Internal Revolts among the Mughals: Revolt of Shah Jahan

Jahangir married Mihr-un-nissa Khanum, the widow of Sher Afgan in May 1611. Soon she became Jahangir's favorite wife. She was given the titles of Nur Mahal meaning 'Light of the Palace' and then Nur Jahan meaning 'Light of the World' in 1616. Jahangir also granted Nur Jahan the rights of sovereignty and government. Royal firmans bore her signature and she had coins struck in her name. Gradually she became the virtual ruler of the Kingdom while the king would say, "I require nothing beyond a glass of wine and half a piece of meat".

After Nur Jahan's marriage with Jahangir, all her relatives and servants were elevated to highest positions in the court. Her father Itimad-ud-daula was made the Wazir. Her brother Abul Hasan was given the title of Asaf Khan in 1614. Asaf Khan's daughter Arjumand Banu Begum better known as Mumtaz Mahal was married to Prince Khurram in 1612 (Mumtaz Mahal was betrothed to Prince Khurram in 1607). Nur Jahan, her father Itimad-ud-daula, her brother Asaf Khan and her step-son Prince Khurram were in close alliance against Prince Khusrau.

The Unfortunate Prince:

Khusrau (Prince with the Good Face), the eldest son of Jahangir, was born at Lahore on 16th August 1587. His mother was Manbhawati Bai, daughter of Raja Bhagwan Das of Amber and sister of Raja Man Singh. Followed by Jahangir's rebellion, Akbar had desired that his grandson Khusrau should succeed him, however, according to the custom of the Chagatai Turks, he nominated Jahangir on his death bed.

During the first year of Jahangir's reign, in 1606, Khusrau rebelled against him. He left the palace and fled towards Lahore with his followers. On his way to Lahore, he also received the blessings of the Sikh Guru Arjun Dev. Jahangir's forces under Dilawar Khan strengthened the Lahore fort. Khusrau was defeated and imprisoned at Agra.

Soon after the capture of Khusrau, Jahangir ordered his followers to be executed and demanded him to see their punishment. Khusrau told his father that he was sorry to see so much cruelty and injustice in his father in executing them who have done nothing but their duty upon his command and also added that he (Jahangir) should have done right if he had saved them and punished him. He said that he had no joy at all to live, after witnessing the death of so many brave men.

In 1607, Jahangir went to Kabul for hunting and he ordered Khusrau's chains to be taken off from his legs, and allowing him to walk in the Shahr-ara garden (a Mughal garden built by Shahr Bano Begum, aunt of Babur). He writes, "My fatherly affection would not permit me to exclude him from walking in the Shahr-ara garden".

After the capture of Khusrau, Jahangir kept him under the safe custody of Asaf Khan. After some time he was placed under the charge of I'tibar Khan. Nur-ud-din, a supporter of Khusrau, sent Khusrau a list of names of the grandees who favoured him. Within 4-6 months a plot was made to assassinate Jahangir while engaged in hunting. But one of the conspirators got offended and revealed the plot to Khwaja Waisi, Diwan of Prince Khurram. When Jahangir learned this from Khurram, he executed both Nur-ud-din and Muhammad Sharif, one of Nur Jahan's elder brothers, and again imprisoned him. "Although Khusrau had repeatedly done evil actions and deserved a thousand kinds of punishment, my fatherly affection did not permit me to take his life", Jahangir says.


Despite his rebellion, Khusrau was still loved and honourable by nobles of the kingdom. Khusrau was now taken out of prison but still held under the honourable custody of certain grandees of Jahangir's court. Last of them was a Rajput called Anup Rai, whom Jahangir had bestowed the title of Anirai Singh Dalan (tiger-slayer). His faithful wife, daughter of Khan-i-Azam Mirza Aziz Koka, shared his imprisonment with all love and care. The European travelers, who came to India during Jahangir's reign; and the East India Company employees, all of them, states that Khusrau was the best beloved of his father and his father wishes that he should succeed him. If Khusrau was denied of his liberty it is because his father was afraid (or jealous) of his popularity.

Transfer of Khusrau to Asaf Khan (1616): Sir Thomas Roe writes in his Journal, "It was not possible for them (Nur Jahan, Itimad-ud-daula, Asaf Khan and Prince Khurram) to stand if Prince Khusrau lived whom the nobility loved. They took opportunity of the King being drunk. Nur Mahal (Nur Jahan) attempts the King with false tears of women bewitching flattery that Khusrau was not safe, nor his aspiring thoughts deposed..." Khurram felt insecure that in his absence the Emperor might pardon his brother and allow him liberty; so, before going to the Deccan campaign in 1616, he demanded the transfer of Khusrau to Asaf Khan. Nur Jahan and her group had Jahangir convinced that if Khusrau was delivered to Asaf Khan as his guardian under Khurram, the Sultans of Deccan will consider Khurram as the Emperor's favorite and it would be easy to defeat them. This time their plan was successful and Jahangir had written in his Memoirs, "Khusrau, who was in the charge, for safe keeping, of Anirai Singh Dalan, for certain considerations was handed over to Asaf Khan" (Oct 1616). According to Roe, Khusrau requested his father to take his life instead of transferring him to the enemy's custody.

Asaf Khan showed no reverence to Khusrau and behaved very rudely with him. Knowing the brave nature of the Prince, he tried to tempt him so that he could report the Emperor that the Prince was killed while trying to escape. But Khusrau was patienter. Roe narrates the following conversation between Jahangir and Asaf Khan to prove that Khusrau was the real favorite of his father, "The King called Asaf Khan at the Durbar and asked "What did you do with him (Khusrau)?" Asaf Khan told him that Khusrau didn't allow him to come inside his chamber but since he had charge of Khusrau's safety, he went inside without his permission. The King again asked, "When you were in, what sayed you and what did you? What duty showed you toward my son?" Asaf Khan confessed that he did not show any reverence to the Prince. Then the King told him that he would make his proud heart know him to be his eldest and beloved heir, his Prince and Lord; and if he once heard of any the least want of reverence or duty toward him, he would command his son to set his feet on his neck and trample on him; that he loved Khurram well but he would make the world know he did not entrust his son among them for his ruin".

Sir Thomas Roe's Meeting with Khusrau (Feb 1617): Sir Thomas Roe, the Ambassador and Terry, his Chaplain, once met Khusrau, who was riding on an elephant. He called for Thomas Roe as they passed by him. Roe describes him as a good person having cheerful countenance. His beard was grown down to his girdle. According to Terry, Khusrau was "a gentleman of a very lovely presence and fine carriage and so exceedingly beloved of the common people". Khusrau asked Roe many questions like, How far distant their Country was from them, How did the Emperor, his father, treated him and Whether he bestowed on him some great gifts. Roe told him that his business there was to obtain a free trade for the English and it was granted him with enough reward. The Prince replied that this could not be denied them since they are coming from so far to trade there with him. The Prince further asked him how long he had been there. Roe told him about two years. The Prince replied again that it was a very great shame for the successor of Tamerlane, who had such infinite rules to suffer a man of his quality to come so far unto him, and to live so long about him, and not to give him some royal gift. He further added that for himself he was a prisoner and therefore could do him no good, but he would pray for him; and so he departed.

In Aug 1617, Roe had made a comment that, "some practice of his (Khurram) was discovered against his brother's life". He also mentioned that, "The Prince Sultan Khusrau had his first day of hoped liberty and came to take air and pleasure at the Banqueting house by me".

wife of prince Khusrau

Nur Jahan Makes Alliance with Khusrau: Nur Jahan, who now understood that Khusrau would succeed his father, thought means to bring him under her control. Nur Jahan and her brother went to meet Khusrau and offered her support if he would marry Ladli Begum, her daughter by Sher Afgan. Khusrau's wife, who loved him so much, was consent to live with him as a slave so that she could see him as free and in good condition. But Khusrau refused the alliance as he was devotedly attached to his wife who stood by him in all his miseries.

Khusrau was Delivered to Shah Jahan: Meanwhile, Nur Jahan's Alliance with Khurram began to weaken due to his increasing power. After his Deccan victory in 1617, Khurram was given the title of Shah Jahan and was allowed to sit in a chair in the court next to Jahangir's throne. He also married the granddaughter of Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan. Now it was difficult for her to bring him under her control. Suspicious of Nur Jahan's intentions, Khurram refused to undertake the second Deccan campaign in 1620, unless Khusrau was made over to him for safe custody. To his demand, Jahangir weakly complied.

Marriage of Ladli with Prince Shahryar (1621): Nur Jahan finally married her daughter to Jahangir's youngest son Prince Shahryar. By 1622, her mother and father died. Now she wanted her son-in-law to succeed Jahangir, who could be a puppet in her hands. Thus she came into conflict with Prince Khurram.

Death of Prince Khusrau (Jan 1622): In Feb 1622, Jahangir received a letter from Khurram that Khusrau had died of Colic pains and was buried at Burhanpur. His corpse was brought to Allahabad and a splendid mausoleum was erected over it in a garden next to his mother; now known as Khusru Bagh. Thus the great-grandson of Raja Bharmal surrendered his throne to Shah Jahan. Khusrau had three sons and a daughter: Buland Akhtar (died young), Bulaqi (Later Dawar Bakshsh), Garshap and Hoshmand Banu Begum.

Khusrau's Tomb at Khusru Bagh, Allahabad

Nicholas Bangham and Justinian Offley at Burhanpur to The Surat Factory, May 9, 1622: Sultan Khusrau is taken out of his grave and carried to Delhi (Agra) by the order of the King. (The English Factories in India 1622-1623)

Robert Hughes at Agra to the Surat Factory, June 20, 1622: This day here arrived Sultan Khusrau's corpse from Burhanpur which tomorrow will be dispatched to Allahabad there to be interred by (the side of) his mother. (The English Factories in India 1622-1623)

Shah Jahan's Revolt (1622-1626):

Taking advantage of Khusrau's death, Shah Abbas of Persia laid siege to Kandahar in March 1622 and Shah Jahan was ordered to conduct the campaign. After reaching Mandu, the Prince replied that he would come after the rainy season. As "the traces of disloyalty were apparent" in his letter, Jahangir, who was highly displeased with Shah Jahan, ordered him to send his troops to the court for the expedition of Kandahar. Shah Jahan had also asked for the Jagir of Dholpur from his father and had sent Darya Khan to take charge of it, but before arriving his letter, Nur Jahan had already got Dholpur transferred to Shahryar. Darya Khan captured Dholpur after a fight with the faujdar of Shahryar, in which several men were killed on both sides. This enraged Jahangir and he felt that, "Shah Jahan was unworthy of all the favours and cherishing I had bestowed on him", and sent a messenger advising him "to content himself with his own Jagir" and also ordered him to sent his troops to the court. At Nur Jahan's instigation, Shahryar was appointed to lead the Kandahar expedition. When Shah Jahan sent his Diwan Afzal Khan, to court with his apologies, Nur Jahan caused her husband not to give him an audience. Shah Jahan was removed from the Jagirs of Hisar and Doab and the Subahs of  Gujarat, Malwa, Deccan and Khandesh were assigned to him. When news reached that Shah Jahan had left Mandu and was proceeding towards Agra in revolt, Jahangir was compelled to postpone the Kandahar expedition. Meanwhile, Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, Abdulla Khan and many other officers also joined Shah Jahan. He marched towards Agra with a large army but was forced to retreat towards Mandu by the advance of Jahangir from Lahore. Shah Jahan sent an envoy to make his requests, but, his envoy was imprisoned by Mahabat Khan, at the instigation of Nur Jahan. Jahangir (or Nur Jahan) sent Mahabat Khan and Prince Parveiz against Shah Jahan and in the following battle, many of his followers including the Khan-i-Khanan abandoned Shah Jahan and joined Mahabat Khan and Prince Parveiz. Mahabat Khan pursued Shah Jahan and defeated him near Allahabad and he was forced to retreat towards Deccan. In Deccan, he received help from Malik Ambar and together they besieged Burhanpur. However, Mahabat Khan was able to rescue the fort. At last Shah Jahan offered his submission and surrendered the forts of Asir and Rohtas; and also sent the Princes Dara Shukoh and Aurangzeb as hostages to the court (they were placed under the care of Nur Jahan). He was granted the territory of Balaghat. So, in overall, Shah Jahan's revolt was against Nur Jahan, but as a result of his rebellion, Kandahar was lost to Mughals.


It is strongly suspected that Khusrau was strangled on the orders of Shah Jahan. While Shah Jahan was in confinement, Aurangzeb wrote a letter to him, "By what names does not your majesty still call Khusrau and Parveiz*, who departed to the place of non-existence long before the days of your accession to empire, and from whom to you no injury or offence occurred?" (Letters of the Emperor Aurangzeb). *When Shah Jahan rebelled against his father Jahangir Parveiz commanded the armies sent against him.

Kandahar was the border between the Mughal Empire and Persia. Akbar captured it in 1595. It was lost during Jahangir's time in 1622. Shah Jahan recovered it in 1638, but was permanently lost to Mughals in 1649.

Some historians believe that Jahangir had blinded his son, but Roe who saw and talked with Khusrau makes no mention of it. Terry, who saw him more than once, says that his eyes were sealed up for three years and after which the seal was taken away.


The Memoirs of Emperor Jahangir written by Himself Translated by Rogers/Elliot
The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul by William Foster
A Voyage to East India by Edward Terry
Early Travels In India 1583-1619
The Travels of Pietro Della Vella in India Vol I