Saturday, August 5, 2017

Nur Jahan Tomb

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The Tomb of Nur Jahan is a red sandstone mausoleum located in Shahdara Bagh in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. It was constructed for the Mughal empress Nur Jahan as her final resting place.

Nur Jahan was the daughter of I'timad-ud-Daula, Jahangir's prime minister. Meaning "Light of the World", she was born in 1577 to Persian parents and was given the name Mehr-un-Nisaa. At the age of 17 she married Sher Afghan, a Mughal courtier. The marriage lasted thirteen years and resulted in the birth of one daughter, the only child Mehr-un-Nisaa was to ever have. After her husbands's death in 1607, Mehr-un-Nisaa entered Emperor Jahangir's harem as a lady-in-waiting to one of his stepmothers. She remained in the harem for four years until Jahangir happened to notice her during the Nowruz spring festival in March 1611. Infatuated by her beauty, he immediately proposed to her. She wedded in May of that year, becoming Jahangir's twentieth wife.

Jahangir's attention to matters of state was seriously compromised by his addiction to opium and alcohol. As he aged, he relied more and more on his close advisers to manage the empire's administration. Mehr-un-Nisaa--now known as Nur Jahan--used this as an opportunity to take power for herself and for many years became the de-facto ruler behind the throne. In an unusual step, Jahangir even allowed her to have coinage minted in her name--traditionally a prerogative of the emperor alone.

In 1626 the emperor was captured by rebels while on his way to Kashmir. Although Nur Jahan was able to secure his release, he died on October 28, 1627. In the struggle for succession that followed, Nur Jahan's own brother Asaf Khan sided against her and allied with his son-in-law Khurrum who was angling for the throne. Khurrum succeeded and became the next Mughal Emperor with the reign name Shah Jahan. Nur Jahan lost favor and was confined to house arrest, but was not stripped of her finances. Throughout the remainder of her life she engaged in artisic activities, including composing Persian poems under the pen name Makhfi. Her greatest legacy, however, was the construction of the I'timad-ud-Daulah Tomb in honor of her father, which ranks second only to the Taj Mahal as the finest example of Mughal architecture in the subcontinent. She also oversaw the construction of her own tomb and was interred there when she died in 1645 at age 68.

Nur Jahan's tomb is stylistically similar to Jahangir's tomb, but is about half the size and lacks corner minarets. The tomb suffered substantial damage in the 19th century when its marble decoration was plundered for use in other monuments. The destruction extended even to the sarcophagus, which is no longer extant. The present cenotaph at the center of the tomb is a modern restoration. More recently, over-zealous rehabilitation of the tomb has resulted in the loss of some of the remaining fragments of original ornamentation.






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