Many Emperors of ancient India had many wives, it was common marriages happened mostly for political reasons except for a few that occur for the reason of ‘love’.
Shah Jahan wed twice for political reasons to Akbarabadi Mahal and Kandahari Mahal. But his third marriage was based on pure eternal love which grew to become a famous fairy tale of love till date.
Shah Jahan & Mumtaz Mahal Love Story
Arjumand Banu Begum or more popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal was Shah Jahan’s third wife and the daughter of Shah Jahan’s step-mother Nur Jahan’s brother, Asaf Khan. She is world-famous not just for her 19 long loving years of married life with Shah Jahan but also for the memorial built for her after her death, the beautiful Taj.
The prince Khurram - as Shah Jahan was known before he came to power - met Arjumand Banu Begum when he was 15 years old and fell in love with her at first sight. Legends say that they met while shopping in a private bazaar for the first time. Her unrivaled beauty and his great personality bought both together. They both took a liking on each other and love blossomed. Little did they know when they courted that this love story will be etched on marble for the whole world to talk about for very many centuries to come.
They got married after a five year period of struggle over family feuds during which Shah Jahan had two marriages for political reasons. Finally when he was twenty and she was nineteen, they both got married which marked the start of their 19 year long marriage time.
Prince Khurram and Arjumand Bano Begum married in 1612 in a grand manner. Shah Jahan was titled after he attained the throne in 1628 and he conferred “The Royal Seal - Mehr Uzaz” on her which is the highest honour of the land during the Mughal times.
He also built the one of the most beautiful palaces in Agra, Khas Mahal (you can see this inside the Agra Fort) for his most favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She traveled with him in all his campaigns and tours in spite of her frequent pregnancies. They both together has a total of 14 children in the 19 years that they lived together. She was his most preferred companion and was described by many as his perfect wife. She also guided him in many decisions though she was had no political aspirations unlike her aunt Nur Jahan who had control and influence during Jehangir’s rule.
The Promises and the Monument
Legends say that Mumtaz Mahal asked for some promises from Shah Jahan before she dies during the birth of their 14th child.
She was said to have asked the Emperor to build a monument that would reflect their love to the world and stand as a memorial showcasing their life. She also asked him to promise never to remarry after her death.
Though the truth of these facts is not known, Shah Jahan kept his word. He did not marry after the death of Mumtaz and also was in grief for almost about two years after her death. He also built the Taj Mahal as a memorial which symbolizes their love and their life.
It took him 22 years to have the construction of Taj Mahal completed. The remains of Mumtaz Mahal was bought from Agra and buried in the Taj Mahal, six months after her death and her beloved husband the emperor was also buried next to her after his death.
Taj Mahal stands as a symbol of love telling the tale of a king and a queen buried within it.
The local guides may just make a passing comment of these gates and moves on, as there are so much other attractions to be seen inside the fort. In fact the so called "Somnath" Gates now stored in a room in Agra Fort has a curious story to tell.
Map of Agra for with many important attractions marked.