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Mistress of the Throne: The Mughal Intrigues Paperback – 8 Jan 2014
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About the Author
About the Author: The author of Mistress of the Throne: The Mughal Intrigues is Ruchir Gupta. He is a graduate of Upstate Medical University and is practicing medicine in Long Island, NY, at present. He resides there with his wife and daughter. He has been the author of several books that deal with the topic of anaesthesiology. He has a number of interests, which include reading, traveling, learning history and blogging.
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The book is riveting and will leave the reader feeling a sense of dismay at the downfall of the Mughal Empire. I would highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in history.
Though the protagonist of this book is Jahanara, it seems as if the hero of the book is Aurangzeb. Kudos to author for the kind of research he has done on the characters who do not have much mentions in the history of Mughals. He based this book on Jahanara, one of the unsaid player in the Mughal empire. I never ever heard about her but after reading this book, I will always name her whenever Mughal empire will be discussed. We tend to believe that Mughals were very aggressive, pitiless and cruel but Mumtaz Mahal, Jahanara, Dara and the initial phase of Aurangzeb- the way their participation is narrated, it seems as if there were many who didn't want blood at all.
The demise of Mumtaz Mahal is one of the best parts of this book. It made me weep for a long time even after the chapter was completed. The way her death affected Shah Jahan, Jahanara, Aurangzeb and Dara was a wonderful piece to read. The differences and the way different personality shapes us in the face of Aurangzeb and Dara is what this book strongly owns. The attitude of Shah Jahan towards Aurangzeb which makes the latter aggressive, extremist Muslim is well defined in this book. It tells us what's the main reason behind Aurangzeb's personality and killing attitude towards Non-Muslim. Jahanara's soft corner towards Aurangzeb is a very unique angle given to the story.
The whole making of Taj Mahal is narrated through out the book which makes you understand what has been the situations around the city of Agra and Delhi when the structure was in formation. I also liked the mention of Bibi Ka Maqbara made by Aurangzeb and the way Jahanara discusses the flaws in it; also in the Aurangzeb's placing of Shah Jahan's body in the Taj Mahal. Nur Jahan's first interaction with Jahanara and provoking him for the relationship is also a very good scenario in the book. All the letters that are mentioned plays their part heavily in the story. The way climax is written and the story is ended makes the book a perfect composition. The idea of describing the Mughal family's hierarchy initially and the name of all the characters with their relations in the family is good. Also "AFTERWORD" in the end is nice as I wanted to know from author if the story is real or fiction, and if fiction, then how much. He states that almost everything is real except few scenes where he had to insert his own fictitious content to describe the intensity of moment. I will give this book 4.75 out of 5. Surely read it.
This books puts light on life of Jahanara, Shah Jahan's eldest daughter, and her role and her struggle to keep her family together and secure the Mughal India. Shah Jahan had many wives, including Manbhavati, his Hindu wife. But Shah Jahan was so in love with Mumtaz, that all his children were from Mumtaz. He had seven children out of 14 pregnancies of Mumtaz. After Mumtaz died of her 14th pregnancy, Shah Jahan anointed Jahanara as the next Empress of India, instead of naming Kandari, his 1st wife or any of his other wives. Jahanara was only 17 years old and was reluctant to accept this title, but takes up this huge responsibility in the hopes of keeping her family together and secure the Mughal India. Nur Jahan's and Mumtaz Mahal's names are always mentioned in history but Jahanara and her role in shaping India got missed amidst all the Mughal emperors and their rich lifestyle. This was not a easy to take up the duties of the Thorne, when your own siblings are at war for the Thorne, along with the duties as the eldest sister and daughter. She was the one who administered the work of Taj Mahal and the establishment of new capital in Delhi, which is now the capital of India. The Chandni Chowk which is the main avenue of commerce for Delhi and the Red Fort from where the annual independence day celebrations are launched are her designs. She had a constant feud with her sister Raushanara, because of her beauty and for being given the title of Empress of India. She had to struggle to keep her siblings together, when Dara and Aurengzeb were in feud to become the next king after Shah Jahan. Being the daughter of the ruling king, she was forbidden to marry and to find a love like her father found with Mumtaz.
The author has also pictured the facts and incidents, few are fictional, to understand why Aurengzeb always had feud with his father.
This is very interesting and informative read. The narration is flawless. There are few fictional touches to keep the story moving but those in no way took the essence away from the real story. This book is written after a good research. The dates, places and events mentioned are good evidence. I did a few searches in net to confirm the correctness of events. The map provided in the beginning of book helped a lot to get the accuracy of places. The only thing I wanted more was a list of books that the author referred for his research.
This is one such book which needs more publicity. If you really want to read good books based on good research by Indian authors, then Ruchir Gupta is a author to look forward to.
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