Early Life

Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram(Shah Jahan) was born on 5 January 1592 in Lahore, in modern-day Pakistan.

He was the third son of Prince Salim. His mother was a Rajput princess from Marwar called Princess Jagat Gosaini.

His grandfather Emperor Akbar named the young prince “Khurram” (joyous). The young prince shared a close relationship with Akbar.

Khurram(Shah Jahan) was born in 1592. Akbar ordered that the prince be taken away from his mother and handed him over to Ruqaiya.

As a child, Khurram received a broad education befitting his status as a Mughal prince. Akbar educated him in martial art and exposure to a wide variety of cultural arts, such as poetry and music.

In 1605, as Akbar lay on his deathbed, Khurram, who at this point was 13, remained by his bedside and refused to move even after his mother tried to retrieve him.

Marriage and Crown Prince

In 1607, Nur Jahan arranged Khurram engagment to Arjumand Banu Begum (1593–1631).  Arjumand Banu Begum is also known as Mumtaz Mahal. In 1612, aged 20, Khurram married Arjumand Banu Begum. The marriage was a happy one and Khurram remained devoted to her.

Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan with Mumtaz Mahal

Mumtaz Mahal died, aged 37 (7 July 1631), while giving birth to Gauhara Begum in Burhanpur. The cause of Mumtaz death was blood-loss after a painful labour of thirty hours.

In 1614, commanding an army numbering around 200,000, Khurram began the offensive against the Rajput kingdom. After a year of a harsh war of attrition, Maharana Amar Singh I surrendered conditionally to the Mughal forces and became a vassal state of the Mughal Empire.

In 1617, Emporer Jahagir directed Khurram to deal with the Lodi in the Deccan to secure the Empire’s southern borders and to restore imperial control over the region. His successes in these conflicts led to Jahangir granting him the title of Shah Jahan (Persian: “King of the World”).

Revolt against Emperor

Prince Khurram resented the influence Nur Jahan held over his father and was angered at having to play second fiddle to her favourite Shahryar, his half-brother and her son-in-law.

She ordered Prince Khurram to march for Kandahar, but he refused. As a result Mughal lost Kandahar to the Persians after a forty-five-day siege.

In 1622 Prince Khurram raised an army with the support of Mahabat Khan and marched against his father and Nur Jahan. His father defeated him at Bilochpur in March 1623. Later he took refuge in Udaipur Mewar with Maharaja Karan Singh II.

Upon the death of Jahangir in 1627, the wazir Asaf Khan, who had long been a quiet partisan of Prince Khurram, acted with unexpected forcefulness. His determination to forestall his sister the empress Nur Jahan’s plans to place Prince Shahryar on the throne.

He put Nur Jahan in close confinement. Asaf Khan also managed palace intrigues to ensure Prince Khurram’s succession the throne.

Emperor Shah Jahan

His first act as ruler was to execute his chief rivals and imprison his step mother Nur Jahan. Upon Shah Jahan’s orders several executions took place on 23 January 1628. Those put to death included his own brother Shahryar; his nephews Dawar and Garshasp, sons of Shah Jahan’s previously executed brother Prince Khusrau; and his cousins Tahmuras and Hoshang, sons of the late Prince Daniyal.

Soon Shah Jahan annexed the Rajput confederates of Baglana, Mewar and Bundelkhand.

Shah Jahan captured the fortress at Daulatabad, Maharashtra, in 1632, and imprisoned Husain Shah of the Nizam Shahi Kingdom of Ahmednagar. Golconda submitted in 1635 and then Bijapur in 1636.

Later a rebellion of the Sikhs led by Guru Hargobind took place and in return Shah Jahan ordered the destruction of the Sikh temple in Lahore.

Shah Jahan and his sons captured the city of Kandahar in 1638 from the Safavids, prompting the retaliation of the Persians led by their powerful ruler Abbas II of Persia, who recaptured it in 1649.

Shah Jahan’s treasurer was Shaikh Farid, who founded the city of Faridabad.

Struggle for Power among his Son

When Shah Jahan became ill in 1658, Dara Shukoh (eldest son) assumed the role of regent in his father’s stead. This action of Dara swiftly incurred the animosity of his brothers.

Aurangzeb, the third son, and ablest of the brothers gathered a well trained army and became its chief commander. He faced Dara’s army near Agra and defeated him during the Battle of Samugarh.

Soon Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness. Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and put him under house arrest in Agra Fort.

Jahanara Begum Sahib, Mumtaz Mahal’s first daughter, voluntarily shared his 8-year confinement and nursed him in his dotage. In January 1666, Shah Jahan fell ill. He died on 22 January 1666 (aged 74).

Shah Jahan left behind a grand legacy of structures constructed during his reign. His most famous building was the Taj Mahal, which he built out of love for his wife, the empress Mumtaz Mahal.

Among his other constructions are the Red Fort also called the Delhi Fort or Lal Qila in Urdu. He also build the large sections of Agra Fort, the Jama Masjid, the Wazir Khan Mosque, the Moti Masjid, the Shalimar Gardens, sections of the Lahore Fort, the Mahabat Khan Mosque in Peshawar, the Jahangir mausoleum—his father’s tomb and the Shahjahan Mosque. He also had the Peacock Throne, Takht e Taus, made to celebrate his rule.

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