Mumtaz Mahal or Arjumand Banu Begam was the woman in whose memory the Taj Mahal was built. Perhaps, there is no better and grand monument built in the history of human civilization dedicated to love. Arjumand Banu Begam was the daughter of Asaf Khan and when she married Shah Jahan at the age of 14 years, imperial city of Agra was already agog with the stories of her beauty. She was the third wife of Prince Khurram or Shah Jahan and the principle one throughout their life. She became Mumtaz Mahal in 1612 after her marriage and remained an inseparable companion of her husband till her death. As a symbol of her faith and love she bore Shah Jahan 14 children and died during the birth of their last child. For the love and affection she showed to her husband, Mumtaz Mahal received the highest honor of the land - the royal seal - Mehr Uzaz from Shah Jahan, the emperor. According to the legends, stories of her virtue spread all over the Mughal Empire.
The emperor and his pregnant empress moved towards Maharashtra or Deccan in the year 1630 to suppress the Lodi Empire that was gaining strength at that time. This was going to be the last journey that Mumtaz Mahal ever took. She breathed her last after delivering their 14th child (a daughter) in the city of Burhanpur on June 17, 1631. It is said that Mumtaz Mahal on her deathbed asked Shah Jahan to create a symbol of their love for posterity and her loyal husband accepted it immediately. Though many historians do not agree with this story saying that it was the grief-stricken emperor himself who decided to build the most memorable symbol of love in the world.
Overpowered by grief, Shah Jahan was determined to perpetuate her memory for immortality and decided to build his beloved wife the finest sculpture ever- a monument of eternal love. It was Shah Jahan's everlasting love for Mumtaz that led to the genesis of the Taj Mahal. The sad circumstances that attended the early death of the empress who had endeared herself to the people inspired all his subjects to join in the emperor's pious intentions. After twenty-two laborious years, and the combined effort of over twenty thousand workman and master craftsmen, the complex was finally completed in 1648 on the banks on the river Yamuna in Agra, the capital of Mughal monarchs. In the name of Mumtaz Mahal stands the most beautiful building in the universe, that monument of love, purity, and unparalleled beauty called the Taj Mahal.