Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram (1592 – 1666), better known by his regnal name, Shah Jahan was the fifth Mughal emperor and reigned from 1628 to 1658. Under his reign, the Mughal Empire reached the peak of its cultural glory. Although an able military commander, Shah Jahan is best remembered for his architectural achievements. His reign ushered in the golden age of Mughal architecture. Thirty years after Shah Jahan inherited the throne, in 1658, his third son, Aurangzeb, captured his father and locked him up in the Agra Fort in the beautiful Jasmine Tower. The story goes that, Shah Jahan was spending too much on architecture and was about to build a mausoleum for himself, similar to the Taj Mahal, but black in color. Shah Jahan requested to be put in this particular prison, so that he can get a view of the Taj Mahal.

This image was shot by Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad in the year 1985 from the Agra Fort - a remembrance of Shah Jahan's view of Taj Mahal. 

The view from Shah Jahan's Prison, 1985

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Abul Kalam Azad is a visual artist based in India. Abul’s photographic works are predominantly autobiographical, and they explore the areas of politics, culture, micro-history, gender, and eroticism.

His works attempt a re-reading of contemporary Indian history – the history in which ordinary people are absent and are mainly represented through beautiful images and icons.

During the early 90s, for a brief period, he worked as a photojournalist with leading National/International agencies including the Press Trust of India. Mid-90s, he renounced his journalism career to become an independent artist.

Besides, Azad’s maverick and pioneer experimental hybrid art that blends different styles and techniques pushes the boundaries of contemporary Indian photographic art practice.

His current projects focus on a search inside South Indian maritime history and connected cultures, inspired by ancient literature, folklore, and rituals. His works have been exhibited in prestigious museums/galleries in India and abroad since the mid-90s. He is the recipient of various awards that includes Charles Wallace Award, French Government Scholarship award, Govt. of India’s Senior Art Fellowship, and India Foundation for the Arts Grant.

Abul Kalam Azad is the founder of Ekalokam Trust for Photography, a non-profit foundation committed to creating, protecting and sharing contemporary photography and other allied art forms. He also extends his services as Editor-in-Chief of Photo Mail, an online photo-art magazine.