A Handbook to Agra and the Taj eBook

Ernest Binfield Havel
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 98 pages of information about A Handbook to Agra and the Taj.

Jahangir died in 1627, and was buried at Shahdara, near Lahore, in a magnificent tomb prepared by Nur Mahal.  She herself retired to Lahore, and, though she lived till 1648, ceased to take any part in state affairs after his death.  She was buried by her husband’s side at Shahdara.

Jahangir’s connection with Agra.

Jahangir for a great part of his reign held his court at Lahore, or at Kabul.  The chief monuments of his reign at, or near, Agra are Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra (p. 97), and Itmad-ud-daulah’s tomb (p. 85), already mentioned.  Part of the Agra Palace, the Jahangiri Mahal (p. 63), is named after him, though it is most probable that it was really built in Akbar’s reign.

There are a few minor buildings of Jahangir’s time in Agra, such as the baths of Ali Verdi Khan in Chipitollah Street, the mosque of Motamid Khan in the Kashmiri Bazar, and the tower known after the name of Boland Khan, the chief eunuch of Jahangir’s palace.  These are of purely archaeological interest.

V. Shah Jahan.

Shah Jahan, on his father’s death, though only fourth in right of succession to the throne, speedily disposed of his brothers by means very commonly adopted in Oriental royal families, and was enthroned at Agra in 1648.  Immediately afterwards he wreaked his vengeance on the Portuguese, who had taken part against him in his rebellion against Jahangir, by destroying their settlement at Hughli.  The next year, while on an expedition to suppress disorder in the Deccan, he lost his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the lady of the Taj.  For a long time the Emperor abandoned himself entirely to grief, and he remained faithful to her memory until his death.

The actual building of the Taj commenced in 1632.  From this date until 1658, when Aurangzib usurped the throne, was the most magnificent period of the Mogul dynasty.  The whole empire enjoyed comparative peace and prosperity.  Shah Jahan’s just and liberal government continued his father’s and grandfather’s policy of tolerance towards the Hindus, and his administration, though conducted with great pomp and splendour, did not press hardly upon the people.  It was one of the greatest epochs of Indian architecture; besides the Taj Mahal, the buildings erected during these years include four of the masterpieces of the Mogul period—­the Jami Masjid, or Cathedral Mosque, of Delhi; the Muti Masjid, or Pearl Mosque, of Agra; part of the Agra Palace, and the great palace at Delhi, of which only a small portion now exists.

It is said that as Shah Jahan advanced towards old age he abandoned himself more and more to a life of pleasure and self-indulgence, but his last years were darkened by the same kind of family intrigues through which he himself had gained the throne.  In 1657 the serious illness of the Emperor brought these intrigues to a head.  His eldest son by Mumtaz Mahal, called Dara Shikoh, a gracious and generous Prince, but headstrong

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A Handbook to Agra and the Taj from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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