A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Love and Betrayal


Here’s the thing I didn’t know about the Taj Mahal:  It’s a Muslim mausoleum—the final resting place of Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife of Shah Jahan, India’s most successful Mughal emperor.

Mumtaz died giving birth to their fourteenth child.  On her deathbed, she asked her grief-stricken husband to promise her three things:  First, never to marry again.  Second, always to protect and care for her children.  And third, to build her a mausoleum more beautiful than the world had ever seen.

In 1632, one year after Mumtaz’s death, Shah Jahan began building the Taj Mahal.  It was completed in 1648.  That might have been the end of the story – except it wasn’t.  The Shah’s troubles were just beginning.


Jahan had many sons, all vying to succeed him as Emperor.  Most thought his son Dara Sikoh would eventually succeed him, but another son, Aurangzeb, had different plans.  He raised an army and went to war with his brother, soundly defeating him.

Aurangzeb then returned to his father, bringing him his brother’s severed head on a silver platter.  Then he imprisoned his father in Agra’s Red Fort, about a mile down the river from the Taj Mahal.  Shah Jahan was confined to a suite of rooms with a view of the Taj.


Shah Jahan spent the rest of his days constantly reminded of his beloved wife’s death and angry son’s betrayal.

According to legend, Aurangzeb may have denied the world another architectural marvel.

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May 25, 2009   2 Comments

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