Author: Timeri N Murari
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0143031163
When his queen Arjumand Banu-Mumtaz-i-Mahal, the Chosen One of the Palace-died, Shah Jahan wanted to build a monument that was the image of his perfect love for her. For twenty-two years, twenty thousand men laboured day and night to fulfill the emperor’s obsession. The result was the Taj Mahal, a marble mausoleum lined with gold, silver and precious jewels.
This powerful novel narrates the story of the Taj on two parallel levels. The first one tells the passionate love story of Shah Jahan and Arjumand till her death through the voices of three main characters-Arjumand, Shah Jahan and Isa, Arjumand’s favorite eunuch. The second recounts the later years of Shah Jahan’s reign, the building of the Taj Mahal and the bloody pursuit of the fabulous peacock throne by his sons. Intertwined with the narrative about the building of the Taj is the story of Murthi, the Hindu master craftsman sent as a gift to the emperor to carve the famous marble jail around Arjumand’s sarcophagus.
In this complex and fascinating book, Murari has written much more than a historical romance. He has skillfully recreated the period against which the story is set: the sensual opulence of the palace and the grinding poverty of seventeenth-century India, the vicissitudes of shah Jahan’s reign and the often bitter conflict between men of different faiths.
Only a masterly historical novelist like Timeri Murari could skate so teasingly near the lip of a volcano. The structure of this novel is as fascinating as the building it describes.
-Bill Aitken, Sunday Observer
A book of powerful simplicity.
One can read into the symbolic undertones, and find this a complex and disturbing novel.