In the year 1631, the heartbroken Moghul emperor, Shah Jahan, ordered the construction of a monument of unsurpassed splendour and majesty in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal was built on the banks of the river Jumna. It took 20 years to complete, disastrously depleting the Moghul treasuries. But Shah Jahan was to pay a greater price for his obsession. He ended his days imprisoned by his own son in Agra Fort, gazing across the river at the monument to his love. The building of the Taj Mahal had set brother against brother and son against father in a savage conflict that pushed the 17th century's most powerful empire into irreversible decline.
©2007 Diana Preston and Michael Preston (P)2007 Soundings