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Shah Jahan was one of the four sons of Jahangir.His original name was Khurram, born on January, 1592, at Lahore from a Hindu mother, daughter of Raja Udai Singh of Mewar. He was brought up under the care of Akbar’s childless wife Ruquiah Begum. While very young, he could be pointed out to be the successor of the Mughal throne after the death of Jahangir. Prince Khurram was liked by his father. It was on account of his bravery and sense of responsibility that he was put in charge of many expeditions by his father.
Shah Jahan ascended the throne at Agra on 4th February 1628 with the title of Abu_l_Muzaffar Shahab-ud Din Muhammad Sahib Kiran_i- Sani. However his accession to the throne was not all smooth and he had to pass through a conflict for succession. Soon after the death of Jahangir in 1627, Nur Jahan put forward the claims of Shehryar to the throne and proclaimed him as king in Lahore. On the other hand, Asaf Khan (Father in Law of Shah Jahan ) took up the cause of Shah Jahan. He sent a message to Shah Jahan to hurry up to Delhi. In the meanwhile, Asaf Khan also moved against Shahryar and defeated him in a battle near Lahore. He took him prisoner and blinded him. Thus when Shah Jahan reached Agra, all his political rivals had been eliminated. He ascended the throne of Agra.
Soon after his accession, Shah Jahan had to encounter alot of disturbance and rebellions. The first such rebellion was led by Jahjar Singh, who started increasing his strength by raising forces, acquiring munitions of war and strengthening the forts. Shah Jahan ordered Muhabat Khan to suppress the rebellion. Forces were sent by Shah Jahan from all sides of the country. Hemmed by forces from all sides, Jahjar Singh thought it expedient that he should surrender. He was pardoned on the condition that he should surrender a part of his jagir and proceed to serve the Mughal in Deccan.
Rebellion of khan Jahan Lodhi
Another serious challenge to the authority of Shah Jahan was posed by Khan Jahan Lodhi, an able and turbulent officer. Soon after Jahangir’s death, he joined hands with Nur Jahan to advance the claims of Shahryar to the throne. When Shah Jahan ascended the throne, Khan Jahan Lodhi was forced to make a humble submission to Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan pardoned him and allowed him to retain the Governorship of Deccan.
Apart from the rebellions, Shah Jahan had to encounter, in the beginning of his reign a serious challenge in the shape of serious famine. This famine from 1630-32 effected Gujrat, Khandesh and Deccan took a heavy toll of life. Soon, on the heels of famine, followed pestilence which further aggravated the sufferings of the people. Shah Jahan tried to allevate the sufferings of the people by remitting one- third of the land revenue, State kitchins were opened and food was distributed free of charge to the poor and needy.
The Imperial Mughals, particularly, from Akbar to Shah Jahan( 1556_ 1657 )gave a long era of peace and prosperity to the people of India for a century. During this period, the name and fame of the mighty Mughal monarchs of the greatest empire in Asia attracted a stream of foreign visitors from all over the world. They were dazzled by the wealth, magnificence and grandeur of the Mughal emperors and their nobility.
His period of rule is frequently referred to as the Golden Age of the Mughal India due to the following reasons;
- The Mughal Empire under Shah Jahan enjoyed maximum peace and order. The country was very little disturbed and he was able to maintain perfect law and order. The Rajputs were faithful and the Shia states of the Deccan had accepted the over lordship of the Delhi emperor.
- The extent of Shah Jahan’s empire was, extended from Sindh in the West to Assam in the East and from Afghanistan to Goa in the Deccan.
- Under the rule of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Empire reached its highest pitch of greatness and glory. Since there was peace and prosperity in the country, the provinces brought much revenue. The land was fertile, and the royal income from land revenue alone amounting to 45 crores of rupees annually, it was so great that after all his vast expenses, he left a treasure of 24 millionin cions, besides gold, silver and jewels.
- Shah Jahan maintained his ancestral tradition of personally administering justice. He was very strict in punishing the oppressors and dispensing even handed justice. The grievances of the people were removed and justice done to all. Thus he was a just ruler.
- Shah Jahan’s buildings represent the climax in the evolution of the Mughal architecture in the country and it is especially in the domain of architecture that is reign properly be called as the Golden Age in the history of India. The red fort with its white marble palaces and Jamia Masjid at delhi, the Moti Masjid, Diwan_i-khas, Diwan_i_ Am some other buildings, the Agra fort and the famous Taj Mahal. In view of the above buildings, Shah Jahan is rightly called the “Prince of Builders”
The spirit of tolerance and the liberal policy pursueded by Akbar by virtue of which he win over the hearts of the Hindus who formed the bulk of population in India, were unfortunately disappeared under Shah Jahan. In the early years of his reign he issued a royal edict to the effect to pull down all the newly built temples in his empire and it is said that in pursuance of this edict as much as 72 temples in the province of Allahabad alone were pulled down. He revived the pilgrim tax on the Hindus and also checked the conversion of Muslims to other faiths, rather he encouraged the conversion of the Hindus to Islam, he forbade the intermarriages between Hindus and Muslims and Hindu husbands of Muslim women were forced to embrace Islam. Thus we see that Shah Jahan signalized his reign by those unwise acts of intolerance which were copied by his sons and which eventually led to ruin of the empire.