I had been photographing and researching historical sites in Delhi for some years and have focused on a particular period 1638 to 1739 when Delhi was rebuilt as Shahjahanabad by Shahjahan the builder of the Taj Mahal. At the end of this period the city was burned and the Peacock Throne carried away by the Persian, Nadir Shah.
The Mughals, as the dynasty has come to be known, descended from Timur, who came to Delhi in 1398 and camped in an area now used an airport (Safdarjang), the night before his army sacked the city. Babur was invited from his own city-state of Kabul to India and ended up staying on. The dynasty ended with the capture of the last emperor in 1857 in Humayun's Tomb. The capital moved around Agra, Delhi and Lahore but in 1638 Shahjahan built himself a sovereign city in keeping with Asian cities of the time; Istanbul, Esfahan, Beijing and Edo (Tokyo).
These were patrimonial states where the Emperor ruled as a Patriarch and used the metaphor of family to construct and control his city and empire. Palaces dominated the urban landscape as the Red Fort dominates Shahjahanabad. Cultural life and the urban economy revolved around the emperor and his family. The women, including his daughters built gardens and mosques.
His son Aurangzeb and daughter Roshanara conspired against him and he was deposed and imprisoned. His other daughter Jahanara chose to live with him and became a follower of a Sufi saint.
The photographs were made for this commission in November 2003 in Shajahanabad (now called Old Delhi) and Nizamuddin, both still thriving centres of Delhi's economy and life.