The Taj Mahal - History

Much of the Fascinating of the Taj Mahal lies in the history behind it. According to legend, Prince Khurram, who was later known as Shah Jahan, was the eldest son of emperor Jehangir and also a favorite of his father. One day as he was walking in the Meena Bazaar, a private market attached to the royal harem for the women of the palace, he came across Arjumand Banu, daughter of Empress Noor Jehan’s brother Asaf Khan. This 14 year old girl was busy selling glass beads and silk in her stall and unlike the other girls she seemed completely unafraid of the heir to the Mughal throne.

Eager to enter into a conversation with her, Prince Khurra, who was completely besotted by her simple charm and beauty asked her what the price of particular glass bead in her stall was. To this Arjumand Banu answered that it was not just a glass bead that he held in his hand but a diamond worth 10,000 rupees. Going even further, she boldly added that since it was so expensive he might not be able to afford it. Hearing this challenge, the Prince immediately bought the diamond, but by then he had already lost his heart to the 14 year old girl.

After getting permission from his father, Khurram finally married Arumand in 1612 when he was 20 years old. Over time Ariumand Banu proved herself to be a worthy and honourable queen and came to be known as ‘Mumtaz Mahal’. Her beauty was set off by the compassion and generosity of her nature that won her admirers amongst all people. Over 19 years of marriage she stood by her husband through the mot difficult of times and even accompanied him on his fighting tours. It is believed that for Shah Jahan the world began and ended with her.

Finally, it was while giving birth to their fourteenth child that Mumtaz Mahal died, leaving behind a distraught husband and a mourning empire. However, before giving up her last breath she asked her husband for one last wish – she wanted an unforgettable monument to be built in her memory, a monument like none other in the world. She made her husband promise this and the Taj Mahal was his fulfilling of the promise.

Built between 1632 and 1648 A.D. over a period of 17 years and with twenty thousand men working on it day and night, this monument in white marble is one of the seven wonders of the world and perhaps the most famous piece of architecture in India.

It is said that even while he was imprisoned in a tower some distance from the monument, Shah Jahan would look at the reflection of his beloved wife’s tomb in a small mirror he had with him. While the beauty, grandeur and elegance of the structure are its main hallmarks, what makes the Taj Mahal alive even today is the love of an emperor for his deceased wife and his tribute to their lives together.

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