‘Despite what we would like to believe, the Mahal was not an exotic sexual playground; it was a family space. And the stories of these women, from queens and princesses to foster mothers and female officers, deserve to be heard.’
In every citadel of the Mughal Empire, there existed a luxurious fortress that housed the women of the court. Known as the ‘Mahal’, this closely-guarded space that few men could enter has intrigued the world for centuries.
Uncovering the little-known lives of the remarkable women who inhabited the Mahal, this commanding narrative introduces us to Ehsan Daulat Begum, Babur’s grandmother, without whose enterprise there would have been no Mughal Empire; the Padshah Begums who ran the vast establishment of the Mahal with an all-women team; the female scholars and poets – like Zeb-un-Nissa, Salima Sultan Begum, Zeenat-un-Nissa – who influenced the emperor in matters of diplomacy and state policy; and the queens and princesses who ran vast estates and oversaw fleets of trading vessels, among others.
Mahal is a rare peek into life behind the veil, and an illuminating account of the role women played in the courts of the Mughal Empire.
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