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The Mughal Empire

The Taj Mahal
Mumtaz Mahal (left) and Shah Jahan (right)

India is an ancient land with a long history of art, literature, architecture, and religion. Centuries ago, large parts of India were ruled by the Mughals. The Mughals were Muslims who came to India from central Asia. They made Agra, in north central India, their capital city. The Mughals had their own traditions of art, architecture, and religion. They also admired Indian art and tradition. By blending the two cultures, the Mughals hoped to show themselves as the rightful rulers of India.

In 1592 a Mughal prince named Khurram was born. From childhood, Khurram trained to be a Mughal emperor. He learned sword fighting and horseback riding. He studied religion, art, poetry and, one his favorite subjects-architecture. As a young man, Khurram was given the name Shah Jahan (king of the world). In 1611 he married the first of his three wives. All his wives were treated well as royal princesses. But Shah Jahan fell deeply in love with his second wife. She was the beautiful and kind Arjumand Banu Begum. He called her Mumtaz Mahal—the chosen one of the palace. Shah Jahan became the Mughal emperor in 1628. He used his interest in art and architecture to display the empire’s strength and wealth. He built many beautiful palaces, houses, tombs for royal relatives, and formal gardens.

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