Empress consort of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal died on June 17, 1631, in Burhanpur, due to postpartum hemorrhage, during the birth of her fourteenth child, a daughter named Gauhar Ara Begum. Epitomised by fifth great Mughal Emperor of India, her betrothal to Prince Khurram (who would later become Emperor Shah Jahan) happened when she was 14 and he, 15. However, she was finally married to the Mughal Prince as his second wife when she was 19. The magnificent Taj Mahal cited as one of the Wonders of the World, was commissioned by her husband to act as her final resting place and contains both their sarcophagi.
As the world commemorates Mumtaz Mahal's 388 death anniversary, here's taking a look at a few interesting facts about the Mughal Empress.
Her real name is Arjumand Banu Begum.
She belonged to Persian nobility and was the daughter of Abu'l-Hasan Asaf Khan, a wealthy Persian noble who held high office in the Mughal Empire.
She is the niece of Empress Nur Jahan, who was the chief wife of Emperor Jahangir and according to many, the power behind the emperor.
According to records and legends, even though Shah Jahan had two wives -- his first wife, Princess Kandahari Begum and Izz-un-Nissa Begum, he was so enamoured with Mumtaz that he showed little interest in exercising his polygamous rights with his two other wives, other than dutifully siring a child with each according to norms of the time.
In fact, Shah Jahan's historian Inayat Khan too had commented that the Emperor's "whole delight was centered on this illustrious lady [Mumtaz], to such an extent that he did not feel towards the others [i.e. his other wives] one-thousandth part of the affection that he did for her."
Mumtaz had fourteen children, including Jahanara Begum (Shah Jahan's favourite daughter), and the Crown prince Dara Shikoh, who temporarily succeeded him, until deposed by Mumtaz Mahal's sixth child, Aurangzeb, who became the sixth Mughal Emperor.
Shah Jahan trusted her so much that he even gave her his imperial seal, the Muhr Uzah.
When Mahal died, she was temporarily buried in Burhanpur in a garden known as Zainbad.
However, Burhanpur was never intended to be Mumtaz’s final resting spot. He body was disinterred in December 1631 and transported in a golden casket escorted by her son Shah Shuja and the deceased empress's head lady-in-waiting back to Agra, where it was interred in a small building on the banks of the Yamuna River, before finally reaching its resting place, Taj Mahal.
The construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, a year after her death.
Mumtaz Mahal's personal fortune (valued at ten million rupees) was divided by Shah Jahan between Jahanara Begum, who received half and the rest of her surviving children.