Royal cuisine, silk robes, star-studded halls, gems, and jewels, one could imagine all things fancy when it comes to the life of our ancient rulers. Like any other ruler of India, the Mughals loved luxury, the remnant of their past remains a testament to their fairly lavish lifestyle. From possessing hundreds of slaves to ruling a population of thousands, the ruler of the past tells us a lot about the yesteryear luxury better than what we read in books. But have you ever imagined, what a day in the life of a Mughal emperor looks like?
Here is a glimpse of a day in the life Mughal emperors
We get a fairly accurate picture of life within the forts during the Mughal reign in India from various accounts like ‘Baburnama’ or ‘Bazm-I Aakhir’ and court records left by sometimes foreign travellers like Francois Bernier’s ‘Travels in the Mughal Empire. Some ornaments, portraits, and royal inscriptions also suggest how a Mughal ruler spends a normal day (other than war days).
Rising early in the morning, the water maids placed the water basin and gold jugs in the middle of confined, yet properly ventilated rooms known as ‘Hammam’. They place ornate pieces of clothes, scented flowers, soaps, and camphor smoke to keep the area clean and healthy. Specifically assigned to the face, hands, legs, and back, each servant was expected to clean the emperor while he rests in the scented water. Once the morning bath is finished, towel maids lined up to clean the remaining water from their master and wrap him until the rest of the maids arrive with his clothes and jewels. After the emperor is dressed, his jewel would arrive from the nightly keeps of the harem before he heads his way for the morning prayer.
Inside his room, a royal physician would visit him each morning accompanied by the guards to check the temperature and pulse of the emperor. As the emperor marches his way outside his harem, a soothing orchestra plays music appropriate for the morning hours. He would then kneel in prayers for two hours at the mosque before arriving on his balcony to greet his followers. Stepping into the marble balcony, thousands of people come together to greet their beloved ruler and chant slogans such as “Padshah Salamat” (long live the king).
If the ruler happens to be in a good mood and had time other than his war politics, he will personally hear the complaints of his subjects and rule out orders accordingly. After spending his time interacting with the people, the king would head for his leisure pastime.
Though each emperor had his own leisure activity, the most remembered was Shah Jahan, who loved watching elephant’s fight. Once the king orders a fight, it would continue until one animal pushes the other to the ground. Then a charkha with gunpowder was used to separate the animals and march them inside. In this fight, the people riding the animals lose their limbs or two, and sometimes they even die. But despite the gruesomeness of a simple leisure time- the emperor would nonetheless enjoy watching the game.
Once the elephant fight was over; it was work time. Sitting inside the royal court, the emperors were expected to oversee all the political matters at public hearings at Diwan-i-Aam, the hall of the public audience. On each side of the king, important peoples such as ministers, commanders, governors, and family members stand bowing down. The ruler would then go through the business calculating all the if and buts of his kingdom and punishing those accused of crime. He would also enquire about the demands of his subjects and make amendments if he feels so. The session lasted for about two to three hours and came to an end as the emperor pronounced ‘takhlia’.
Later, the royal chef would provide a full course meal that is first of course tasted by the team of royal cooks and Tatars before the kings eat it. The king then retires to rest. Sometimes he would rest inside his harem and sometimes he would take a walk and talk with those close to him. When at war, this time includes important meetings where the king would address confidential matters, design war tactics, and confabulate private business. Following the meeting, the king is free to do whatever he wants to. It is during these hours that he might either go out and practice swordsmanship, ride horses or spend leisure time inside the royal harem before he goes to bed and rests up for the next day.