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aurangzebAURANGZEB’S FIRST CORONATION had been a hurried affair at Shalimar Gardens on Delhi’s Karnal Road. He needs a whole year to settle scores before he is secure enough to hold a proper coronation celebration. It is held at New Delhi – Shahjahanabad. At the Qila-i-Mubarak (of which today’s Red Fort is a part), the halls of public and private audience are decked to perfection. There, he mounts the Peacock Throne to the sound of drums and trumpets, a few hours after sunrise on June 5, 1659 – a time chosen by astrologers. He takes on the title Alamgir, Seizer of the World. 

As an Emperor who desperately needs the assurance of his people after unsavoury displays of conflict, Aurangzeb announces the abolition of up to 80 taxes and also waives tolls. However, his plan for economizing, grind the city’s celebrated arts life to a halt. Today, as poets and musicians receive inams of silver and gold as part of coronation tradition, they are well aware that the golden age of Delhi’s arts patronage is passing.  


The venue of Aurangzeb’s second coronation. Image: Late 18th C rendering of the Red Fort in Shajahanabad

Aurangzeb will put brakes on the tradition of appearing at the jharokha every morning. Also to be discontinued will be the long tradition of rulers having their biography written in their time (however the chronicling of his first ten years will be secured before this). But somehow, he does not limit celebrations to mark his coronation – festivities roll out over 14 weeks.