The Story of the Taj Mahal
Full of passion and tragedy, the story of the Taj Mahal- one of the greatest love stories of all time
In 1631, the heartbroken Moghul Emperor, Shah Jahan, ordered the construction of a monument of unsurpassed splendour and majesty in memory of his beloved wife. Theirs was an extraordinary story of passionate love: although almost constantly pregnant – she bore him fourteen children – Mumtaz Mahal followed her husband on every military campaign, in order that they might never be apart.
But then Mumtaz died in childbirth. Blinded by grief, Shah Jahan created an exquisite and extravagant memorial for her on the banks of the river Jumna. A gleaming mausoleum of flawless symmetry, the Taj Mahal was built from milk-white marble and rose sandstone, and studded with a fortune in precious jewels. It took twenty years to complete and involved over 20,000 labourers, depleting the Moghul treasuries. But Shah Jahan was to pay a greater price for his obsession. He ended his days imprisoned by his own son in Agra Fort, gazing across the river at the monument to his love. The building of the Taj Mahal had set brother against brother and son against father in a savage conflict that pushed the seventeenth century's most powerful empire into irreversible decline.
The story behind the Taj Mahal has the cadences of Greek tragedy, the carnage of a Jacobean revenge play and the ripe emotion of grand opera. With the storytelling skills that characterize their previous books, in this compelling narrative history Diana and Michael Preston succeed in putting a revealing human face on the famous marble masterpiece.
“The Prestons' richly patterned chintz of a book also delivers a romantic account of the Mughal empire as a whole.”
Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
“A hugely entertaining book packed with information, often irrelevant but still fascinating, about the Mughal emperors of India and in particular Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.”
Sue Arnold, Guardian
“An enthralling history of extraordinary kings and their peerlessly cultured and opulent lives . . . truly unforgettable.”
“A highly readable potted history of the Moghul empire that produced this extraordinary building...thorougly enjoyable.”
“The Prestons tell the story engagingly and well, providing a lucid narrative sweep”
Charles Allen, Literary Review
“Considerable research leavened by colourful story-telling...every page offers a vivid image or telling detail that captures the deeply weird and violent world of the Moghuls.”
“The Prestons' delightful and definitive book tells the monument's full, extraordinary story, not only of the vast undertaking of the building itself, but also the operatic sweep of the dynastic and romantic convulsions behind the project . . . Combines tremendous scholarship with a host of cracking stories well told.”