi Fort also called the Red Fort or Lal Qila(Urdu) in Delhi, large sections of Agra Fort, the Jama Masjid(Grand Mosque), Delhi, the Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan, the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), Lahore, the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, sections of the Lahore Fort, Lahore, the Jahangir mausoleum his father's tomb, the construction of which was overseen by his stepmother Nur Jahan and the Shahjahan Mosque, Thatta, Pakistan. He also had the Peacock Throne, Takht e Taus, made to celebrate his rule. Shah Jahan also placed profound verses of the Quran on his masterpieces of architecture.

A famous seamless celestial globe was produced in 1659-1660 AD (1070 AH), by the Sindhi astronomer Muhammad Salih Tahtawi of Thatta with Arabic and Persian inscriptions.

Contribution to the arts

The imperial Pearl Mosque of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. All the inscriptions on the Taj Mahal tombs of Shah Jahan and his wife are in Persian Calligraphy on the tombs and on the Agra Fort quranic Calligraphy and Persian poem in Nasta l qinscription. Shah Jahan's cenotaph is bigger than that of his wife, but reflects the same elements: a larger casket on a slightly taller base, again decorated with astonishing precision with lapidary and calligraphy that identifies him.

The pen box and writing tablet were traditional Persian funerary icons decorating the caskets of men and women respectively. The Ninety Nine Names of God are found as calligraphic inscriptions in Persian nastNasta l qinscription style of calligraphic on the sides of the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, in the crypt including "O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious... ". The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads; "He traveled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri."

Jama Masjid, Delhi one of the largest mosques in the Mughal Empire was completed during the reign of Shah Jahan.

written in Persian: ... the bright tomb of arjmand banou beegom famous as Mumtaz mahal(the best of the rigion) died year. 1076 ) the purified shrine of his majesty resident of paradise the highness Shahjahan the Magnificent rest his soul in peace. year1076 H.G.

Shah Jahan was very interested in Persian inscription and a Persian poet who requested a famous Persian calligrapher to decorate his palace and castles.

Shah Jahan's coins

File:Silver_rupee_coin_of_Shah_Jahan.jpg|Silver rupee(5) File:Silver rupee coin of Shah Jahan, issued from Patna.jpg|Silver Rupee(2) File:Silver_rupee_coin_of_Shah_Jahan,_from_Patna_mint.jpg|Silver rupee(3) File:Silver_coin_of_Shah_Jahan.jpg|Silver rupee(4) File:061shajah-6.JPG|Copper Dam

See also



  • Padshah Nama, a book written by Abdul Hamid Lahori
  • Shah Jahan Nama/Amal-i-salih by Inayat Khan/Muhammad Saleh Kamboh
  • Nushka i Dilkhusha by Bhimsen
  • Bernier, Francois, Travels in the Mogal Empire (1656 68), revised by V.A. Smith, Archibald Constable, Oxford 1934.
  • Tavernier, Jean Baptiste, Travels in India, trs. and ed. by V.Ball, 2 Vols. Macmillan, 1889, 1925.
  • De Laet, Joannes, The Empire of the Great Mogol, trs. by Hoyland and Banerjee, Bombay 1928.
  • Peter Mundy. Travels of Peter Mundy in Asia, ed. Richard Carnac Temple, Hakluyt Society, London 1914.
  • Manucci, Niccolao, Storia do Mogor, Eng. trs. by W. Irvine, 4 vols. Hohn Murray, London 1906.
  • Manrique, Travels of Frey Sebastian Manrique, trs. by Eckford Luard, 2 Vols. Hakluyt Society, London 1927.
  • Begley, W, The Symbolic Role of Calligraphy on Three Imperial Mosques of Shah Jahan, Kaladarsana, 1978, pp. 7 18
  • Hunter, William., The Imperial Gazetteer of India.Turbner & Co.: London 1886
  • A Handbook to Arga and the Taj by E.B. Havell

External links

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