Taj Mahal India Tours

Fall of an Empire

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Mughals supremacy from Akbar to Shah Jahan had been an era of virtual peace and unrivaled opulence in India, a time when culture and the arts had flourished, amazing cities had been created, roads for business and war were built, economy reformed, agriculture promoted, religious tolerance promoted and rebellions scarce. But, Aurangzeb, (Shah Jahan's fifth and youngest son) had paid little attention in the arts. He didn’t love of poetry or music, and as a devout Moslem, painting was too ungodly for his tastes. Not only this but, he also condemned of his father's generous lifestyle, accusing him for his extravagancy on frivolous constructions.

When the emperor Shah Jahan became seriously ill in 1657, Aurangzeb began a two-year-long strategy for power. By 1658, he had killed his brothers, declared himself sovereign and imprisoned his sick father. He instantly put an end to the patronage of court artists, and invalidated many of the policies of religious tolerance that had been in practice since Akbar's time in power, hoping to force orthodox Islam on all of India. He appeared as the hero for the Muslims and an oppressor to the Hindus.

Eight years after Aurangzeb took the throne, Shah Jahan died. Acknowledging the grand love between his parents, Aurangzeb buried Shah Jahan next to Mumtaz Mahal. As he wrote-"My father entertained a great affection for my mother; so let him rest close to hers." The emperor's cenotaph, placed beside of his queen's, is the only apparent imbalance in the entire Taj Mahal complex.

Worried by a lessening treasury and Aurangzeb's unbending governance, anarchy and dissension reigned, and the empire began to fall down. When Aurangzeb died at the age of 89 in 1707, he was buried in a small tomb by the side of a road.

Between 1707 and 1748, more Mughals occupied the throne than during all the empire's earlier history. The 19th and last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah II, was overthrown by the British in 1858, and the British rule put back the Mughal Empire.