Shah Jahan and His Architectural Contribution to India

Topics: Shah Jahan, Mughal Empire, Taj Mahal Pages: 16 (5892 words) Published: September 28, 2012
Chapter 17
Taj Mahal: Shah Jahan’s symbolism of his eternal love7
1.1 Who Built It?9
1.2 Features10
1.3 The Judgment Day11
1.4 Conclusion12
Chapter 213
Shah Jahan and his Empire13
2.1 Religious Changes14
2.2 Political Changes15

Shahanshah Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan I, Shah Jahan was the 5th emperor of the Mughal Empire after Babur, Humayun, Akbar, and Jahangir. He reigned from 8th November 1627 to 2nd August 1658 (30 years, 267 days). Shah Jahan was the favorite of Akbar the great.He is also called Shahjahan the Magnificent. He is a descendant of Genghis Khan, Emperor of Mongol Empire and Tamerlane, Emperor Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, King of the Lombards and the Emperor of the Romans. Although Shah Jahan is best known for the creation of Mughals’ most magnificent creation, the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan is also credited for building some of the most renowned Mughal structures such as Delhi Red Fort, Pearl Mosque, Jama Masjid, Diwan-I-Am & Diwan-I-Khas etc. Shah Jahan was a very different character compared to Akbar. He was more orthodox in religion, so much so that he ordered the demolition of several Hindu temples. An extremely able ruler, he was also a notably ruthless. He rebelled against his father and murdered his two elder brothers, their children and two male cousins in order to achieve the throne. Yet while Shah Jahan was capable of such cold-blooded brutal actions, there is no doubt that he was the most aesthetically sensitive of all the Mughals. As a boy of 15, he had impressed both his father and his grandfather with the taste he demonstrated in re-designing the Imperial apartments in Kabul and buildings within Agra fort. He had precocious talent for building and he had the most refined of the tastes in arts and architecture. His thirty year reign is dominated by an outward sense of prosperity and stability unmatched even during Akbar's rule. At the same time, different aspects of court culture increasingly formalized. Shah Jahan was portrayed as an aloof ideal king. Official histories thus present him as a just leader and staunch upholder of orthodox Islam, but they give little insight into the emperor's personal thoughts. Yet Shah Jahan's personal preference for Dara Shukoh, his eldest son, who is known as a mystic thinker, suggests other aspects of this ruler's character never alluded to in court histories. The painted image of Shah Jahan parallels the literary one Shah Jahan was very aggressive on expanding his empire and sent Mughal armies to conquer the Deccan and the lands to the northwest of the empire, beyond the Khyber Pass. Even though they demonstrated superiority of Mughal military strength, Shah Jahan was criticized as these campaigns drained the imperial treasury. Although there wasn’t any information in Mughal chronicles about the emperor’s personal life such as his fondness of women, it is interesting to note that several European chroniclers criticized Shah Jahan for his life style of chasing women.  Niccolao Manucci wrote that

“It would seem as if the only thing Shahjahan cared for was the search for women to serve his pleasure" and "for this end he established a fair at his court. No one was allowed to enter except women of all ranks that is to say, great and small, rich and poor, but all beautiful". Manucci notes that Shah Jahan didn't lose his "weakness for the flesh" even when he had grown very old.

To explain his findings about Shah Jahan, it is necessary to understand his historical works and his view on the empire. As Niccolao best puts it, “I must add that I have not relied on the knowledge of others; and I have spoken nothing which I have not seen or undergone...” His work on Mughal Empire extensively began with his experience with Shah Jahan’s reign. And he did not have any knowledge of previous emperors thus it is possible that he was not familiar with the...
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