Mumtaz Mahal, the name which literally translates to ‘the elect of the Palace’ was born in 1593 as Arjumand Banu Begum to the Persian nobility living in Agra. Daughter of Hasan Asaf khan and the niece of Nur Jahan, Arjumand Banu Begum and Shah Jahan were married at the age of 19 in 1612 to the Prince Khurram, who was the heir to the throne of the Mughals. Legend has it that the emperor fell in love with the Princess as soon as he caught the first glimpse of her while he was taking a stroll in Meena bazaar along with other officials of the Mughal court. Mumtaz Mahal was a very prominent figure in the Mughal court. She was given the responsibility and the highest honor of keeping the seal of the land – the Mehr Uzaz. Mumtaz was one learned princess who was well versed in languages such as Arabic and Persian. The nature and humbleness of Mumtaz Mahal was quite famous throughout Agra as the nobles and other officials were very fond of her. This made the pact of marriage between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal an easy affair as Jahangir, father of Shah Jahan readily agreed. Mumtaz Mahal although was engaged to Shah Jahan in 1607, was the second wife of the emperor because in between 1607 to 1612, Shah Jahan was married to his first wife due to political reasons. Mumtaz Mahal died on 17 June 1631 while giving birth to her 14th child. She was accompanying Shah Jahan to the Deccan plateau during one of his military expeditions. When she died, her body was temporarily buried in Burhanpur in a garden known as Zainabad, built by Daniyal, Shah Jahan’s Uncle on the bank of Tapti River. As Shah Jahan had promised her, he built a grand mausoleum on her name, which even now stands tall and is used to commemorate her royal existence.
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