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AKBAR’S ELEFANT

In the 16th century, a tribe chief from Central Asia, Babur, invaded India and founded a vast empire over the ruins of a Muslim Sultanate. A descendant of Genghis Khan, he took the name Great Mughol.

His grandson Akbar, after a difficult start and cruel wars, became the greatest sovereign of the dynasty, and one of the most accomplished man of the whole history of humankind, the very symbol of justice and above all of tolerance and religious tolerance.

He had as a domestic animal, a favourite elephant named Hiran. The Emperor always wanted it at his side, as the elephant was also his executioner. The Emperor had built, north of Agra, the fabulous city of Fatehpur-Sikri, of pink granite, and white and black marble, which he would later mysteriously abandon, a masterwork of architecture, poetry and beauty. In the great audience hall at court, named the Divan I Am, he would give audiences to his people and bestow justice. When he would pronounce a death sentence, his vizier would take care of the paperwork and call the keeper of Hiran the elephant. The sentenced man would be made to rest his head on a flat stone and, following the instructions of Hiran’s keeper, the elephant would crush the condemned man’s head.

Akbar loved Hiran so much that, when it finally died a beautiful death, he had it solemnly buried within the walls of Fatehpur-Sikri and ordered that an extraordinary tower be built on top of his grave, as a testimony of his love for the much regretted and deceased pachyderm.


by Prince Michael of Greece