City of djinns: chapter seven summary

This chapter shows that the golden era of mughal empire under shahjahen was mired with  Shakespearian tragedy to win the throne between his sons.

To find out the details about this time, William visits Dr Jaffery frequently. He has translated shah jahen nama. He lives in a Sufi like place made of dome, lots of candlelight and Persian books. He expresses himself in parables like follow the camel of love etc. Sufism is a theme that the author follows in the next chapters where he visits the nizamuddin dargah, goes to Ajmer for urs festival etc. Dr Jaffery also mentions two important travelogues : Berniers travels in moghul India and manucci’s mogul India. I did read some portions of Berniers book. It was very enjoyable in terms of aesthetic details, court politics, Kashmir’s beauty, his rationalism, his dislike of Indian roti and extreme hot weather. Manucci as per the book is more adventurous as he was a con-artist and a artillery man.

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The story can be mentioned in short here. Shahjahen got weak and fragile. There was two major groups seeking power. On one hand, was Dara shikoh, a scholar, secular man but who overestimated his ability. He was supported by all caring  Jahanara Begum. On the other hand, was the brave, skillful but scheming warrior called Aurangzeb. He was aided by his little sister ,roshnara who was jealous of Jahanara. Aurangzeb shrewdly won support of his other two brothers by flattery. He eliminated them brutally by poison. He also bought nobles in dara shikoh army. He emerged victorious imprisoning his own father. He finally had to kill his own sister roshnara. His policies were generally against minorities by imposing harsh taxes etc.

Here he deals with two historical monuments. First, he talks about the red fort. It is a red walled indo Islamic structure adorned with chattris. Initially there is a market ,then a house of drums which announced coming of a important visitor. then, one entered the diwan-i-aam where audience was allowed to raise their questions. There was specific location of Omar’s, ambassador’s, princes as per their status. Inside , there was private apartments of the king and the harem. This portion has received maximum damage because of the Britishers diverting yamuna river, making their own lawns and barracks. Second, he goes to shalimar garden which was a blissful experience. Even though, it isn’t very handsome and noble according to Bernier. It displays the Islamic monuments quality of order, symmetry soundly by its charbagh, flowers in the borders. However, it is ageding by the peeling plasterwork, overgrown vines, low popularity among delhites.

Finally, describing the wedding of dara shikoh which is full of glamour and funfare, he manages to attend a wedding of his gardeners daughter. It is a arranged marriage. It parallels the mughal wedding like giving of mehr, gifts, putting of henna etc. He also shows the commercial aspect of these wedding in matrimonial advertisements where it’s boasts of beauty, degree, salaries etc.

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