Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram Shah Jahan I was 15 when he met Arjumand Banu Begum, the grand daughter of a Persian nobleman. She was 14. They were already engaged to be married when they met, things just worked that way in 16th Century India.
Afther their wedding, when the veils were lifted, he found her in “appearance and character elect among all the women of the time,” gave her the title “Mumtaz Mahal”, the Jewel of the Palace.
She was HAWT!
The throne and its power and wealth in the Mughal empire were not determined by birth order, but by princely sons competing to achieve military successes and consolidating their power at court. This often led to rebellions and wars of succession.
Shahanshah Shah Jahan’s first act as ruler was to execute his chief rivals and imprison his step mother. This allowed Shan Jahan to rule without contention.
He was absolute, and considered “the king of the world.” Sorry Leonardo!
And he was in love.
They had 14 children. And even with her frequent pregnancies, she travelled with Shah Jahan’s entourage throughout his earlier military campaigns and his rebellion against his father. Mumtaz Mahal was utterly devoted — she was his constant companion and trusted confidante and their relationship was intense.
Like I said, he was in love.
During the birth of their fourteenth child, she died. They were on campaign, fighting a battle, and they were away from home. Her body was temporarily buried at Burhanpur in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad. It was originally constructed by Shah Jahan’s uncle on the bank of the Tapti River.
But, that wasn’t good enough for his favorite wife; he had three.
So when he got home, he built this.
Now considered one of the “seven wonders of the world”.
The plans for the Taj Mahal were made with extreme care and detail, architects from all over the world were pressed into service…some not by choice. The building took twenty years to complete and was constructed entirely from white marble. When he died, his son burried him there as well, next to Mumtaz Mahal.
After all, she was his favorite wife.
Years later, millions flock to the Taj to wonder at its beauty, and wonder at his love for her.
Some have used it to show the world how much the weren’t loved. Even the most famous woman of her time.