Shah Jahan

Emperor of India from 1628 to 1658, Shah Jahan has gone down in history for commissioning one of history's most spectacular buildings, the Taj Mahal, in honor of his much beloved wife. Born Prince Khurram, the fifth son of the Emperor Jahangir of India, he became his father's favored son after leading several successful military campaigns to consolidate his family's empire. As a special honor, Jahangir gave him the title of Shah Jahan, or "King of the World." After his father's death in 1627, Shah Jahan won power after a struggle with his brothers, crowning himself emperor at Agra in 1628. At his side was Mumtaz Mahal, or "Chosen One of the Palace," Shah Jahan's wife since 1612 and the favorite of his three queens. In 1631, Mumtaz died after giving birth to the couple's 14th child. Legend has it that with her dying breaths, she asked her husband to promise to build the world's most beautiful mausoleum for her. Six months after her death, the deeply grieving emperor ordered construction to begin. Set across the Jamuna River from the royal palace in Agra, the white marble fa├čade of the Taj Mahal reflects differing hues of light throughout the day, glowing pink at sunrise and pearly white in the moonlight. At its center, surrounded by delicate screens filtering light, lies the cenotaph, or coffin, containing the remains of the Shah's beloved queen