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Artistic depiction of Mumtaz Mahal
Mumtāz Mahal (April, 1593 - 17 June 1631) (Devanagari:मुमताज़ महल ) (Persian, Urdu: ممتاز محل; ; meaning "beloved ornament of the palace") is the common nickname of Arjumand Banu Begum, an Indianmarker Empress of the Mughal Dynasty. She was born in Agramarker, India. Her father was the Persian noble Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan, the brother of Empress Nur Jehan (who subsequently became the wife of the emperor Jahangir). She was religiously a Shi'a Muslim. She was married at the age of 19, on 10 May 1612, to Prince Khurram, who would later ascend the Peacock Throne as Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan I. She was his third wife, and became his favorite. She died in Burhanpurmarker in the Deccanmarker (now in Madhya Pradeshmarker) during the birth of their fourteenth child, a daughter named Gauhara Begum. Her body remained at Burhanpur for 23 years until the Taj was completed. Only then was her coffin shifted to Agra. Her body was then buried in the Taj Mahalmarker in Agramarker.


In 1607 AD (1016 AH), Prince Khurram was betrothed to Arjumand Banu Begum, who was just 14 years old at the time. She would become the unquestioned love of his life. They would however, have to wait five years before they were married in 1612 AD (1021 AH), on a date selected by the court astrologers as most conducive to ensuring a happy marriage. After their wedding celebrations, Khurram "finding her in appearance and character elect among all the women of the time", gave her the title 'Mumtaz Mahal' Begum (Chosen One of the Palace). 18 AH). The intervening years had seen Khurrum take two other wives. By all accounts however, Khurram was so taken with Mumtaz, that he showed little interest in exercising his polygamous rights with the two earlier wives, other than dutifully siring a child with each. According to the official court chronicler, Qazwini, the relationship with his other wives "had nothing more than the status of marriage. The intimacy, deep affection, attention and favour which His Majesty had for the Cradle of Excellence (Mumtaz) exceeded by a thousand times what he felt for any other."

Mumtaz Mahal had a very deep and loving marriage with Shah Jahan. Even during her lifetime, poets would extol her beauty, gracefulness and compassion. Mumtaz Mahal was Shah Jahan's trusted companion, travelling with him all over the Mughal Empire. His trust in her was so great that he even gave her his imperial seal, the Muhr Uzah. Mumtaz was portrayed as the perfect wife with no aspirations to political power in contrast to Nur Jehan, the wife of Jahangir who had wielded considerable influence in the previous reign. She was a great influence on him, apparently often intervening on behalf of the poor and destitute. But she also enjoyed watching elephant and combat fights performed for the court. It was quite common for women of noble birth to commission architecture in the Mughal Empire. Mumtaz devoted some time to a riverside garden in Agra.

The Taj Mahal
Despite her frequent pregnancies, Mumtaz traveled with Shah Jahan's entourage throughout his earlier military campaigns and the subsequent rebellion against his father. She was his constant companion and trusted confidant and their relationship was intense. Indeed, the court historians go to unheard lengths to document the intimate and erotic relationship the couple enjoyed. In their nineteen years of marriage, they had thirteen children together, seven of whom died at birth or at a very young age.

Mumtaz died in Burhanpurmarker in 1631 AD (1040 AH), while giving birth to their fourteenth child. She had been accompanying her husband whilst he was fighting a campaign in the Deccan Plateaumarker. Her body was temporarily buried at Burhanpurmarker in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad originally constructed by Shah Jahan's uncle Daniyal on the bank of the Tapti Rivermarker. The contemporary court chroniclers paid an unusual amount of attention to Mumtaz Mahal's death and Shah Jahan's grief at her demise. In the immediate aftermath of his bereavement, the emperor was reportedly inconsolable. Apparently after her death, Shah Jahan went into secluded mourning for a year. When he appeared again, his hair had turned white, his back was bent, and his face worn. Jahan's eldest daughter, the devoted Jahanara Begum, gradually brought him out of grief and took the place of Mumtaz at court.

Her personal fortune valued at 10,000,000 rupees was divided by Shah Jahan between Jahanara Begum, who received half and the rest of her surviving children. Burhanpur was never intended by her husband as his wife's final resting spot. As a result her body was disinterred in December 1631 and transported in a golden casket escorted by her son Shah Shuja and the head lady in waiting of the deceased Empress back to Agra. There it was interred in a small building on the banks of the Yamuna River. Shah Jahan stayed behind in Burhanpur to conclude the military campaign that had originally bought him to the region. While there he began planning the design and construction of a suitable mausoleum and funerary garden in Agra for his wife, a task that would take more than 22 years to complete, the Taj Mahalmarker.

Today, the Taj Mahalmarker stands as the ultimate monument to love, and a homage to her beauty and life.


1. Shahzadi Huralnissa Begum (1613 - 1616)

2. Shahzadi (Imperial Princess) Jahanara Begum ) (1614 - 1681)

3. Shahzada (Imperial Prince) Dara Shikoh (1615 - 1659)

4. Shahzada Mohammed Sultan Shah Shuja Bahadur (1616 - 1660)

5. Shahzadi Roshanara Begum (1617 - 1671)

6. Badshah Mohinnudin Mohammed Aurangzeb (1618 - 1707)

7. Shahzada Sultan Ummid Baksh (1619 - 1622)

8. Shahzadi Surayya Banu Begum (1621 - 1628)

9. Shahzada Sultan Murad Baksh (1624 - 1661)

10. Shahzada Sultan Luftallah (1626 - 1628)

11. Shahzada Sultan Daulat Afza (1628 - ?)

12. Shahzadi Husnara Begum (1630 - ?)

13. Shahzadi Gauhara Begum (1631 - 1707)


  3. Koch, page 18.
  4. Qazwini. fol. 233a translated by Begley and Desai (1984), page 14.
  5. Bloom, J. and Blair, S. (1994). "The Art and Architecture of Islam: 1250-1800". New Haven and London: Yale University Press
  6. Koch, page 19.
  7. Preston, page 171.
  8. Koch, page 20.
  9. Preston, page 175.
  10. Preston, page 176.


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