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.

As the story goes, Jahan was about to begin building a mirror image of the Taj Mahal – in black marble – across the Yamuna River.  The two sites were to be connected by a bridge.  But when Aurangzeb deposed and imprisoned his father, the second Taj was never built.

Aurangzeb’s rule turned out to be a disaster.  His intolerance and violent methods fomented rebellion among the Hindu majority, and began the decline of the Mughal empire. But he did one decent thing: When his father died, he brought his body back to the Taj Mahal.

Shah Jahan rests now and for eternity in a crypt next to his beloved Mumtaz.

There are more pictures from the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort here.


1 Doug Spiro { 05.26.09 at 10:47 am }

Wow. It sounds like an episode of John and Kate + 8! It is too bad they didn’t build the black marble Mahal.

2 Jet Set Life { 05.27.09 at 2:01 am }

This is a historical piece of architecture that comes with an amazing story. The pictures look great. The Taj mahal will make for an interesting destination for Jet Set Travellers who are looking for a unique travel destination.

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