Reign Of Emperor Shah Jahan: Apogee Of Mughal Empire

Aesthetic by nature, but well known in the rigor of governing an empire, Shahjahan was the penultimate great Mughal before the sun began to set in the empire.

He was known to be the best look of the big Mughals and his good looks were not spoiled by the insignificant marks of small pocket marks on his face. He was a connoisseur of jewelry and even old hands in the field would seek his opinion on the matter. He was a good singer as reported by members of the small courtyard of the courtiers whom he entertained so much. Fund of the good life he spent in abundance in the display of his wealth with a view that such a display added to the dignity of the empire. His initial cultural and political steps are described as a kind of Timurid Renaissance in which he incorporated historical and political connections to his Timurid heritage.

He was the third son of Emperor Mughal Jahangir and Princess Rajput Manmati and was born in Lahore in 1592.

After being engaged for five years to the Persian lady Arjumand Banu, he married her in 1612 and had 14 children by her, seven of whom survived to adulthood. She was also the granddaughter of Empress Nur Jahan, whose father and brother became prime ministers of the empire. As Prince Khurram he led the empire into a troika in collaboration with Nur Jahan and her brother, who happened to be Khurram’s father-in-law, after Emperor Jahangir gave many of his functions to the troika.

In 1622, Khurram, ambitious to gain this inheritance, rebelled, moving inefficiently into the empire until he reconciled with Jahangir in 1625. After Jahangir’s death in 1627, the support of Aṣaf Khan, Nur Jahan’s brother and father-in-law enabled Shah Jahan to proclaim himself emperor in Agra in February 1628. His first act as ruler was the execution of his main rivals and the imprisonment of his stepmother Nur Jahan. On the orders of Shah Jahan several executions took place on 23 January 1628. Those killed included his brother Shahryar; his nephews Dawar and Gurshasp the sons of the previously executed brother

Shah Jahan’s reign was notable for the expansion as well as the consolidation of his empire, which, in terms of size, prosperity and development of arts and architecture, was destined to become unbeatable in his time. He himself led the costly military campaign in the south and in 1636 Ahmadnagar was annexed and Golconda and Bijapur were forced to become branches. Mogal power also extended temporarily to the northwest. In 1638 the Persian governor of Kandahar Ali Mardan Khan handed over that fortress to the Moghals. In 1646 Mughal forces occupied Badakshan and Balkh but in 1647 Balkh withdrew and attempts to reconquer it in 1649, 1652 and 1653 failed. The Persians re-occupied Kandahar in 1649 and it was never recaptured by the Mughal Empire.

Although at that time the coastal regions had long been infiltrated by the Portuguese, who, in spite of their dislike of Islam, engaged in transportation and human movement between the Middle East and India for the Moghals.

Moghal forces fought with the Portuguese and Shah Jahan gave orders in 1631 to Qasim Khan, the Mughal vice-governor of Bengal, to expel the Portuguese from their trading post at Port Hooghly. The post was heavily armed with cannons, warships, fortified walls, and other war instruments. The Portuguese were accused of trafficking by Mughal officials and due to trade competition, the Mughal-controlled port of Saptagram began to fall. Shah Jahan was particularly indignant at the activities of the Jesuits in that region, especially when they were accused of kidnapping peasants. On September 25, 1632 the Mughal Army raised imperial banners and gained control of the Bandel region and the garrison was punished. Despite this incident, Shah Jahan, like his predecessors, ignored the construction of a strong navy and spent his resources mainly extending the boundaries of his land-based kingdom to the southern, eastern and western regions. His empire included the newly captured Assam and expanded in every direction.

Shah Jahan maintained a large military force and it is mentioned that in 1648 the army consisted of 911,400 infantry, musketeers and artillery and 185,000 sowars commanded by princes and nobles.

Shah Jahan maintained a large military force and it is mentioned that in 1648 the army consisted of 911,400 infantry, musketeers and artillery and 185,000 sowars commanded by princes and nobles.

During his reign the Marwari horse was introduced, becoming Shah Jahan’s favorite, and various Mughal cannons were mass-produced at Fort Jaigarh. Under his rule, the empire became a huge military machine and their nobles and contingents multiplied almost four times, as did the demands for more income from their citizens, but because of its measures in the financial and commercial fields. , was a period of general stability and the administration was centralized and court cases systematized. It is estimated that in these times India’s share in global gross domestic product (GDP) increased from 22.7% in 1600 to 24.4% in 1700, surpassing China to become the largest in the world. Shah Jahan ruled a wealthy empire and his annual income was 220 million rupees, of which his personal income was 30 million, although his personal jewelry and diamonds amounted to 50 million rupees. A sentimental-minded monarch, Shah Jahan, in the first two decades of his reign, distributed gifts worth 95 million rupees.

Shah Jahan had an almost unquenchable passion for building. In his first capital, Agra, he undertook the construction of two large mosques, the Moti Mosque and the Mosque Mosque as well as the magnificent mausoleum known as the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is the masterpiece of his reign and was erected in memory of the favorite of his three queens, Mumtaz Mahal.

In Delhi, Shah Jahan built a large castle-palace complex called the Red Fort, as well as another Jamia Masjid which is among the best mosques in India. After moving its capital to Delhi, the new city of Shahjahanabad was built having open boulevards, spacious houses and, above all, the Red Fort aimed at housing the imperial family, bureaucracy and troops. Cities like Agra, Lahore, Srinagar, Thatta and Burhanpur were chosen to house the extremely beautiful Mughal buildings. Shah Jahan hired Iranian and Indian engineers to design mosques, canals, castles, palaces and gardens and his architecture blended Persian, Turkish and South Asian traditions. Usually built of red stone and topped with white marble, these buildings were decorated with colorful tiles specially designed embodying Qur’anic calligraphy.

By that time, Mughal art had already taken on a unique and synthesized personality in various fields of architecture, calligraphy, miniatures, textiles, ceramics, jewelry and other metalwork. The patronage of the arts and of course architecture created fabulous images of India to the outside world, especially among Europeans, who were imbued with renewed energy and dynamism to seek new ways and markets in the world. Despite this glittering wealth, however, the Empire had its share of problems, including periodic starvation, and Shah Jahan is often accused of not responding to the basic needs of ordinary people. To finance its buildings across the Shah Jahan subcontinent it increased land revenues to half of agricultural output and thus shifted the financial burden to farmers and landowners.

Despite his brilliance and splendor, Shah Jahan’s ending proved pathetic. Unfortunately, the Mughals never established a proper mechanism for inheritance nor did they fully practice primogeneration and keeping in mind the tradition that Shah Jahan divided the administration of his vast empire between his four sons – Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad Buksh – though he wanted Prince Dara to be his successor. There were great changes in the attitude, temperament and ability of his sons and they all competed for the succession of their father. Despite much support from Shah Jahan, his favorite son Dara Shikoh could not become his successor as he, along with his two brothers, Shah Shuja and Murad Buksh, were beaten in the race by their cunning but i capable Aurangzeb who was the third son of Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan fell ill in September 1657 and Shuja was the first to go to Delhi, commanding troops to defeat Dara, although he underwent changes at Bahadurgarh in February 1658 and retreated to Bengal. Despite this victory, Dara Shikoh was unable to defeat Murad and Aurangzeb at Dharmat in April. Their next meeting at Samugarh in May 1658 was a total defeat for Dara Shikoh, who had hastily assembled an army that lacked proper training and was exhausted as a result of the previous two battles. Despite official support from his father, a trapped Dara Shikoh was unable to repel Aurangzeb in the fourth major battle in this war of success and was eventually captured in Punjab by Aurangzeb troops. The two princes despised each other and their antithetical personalities were separate poles. Following the arrest of Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb held his trial on the charges of abandonment, resulting in his execution in 1659; Shuja was defeated near Allahabad in the same year, leaving Murad and a fallen Shah Jahan to face Aurangzeb forces. In the meantime, Shuja fled to the hills of Assam and was killed by the native tribes. Murad was arrested on the orders of Aurangzeb and executed in 1661 for the alleged murder of a nobleman.

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