When strolling down the Meena Bazaar, Shah Jahan caught a glimpse of a girl, Arjumand Banu Begum. At that time, he was 14 years old and she, a Muslim Persian princess, was 15. After meeting her, Shah Jahan went back to his father and declared that he wanted to marry her. It was love at first sight and The match got solemnized after five years. When Shah Jahan became emperor, He bestowed her with the title of Mumtaz Mahal, meaning the “Jewel of the Palace”. Though Mumtaz was Shah Jahan’s 4th wife (out of 7); they shared a very loving relationship and Mumtaz was Shah Jahan’s trusted companion who, despite her many pregnancies, travelled with her husband around the country during his military campaigns.
Mumtaz Mahal bore Shah Jahan fourteen children, including popular historical figures such as Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, Roshnara Begum, Jahanara Begum and Aurangzeb, among others. On June 17th 1631 Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to their fourteenth child in Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh. Mumtaz’s body was initially buried in a walled garden in Burhanpur, known as Zainabad and situated on the banks of the River Tapti. Shah Jahan was visibly devastated at the death of his beloved wife and was inconsolable. It is believed that Shah Jahan went into isolated mourning for a year and when he returned, all his hair had turned white and his face was ravaged with sadness.
When he returned, he had Mumtaj’s body exhumed in the and transported back to Agra in a golden coffin which was escorted by the Emperor’s son, Shah Shuja. Back in Agra, Mumtaz Mahal’s body was buried in a small building on the banks of the River Yamuna and Shah Jahan began planning the royal mausoleum which he would build for his deceased wife. Thereafter, Shah Jahan spent more than twenty years building the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife. Shah Jahan was laid to rest next to Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is probably the world’s most recognized building apart from being called one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”.
Dara Shikoh was the eldest son and the heir-apparent of the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He was favoured as a successor by his father and his sister Princess Jahanara Begum Sahib. In September 1657, the illness of emperor Shah Jahan triggered a desperate struggle for power among the four Mughal princes, though realistically only Dara and Aurangzeb had a chance of emerging victorious.
Despite strong support from Shah Jahan, who had recovered enough from his illness to remain a strong factor in the struggle for supremacy, and the victory of his army led by his eldest son Sulaiman Shikoh over his brother Shah Shuja in the battle of Bahadurpur, Dara was defeated by Aurangzeb and and brother Murad during the Battle of Samugarh, 13 km from Agra. Subsequently Aurangzeb took over Agra fort and deposed emperor Shah Jahan.
After this defeat Dara fled to Sindh and sought refuge under Malik Jiwan, an Afghan chieftain, whose life he had saved on more than one from the wrath of Shah Jahan. However, Malik betrayed Dara and turned him over to Aurangzeb’s army. Dara was brought to Delhi, placed on a filthy elephant and paraded through the streets of the capital in chains. Aurangzeb declared him a threat to the public peace and an apostate from Islam. He was assassinated and was beheaded, and his head was served to his father, Shah Jahan on a platter.
Dara had a deep interest in Sufism, and also attempted to find common language between Islam and Hinduism. Not able to find the answers he was looking for, Dara went on to study the Hindu Upanishads. The Mughal prince came to the conclusion that the “hidden book” mentioned in the Quran was none other than the Upanishads and believed that in order to understand the Quran, one needed to study the Hindu text. Dara even drew an equation between Adam and Brahma — a view which, according to historians, branded him as a heretic and ultimately led to his execution. Had Dara prevailed over Aurangzeb, the course of the history of the Indian subcontinent would have been different.