This is the fifth book in the series 'Empire of Moghul' by Alex Rutherford, the pen name adopted by Diana Preston and her husband Michael. The book revolves around life of Moghul Emperors and blood thirsty warriors controlling various parts of Central Asia in the sixteenth century. An integral part of this book is the then Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan with his overpowering love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal and cutthroat, raging obsession for power amongst his heirs to be throned. With the plot of this story being so important to the Indian History, the writers have surely dedicated a great deal of efforts in researching extensively about the same. And these efforts are reflected in the intricacies and detailing of the book.
The Mughul empire has been integral in shaping up of large part of the Indian as well as Central Asian history. The previous books in the series have covered the crests and troughs encountered by the Moghul dynasty over various phases. They begin from the time Babur was excommunicated from his land and he set out to 'Hindustan' and talk about Humayun and Akbar -The Great and the fourth book in this series talks about Jahangir's attempt to save his empire. The fifth installment takes us to the times of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.
Ever since Genghis Khan set out on his venture of invading and conquering regions, Moghuls have not been able to quench their thirst for power, money and with their undying ambitious and 'lusty for power' nature, brothers have not spared brothers, sons not fathers, relations have been sacrificed at the steps of thrones and Emperor Shah Jahan is no exception to this age old practice. to reach the throne, he has followed the old 'throne or coffin' tradition. While in his father and grandfather's reign , India enjoyed communal harmony and secularism, Shah Jahan's reign on the other hand is commemorated as 'The Golden Period of Indian Architecture', where he built great monuments like Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid, Moti Masjid , Agra Fort etc. While all other monuments had a strategic or sole architectural purpose behind their construction, Taj Mahal was built for an entirely different reason.
Shah jahan has made the Moghul Dynasty progress under his reign by crushing his rivals and securing his throne, but he gets the jolt of his life when his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal passes away. The demise of his wife's death leaves Shah Jahan in shambles. He is hell bent on fulfilling his deceased wife's dying wish, of building a monument as a symbol of their love.This leads to the inception of Taj Mahal- The symbol of love.
This marble wonder takes more than twenty years to build and while this construction is bein done, Shah Jahan starts losing the grip over his reign. Still drowned in grief, he starts losing command over the administration and neglects the tasks necessary to keep his throne. This starts a feud amongst his sons who now want to become emperors. The writers have very carefully and correctly depicted all the events and sequences , owing to their thorough research on this topic. The love story between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz has been depicted beautifully, conveying each other's feelings through words.
The fight amongst the brothers in the race to be the king has been penned down with such intricacy and art that one can almost feel the happenings. The way Aurangzeb paves his way to the throne by crushing everyone else and overcoming every obstruction is a sheer piece of work. The frail Shah Jahan is shown lamenting his deceased wife and with his death dies a wish of constructing a black marble monument right across the river, opposite to the white marble Taj Mahal. In the end, his spirit finds solace when he is buried next to Mumtaz in Taj Mahal.
The book is a beautiful rendition by the writers displaying passion , love, ambition, resourcefulness and various other shades of Moghals in this 432 page book. This book can be easily purchased at www.junglee.com at a very reasonable price.