Taj: A Story of Mughal India
Penguin Books Limited, Dec 31, 2003 - 336 pages
When his queen Arjumand Banu—Mumtaz-i-Mahal; the Chosen One of the Palace—died; Shah Jahan wanted to build a monument that was the image of his perfect love for her. For twenty-two years; twenty thousand men laboured day and night to fulfil the emperor’s obsession. The result was the Taj Mahal; a marble mausoleum lined with gold; silver and precious jewels. This powerful novel narrates the story of the Taj on two parallel levels. The first one tells the passionate love story of Shah Jahan and Arjumand till her death through the voices of three main characters—Arjumand; Shah Jahan and Isa; Arjumand’s favourite eunuch. The second recounts the later years of Shah Jahan’s reign; the building of the Taj Mahal and the bloody pursuit of the fabulous Peacock throne by his sons. Intertwined in the building is the story of Murthi; the Hindu master craftsman sent as a gift to the emperor to carve the famous marble jail around Arjumand’s sarcophagus. Complex and fascinating; Murari has written more than a historical romance. He has skilfully recreated the period against which the story is set; the sensual opulence of the palace; the grinding poverty of seventeenth century India; the vicissitudes of Shah Jahan’s reign and the historical background of the conflict between men of different faiths.
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