Complete biography of Shahjahan

ABUL MUZAFFAR SHIHABUDDIN SHAHJAHAN GHAZI SAHIB QIRAN SANI, the fifth sovereign in the line of the Great Mughals, is known to the world as the "Builder of the Taj." Born at Lahore on the night of Thursday, the 5th of January, 1592, during the life­time of his grandfather Akbar, he was destined to a life of unprecedented glory and magnificence.

He grew up under the fostering care of his childless grand­mother, Ruqiah Sultan Begum, who became deeply attached to him. As a boy he was called Khurram or "joyous," this name having been given to him by his doting grandfather, who always kept him by his side.

Exactly on the date when Prince Khurram became four years, four months and four days old, in strict accordance with the age-long custom which obtained among the Chaghtai Mughals, he was put to school, the occasion being celebrated with much pomp and festivity. Akbar made a very liberal provision for his education. He appointed well-known and competent teachers, who were not narrow-minded theologians, but who had imbibed the theosophical spirit pervad­ing the Mughal Court and the Mughal so­ciety of the later sixteenth century. Among his tutors mention should be made of the distinguished scholar Sufi Mulla Qasim Tabrezi, of Hakim Ali Gilani, of Shaikh Sufi, and of Shaikh Abul Khayr, brother of Shaikh Abul Fazl.

Akbar had carried out many experi­ments in the field of education and he wanted to make Khurram a cultured prince of comprehensive imagination, agile intellect, and of a practical and resourceful bend of mind. His son Salim had not shaped after his heart. He, therefore, longed to see that the defects in the equipment and culture of the latter were not repeated in his grandson. And his delight was bound­less when he found the boy-pupil making a quick response to the liberal instruction imparted to him by his teachers. Khur­ram, unlike his father Salim, proved to be a man of this world. He formed noble ideals; his own ambition was to follow the example of his illustrious grandfather in every walk of life.

Khurram did not develop into a scholar, but his intellectual interests were varied, and it was his early cultural education which led him as a king to patronise and promote art and culture. Unlike his father he did not cultivate interest in Zoology and Botany, but he was gifted with an eye for appreciating a work of art or a beautiful sight of nature. Jahangir all his life remained a student eager to learn and acquire knowledge, but Khurram (Shahjahan) cultivated the art of understanding men and how to control them. The one was a passive scholar, the other an active politician. That was what Akbar wanted him to be.

Nature had endowed Prince Khurram with a sturdy constitution which he im­proved by taking part in all sorts of games and sports. He was a skilful shot both with rifle and bow and arrow, an indefatigable rider, an excellent swords­man and an adept in all sorts of knightly exercises. The Rajput blood which ran in his veins made him bold, ambitious, and utterly regardless of danger.

At the tender age of 15, he was, in A.D. 1607, betrothed to Arjumand Banu Begum, daughter of Itiqad Khan, the future Asaf Khan. The celebration of marriage was postponed to a later date. Meanwhile, two years after, Jahangir betrothed him to the daughter of Mirza Muzaffar Husain Safavi and performed the marriage ceremony on October 28, 1610. It was not till March, 1612, that the nuptials of his first engagement were performed. This was the red letter day in the life of the prince. The silken tie brought him spiritual happiness and temporal advancement. Arjumand Banu Begum, as a queen surnamed Mumtaz Mahal or Taj Mahal, proved a loving and devoted wife. As she was the niece of the celebrated Nur Jahan, her husband became the favourite of the new party led by Asaf Khan and Itimad- ud-daulah, the brother and father of the imperious queen who dominated Jahangir.

When Prince Khurram was in the Deccan leading the Imperial army against the redoubtable Abyssinian Malik Amber in August, 1617, he married the daughter of Shahnawaz Khan, the son of the Commander-in-Chief Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan. This was a political alliance, and it strengthened his position by bringing to his side a number of trustworthy adherents.

Of the three, Prince Khurram loved his second wife most. She bore him fourteen children, of whom seven died in infancy. Of the remaining seven, four sons and two daughters played im­portant roles in the politics of the Mughal Empire. These were Dara, Shuja, Aurangzeb, Murad, Jahanara Begum and Roshanara Begum.

His political genius and skilful mili­tary leadership brought uninterrupted success to Prince Khurram during the life-time of his father. He usually succeeded where others had failed. The first test of his ability was in the field of Mewar. Even the concentrated re­sources of the Mughal Empire, directed as they were by a man of such supreme abilities as his grandfather Akbar, could not bring to his knees the valiant Chief of Mewar. Chitor had been occupied, but the Sissodias still held their heads high. They were unbeaten. Jahangir after his accession deputed general after general to achieve that which had remained unaccomplished during the reign of his predecessor. But their efforts proved in vain and their tactics useless. At length, the choice of the emperor fell on Prince Khurram. He was deputed to the Mewar front. Fortune smiled on him. By a proper disposition of the army at his command be reduced the enemy to the verge of starvation. The "war-wearied" nobles of Rana Amar Singh "earnestly coun­selled peace." And Prince Khurram won the crown of glory. He was hailed as a great general and a consummate politician. Veteran war-lords of the Mughal Empire yielded honour to him. "The Mughal historians went into rap­tures over the submission of the last of the Rajputs."

From Mewar he was transferred to the Deccan. Here to a number of generals had been tried, but the genius of Malik Amber had thwarted their designs and rendered success elusive. Prince Khur­ram was anxious to score another point over his elders in experience. "Loaded with honours and presents" and having been ennobled with the title of Shah, a title which no other Timurich prince had ever received, "he left for the Deccan at the head of a splendid train of nobles and troopers." His arrival at the scene of activity changed the entire situation. The Deccan Confeder­acy crumbled away. The Adil Shah waited on the Prince with a magnificent present. Malik Amber returned all the territory which he had seized and, in addition, delivered the keys of the fort of Ahmadnagar and of other strong­holds. Thus he solved the Deccan problem within the short space only of six months, which increased the affection and esteem of his father for him. "I increased," says Jahangir, "my favours and kindness to him and made him sit near'me." "He was promoted to the rank of 30,000 Zat and Suwar, styled Shahjahan and entitled to a chair near the throne in darbar." This was the height of honour to which a Mughal prince could aspire.

For the next three years Shahjahan remained by the side of his father. During this period he found new friends, and began to realise that it was possible for him to stand on his own legs, without the support of Nur Jahan. Conditions for a clash between him and his ambitious patron were slowly coming to a head. Meanwhile a crisis developed in the Deccan which required the presence of a strong man there. Again the choice of the Emperor fell on him. He obeyed the command and, as usual, performed his duties satisfactorily. Once more the Deccan rulers yielded to superior force. But this time his success was not cele­brated with as much show as on the previous occasion.

The "Light of the World" (Nur Jahan) was growing cold towards him. She was waiting for an opportunity to ruin his reputation and prestige. Just at this moment Jahangir received the unwelcome news of the occupation of Qandahar by Shah Abbas of Persia. He asked Shahjahan to proceed to the West and retrieve the Mughal honour. But when he insisted on the fulfilment of certain conditions, precedent to his departure to Qandahar, the Mughal Emperor flew into a rage. The out­come was Shahjahan's rebellion which kept the Empire in commotion for a number of years. He was deprived of his rank, was hounded from place to place, till he sought the protection of his erstwhile rival Malik Amber, who allowed him to stay at Junnar. It was here that he received the news of the death of his father and the summons of his father-in-law asking him to hasten to Agra and proclaim himself the Emperor of India.

Shahjahan's advent to the throne heralded an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity in the Mughal Empire. His reign saw an uninterrupted round of military victories inside the country. His armies -fought on every front of the Empire and, with the partial exception of the west and the north, success attended his plans both military and diplomatic.

Three serious outbreaks occurred during his reign. The first to raise the standard of revolt was Khan Jahan Lodi, a favourite of the late Emperor Jahangir and a partisan of Nur Jahan, who saw in Shahjahan's rise into promi­nence complete ruination of his position and power. Though reconciled in the beginning to the new order of things, he remained suspicious and moody. At length in October, 1629, all of a sudden he fled from the Court, and escaped to the Deccan. The Emperor himself supervised the operations against the rebel, whose cause was taken up by Murtaza Nizam Shah, the ruler of Ahmadnagar. Khan Jahan was pursued from pillar to post, and he died fighting desperately. But the repercussions of his rebellion proved to be serious with re­gard to the politics of the Deccan.

The second disturbance occurred in Bundelkhand where the Bundela Chief Junjhar Singh had forcibly occupied Chauragadh in spite of the warning of the suzerain power. On his refusal to disgorge the ill-gotten booty, his country was attacked on the ground that "he had outraged the Imperial dignity and had broken the traditional rules of conduct." Bundelkhand was devas­tated. The rebels were hunted down like wild beasts. In all about ten million of rupees were credited to the royal exchequer, and numerous places of strategic importance were occupied.

A similar case, when a feudal baron was pressed to account for his excesses against another local chief, is that of Jagat Singh, Zamindar of Mau-Nurpur. He had encroached upon the territories of the Chamba State and refused to comply with the summons to appear at court to explain his conduct. This was tantamount to rebellion. Several armies converged from all sides on the seat of his power. Driven to straits Jagat Singh threw himself at the mercy of the Emperor. He was pardoned and reinstated in his former rank.

Among the events of minor impor­tance mention should he made of the suppression of Portuguese piracy in Bengal, of the subjugation of recalcitrant chiefs or petty rajas "like Bhagirath Bhill (1632), and Marvi Gond (1644), in Malwa, Raja Pratap of Palamau (1642) in Chitra-Nagpur, and the turbulent border tribes on the frontiers." To this record should be added the reduction of Little Tibet, the annexation of Kuch Bihar and Kamrup, and the fixing of definite boundaries and resumption of trade relations with Assam.

But the most daring exploit of the reign was the conquest, though only temporarily; of Balkh and Badakhshan On this tract of land the Great Mughals laid ancestral claims. To occupy it had been the cherished aim of Akbar and Jahangir, but they did not have a favourable opportunity to achieve it. The outbreak of civil strife between Nazr Mohammad Khan, ruler of Bokhara and his son Abdul Aziz afforded Shah- jahan a tempting chance to try his luck in Trans-Oxiana. In June, 1646, he sent to Balkh an army of 50,00 horse and 10,000 foot under the command of Prince Murad. The city was occupied without a blow, and the Imperialists were rewarded by the capture of a treasure worth 12 lakh rupees, 2,500 horses and 300 camels. But the flight of Nazr Mohammad Khan to Persia defeated the object of the enterprise. To Murad a stay in those inhospitable regions was irksome and he abandoned his post of duty in spite of the threats and warnings of the Emperor. He was replaced by Aurang- zeb, a man of steady character and ambitious ideals. His bravery and cool courage won him the admiration of his enemies, but this did not help him in maintaining his hold on Balkh. He had to retire.

Another direction where the Mughal armies suffered severe reverses was Qandahar. It had been recovered by the Persians during the second part of Jahangir's reign. But a combination of circumstances and diplomacy had yielded its possession in 1638 to Shah- jahan. For the next ten years the Persians were not in any position to attempt its recovery. When in 1642 Shah Abbas II came to the throne of Persia, he expressed a keen desire to score a point over his contemporary, the Mughal Emperor of India. For so long as he was a minor, nothing substantial could be done. But when in 1648 he took the reins of government into his own hands, he chalked out plans for the consummation of his cherished design. And he succeeded in occupying Qan­dahar. This was a severe blow to the pride of Shahjahan and he made frantic efforts to undo the success that had attended the armies of his Persian con­temporary. Two campaigns were led by Aurangzeb, and one by Dara Shikoh. They were assisted by the most ex­perienced generals of the Empire. They had enormous resources at their disposal. And yet humiliation and defeat were their lot. The three sieges of Qandahar cost the Imperial Exchequer about 120 millions of rupees.

If the Imperial army failed in the west, it achieved distinct success in the south. Advance towards the Deccan had be­come the keynote of the Mughal policy ever since the occupation of Khandesh and the partial reduction of Ahmadnagar during the later years of Akbar's reign. Under Jahangir not much of territorial gains accrued to the Mughal Empire. Malik Amber had proved a tower of strength to the Nizam Shahi Kingdom. And though he had to face the Mughal military storm twice, by yielding diplo­matically to its fury he had succeeded in saving the integrity of the kingdom of Ahmadnagar.

But his death in A.D. 1626 unchained serious rivalries in the Nizam Shah's court. His son and successor Fath Khan was neither respected nor trusted. And when Murtaza Nizam Shah cast his lot with the rebel Khan Jahan Lodi, the fate of Ahmadnagar was sealed. Fath Khan imprisoned his master, put him to death, read the Khutba and struck coins in the name of the Mughal Emperor. He was allowed to retain possession of Daulatabad which proved a storm-centre. Thanks, however, to the genius of Mahabat Khan the crisis was averted. Fath Khan Md the puppet Nizam Shah were sent away to the Imperial Court, the latter to be imprisoned in the fort of Gwalior.

Daulatabad was occupied by the Mughals. But a little indiscretion on the part of Mahabat Khan and the consequent humiliation which caused his death unsettled the political settlement in the Deccan. The activities of Sahu, a Maratha Chief, encouraged and abetted as they were by the Adil Shah of Bija- pur, threatened the prestige and the stability of the Mughal possessions in the Deccan. The situation became so critical as to induce the Mughal Emperor himself to lead the campaign of chastise­ment. Shahjahan arrived with a large army in the Deccan. He overawed his enemies. Sahu was driven to bay and compelled to forsake the country of his birth. The Adil Shah submitted and agreed to pay an indemnity of twenty lacs in jewels and elephants, etc. As to the Qutb Shah, "when the Imperial envoy approached Golconda, he came forth from Kos to receive him, and conducted him to the city with great honour.... He had the Khutba read aloud in the name of the Emperor." Thus the-Deccan problem was solved satisfactorily by Shahjahan in 1636.

Aurangzeb was now appointed Viceroy of the Deccan. For eight years to come he strove hard to admin­ister a difficult tract. He succeeded in keeping it under control, nay even added to the Imperial possessions by annexing Baglana, and by exacting tribute from the Chief of Deogadh. He was dis­missed from this post in 1644.

After serving as Governor of Gujarat and Multan, and the leader of military campaigns in Balkh and Qandahar, Aurangzeb returned to the Deccan in 1653 to find them. Province financially bankrupt and administratively a prey to maladministration, bribery and cor­ruption. Once more he devoted him­self, with all the enthusiasm that he could gather, to the task of reorganising the province in his charge. Under the able guidance of Murshid Quli Khan the revenue department was thoroughly overhauled and the Northern method of revenue assessment was introduced into the Deccan. His inspector-general of Ordnance, Shamsuddin Mukhtar Khan, carefully looked into the efficiency of the military department, and greatly pleased the Viceroy with his ability and received many favours from him.

The Deccan being a poor province, Aurangzeb began to look around to improve his resources.

He invaded and extorted tribute from the States of Deogadh and Jawahir. Then he turned his attention to Bijapur and Golconda. The ruler of the latter was in arrears of tribute. Further, his relations with his prime minister, Mir Jumla, were very strained and the Qutb Shah had interned the members of his family. Aurangzeb ordered the Qutb Shah to clear off the arrears of tribute immediately and to release the family of Mir Jumla. He succeeded in so manipulating the situation that even Shahjahan felt no hesitation to sanction the invasion of Golconda. The fabulous riches of that kingdom were plundered, and Aurangzeb would have annexed the entire kingdom but for the counter­manding command from the Emperor. Peace was concluded with the Qutb Shah, who married his daughter to Aurangzeb's son, Mohammad Sultan, and Mir Juijjla was admitted into the Imperial service.

Next it was the turn of Bijapur to suffer. The death of Mohammad Adil Shah in 1656 provided for Aurangzeb the long sought-for opportunity to in­vade that kingdom. Again he secured the permission from Shahjahan "to settle the affairs of Bijapur in any way he thought fit." The Mughal armies flooded the territories of Bijapur. The forts of Bidar and Kalyani were occupied, and but for the intervention of the Emperor, the Adil Shahi kingdom would have met the same fate as threatened the Qutb Shahi kingdom of Golconda. The Sultan agreed to pay an indemnity of 1/2 crores.

But a sudden calamity changed the whole course of the Imperial politics. On 6th September, 1657, Shahjahan suddenly fell ill of "strangury and con­stipation. For one week the royal physicians toiled in vain. The malady went on increasing. . . . The daily durbar was stopped; the Emperor even ceased to show his face to the public from the Jharoka every morning; the courtiers were denied access to sick-bed. A rumour spread that the Emperor was dead. It filtered to the various provinces of the Empire." Conditions were thus ripe for a struggle for the throne.

The fratricidal war of succession among the four sons of Shahjahan, Dara, Shuja, Aurangzeb, and Murad, was the most sanguinary that was ever fought in the Mughal period. The result was the humiliation and execution of Dara and Murad, and the pathetic disappearance of Shuja. Aurangzeb came out victorious, and he proclaimed him­self king. Shahjahan was detained in the fort of Agra as a prisoner, where he passed the remaining years of his life.

It is not possible, at such distance of time, even to imagine the extent of ' misery and mental affliction caused to the ex-emperor of Delhi in the changed circumstances of his life. Perhaps Napoleon had to suffer less at St. Helena than Shahjahan in the fort of Agra. The former was quite cut off from the scene of his former glory and grandeur. On the other hand, every nook and corner in the Agra fort must have brought to Shahjahan bitter memories of thirty years of regal life, when high and low, rich and poor, all alike looked up to him for favours, and when everyone was ready to lay down his life at his bidding. The Agra fort represented the most glorious period of his life, when he knew only how to command. Here he was accosted as "Lord of the World" and "Master of the Universe." Now, even for a change of his apparel he had to depend upon the favours of a low- placed eunuch. Really it must have been terrible.

Manucci, the Italian, writes: "Going several times into the fort I noted that the imprisonment of Shahjahan was closer than could be expressed. There passed not a day, while I and others were in conversation with the Governor, that there did not come under- eunuchs to whisper into his ear an account of all the acts and words of Shahjahan." (Storia de Mogor, Vol. II, 77.) But the French physician, M. Bernier, unfolds a different story: "Although Aurangzeb kept his father closely confined in the fortress of Agra and neglected no precaution to prevent his escape, yet the deposed monarch was otherwise treated with indulgence and respect. He was' permitted to occupy his former apartments, and to enjoy the society of Begum Sahib and the whole of his female establishment including the singing and dancing women, cooks, and others. In these respects no request was ever denied him." (Travels in the Moghul Empire, p. 166.)

The fact is that Aurangzeb regarded the ex--emperor with much suspicion ' and distrust. He was fairly conversant with the sympathies of the fallen monarch and he knew that if he gave even the least latitude to him there was the possi­bility of outbreak of serious mischief. To him Shahjahan was no longer a father but a dangerous political enemy. Hence the rigour and severity of the watch kept over him.

It took some time for Shahjahan to accustom himself to the new mode of life. During the first year of his captivity he carried on an acrimonious correspondence with Aurangzeb. At last he resigned himself to the will of God. And "though blow after blow fell on his stricken heart, to the last day he maintained his endurance and steadi­ness." "Religion gave him solace. His constant companion now was Sayyid Muhammad of Qanauj. . . . Another no less saintly, but more tender, com­forter he had in his daughter Jahanara, whose loving care atoned for the cruelty of all his other offspring." On the 7th of January, 1666, he was seized with a fever which was complicated by strangury and griping of the stomach. "Retaining full consciousness to the last and gazing on the resting-place of his beloved and long-lost Mumtaz Mahal," he repeated the Muslim formula of faith, and "sank peacefully into eternal rest," full fifteen days after the commencement of his illness.

The death of the ex-emperor was universally mourned and public grief was sincere. Jean Baptiste Tavernier remarks: "This great monarch reigned more than forty (thirty) years, less as a king over his subjects than as a father of a family over his house and children." (Vol. I, 325.) Elphinstone describes his reign as "the most prosperous ever known in India." Manucci remarks: "Not only did Shahjahan do justify against those guilty of great crimes: he also dealt with the nobles whenever he found an opportunity. . . . His object was to make the governing of his kingdom easier." At another place he observes, "He (Shahjahan) upheld the maxim of his father that true justice must be enforced, rewarding the meritorious and punishing the guilty. He kept his eye on his officials, punishing them rigorously when they fell short in their duty." And the Italian gunner has described numerous instances of the clever way in which the Mughal Em­peror detected crime and awarded punishment to the guilty. He bestowed so much care on the development of the prosperity of his people and to securing them even-handed justice that no wonder he was universally loved and respected. At his death "the cry of lamentation rose up from every house in the lanes and market-places alike."

To his contemporaries Shahjahan was great because of his love of justice and his concern for their peace and prosperity; to posterity he is great because he has left a record more enduring, more glorious, and greater than could be unfolded by oriental historians or their commentators. He lived for an ideal at once grand and noble. He loved magnificence, not grotesque or bizarre, but refined and cultured. He aimed at the unsurpassable. The buildings which he constructed at Agra and Delhi are the best illustrations of his refinement and culture. What Jahangir achieved on paper, Shahjahan achieved in brick and mortar. The one loved painting; the other architecture-an architecture in which the grace and beauty of paint­ing could be faithfully reproduced.

The Mughal miniatures present before our eyes "realms of gold." But Shah­jahan's buildings elevate us to a higher re­gion: "If there be a Heaven upon earth, it is this-it is this!" wrote Shahjahan on his palace walls at Delhi. "We still read, and still endorse the proud assertion." "At every point, in these buildings, one's imagination is caught and enchained, and not unoften their sight throws us into ecstasies." Shahjahan's reign marks the ','golden age" of the Mughal architecture.

The building which is "unique in its evasive loveliness, and which is "so difficult to define in architectural terms, but most expressive of the builder's intentions," is the Taj. Its undiminished charm extorts universal admiration. It is symbolic of the grace of Indian womanhood and of the chaste devotion of Shahjahan to his beloved wife. It is a lyric in marble. According to Bernier "the edifice has a magnificent appearance, and is conceived and exe­cuted effectually. Nothing offends the eye; on the contrary it is delighted with every part, and never tired with look­ing." Further he remarks, "... the mauso­leum of Taj Mahal is an astonishing work. It is possible I may have imbibed an Indian taste, but I decidedly think that this monument deserves much more to be remembered among the wonders of the world than the pyramids of Egypt." Tavernier says: "I witnessed the com­mencement and accomplishment of this great work, on which they have expended twenty-two years during which twenty- thousand men worked incessantly; this is sufficient to enable one to realise that the cost of it has been enormous." Fergusson observes: "It is the combina­tion of so many beauties, and the perfect manner in which each is subordinate to the other, that makes up a whole which the world cannot match, and which never fails to impress even those who are most indifferent to the effects produced by architectural objects in general." Havell calls it "a living thing with all the aesthetic attributes of perfect womanhood, more subtle, romantic, and tender in its beauty than any other building of its kind." And it was the Taj at which Shahjahan fixed his gaze during the last hours of his life. It is one of the wonders of the world.

The Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque was built in Agra fort between A.D. 1645 and 1653. It has been described as "a fervent stone." It is a sanctuary in which "a mysterious soul throbs be­tween bliss and ecstasy." Built on a high pedestal and in a corner, it provided peace and seclusion to the Emperor to pray to the Almighty for the blessings of his life. No pietra dura work is needed to enhance its beauty. Simplicity is its charm, and the purity of its white marbles its chief attraction. It does not look imposing from outside, but the moment one enters it one is overwhelmed with its grandeur. If fine ornamenta­tion, floral designs and the intricate trellis work form the main charm of the Taj, the very absence of these suits the grace and grandeur of Moti Masjid. It is really a "pearl" of the finest water without a flaw in it.

Shahjahan shifted the capital of the Empire from Agra to Delhi which he renamed Shahjahanabad. Here Shahjahan gave full vent to his building propensity. The construction of the Lai Qila or Delhi fort was started in April, 1639, and it took nine years to finish it. Its entire walls are built of red sandstone; in shape it is an irregular octagon with its two long sides on the east and west and the six smaller ones on the north and south. The construction work was done under the supervision of ustads (master builders) Hamid and Ahmad. A vaulted arcade leads from the Lahore Gate to the Naubat Khana, which served as the main entrance to the court of the Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Public Audience. It is built throughout of red sandstone and measures 8o feet by 4o feet. In the centre of its east wall is a recess about 21 feet in width and "faced with the most exquisite designs in pietra dura work, representing trees, flowers and birds." The Asad Burj, the Mumtaz Mahal, the Rang Mahal, the Tasbih Khanan, the Khuabgah, the Baithak, the Musamman Buij or Octagonal Tower are some of other smaller buildings inside the fort. But the most remarkable and heavily decorated one is the Diwan-i- Khas or the "Hall of Private Audience." It was also known as Shah Mahal.

Fergusson considers it "if not the most beautiful, certainly the most highly orna­mented of all Shahjahan's buildings." "Pietra dura work is freely used on the lower portions of the arch-piers, the upper portion being treated with gilding and painting." A marble water-channel (the Naha-i-Bihisht) runs through the centre of the Hall, and gives it a look of Paradise as visualised by man. The marble dais is said to have supported the famous Peacock Throne of Shahjahan.

Outside the fort, and built on a very high pedestal, is the Jama-Masjid or the Masjid-i-Jahan Numan. It was built in A.D. 1650 under the superintendence of the Prime Minister Sadullah Khan and the Mir Samoan Fazil Khan. Five thou­sand men worked at it daily for 6 years, and it cost the Imperial Exchequer ten lacs of rupees.

But Shahjahan's patronage did not extend to architecture alone. He en­couraged other fine arts as well. Accord­ing to V. Smith, "The portraits of Shahjahan's time, which are far from the stiffness common in the preceding and succeeding ages, are wonderfully life­like and often perfectly charming." The paintings of his time display brilliance of colour, lavish use of gold, and create an impression of great splendour and superb luxury which we associate with the "Grand Mughal."

Manucci remarks: "His (Shahjahan's) usual diversion was to listen to various instruments, to verses and poetry, and he was very fond of musicians, especially of one who was not only a graceful poet but also a buffoon." His favourite tune was Dhurpat and he loved to hear it sung by Lai Khan Gun-Samudra the son-in- law of the famous Tan Sen. He also patronised Jagannath the best Hindu musician.

Shahjahan had collected a vast hoard of precious stones. He displayed them in his own way. Some he wore on his person while others he used in the construction of articles of furniture. And the Peacock Throne was one of them. Tavernier gives a detailed de­scription of its design and construction. "The underside of the canopy is covered with diamonds and pearls, with a fringe of pearls all round; and above the canopy, which is a quadrangular-shaped dome, there is to be seen a peacock with ele­vated tail made of blue sapphires and other coloured stones, having a large ruby in front of the breast, from whence hangs a pear-shaped pearl of 50 carats or thereabouts and of somewhat yellow colour." He estimates its cost at one thousand and seventy lacs of rupees. Bernier puts the figure at 4 crores of rupees. Have-not says that "the throne was reputed to be worth 20,000,000 in gold," but he adds that a true estimate could only be arrived at by a careful examination of precious stones with which it was adorned.

Thus a sovereign who knew how to conquer extensively, who was keen to extend his liberal patronage to art and literature, and who devoted his atten­tion and energy to extending the pros­perity of his subjects, may with justice be counted among the Great Men of India.