The Mughal Dynasty in India began in the 1500s with the rule of Babur and peaked with Shah Jahan's reign (d. 1666). Mughal had been the Persian name for the Mongols from the north. The Mongols had exerted tremendous influence from the thirteenth century to the borders of Europe, the Middle East, China, Korea, and India. Although their armies conquered everything in their path, their governments could not sustain their empire. The Mughal Dynasty lasted from the 1500s until the 1850s when the British exiled the last Mughal empire from India.
The Mughal's reached their peak, their Golden Age, with Shah Jahan (King of the World, r. 1628-1658). He constituted the classical great leader. The son of Jahangir, the fourth Mughal ruler, and grandson of Akbar, the third Mughal ruler, he had been groomed for the throne—the Peacock Throne which he had crafted. His armies expanded the empire of his father, winning wars against the Muslims in Ahmadnagar and the Deccans. He experience challenges to his rule from the Portuguese in Bengal, and war with the Rajput kingdoms. To deal with those challenges, Jahan had a large standing army. Although taxes on the peasantry to support the military conquests proved enormous, his rule had been marked with peace and stability.
He celebrated his empire with architecture that has been celebrated to this day for its artistic skill and beauty. Among the structures he built included the Pearl Mosque at Agra, the Peacock Throne, the city of Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad), the Palace of Delhi and, most famously, the Taj Mahal, a tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace). He also build the Red Fort in Delhi, Shalimar Gardens of Lahore, added on to the Lahore Fort, and build his father's mausoleum.
As with many absolute rulers, Shah Jahan's life ended tragically. When he became ill, his son, Aurangzeb seized the opportunity to take over rule of the empire. He had his father declared unfit to rule, placing him under house arrest in Agra Fort, within view of the Taj Mahal. He died in 1666 C.E.