Shah Jahan was is undoubtedly most famous as the person who commissioned the Taj Mahal for his dead Wife Mumtaz. While not the most militarily successful of the Mogul monarchs his reign was undoubtedly the high point for Indian art and architecture, as well as an age of religious tolerance between the Muslim rulers and mainly Hindu subjects.
He was born in 1592. In his early life Shah Jahan was known as Khurram Shihab-ud-din Muhammad, he was the son of Jahangir and grandson of Akbar the Great, who gave him much of his early education. Although Akbar died when he was young his grandfather's affection for him ensured his place as the future Mogul emperor.
When he became ruler in 1628, after a brief conflict over the succession, he took the title Shah Jahan meaning king of the world. Under his rule the Mogul empire blossomed artistically and commercially, and he led some successful wars against neighbouring countries. He had was ably assisted by his prime minister Asaf Khan, who he inherited from his father. His greatest achievement was his encouragement of art and architecture: he ordered the building of some of the most famous Indian monuments, most famously the Taj Mahal, as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, daughter of Asaf Khan. The styles of that period are famous for the amount of beautiful but expensive white marble used in buildings. He also had a second less favoured wife about little is known.
The end of his reign was marred by treachery and betrayal. As he became older and more infirm the rivalry between the two sons in line for succession, Dara Shukoh and Aurangzeb, intensified. Shah Jahan favoured the elder Dara Shukoh, a broad-minded individual who tried to reconcile the Hindu and Muslim religions, as well as being a patron of the arts like his father. Aurangzeb on the other hand was a conservative Muslim and a much more capable military leader. In 1658 Aurangzeb declared himself emperor and killed his elder brother and his supporters. Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the fort in Agra, where he spent the rest of his life with a view of the Taj Mahal. He died in 1666 and is now buried in it, his tomb forming the only asymmetrical element in the whole building.