June 17, 1631. Mumtaz Mahal, the Empress of India during the Mughal dynasty, dies in Burhanpur while giving birth to her fourteenth child. Her husband, Prince Khurram (also known as Shah Jahan), is so devastated with grief that he will spend over 20 years building her resting place, a mausoleum by the name of… the Taj Mahal.
Indeed, although Mumtaz Mahal was one of Shah Jahan’s three wives, she was the only one in his heart. History says that although he duteously conceived children with his two other wives, Shah Jahan’s relationship with Mumtaz was that of pure love and passion; she was the love of his life. Poets wrote of her beauty and grace, and she travelled by Shah Jahan’s side all over the Mughal empire.
After her death, Shah Jahan is said to have gone into secluded mourning for a year. He then had her body transferred from its temporary resting spot in Burhanpur to Agra. Over the next 22 years, he designed and built a mausoleum and garden befitting his love for his wife: the Taj Mahal, which would become one of India’s most famous landmarks and a monument to love.
Also on June 17: The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York City Harbour (1885), Iceland becomes a republic after declaring independence from Denmark (1944), American football player OJ Simpson is arrested on charges of murdering his wife and her friend (1994).
Born on June 17: Barry Manilow (1943), Eddy Merckx (1945), Venus Williams (1980)
Back in the Day: the death that inspired the Taj Mahal