Sugandha Rawat’s ‘The Women of Mughal Harem’ – Review


History is one of the subjects that gains interest and prominence in all time. From the time when it is being written to the time in which it is read, it remains a topic of fascination for all those interested. Indian history has been rich in terms of those who won battles and those who ruled the land. Alongside history, patriarchy has blossomed to the extent of their being less record of women and their lives, and they remain mute sufferers or participants in all that went around them. In her book, Dr. Sugandha Rawat, “The Women of Mughal Harem: Secrets Revealed,” attempts to unveil the myths and secrets that have been unnoticed ever since the days of the Mughal Empire and may not have found their rightful place in the pages of history.

The era of Mughal Rule is regarded as the golden time in India when there were growth, development, and prosperity in every sense a person could think of. But less is known about the lives of women who were an equal part of the empire and shared a similar role in nurturing the rule and catering to the needs of the changing times. Dr. Rawat’s work attempts to bring all this to light and make sure the women get their long-deserved credit for their contributions. As the readers begin from the cover, they find a woman’s image with her face half-covered, but the eyes conveying a sense of determination and resilience. The title and the cover leave a good impression on the minds of the readers, and they take the book immediately to read what the author has to say.

Dr. Rawat has done thorough research and this is evident from the footnotes available every now and then and the bibliography attached in the end. All these facts clubbed with her take, and assessment makes “The Women of Mughal Harem,” a document of record of the golden era about which relatively less has been written. She discusses all this in the framework of 7 chapters in addition to a preface and epilogue where there is mention of the women of the days of Babur to the time when the Mughal empire was nearing its decline. There is a concise, vivid, and compact record of all generations where every possible aspect has been touched in a brief manner.

The readers are bound to feel immediately interested in this work of non-fiction not just because of the subject but also because of how Dr. Rawat has written. She keeps the facts discreet, clear, and with no diversions. Facts, when stated clearly, automatically have the readers in the texts’ grip. This is what happens when a reader undertakes the reading of “The Women of Mughal Harem.” To demonstrate her points further and make them clearer to the readers, the author also uses plenty of images to illustrate her points well. The images only add spark to the already flamed interest of the readers, and they read through without any distractions.

There is an account of the domestic life of the women, their lifestyles, their dealings with each other, the relationships they had with their husbands, how they reared children, and the extent of their roles and importance in the court. The readers get to know that the women were no less substantial, and it is only a matter of time that the stories of their elegance, sacrifices, hard work, sufferings, and lives altogether go unsung. This gives “The Women of Mughal Harem,” the flavor of royalty, the grandeur long-overdue.

The readers who have been interested in history or reading historical literature will find “The Women of Mughal Harem,” holding on to their interests in no time. To put a cherry on the cake, Dr. Rawat writes in a straightforward manner and, without any further due, comes to the point right away. These are the factors that would not let the readers hold back from taking a plunge into the fabric of the rich Indian history and learn about unknown facts which have been read about for a long time. Most important of all, there may have been records about women of Mughal times from the eyes of male folk. From the eyes of patriarchy, the portrayal of women would get the patriarchal mode, and even if women are at the centre-stage, they would still not have full control. But the story of the women is told by a woman, it would come out with a completely different perspective. That makes “The Women of Mughal Harem” a recommended book for everyone, irrespective of what genre they are more interested in reading. Through this work, the readers would get to know the other side of the story that they have been hearing or reading about for a long time.

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