Mistress of the Throne: The Mughal Intrigues
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
1631, The Empress of India - Mumtaz Mahal has died. Yet, rather than anoint one of his several other wives to take her place as Empress of India, Mughal King Shah Jahan anoints his seventeen year old daughter Jahanara as the next Queen of India. Bearing an almost identical resemblance to her mother, Jahanara is the first ever daughter of a sitting Mughal King to be anointed queen. She is reluctant to accept this title, but does so in hopes of averting the storm approaching her family and Mughal India. Her younger siblings harbor extreme personalities from a liberal multiculturalist (who views religion as an agent of evil) to an orthodox Muslim (who views razing non-Muslim buildings as divine will). Meanwhile, Jahanara struggles to come to terms with her own dark reality: as the daughter of a sitting King, she is forbidden to marry. Thus, while she lives in the shadow of her parents’ unflinching love story, she is devastated by the harsh reality that she is forbidden to share such a romance with another. Mistress of the Throne narrates the powerful story of one of India’s most opulent and turbulent times through the eyes of an unsuspecting character: a Muslim queen. It uses actual historical figures to illuminate the complexity of an era that has often been called “India’s Golden Age”.
Oddly, as I regarded the two of them giggling and staring out of the canopy they’d never had had the pleasure to sit in before, I felt slightly jealous of them. In their limited world, a simple thing like a trip to another city was the event of a lifetime. Their existences had largely involved just tending to themselves. Mine had been for others ever since I entered Agra many years ago, and though people told me I looked young for my age, I already felt like an old woman. “Will we visit Ami’s tomb, Empress?
As our procession approached Delhi, I could tell this land had seen great civilisations before. Ruined fortresses with walls as high and thick as our Red Fort in Agra were peppered around the city. Mud huts covered the landscape, presumably housing the descendants of the people who once owned these civilisations. Overgrown shrubs and untamed forests had reclaimed land that at one time must have been beautiful gardens and walkways. Makeshift homes were made from remnants of what once must have been civil buildings or mansions.
Bahadur nodded. “Yes, I know, Jai Singh and Prince Dara were continuously furious, Jai Singh complaining that the Prince had spent nearly a quarter of the treasury on voodoo, and the military camp had turned into an ascetic’s pilgrimage. ” Dara ultimately caved in to Jai Singh’s demands and stopped the ascetic nonsense. Several more months passed, and at last Dara’s army under Jai Singh’s command launched an offensive against the Persians in Kandahar that captured smaller surrounding forts around the major fort.
I order you to open the cloak and stop this! I’ll have you crushed for insubordination! ” The hakim stared fixedly at me. “She must rest, Begum Sahiba,” he said calmly. I continued to resist. “You all are committing sedition against the King! ” I shouted. “You’re killing the queen, and you’ll burn in hell! ” I couldn’t see straight, the tears had blurred my vision so badly, I scarcely knew where I was. Blinded by my tears, weakened by my weeping and hurting from my sorrow, I suddenly realised I was making a spectacle of myself.
When Aurangzeb returned to Lahore, he did carry a gold dagger from the King of Bukhara that he managed to keep through the journey, hoping to present it to Aba in Agra. Aba couldn’t help but be disappointed, not with Aurangzeb, but at the disastrous cost in resources and human lives of this campaign. He chose to remain in Agra, consoled by his art and architecture and not greet his son in Lahore, as Aurangzeb had hoped. He further told Aurangzeb not to bother coming to Agra but to instead go to Gujarat.