As I've mentioned previously, Nick and I were recently in India, visiting my family. While on this trip we took a little side trip to visit historical Agra, site of the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort. The Taj Mahal is absolutely stunning in person and I will do a separate post on it, but I found myself particularly enchanted with the Agra Fort.
On our flight to Mumbai, I started reading a book called The Shadow Princess. Set in Mughal India, it tells the story of Jahanara, the oldest daughter of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz. Mumtaz and Shah Jahan had an enduring love, commemorated by the Shah Jahan commissioning the building of the Taj Mahal upon Mumtaz's death. The Taj Mahal itself is spectacular- a topic for another post, and this book tells the story of what happened to the royal family during its construction. Now, there's little documentation of the women of the Mughal Empire: there are some records but a lot of it blurs reality and rumor- not surprising, giving that the women of the Mughal Empire lived behind the veil, almost never seen in public. That's not to say that these women did not exert tremendous influence, because they did. This book is particularly fascinating because its takes those little kernels, and weaves them into complete characters. The stories may be mostly fiction, but there are set in real places, and this is where author Indu Sundaresan does particularly well painting a picture of what royal life would have been like.
A large portion of the story is set at the Agra Fort, and because of the author's vivid portrayal of this location in her book, this was my favorite spot on our trip. I could almost imagine this during Jahanara's time, with its opulent jewels and persian rugs, goblets of gold, feasts and hukkahs.
If you find yourself in Agra, make it it a point to visit the Agra Fort. We visited early in the morning, as the sun was rising in a hazy winter sky, and it was absolutely breathtaking. The atmosphere just added to the mystique and picture I had conjured in my imagination, thanks to this incredible book!
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links: my affiliate disclosure may be found here. Please note that it has absolutely no bearing on my post, and as always, all opinions are 100% my own! I liked this book so much, that I read another book written by the same author, and have two more in my kindle queue!