Prince Khurram, son of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, became enthralled with the beauty of Arjumand Banu Begum from the first moment he laid eyes on her. In 1607, the two were betrothed and in 1612, they were finally married; he was 20 and she, 19. Khurram bestowed the title “Mumtaz Mahal” (“Chosen one of the Palace”) upon his beloved bride.
Though he already had two other wives, Shah Jahan rarely practiced polygamy after his marriage to Mumtaz Mahal. The two enjoyed a happy and ardent marriage; Mumtaz Mahal was her husband’s confidant and frequent traveling companion. She also enjoyed great power and influence during her brief tenure as the Mughal Empress (from 1627 to 1631).
Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal had fourteen children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. Their bliss was cut tragically short, however: the empress died shortly after giving birth to her youngest child, Gauharara Begum, in the summer of 1631. Her bereaved husband was inconsolable. He mourned in seclusion for a year, during which time her body was temporarily interred in a pleasure garden.
The following year, construction began on an immense funerary complex for Mumtaz Mahal in Agra. Twenty-two years later, in 1648, the grand white-marble mausoleum was completed. The Taj Mahal is still considered an architectural masterpiece. It stands as an touching and breathtaking testament to the love shared by Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal.