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aurangzebAURANGZEB COMES TO POWER by dint of determination. As someone who was never looked on as heir, he is determined to make his own mark as Emperor and certainly does so aesthetically. He is not apologetic about his staid tastes and as an orthodox religionist, he firmly edges out the artists, poets and painters who were nurtured by Court patronage over successive Emperors. His ruthless stance will serve well to expand the Mughal Empire – taking it to its largest reach in the Indian peninsula since its founding by Babur. Though he will be repeatedly challenged in the Deccan, he will succeed in establishing centres at Bijapur and Golconda in the South. These cultural influences will find their way to the royal dastarkhwan. Under Aurangzeb, royal cuisine, though austere, will not be stymied in the same way as the other arts, for in Aurangzeb’s own words (in a letter to his son): “… the desire for eating has not left me entirely.”

(Image source: Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive)