Earlier known as Khurram Shihab-al-Din Muhammad, Shah Jahan was the third son of Mughal Emperor Jahangir by his Rajput queen belonging to the Mewar State.
He was married to Arjunmand Banu Beg (who later on came to be known as Mumtaz Mahal), daughter of the powerful noble Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jahan (another wife of Jahangir and the most powerful queen).
Prince KhurTam displayed his military talents early and was given high rank by the Emperor.
Nur Jahan who had married her daughter Ladli Begum (from her previous husband Sher Afghan) to Shahryar, another son of Jahangir, wanted to make Shahryar as the emperor after the death of Jahangir. Thus the conflict for succession started between Nur Jahan and prince Khurram. Prince Shahryar was no match in talents as compared with Khurram. Khurram revolted on account of the unfair treatment by Jahangir under the influence of Nur Jahan. However, his revolt failed and he felt sorry for this. Jahangir pardoned him. Of course, there was an uneasy calm.
When Emperor Jahangir died suddenly in October 1627, Nur Jahan, according to her preconceived plans declared her son-in-law Shahryar as the emperor but Khurram’s father-in-law, Asaf Khan diplomatically defeated the plans of Nur Jahan. Through intrigues and counter intrigues, Khurram (Shah Jahan) was able to occupy the throne of Delhi. Nur Jahan had to spend fifteen years of her life on the pension granted to her by Shah Jahan.
Chief features of the reign of Shah Jahan:
1. Cultural development and advancement especially construction of memorable buildings.
2. War of succession among his sons during his life time.
4. Pathetic plight of Shah Jahan during his last days.
Main events of his reign:
(1) Very costly and unsuccessful military campaigns in Afghanistan and Central Asia to recover Kandhar, Balkh and Badakshan.
(2) The Deccan campaign of Shah Jahan was motivated by two factors. First, he was an imperialist. Second, he was a staunch Sunni and considered it his sacred duty to crush the Shia states of the Deccan. Shah Jahan was successful in bringing several territories under his control.
(3) Suppression of rebellions of Bundelas of Orchha.
(4) Suppression of Khan Jahan Lodi, an Afghan Chief.
(5) Famine and pestilence in the Deccan and Gujarat resulting in extreme hardships to people, besides loss of precious lives.
(6) Successful war with the Portuguese on account of their abuse of trade rights given to them by Akbar and Jahangir. Killing of about 10,000 Portuguese and imprisonment of several hundred Portuguese. Conversion of many of them to Islam to avoid torture.
(7) Golden age of architecture, magnificence of Shah Jahan’s collection of jewels, display of jewels on the fifteen-foot high Peacock Throne which took seven years and 10 million rupees to construct, fine buildings—Moti Masjid of Agra, Shalimar Gardens of Lahore and Sri Nagar, entire city of Shah Jahanabad (Delhi) containing the Red Fort and Jami Masjid; the Taj Mahal of Agra etc.
(8) Intolerant religious policy; destruction of temples.
(9) War of succession during his life time among his four sons and his inability to secure Dara Shikoh’s succession.
(10) Last days spent in Aurangzeb’s captivity in the Agra Fort, his pathetic plight and gazing at the Taj Mahal.