free ebooks

A Handbook to Agra and the Taj by E. B. Havell

Aurangzib ruled with a firm hand


Aurangzib ruled with a firm hand, and in strict justice according to the law of Islam, but though a man of great intellectual powers, of marvellous energy and indomitable courage, he was wanting in imagination, sympathy, and foresight, the highest qualities of a really great ruler. He checked the dissolute conduct of the nobles, and set an example of industry and devotion to duty; but his narrow, bigoted disposition inclined him to distrust even his own ministers, so that, unlike his three predecessors, he was badly served by the lieutenants in whose hands the administration of the provinces rested. He surrounded himself with religious bigots of the Sunni sect of Muhammadans, who aided him in bitter persecution of the Hindus. Hardly anything of artistic or architectural interest was created under his patronage. Most of the great artists who attended Shah Jahan's court were dismissed as unorthodox or heretics, and many noble monuments were mutilated by the Emperor's fanatical followers on the ground that they contravened the precept of the Koran which forbids the representation of animate nature in art.

He died in 1707, eighty-nine years of age. The Mogul empire, surrounded by hordes of the enemies his bigotry and intolerance had created, was already tottering to its fall, and the star of the British raj was rising. Seventeen years before his death he had granted to Job Charnock a piece of land at Sutanati, the site of the future capital of our Indian empire.

Agra and the Later Mogul Emperors

Agra played a very small part in the history of the weak-minded and dissolute successors of Aurangzib. Firokhshiyar, who reigned from 1713 to 1719, resided occasionally there. After his death disputes between various claimants to the throne led to Agra Fort being besieged and captured by Husein Ali Khan, a partisan of one of them, who looted the treasury of all the valuables deposited there during three centuries. "There were the effects of Nur Jahan Begum and Mumtaz Mahal, amounting in value, according to various reports, to two or three crores of rupees. There was in particular the sheet of pearls which Shah Jahan had caused to be made for the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, of the value of several lakhs of rupees, which was spread over it on the anniversary and on Friday nights. There was the ewer of Nur Jahan and her cushion of woven gold and rich pearls, with a border of valuable garnets and emeralds." (Elliott.)

In 1739 Nadir, Shah of Persia, sacked Delhi, carried off Shah Jahan's famous peacock throne, and laid Agra also under contribution. The Mahrattas next appeared on the scene. In 1764 the Jats of Bharatpur, under Suraj Mal, captured Agra, looted the Taj, and played havoc with the palaces in the Fort. They were joined by Walter Reinhardt, an adventurer, half French and half German, who sold his services for any work of infamy, and had only recently assisted in the murder of the British Resident and other Europeans at Patna. He afterwards entered the Mogul service, and was rewarded by a grant of a tract of country near Meerut, which remained in the possession of his family until recent times. He died at Agra in 1778, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery.

For the next thirty-nine years Agra was occupied by Mahrattas and by Mogul imperialists in turn. John Hessing, a Dutch officer in the employ of the Mahrattas, was Governor of Agra in 1794, and died there in 1802. The next year it was captured by the British under General, afterwards Lord, Lake, and from that time until 1857 its history was uneventful.


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us