Shah Jahan

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Shah Jahan

Ghiyasuddin Shah Jahan (شاہ جحاں, also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, etc.; January 5, 1592January 22, 1666) was the ruler of the Mughal Empire in India from 1628 until 1658. He married Mumtaz Mahal on 10 May 1612, at the age of 20.

Born Shehzaada Khurram (Prince Khurram), he was the third son of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and captured power after a fratricidal war.

Khurran had earlier raised an army against Jahangir and, on the defeat of his insurgency, been forgiven and accepted back into the fold. Prince Aurangzeb and one other brother, however, had to spend a large part of his childhood and early manhood as a kind of hostage at his grandfather's court against the possibility of his father revolting again.

When Shah Jahan fell severly ill beginning in 1657, the struggle to succeed him began. Shah Shuja declared himself emperor in Bengal. Aurangzeb also challenged his father and the expected successor, Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb's elder brother. Despite strong support from Shah Jahan, who had recovered enough from his illness to remain a strong factor in the struggle for supremacy, and Dara's victories over Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb finally defeated Dara. Dara attempted to rally support after this defeat, but was betrayed and turned over to his brother. Aurangzeb beheaded Dara Shikoh on the charge of heresy and, it is said, had his severed head taken to their father. He also ordered the execution of his brother Murad Baksh, who had briefly fought along with Aurangzeb against Dara Shikoh in the battle of Samogarh.

The first Mughal prince to defeat an imperial army, in July 1658 Aurangzeb put his father under house arrest in Agra Fort. Among the reason given in scholarship for putting his father under house arrest was that Shah Jahan wanted to build another Taj Mahal, a black one this time. Aurangzeb did not approve of this at all, and called it atrocious waste of money. The conditions of Shah Jahan's detention are the subject of disagreement and legend. Some say that the Fort was a luxurious residence, others say it was restrictive. Legends include one that says that though the Taj is not directly visible from the Sheesh Mahal in the Agra Fort, but it is constructed such that you can see the Taj in its multitude of mirrors.

He commissioned the building of the Taj Mahal in Agra, as a burial place for his second wife Empress Mumtaz Mahal (meaning 'the first lady of the palace').

But for the last five years of his life he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in a room of Agra Fort, tended only by his eldest daughter Jahanara Begum, with a direct view of the Taj Mahal. This was punishment for his endorsing Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb's older brother, in the fight for succession. Aurangazeb later killed his brother Dara and sent his head to his imprisoned father. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with an excellent view of the Taj Mahal. The conditions of Shah Jahan's imprisonment are controversial, with some claiming he was not held in particularly onerous conditions, as the Muasamman Burj is luxurious, while others cite the fact that only his daughter was allowed access to the imprisoned and dethroned Emperor. Legends include one that says that he could see the Taj directly from his residence, but the architecture of the Sheesh Mahal is such that you can see the Taj in its multitude of mirrors. See the article on Aurangzeb for more on the succession.

Shah Jahan is buried in the Taj Mahal, next to his second wife. The name Shah Jahan comes from Persian شاه‌جهان Shah Jahan meaning "The Ruler of the World").

Shah Jahan had seven surviving children: Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb, Murad Baksh, Jahanara Begum, Roshanara Begum and Gauharara Begum.

Preceded by:
Mughal Emperor
Succeeded by:

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