Mumtaz Mahal was born Arjumand Banu Begum, she became the wife of the 5th Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. She was born in 1593 to Asaf Khan in Agra into a family of Persian nobility. She was betrothed in 1607 the age of 14 and married in 1612 to Shah Jahan, who conferred upon her the title Mumtaz Mahal.
The translation of her name means “the beloved ornament of the palace” and she was the inspiration behind the construction of the Taj Mahal. She was a Persian who was a staunch Muslim and was known for exquisite beauty and grace throughout the kingdom. Poets would praise her beauty. It is said that her beauty is unrivaled.
Shah Jahan had 3 wives the other two being Akbarabadi Mahal and Khandahari Mahal, but Mumtaz Mahal was the emperor’s most loved and favored. Empress Mumtaz Mahal would accompany her husband everywhere from his hunting expeditions to his military campaigns. She was so trusted by her husband that he even gave her his imperial seal, the Muhr Uzah. She was portrayed as the perfect wife with no political aspirations contrary to her aunt Empress Nur Jehan. Apart from advising and supporting her husband, she also loved watching elephants and combat fights that were conducted for the court. She also devoted some time to a riverside garden she had in Agra.
In their 19 years of marriage, they had 14 children. Seven of the children died at birth or at a very tender age. In 17th June 1631, while accompanying her husband to one of his war expeditions, Mumtaz Mahal died delivering their 14th child. On her death bed she asked for 4 promises from the emperor. The 1st promise was that Shah Jahan should erect a monument dedicated to their love. The 2nd promise was that he would marry again. The 3rd promise was he would be kind to their children. The 4th and final promise was that her husband would visit the tomb on her death anniversary.
After she died she was temporarily buried at the Zainabadi garden in Burhanpur that was originally constructed by Shan Jahan’s uncle Daniyal on the bank of the Tapti River. Since Burhanpur was not the intended resting place for Mumtaz Mahal, her body was exhumed in December 1631 and transported by her son Shah Shuja back to Agra. There, the body was interred in a small building on the banks of Yamuna River as Shah Jahan remained behind to conclude his military campaign.
Her personal fortune was valued at 10,000,000 rupees and was divided by her husband between Jahanara Begum (imperial princess) who got half of it, and the remaining half to her surviving children. To honor his promises to Mumtaz Mahal, emperor Shan Jahan commenced the construction of the beautiful Taj Mahal in 1631.
It took Shah Jahan 22 years and most of his royal treasury to build a monument that was befitting to the memory of Mumtaz Mahal. To date, to the name of Empress Mumtaz Mahal stands for the most beautiful building in the world called the Taj Mahal. This is a monument of purity, love and unrivaled beauty and the final resting place for the emperor and empress.