A Teardrop on the Cheek of Time!

Study Group Wednesday again! And this time two presentations on two amazing women.

Two Persian women, separated by 350 years of history.

One who stood by her man through intrigues and the dirty court politics of Mughal India; and the other, whose man stood by her, lending her his quiet strength and support through the upheavals that Iran went through in the 1980s.

The first was the beautiful Mumtaz Mahal, in whose memory Shah Jehan built the Taj!



The second, Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate and Human Rights activist.


Both women were born to high ranking families and enjoyed a privileged lifestyle. Both met and married the men they fell in love with!

Nineteen year old Arjumand Banu married Prince Khurram the heartthrob of the Mughal empire and was conferred the title Mumtaz Mahal or ‘Jewel of the Palace’.

19 years of marriage and 14 children later, Mumtaz finally died after giving birth to her last child. Her distraught husband, now the Emperor Shah Jahan, sat by her bed side and promised his dying wife that he would never remarry! In Medieval times, and among royalty that was a remarkable promise. A promise that Shah Jahan, a man in his prime, kept to the end of his life!

He also built her a mausoleum to immortalize his love for her. The Taj.

A testament to romantic love!
22 years in the making, the designing of the Taj Mahal became Shah Jahan’s single minded obsession. It drained the coffers of the wealthy Mughal Empire. That and the administrative neglect, compounded the thorny situation between Shah Jahan’s four surviving sons.

In 1658 Shah Jahan was ousted by his third son Aurangzeb, who proceeded to cold bloodedly kill his three brothers and imprison his father. Lingering eight long and unhappy years in the Agra Fort, unable to visit his beloved Taj, Shah Jahan finally passed away in 1666.

The Taj Mahal, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, is ” a teardrop on the cheek of time”.
And here is my tribute to that great love.

My Taj Mahal did not take 22 years to make. It was made of homemade fondant on top of a delicious chocolate cake.

It is also a tribute to Shirin Ebadi and her husband Javad Tavassolian.

Javad may not have built Shirin the Taj; but a man who treats a woman an an equal, as a partner, as someone worthy of respect, is a Prince in my eyes. A man who has stayed married to a woman for almost 40 years, a man who has allowed her to shine, is a Man for all seasons.

And so both these women, strong and beautiful in their own right, have one last thing in common. The love and unflinching support of their husbands.



  1. Radhika, A beautiful post/story and very well written. Thank you for the tribute to the two Persian women. To be honest, I did not know Mumtaz Mahal was Persina. What did you make the minarets from?

    • Hi Fae,
      Yes, Mumtaz was of Persian origin. She was born in India but her grandfather came to the Mughal court in Akbar’s time. I love Mughal history!
      And the minarets and the dome were all made of home made fondant. The square was chocolate cake, covered with fondant.

  2. I so agree that a man who stands by you and lets you fly is a Prince!

    • Absolutely! And that Taj was actually intended for the man in my life…who has put up with my entrepreneurial vacillations for 27 years. The wind below my wings! And no, that’s not Carlos Lischetti or George Clooney 🙂