22.February, SAWAI MADHOPUR – RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK, famous for tiger, samba and axis deer
We had a strenuous time for the next few days getting up early for sunrise visits to the tiger park and later to see the Taj Mahal, each time before breakfast. In the park most of the group saw 2 tigers briefly lying behind bushes. A male and a female, which is unusual since they are only together for a short time during the mating season. However 3 of us were in a separate vehicle and did not see them. We saw lots of axis and samba deer and a big crocodile but it would have been nice to say that one had seen a tiger. The hotel was again an amazing palace although it was a modern reproduction. It was being used for a Bollywood film at the front and since the balcony of my huge room was directly over the main entrance, it was occupied by soldiers in costume when I arrived! They were gone by the time I returned from lunch, maybe they jumped from the balcony, because there was no other way out.
Aurangzeb (1618 – 1707), (Persian: “Ornament of the Throne”) was the sixth, and widely considered the last effective Mughal emperor. His reign lasted for 49 years from 1658 until his death in 1707. Aurangzeb was a notable expansionist and during his reign, the Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent, ruling over nearly all of the Indian subcontinent. During his lifetime, victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to 4million square kilometres, and he ruled over a population estimated to be over 158 million subjects with an annual yearly revenue of $450 million (more than ten times that of his contemporary Louis XIV of France), in 1690. Under his reign, India surpassed China once again to become the world’s largest economy, worth over $90 billion, nearly a quarter of world GDP in 1700.
Aurangzeb has been subject to controversy and criticism for his policies that abandoned his predecessors’ legacy of pluralism and religious tolerance, citing his introduction of the Jizya tax, destruction of Hindu temples, and execution of the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. while other historians question this, arguing that his destruction of temples has been exaggerated, and noting that he also built temples, also destroyed Islamic mosques, employed significantly more Hindus in his imperial bureaucracy than his predecessors, and opposed bigotry against Hindus and Shia Muslims.