FROM BABUR TO SHAH JAHAN
Stories of the dazzling wealth of Hindustan had spread far beyond its borders. It was in quest of this wealth that Timur, better known as Tamerlane, and his ravaging hordes reached the banks of the river Indus in September of 1398. By December, Timur was enthroned in Delhi. For ten days he plundered, murdered and desecrated, and then left. In all he spent six months in Hindustan, leaving behind him untold devastation. He took with him elephants, a rarity in Central Asia, immeasurable quantities of booty, and perhaps most precious of all, the finest craftsmen to adorn his capital, Samarkand. It would never have occurred to him that in Hindustan, a little over a century later, a descendant of his would lay the foundation of one of the most splendid empires that ever existed.
This was the ornate Moghul Empire, ruled by such extraordinary men like Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan-Emperor of the World-immortalized not only his beloved queen but himself and his whole dynasty by building that eloquent mausoleum, the Taj Mahal.
The founder of the Moghul Empire was Babur, "the Tiger." Born in the year 1483, he was the son of the Turki ruler of Ferghana, a kingdom that lay in the high steppes east of Samarkand. From his father's side Babur had the blood of Timur; from his mother's that of the Mongol, Ghengiz Khan, who, it is said, was "born with a clot of blood in his fist."
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