betrothal \-ˈtrō-thəl, -ˈtrȯ-, -thəl\ noun : a mutual promise or contract for a future marriage
What greater love story could there be, than a love story that inspired one of the most magnificent structures in the world? That which began as a betrothal, blossomed into an intensely intimate bond -- which, despite ending in tragedy, will live on forever through the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal . . .
The young prince, Prince Khurram, first spotted the striking Arjumand Banu Begum, a Persian princess, while she was browsing through richly-coloured Persian rugs in the Meena Bazaar. The sight of her made the prince’s heart skip a beat. He may have been only 14 years old, but the prince immediately told his father he wanted to marry the beautiful young princess. As was common, the Emperor Jahangir arranged the betrothal of the exquisite Arjumand Banu Begum to his son, Prince Khurram -- they were to be married in five years time.
In 1612, the astrologers of the palace selected the date May 10th for the young couple to be married -- a day which, according to the stars, would be most beneficial to a long & happy marriage. Arjumand Banu Begum was unquestionably the love of the prince’s life and so, in honour of his love and in tribute to her incontestable beauty, he bestowed on her the name Mumtaz Mahal, loosely translating to Jewel of the Palace.
One could only imagine the life this wildly romantic couple would have experienced -- midnight strolls on the shores of the Taj Lake, midsummer’s night picnics in the Moonlight Garden of the palace -- perhaps even an elephant ride for two through the streets of Agra or along the banks of the river Yamuna . . .
Following the prince’s ascension to the Peacock Throne, he became know as the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and throughout his reign, Mumtaz Mahal was constantly by his side. She was his trusted companion and undisputed soul mate, and despite her frequent pregnancies would, without fail, travel throughout the Mughal Empire with her husband on his various military campaigns and royal visits. Shah Jahan loved and trusted Mumtaz Mahal so completely, that he even presented her with the greatest honour possible -- his imperial seal, the Muhr Uzah.
In 1631, while accompanying her husband on a campaign to the Deccan Plateau, Mumtaz Mahal gave birth to her fourteenth child, a daughter, but ever so tragically died during the labour. As Mumtaz Mahal took her last breaths, Shah Jahan vowed to her that he would never remarry, and would build her the most magnificent mausoleum as her tomb.
Following his wife’s death, the emperor was inconsolable -- he ordered the country into two years of mourning, and he himself went into solitude.
Eventually, the emperor’s eldest daughter, the devoted Jahanara Begum, helped him to arise from his twelve long months of solitude, but by then his hair had turned white, his back was bent, and his face worn.
However, Shah Jahan intended to keep the promise he made to his beloved wife, and began work on erecting the most extraordinary sepulchre in the world. The monument took 22 years and the labour of over 22,000 men, and when it was completed, it was magnificent.
"Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones."
— Sir Edwin Arnold
The Taj Mahal now, is an everlasting tribute from the emperor to his beloved wife-- but more then that, it is a shining monument of one of the greatest love stories in history.
Every morning, as the sun rises over its great marble domes, it is a reminder of the love one young man felt for a beautiful Persian princess . . .
* great love stories № 01 : grace kelly & prince rainer III of monaco
* great love stories № 02 : nacho figueras & delfina blaquier
[images: taj mahal /// mumbai, photography by alix of the cherry blossom girl /// doors /// shoes, photography by alix of the cherry blossom girl /// lotus blossoms /// taj mahal /// leaves, photography by alix of the cherry blossom girl /// namaste, photography by alix of the cherry blossom girl /// reflection /// domes /// taj mahal]