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Empress Mumtaz Mahal - The reason why the Taj Mahal is what it is...
Arjumand Banu Begum, popularly known by the name, Mumtaz Mahal, was born in 27th April 1593, to a Persian Noble Family. Her name signifies the "Cherished Jewel of the Palace." She was an Empress of India during the Moghul Dynasty. Her father was the sibling of Empress Nur Jahan, who was betrothed to ruler Jahangir. Mumtaz followed the Shi'a Islam religion.
In 1607 A.D., at a prime age of 14, she was betrothed to Prince Khurram and was married to him five years after the engagement on 10 May 1612, a date chosen by the court soothsayers as the most auspicious for ensuring a successful marriage. Later, Prince Khurram went on to become the fifth Moghul Emperor of India when he ascended India's Peacock Throne. He was then given the name, ShahJahan-I. Mumtaz was his third wife (some historians claim that she was his second wife, which has been a debatable speculation for long), and turned out to be his most beloved of all.
After their wedding, Khurram, discovering her elegance, the way she looked and conducted herself, her pristine beauty and character, elected her as the Empress of that era and gave her the title of Begum Mumtaz Mahal, which translates to 'The Chosen One of the Palace'. Besides Mumtaz, Shahjahan had many other wives.
Mumtaz Mahal had a profound and cherishing marriage with Shahjahan. However, during her lifetime, artists would laud her magnificence, elegance and kindness. Mumtaz Mahal was Shahjahan's trusted partner, and travelled with him everywhere he went, across the Moghul Empire.
His trust in her was great to the point that he even gave her his supreme Imperial seal - the 'Muhr Uzah'. Mumtaz was depicted as the ideal wife without any desires for political stature or power.
She likewise took delight in watching elephant battles performed for the court. It was entirely basic for ladies of honorable birth to commission engineering in the Moghul Empire. Mumtaz committed some of her time into having a riverside garden made in Agra and it might have been her love for this garden that incited the possible design of her monument
In spite of her continuous pregnancies, Mumtaz went with ShahJahan's company all through his prior military battles. She was his consistent friend and trusted associate and their relationship was solemn.
Whence Mumtaz was pregnant with their fourteenth child, she was traveling with ShahJahan during his battling a crusade in the Deccan Plateau in Burhanpur, in the year 1631 AD. When they were in the Deccan (currently Madhya Pradesh), she was in labor and took her last breath after kicking the bucket while giving birth to their fourteenth child, a little princess named Gauhara Begum. Her body was briefly buried at Burhanpur in a walled garden known as Zainabad, which was initially built by ShahJahan's uncle Daniyal on the bank of the Tapti River. Her first grave still lies here.
As for ShahJahan, Burhanpur was never expected to be his beloved wife's last resting place. Therefore, her body was disinterred in December 1631 and transported in a brilliant coffin escorted by her child Shah Shuja and the head lady in waiting of the deceased Empress, back to Agra. There, she was buried in a small crest on the banks of the Yamuna River.
ShahJahan stayed behind in Burhanpur to close the military crusade that had initially brought him to the area. While there he started arranging the blueprint and development of a suitable sepulcher and funerary greenery enclosure in Agra for his beloved wife, an undertaking that would take over 22 years to finish - the Taj Mahal.
Today, the Taj stands as a well-defined monument of love and reverence to her merit and life.
The contemporary court writers paid an abnormal measure of thoughtfulness regarding Mumtaz Mahal's demise and ShahJahan's sadness at her death. In the prompt fallout of his mourning, the Emperor was apparently hopeless and completely devastated.
Clearly after her passing, ShahJahan became detached from the world and went into grieving for a year. After a year, when he showed up, his back had bent and twisted, hair was grey, and face was completely worn out. Since Mumtaz had kicked the bucket on a Wednesday, all celebrations were banned on that day. ShahJahan surrendered listening to music, wearing adornments or rich and bright garments and utilizing fragrances for a long time. His eldest daughter, Jahanara Begum, steadily brought him out of anguish and assumed the position of Mumtaz at court.
The Empress Mumtaz Mahal's own fortune was estimated to be R. 10,000,000 and was divided by ShahJahan between Jahanara Begum, who got half, and the remaining half equally divided among her surviving children.
Promptly after the internment in Burhanpur, ShahJahan and the majestic court gave themselves to the design and plan of the sepulcher and garden in Agra, now known as the Taj Mahal or affectionately - The Taj!
Here are Quick Facts about Mumtaz Mahal
Mumtaz Mahal's Offsrping: