This octagonal white tower with the gilded copper dome was quite literally the gilded cage used to imprison Shah Jahan by his own son. I learned and experienced the cruelty of this location—it has a clear view of the Taj Mahal, the final resting place of Shah Jahan’s beloved wife. Ironically, Shah Jahan never visited the completed Taj Mahal in life. His final “visit” occurred in death when he was buried at the Taj Mahal along with his beloved Mumtaz Mahal. The only comfort that Shah Jahan was afforded in his last days was that his daughters, Roshnara and Jahanara lived in the Khas Mahal, the white palace which is adjoined to the Shah Burj. I also found the gardens in front of the Khas Mahal to be quite beautiful, though they must have been a reminder of Shah Jahan’s loss of freedom when he viewed them from the tower.
During my visit, I could not help but think of the twists and turns and highs and lows that was Shah Jahan’s life. A once powerful man who died in an isolated tower of a painful kidney disease. This is a location that appeared so beautiful to me as a visitor, but must have been as punishing as any prison for the dethroned Shah Jahan.
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