Status: Read from Mar 11 to Mar 13, 2017
My rating: /5
Author: Ruchir Gupta
1631. The Empress of India – Mumtaz Mahal – has died. Yet, rather than anoint one of his several other wives to take her place as Empress of India, Mughal King Shah Jahan anoints his seventeen year old daughter Jahanara as the next Queen on India.
Bearing an almost identical resemblance to her mother, Jahanara is the first ever daughter of a sitting Mughal King to be anointed queen. She is reluctant to accept this title, but does so in hopes of averting the storm approaching her family and Mughal India. Her younger siblings harbor extreme personalities – from a liberal multiculturalist (who views religion as an agent of evil) to an orthodox Muslim (who views razing non-Muslim buildings as divine will).
Meanwhile, Jahanara struggles to come to terms with her own dark reality: as the daughter of a sitting King, she is forbidden to marry. Thus, while she lives in the shadow of her parents’ unflinching love story, she is devastated by the harsh reality that she is forbidden to share such a romance with another.
The Mistress of the Throne narrates the powerful story of one of India’s most opulent and turbulent times through the eyes of an unsuspecting character: a Muslim queen. It uses actual historical figures to illuminate the complexity of en era that has often been called, “India’s Golden Age.”
The Mughal era is one of the most fascinating periods of India History. Though there are many books, TV serials and movies based on this period, still there is more to explore. In our history books during our school days, we have all read about the Mughal dynasty in India. We have all read about the bravery and greatness of Babar and Akbar. One of such most popular King during the Mughal dynasty was King Shah Jahan. He was more known for his architectural caliber. The Taj Mahal, considered as one of the 7 wonders of the World, speaks about his skills in arthitecture. Taj Mahal is the symbol of his undying love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. What we have learned about in most history books is that, his son Aurengzeb killed Dara, Shah Jahan’s elder son and made Shah Jahan a prisoner to became the King of India. However, there is little mention of Shah Jahan’s other kids and how his life and family was effected after Mumtaz’s death.
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.
About the Author:
Ruchir Gupta is a graduate of Upstate Medical University and currently practicing medicine in Long Island, NY, where he lives with his wife and daughter. He has authored several books on anesthesiology. His interests include reading, blogging, traveling, and learning history. Mistress of the Throne is his debut novel.