Greetings noble viewers, and welcome to The World Around Us. Five hundred years ago in the land of modern Pakistan, there once existed a great empire, the Mughal Empire. The Mughal, meaning “Mongolian” in Arabic and Persian, were descendants of Timur, the founder of the Timurid Empire. During the classical period of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1701, the empire reached the climax of its glory and left a rich legacy of literature, arts, and architecture.
In today’s episode, we’ll be visiting two mosques in Pakistan, the Shah Jahan Mosque and the Badshahi Mosque, built by the Mughal emperors Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb Alamgir, respectively. The architectural masterpieces of the Mughal Empire, including monuments, mosques, temples, gardens, etc., widely adapted Islamic forms such as domes and minarets. Yet, Mughal architecture remained flexible, incorporating local building traditions, as the empire was generally tolerant of other religions.
Eventually, Mughal architecture created an innovative style synthesizing elements from India, Timur, Persia, and even Europe. Of all the Mughal emperors, Shah Jahan was the greatest patron of Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan, or King of the World, revealed his sharpness and good memory since young. After he was crowned succeeding his father Jahangir in 1628, he named himself the Lord of the Auspicious Conjunctions, being proud of his Timurid heritage. He was also titled the Meteor of the Faith, as he was very religious. Shah Jahan faithfully visited the tomb of the Sufi saint Mu’in al-Din Chishti in Ajmer, India through the ups and downs till the end of his reign.
As he governed the nation with justice, people revered Shah Jahan as a semi-divine king.
He was always portrayed with a halo surrounding his face, sometimes with little angels above his head as well. By his feet, the lion and the lamb lay together as a sign of peace.
Indeed, under his reign, the empire enjoyed its greatest prosperity and stability. Under Shah Jahan, Mughal architecture achieved its classical zenith. The architectural style of this period showed symmetry, uniformity of shapes, balustrade columns, arched roofs, and elaborate detail. Most of them were characterized by white marble inlaid with stones. Shah Jahan’s most famous construction is the beautiful Taj Mahal, which is still considered a wonder of architecture today.