Reign of Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan ascended the throne in 1627 and ruled till 1656. The reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan is regarded as the most glorious epoch, in the history of Mughal rule in India.
The reign of Shah Jahan marks the climax of Mughal Rule of India. In fact, the Mughal empire founded by Babur and rebounded by Akbar reached the climax in point of territorial expansion during the reign of Shah Jahan. No doubt Aurangzeb had further to the Mughal Empire by the annexation of the Deccan States of Bijapur and Golkunda, but these were more liabilities than assets to the Empire and those were not worth the price that the Emperor had to pay for these. In fact, the empire had already begun to decline during the reign of Aurangzeb and before the Emperor was dead, the Empire was already in a state of disintegration. But so long as Shah Jahan lived and ruled, there was no substantial loss. The only loss that Shah Jahan suffered was the loss of Kandahar. But Kandahar, to all intents and purposes was situated outside the geographical limits of India proper and its loss did not materially affect the fortunes or strength of the Empire.
The reign of Shah Jahan is chiefly memorable for the high and excellent level reached in the domain of material prosperity and in the sphere of arts and architecture. The most remarkable trait in Shah Jahan’s character is his love of pomp and grandeur and. patronage of art. His reign saw the construction of many splendid works of arts. The most memorable of these is the Great Taj Mahal, the splendid mausoleum over his beloved queen’s grave at Agra which has justly been described as a ‘dream in marble’. In point of execution of design and novelty of conception, as a work of art, it remains one of the wonders of the world. Another remarkable building of the age was the famous Moti Masjid at Agra, completed in 1653. Shah Milan also caused a new city to be constructed in the neighborhood of his capital. It came to be known after him as Shahjahanabad. The city was adorned with many splendid buildings of which the most well-known were the Jumma Masjid and Dewani Khas of Court of Private Audience. The famous Peacock Throne of Shah Jahan was yet another specimen of Indian skill in the domain of art and craft. In point of splendor and beauty it belongs to a class by itself.
Shah Jahan’s reign also saw the high water mark of Indian Muslim Painting and Drawing. No other period can boast of such excellent achievements in the sphere of artistic activity as the period of Shah Jahan’s reign.
In Shah Jahan’s reign more than one famine occurred and these took heavy tolls and brought considerable miseries on the people, but on the whole. India stood the strain well, so that the Emperor could afford to spend lavishly on works of art and yet evidence is lacking in senseless exploitation of people. Thus on the whole, viewed from all points—the Emperor’s love in pomp and grandeur, the magnificent works of art, the inexhaustible riches deposited in the imperial treasury, the absence of rebellion, the remarkable expansion of territories—the period of Shah Jahan’s reign may justly claim to have been the most glorious epoch in the annals of Mughal rule in India.