Just prior to Khurram's birth, a soothsayer had reportedly predicted to the childless Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, Akbar's first wife and chief consort, that the still unborn child was destined for imperial greatness. So, when Khurram was born in 1592 and was only six days old, Akbar ordered that the Prince be taken away from his mother and handed him over to Ruqaiya so that he could grow up under her care, and Akbar could fulfill his wife's wish to raise a Mughal Emperor. Ruqaiya assumed the primary responsibility for Khurram's upbringing and he grew up under her care. The two shared a close relationship with each other as Jahangir noted in his memoirs that Ruqaiya had loved his son, Khurram, "a thousand times more than if he had been her own [son]."
In 1605, his father succeeded to the throne, after crushing a rebellion by Prince Khusrau – Khurram remained distant from the court politics and intrigues in the immediate aftermath of that event, which was apparently a conscious decision on Jahangir's part. As the third son, Khurram did not challenge the two major power blocs of the time, his father's and his step-brother's; thus he enjoyed the benefits of Imperial protection and luxury while being allowed to continue with his education and training. This relatively quiet and stable period of his life allowed Khurram to build his own support base in the Mughal court, which would be useful later on in his life.
In 1607, Khurram became engaged to Arjumand Banu Begum (1593–1631), who is also known as Mumtaz Mahal (Persian for "the chosen one of the Palace"). They met in their youth. They were about 14 and 15 when they engaged, and five years later they got married. The young girl belonged to an illustrious Persian noble family that had been serving Mughal Emperors since the reign of Akbar. The family's patriarch was Mirza Ghiyas Beg, who was also known by his title I'timād-ud-Daulah or "Pillar of the State". He had been Jahangir's Finance minister and his son, Asaf Khan – Arjumand Banu's father – played an important role in the Mughal court, eventually serving as Chief Minister. Her aunt was the Empress Nur Jahan and is thought to have played matchmaker in arranging the marriage.
Due to the long period of tensions between his father and step-brother, Khurram began to drift closer to his father and over time started to be considered the de facto heir-apparent by court chroniclers. This status was given official sanction when Jahangir granted the sarkar of Hissar-Feroza, which had traditionally been the fief of the heir-apparent, to Khurram in 1608. Nur Jahan was an intelligent and beautiful lady with an excellent educational background. She was an active participant in the decisions made by Jahangir. Slowly and gradually, she became the actual power behind the throne, as Jahangir became more indulgent in wine and opium. Coins began to be struck containing her name along with Jahangir's name. Her near and dear relatives acquired important positions in the Mughal court, termed as the Nur Jahan junta by historians. After the death of Jahangir in 1627, Nur Jahan was put under house arrest and led a quiet life.
In the intervening years Khurram had taken three other wives, Kandahari Begum (m. 12 December 1609) and Izz un-Nisa Begum (m. 3 September 1617), the daughters of Muzaffar Husain Mirza Safawi and Shahnawaz Khan, son of Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, respectively. But according to court chroniclers, his relationship with his other wives was more out of political consideration, and they enjoyed only the status of being royal wives.
Inheritance of power and wealth in the Mughal empire was not determined through primogeniture, but by princely sons competing to achieve military successes and consolidating their power at court. This often led to rebellions and wars of succession. As a result, a complex political climate surrounded the Mughal court in Khurram's formative years. In 1611 his father married Nur Jahan, the widowed daughter of a Persian noble. She rapidly became an important member of Jahangir's court and, together with her brother Asaf Khan, wielded considerable influence. Arjumand was Asaf Khan's daughter and her marriage to Khurram consolidated Nur Jahan and Asaf Khan's positions at court.
In 1612, aged 20, Khurram married Arjumand Banu Begum, who became known by the title Mumtaz Mahal, on the auspicious date chosen by court astrologers. The marriage was a happy one and Khurram remained devoted to her. She bore him fourteen children, out of whom seven survived into adulthood. In addition, Khurram had two children from his first two wives.
Prince Khurram showed extraordinary military talent. The first occasion for Khurram to test his military prowess was during the Mughal campaign against the Rajput state of Mewar, which had been a hostile force to the Mughals since Akbar's reign. In 1614, commanding an army numbering around 200,000, Khurram began the offensive against the Rajput kingdom. After a year of a harsh war of attrition, Maharana Amar Singh II surrendered conditionally to the Mughal forces and became a vassal state of the Mughal Empire.
In 1617, Khurram was directed to deal with the Lodi in the Deccan to secure the Empire's southern borders and to restore imperial control over the region. His successes in these conflicts led to Jahangir granting him the title of Shah Jahan (Persian: "King of the World") and raised his military rank and allowed him a special throne in his Durbar, an unprecedented honour for a Prince, thus further solidifying his status as crown Prince.Edward S. Holden writes, "He was flattered by some, envied by others. loved by none."
A rebellion of the Sikhs led by Guru Hargobind took place and in return Shah Jahan ordered the destruction of the Sikh temple in Lahore. Skirmishes were fought at Rohilla (1621), Amritsar (1634), Lahira (1634), Kartarpur (1635), and elsewhere.
Court intrigues, however, including Nur Jahan's decision to have her daughter from her first marriage wed Prince Khurram's youngest brother Shahzada Shahryar and her support for his claim to the throne led to much internal division. Prince Khurram resented the influence Nur Jahan held over his father and was angered at having to play second fiddle to her favourite Shahryar, his half-brother and her son-in-law. When the Persians besieged Kandahar, Nur Jahan was at the helm of the affairs. She ordered Prince Khurram to march for Kandahar, but he refused. As a result of Prince Khurram's refusal to obey Nur Jahan's orders, Kandahar was lost to the Persians after a forty-five-day siege. Prince Khurram feared that in his absence Nur Jahan would attempt to poison his father against him and convince Jahangir to name Shahryar the heir in his place. This fear brought Prince Khurram to rebel against his father rather than fight against the Persians. In 1622 Prince Khurram raised an army with the support of Mahabat Khan and marched against his father and Nur Jahan.. He was defeated at Bilochpur in March 1623. Later he took refuge in Udaipur Mewar with Maharaja Karan Singh II . He was first lodged in Delwada Ki Haveli and subsequently shifted to Jagmandir Palace on his request. Prince Khurram exchanged his turban with maharana and that turban is still preserved in Pratap Museum, Udaipur.(R V Somani 1976). It is believed that mosaic work of Jagmandir inspired him to use mosaic work in Taj Mahal of Agra. His rebellion did not succeed and Khurram was forced to submit unconditionally. Although the Prince was forgiven for his errors in 1626, tensions between Nur Jahan and her stepson continued to grow beneath the surface.
Upon the death of Jahangir in 1627,the wazir Asaf Khan, who had long been a quiet partisan of Prince Khurram, acted with unexpected forcefulness and determination to forestall his sister the Empress Nur Jahan's plans to place Prince Shahryar on the throne. He put Nur Jahan in close confinement.He obtained control of Prince khurram's three sons who were under her care. Asaf Khan also managed palace intrigues to ensure Prince Khurram's succession the throne. Prince Khurram succeeded to the Mughal throne as Abu ud-Muzaffar Shihab ud-Din Mohammad Sahib ud-Quiran ud-Thani Shah Jahan Padshah Ghazi (Urdu: شهاب الدین محمد خرم), or Shah Jahan.
His first act as ruler was to execute his chief rivals and imprison his step mother Nur Jahan. Upon Shah Jahan's orders several executions took place on 23 January 1628. Those put to death included his own brother Shahryar; his nephews Dawar and Garshasp, sons of Shah Jahan's previously executed brother Prince Khusrau; and his cousins Tahmuras and Hoshang, sons of the late Prince Daniyal. This allowed Shah Jahan to rule his empire without contention.
A famine broke out in 1630–32 in Deccan, Gujarat and Khandesh as a result of three main crop failures. Two million died of starvation, grocers sold dogs' flesh and mixed powdered bones with flour. Parents ate their own children. Some villages were completely destroyed, their streets filled with human corpses. In response to the devastation, Shah Jahan set up langar (free kitchens) for the victims of the famine.
Mumtaz Mahal died, aged 37 (7 July 1631), while giving birth to Gauhara Begum in Burhanpur, the cause of death being postpartum haemorrhage, which caused considerable blood-loss after a painful labour of thirty hours. Contemporary historians note that Princess Jahanara, aged 17, was so distressed by her mother's pain that she started distributing gems to the poor, hoping for Divine intervention, and Shah Jahan was noted as being "paralysed by grief" and weeping fits. Her body was temporarily buried in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad, originally constructed by Shah Jahan's uncle Prince Daniyal along the Tapti River. Her death had a profound impact on Shah Jahan's personality and inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal, where she was later reburied.
Shah Jahan gave orders in 1631 to Qasim Khan, the Mughal viceroy of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their trading post at Port Hoogly. The post was heavily armed with cannons, battleships, fortified walls, and other instruments of war. The Portuguese were accused of trafficking by high Mughal officials and due to commercial competition the Mughal-controlled port of Saptagram began to slump. Shah Jahan was particularly outraged by the activities of Jesuits in that region, notably when they were accused of abducting peasants. On 25 September 1632 the Mughal Army raised imperial banners and gained control over the Bandel region and the garrison was punished.
Under Shah Jahan, the reaction by the orthodox Muslims to the policies of Akbar and Jahangir had an effect for the first time. He was more radical in his thinking than his father and grandfather. Upon his accession, he adopted new policies which reversed Akbar's treatment of non-Muslims. In 1633, his sixth regnal year, Shah Jahan began to impose his interpretation of Sharia provisions against construction or repair of churches and temples. After learning that wealthy Hindus wished to complete several unfinished temples in Benares, he ordered all new temples in the city to be destroyed. Following this, only prominent shrines encountered during military campaigns were damaged. He celebrated Islamic festivals with enthusiasm unfamiliar to his predecessors. Long-dormant royal interest in the Holy Cities was also revived during his reign.
Shah Jahan and his sons captured the city of Kandahar in 1638 from the Safavids, prompting the retaliation of the Persians led by their powerful ruler Abbas II of Persia, who recaptured it in 1649.
The Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta, Sindh province of Pakistan (100 km / 60 miles from Karachi) was built during the reign of Shah Jahan in 1647. The mosque is built with red bricks with blue coloured glaze tiles probably imported from another Sindh's town of Hala. The mosque has overall 93 domes and it is world's largest mosque having such number of domes. It has been built keeping acoustics in mind. A person speaking inside one end of the dome can be heard at the other end when the speech exceeds 100 decibels. It has been on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list since 1993.
Evidence from the reign of Shah Jahan states that in 1648 the army consisted of 911,400 infantry, musketeers, and artillery men, and 185,000 Sowars commanded by princes and nobles.
When Shah Jahan became ill in 1658, Dara Shukoh (Mumtaz Mahal's eldest son) assumed the role of regent in his father's stead, which swiftly incurred the animosity of his brothers. Upon learning of his assumption of the regency, his younger brothers, Shuja, Viceroy of Bengal, and Murad Baksh, Viceroy of Gujarat, declared their independence, and marched upon Agra in order to claim their riches. Aurangzeb, the third son, and ablest of the brothers, gathered a well trained army and became its chief commander. He faced Dara's army near Agra and defeated him during the Battle of Samugarh. Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and put him under house arrest in Agra Fort.
Jahanara Begum Sahib, Jahan's first daughter, voluntarily shared his 8-year confinement and nursed him in his dotage. In January 1666, Shah Jahan fell ill. Confined to bed, he became progressively weaker until, on 22 January, he commended the ladies of the imperial court, particularly his consort of later years Akbarabadi Mahal, to the care of Jahanara. After reciting the Kal'ma (Laa ilaaha ill allah) and verses from the Quran, Shah Jahan died, aged 74.
The Mughal armies were unable to recapture it despite repeated sieges during the Mughal–Safavid War.." Shah Jahan also expanded the Mughal Empire to the west beyond the Khyber Pass to Ghazna and Kandahar.
Shahanshah Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Malik-ul-Sultanat, Ala Hazrat Abu'l-Muzaffar Shahab ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan I, Sahib-i-Qiran-i-Sani, Padshah Ghazi Zillu'llah, Firdaus-Ashiyani, Shahanshah—E—Sultanant Ul Hindiya Wal Mughaliya