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Shah Jahan enjoys a period of idyllic refuge at Jag Mandir, Udaipur. Image: From 18 C painting showing Maharana Ari Singh at Jag Mandir (Maharana of Mewar Charitable foundation)

Jahangir2THE EVENTS OF THE LAST YEAR have tired out Jahangir who – now at Lahore after resolving an internal rebellion – desires to repair to Kashmir for recovery. It is a measure of his condition that he has entrusted to a courtier the important task of updating his journal; the last in his line to write the journals in his own hand, was Babur, and and Jahangir’s personal commitment to keeping a faithful record of impressions, matches his great grandfather’s.

Shah Jahan meanwhile, in the middle of a rebellion, is being hosted by a series of friends and allies. Being Rajput from his mother’s side, it is no surprise that he is more comfortable taking up an invitation from Rajasthan. For a while he is hosted at Udaipur by Karan Singh, the Rana of Mewar. In fact Shah Jahan, Mumtaz and their six children are the first guests to stay at a newly completed domed structure named Gul Mahal in the larger lake palace complex known as the Jag Mandir. Its marble walls are inlaid with glass, mirror work, cornelian, rubies and jade and Mumtaz and the children are charmed and dazzled. As Emperor, Shah Jahan will invoke details he admires here in a future structure that will be known as the Taj Mahal.


A lodge built in memory of a pet deer, gives solace. Image: From a 19th C Mughal painting

Jahangir meanwhile is staying for increasingly longer stretches at Kashmir. But nothing is bringing cheer. Even deer hunting, which always exhilarates him, only makes him more despondent. Instead for a while, he finds a greater measure at calm spending time at the Hiran Minar, a memorial he had built several years earlier, to his favourite pet antelope, Mansraj.