A Handbook to Agra and the Taj eBook

Ernest Binfield Havel
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 82 pages of information about A Handbook to Agra and the Taj.

VI.  Aurangzib.

Agra is only concerned with the first seven years of Aurangzib’s reign, for, after the death of Shah Jahan, the court was removed to Delhi, and Agra was left with only a provincial governor to maintain its former magnificence.  The unhappy Dara, after his defeat by Aurangzib, made fruitless attempts to retrieve his fortunes, but was at last betrayed into the hands of his brother, who immediately put him to death.  Aurangzib lost no time in disposing of his other two brothers, and thus placed his succession to the throne beyond dispute.

The Princess Rushanara, as a reward for her treachery, was raised to the position formerly enjoyed by her sister Jahanara.  The French physician Bernier, who resided twelve years at the Mogul court in the time of Aurangzib, has left many minute and graphic records of the times.  Here is a picture of Rushanara when she accompanied Aurangzib on the march from Delhi to Kashmir:—­

“Stretch imagination to its utmost limits, and you can conceive no exhibition more grand and imposing than when Rauchenara-Begum, mounted on a stupendous Pegu elephant and seated in a mikdember, blazing with gold and azure, is followed by five or six other elephants with mikdembers nearly as resplendent as her own, and filled with ladies attached to her household.  Close to the Princess are the chief eunuchs, richly adorned and finely mounted, each with a wand of office in his hand; and surrounding her elephant a troop of female servants, Tartars and Kachmerys, fantastically attired and riding handsome pad-horses.  Besides these attendants are several eunuchs on horseback, accompanied by a multitude of pagys, or lackeys, on foot, with large canes, who advance a great way before the Princess, both to the right and left, for the purpose of clearing the road and driving before them every intruder.  Immediately behind Rauchenara-Begum’s retinue appears a principal lady of the court, mounted and attended in much the same manner as the Princess.  This lady is followed by a third, she by a fourth, and so on, until fifteen or sixteen females of quality pass with a grandeur of appearance, equipage, and retinue more or less proportionate to their rank, pay, and office.  There is something very impressive of state and royalty in the march of these sixty or more elephants; in their solemn and, as it were, measured steps, in the splendour of the mikdembers, and the brilliant and innumerable followers in attendance; and, if I had not regarded this display of magnificence with a sort of philosophical indifference, I should have been apt to be carried away by such flights of imagination as inspire most of the Indian poets when they represent the elephants as conveying so many goddesses concealed from the vulgar gaze.” [4]

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