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Publisher's Summary

In 1526, when the nomadic Timurid warrior-scholar Babur rode into Hindustan, his wives, sisters, daughters, aunts and distant female relatives travelled with him. These women would help establish a dynasty and empire that would rule India for the next 200 years and become a byword for opulence and grandeur. 

By the second half of the 17th century, the Mughal empire was one of the largest and richest in the world. The Mughal women - unmarried daughters, eccentric sisters, fiery milk mothers and powerful wives - often worked behind the scenes and from within the zenana, but there were some notable exceptions among them who rode into battle with their men, built stunning monuments, engaged in diplomacy, traded with foreigners and minted coins in their own names. Others wrote biographies and patronised the arts. 

In Daughters of the Sun, we meet remarkable characters like Khanzada Begum who, at 65, rode on horseback through 750 kilometres of icy passes and unforgiving terrain to parley on behalf of her nephew, Humayun; Gulbadan Begum, who gave us the only document written by a woman of the Mughal royal court, a rare glimpse into the harem, as well as a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of three emperors - Babur, Humayun and Akbar, her father, brother and nephew; Akbar’s milk mothers or foster mothers, Jiji Anaga and Maham Anaga, who shielded and guided the 13-year-old emperor until he came of age; Noor Jahan, ‘Light of the World’, a widow and mother who would become Jahangir’s last and favourite wife, acquiring an imperial legacy of her own; and the fabulously wealthy Begum Sahib (Princess of Princesses) Jahanara, Shah Jahan’s favourite child, owner of the most lucrative port in medieval India and patron of one of its finest cities, Shahjahanabad. The very first attempt to chronicle the women who played a vital role in building the Mughal empire, Daughters of the Sun is an illuminating and gripping history of a little known aspect of the most magnificent dynasty the world has ever known.

©2018 Ira Mukhoty (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Daughters of the Sun

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Befitting the queens

"In the 5,000 odd years of the history of India, many kings and dynasties have reigned supreme - Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Muslim. Each of these rulers have added to the complex tapestry that makes the India we know today. Of these, the Mughals are closest to us in time, their legacy most visually accessible."

The lines above, paraphrased as they are, can be found close to the close of Ira Mukhoty's Daughters of the Sun and yet, much like the rest of this tale, her words bring to life the existence an era lustrous and full of life in all its colors – art, poetry, war, brotherhood, beauty, treachery, creation, destruction and eternal posterity.

Daughters of the Sun introduces us to the world of the women who ruled by the side of the some of the most lustrous Emperors this land has ever seen. Ms. Mukhoty builds her view of the Mughal empire around the concept of the Padshah Begum – the first ladies of the Empire, the women – not always the Emperor’s wives but sometimes also erudite sisters and resourceful, resilient daughters – who shaped the path of the meandering Empire as keenly and as definitively as their husbands, brothers and fathers did. There is Khanzada begum, Babar’s sister who he left behind as payment for safe passage and one he accepted with unremarkably routine openness a little over a decade later. There is then Maham begum – Babar’s principal wife and Humayun’s mother; Humayun’s wife Hamida Banu begum who leaves behind her infant son to follow her husband in exile and through years of strife. There is then Gulbadan begum – Humayun’s sister and the only Mughal historian and chronicler – one who allows the ages to see beyond the wars and victories. Ira Mukhoty brings to justice – arguably at great stretch in imagination – the contribution of Mehr-un-Nisa (Nur Jahan begum) as the much misunderstood wife of an older, more settled Jahangir and yet one that quite unarguably ruled the country from behind the latticed windows and sometimes not even with that much secrecy. The author also paints for us, the beautiful, rich and eventuall pitiable and yet resolute, firm, diplomatically brilliant life of Jahanara – Shah Jahan’s oldest born and the sister caught between her brothers’ bloodlust.

We see women as strong brilliantly talented people, emotionally evolved, physically resilient, intellectually sharp, creatively masterful, diplomatically keen and politically wise beyond the expectation of Western interpretation of a harem that is seen to have served only purpose.

If this tale of victories and losses, beauty and bravery, courage and cunning, is not inspiring and relevant for women in the sub-continent and around the globe, little else can be.

A special shout-out also to Shernaz Patel for her brilliant, nuanced, superbly diction-ed narration. If there is ever the idea of a narrator adding to the burnished glory of the work she reads, Shernaz Patel exemplifies it and Ms. Mukhoty should be eternally grateful for it.

PS: As the tale of Zinat-un-nisa comes to a close, the miserable years of the last Padshah Begum trudging through the ignominious years of the Empire’s fall, the scene is quite beautifully and chronologically set up for the many depravities that was the Era of the British. Mr. Tharoor – here I come. (less)

5 people found this helpful

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Listening is an art

Great experience,just before sleep switch off lights listen to wonderful stories,dont have to strain your eyes,shall keep asking for more,thank you audible

4 people found this helpful

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well researched ,well written ,well narrated

This book shall take you into mughal India n by the end u will feel why weren't you born then in mughal India

1 person found this helpful

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Breathtaking

Very rarely do we come across a book which is scholarly and accessible. This is one such books. Remarkably written and relatively well narrated. Would highly recommend this book for anyone trying to peek deeper into the lives of the Mughals, especially Mughal women. Fabulous.

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loved it very well written and well Narrated voice is very clear and understandable wov

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Beautiful

Such an amazing account of the queens and princesses of the Mughal era. It transports you in that time and paints an extremely vivid picture of the culture of that time. This view point of the Mughal era is extremely fascinating and fresh at the same time.

Thoroughly enjoyed it ❤️

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Exceptional read

Sahibi, Risala e Sahibi, Sahibabad

The book is an eye opener. It successfully informs the listener that the mughal women enjoyed greater freedom and achieved enormous prosperity unlike any of their contemporary women in the whole world. Sahibi, Risala e Sahibi and Sahibabad- these three words alone can attest to the immense prestige and clout Jahanara had in her times.

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Exquisite, Riveting Performance

Loved each bit of it! The book is intertwined with characters of Noor Jahan, Hamida Bhanu, Jahanara Begum and many other Mughal women; the wealth, respect they commanded, feels empowering. The book also briefs about how interventions made by Mughal women in important decisions or mediating between brothers have shaped the course of Indian history. At last, the role of Mughal women in the building of Mughal empire apart from a sneak peek into their lives itself is interesting.

I can not imagine any other narrator perfect for this story than Shernaz Patel herself! The narration is smooth, grand, lively. Thank you Audible for this masterpiece.

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Loved it

Classic story. An insight into the unknown and unrecognised world of mugal women whose contribution to mugal empire was immense yet highly underrated and less admired as compared to male counterparts. Excellent and passionate narration.

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Never to be missed

Top class , excellent research and Narration. I am going to buy a hard copy .. This is a keeper

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  • Farha
  • 22-06-22

Confusing book was not laid out well

This book was filled with history but not laid out very well where it spoke of each King and his reign at a time instead it kept going back and forth up and down very difficult to follow.

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  • Sameer Siddhanti
  • 25-07-21

A pleasure listening to every sentence

To begin with the difficult part, the names. There are so so many names. But the good thing is that you need not have to focus on all of them. Prominent names and characters stand out by the frequency of their use.

This book is so well written that each sentence seems to be crafted to an artistic perfection. The author Ira has weaved the history with a literary magnificence. The Narrator Shernaz's soothing yet regal voice makes the listening journey a pleasure at each step.

This was one of those books for me that I listened almost continously every day including the weekends. The history has been captured so well by Ira and Shernaz that it teleports one to the life and times of that bygone era of Hindustan.

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  • sajeev varki
  • 06-12-20

fantastic book and well narrated

Really liked the intimate details of the first 6 mughals followed by an epilogue. recommend the book highly to those with an interest in mughal India.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-20

Amazing

Loved it. Good story. Narration was very good. Wonderful experience. The story was detailed and easy to understand.

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  • CG SPRING HAVEN RETIREMENT
  • 07-09-19

delightful informative

unreal..the mughal women are heroes..narrator mis reads many words but lilting voice is enjoyable ..