Empire of the Moghul # 5 .. The Serpent’s Tooth .. By Alex Rutherford
This is the fifth published version of the Empire of the Moghul sequel and very significant as well because this one features the evergreen era that gave us the symbol of love and loss and wonderment that till date is still the most beautiful monument in the world to look upon. I am of course talking about, the lovable tribute given by the emperor Shah Jahan to his dearest wife - “Taj Mahal”.
As soon as Shah Jahan succeeded as the fifth Moghul Emperor, he started basking in the glory of all the luxuries of his kingdom and happiness of the secured position of his rule, without his half-brothers to fight against him for the throne and his entire family and most importantly his beautiful and caring wife, Mumtaz Mahal, together with him.
He ordered to make the most beautiful peacock throne for himself for which he himself selected and weighed the most precious gems from his treasure vault. He also was a very generous ruler and tried his best to widen his empire as much as possible.
But he was also the most unfortunate of all!
Soon after gaining the kingdom, he set forth to capture Deccan from the Maratha rulers and as always his loving wife adamantly refused to be left behind in Agra and ventured with him to stay in the so-called ill-omened fort of Burhanpur while he tries to gain the South-Western Province. However, everything sort of fell apart for Shah Jahan after reaching Burhanpur. The great famine hit India during that time. Not only did his entire kingdom suffer because of lack of food and water. His wife died, giving birth to their daughter Gauharara. After which, he lost interest to all the things that once mattered to him the most, even his children.
He only cared for creating the greatest resting place for his wife, whose last wishes were to be laid to rest under the most beautiful tomb ever constructed in the history of mankind. For which he appointed a Persian, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, as the architect and spent lavishly on the construction of Taj Mahal, which took almost 20 years to get completed, during which time, he himself oversaw the designing of this white marvelous beauty, that till date stands on the banks of Yamuna as a testimony of the Emperor’s love for his wife.
This book also tells us, how after years of trying to hold his life back together, Shah Jahan sort of drifted apart from his children, especially the younger ones. Sensing that he is finally losing his touch, they rebelled against each other for the throne.
Aurangzeb, the most ambitious of all took over the kingdom, imprisoning his father and declaring himself the sixth Moghul Emperor, whilst his father lived.
It was kind of depressing to read this book because the story of Shah Jahan made me really sad, as to how, disliked by his step-mother, he had to wander around as a nomad while trying to win his father’s affection back. Then when finally he thought that life is kind of stable, he lost his wife, afterward, he lost the closeness with his children as well and finally his throne and then his life.
The narration was, however, no doubt, superb and captivating.
With this let me bring you very soon, the finale book of this series, “Traitors in the Shadows”.