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Early Muslim Architecture

Early Muslim Architecture

The medieval period saw great developments in the field of architecture. With the coming of Muslims to India, many new features came to be introduced in buildings. The development of Muslim Style of Architecture of this period can be called the Indo-Islamic Architecture or the Indian Architecture influenced by Islamic Art.

The Indo-Islamic style was neither strictly Islamic nor strictly Hindu. The architecture of the medieval period can be divided into two main categories. They are the Delhi or the Imperial Style and the Mughal Architecture. The Imperial Style developed under the patronage of the Sultans of Delhi. The Mughal Architecture was a blend of the Islamic Architecture of Central Asia and the Hindu Architecture of India.

The Indo-Islamic style provided spaciousness, massiveness and breadth to the Hindu architecture. In almost all the prominent buildings, the arch, Minar and dome began to be used and the mosque or Masjid became a part of the landscape. The chief means of decoration was surface decoration through the use of geometry, arabesque and calligraphy. The Muslims borrowed the design of kalash on the top of the Hindu temple by placing a dome on the top of their buildings.

The most important symbol of Indo-Islamic architecture in India is the tomb or the mausoleum which evolved from the basic cube and hemisphere of the early phase into a more detailed form during the Mughal period. In the Mughal period multiple chambers were made and tombs were set in gardens, known as the Char-Bagh. The tomb chamber houses the cenotaph below which is the grave. The most famous example of tomb in India is the Taj Mahal.

Tughlaq Architecture

Architecture during Tughlaq dynasty flourished in India when Ghazi Tughlaq came to power in 1321 in Delhi defeating the Khalji rulers.

The period of Tughlaq dynasty in history has been marked as the time of elation and rediscovery for Islamic architectures. Master builders were hired for a new Sultan to construct a new empire full of creativity in Indo-Islamic style. The Indo-Islamic style dominated the pattern of architecture during Tughlaq dynasty. The Indo-Islamic style of architecture was the amalgamation of Islamic architecture as well as Hindu style of architecture.

This amalgamation happened during the invasion period of the Muslim rulers; they used to build their mosques with the ruined materials of the Hindu or Jain temples and few temples itself were modified into mosques. The fusion created the new Indo-Islamic style of architecture in India that gradually developed into a great architectural significance during the Tughlaq dynasty.

Architecture during Tughlaq dynasty was flourished in the hands of three rulers. They were the founder of the dynasty, Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq who ruled from 1320 to 1325, his son, Mohammed Shah Tughlaq, ruled from 1325 to 1351, and the most creative of all in his building projects, Firoz Shah Tughlaq who ruled Delhi from 1351 to 1388. Feroz Shah Tughlaq was a great patron of Islamic architecture. He built the fifth city of Delhi, named as Ferozshah Kotla. Apart from Ferozshah Kotla, several building arts like Tughlaqabad the third city of Delhi, the Tomb of Ghiyas-ud-Din and Khirki Masjid represents the major development of architectures during the Tughlaq dynasty.

Turkish Architecture

Turkish Architecture came to India with the establishment of Delhi Sultanate. Their arrival in India marked a new phase in the cultural development of the country. The interaction of the Turks with Indians, in the long run added to the enrichment of the culture.

In the beginning, the Turks converted temples and other existing buildings into mosques. The Turks, for the construction of their buildings, initially used the indigenous artisans. Later on, some master architects were brought to India from West Asia.

In their buildings, the Turks used the arch and the dome on a wide scale. The use of the arch and the dome had a number of advantages. The dome provided a pleasing skyline. The arch and dome needed strong cement and the Turks used fine quality light mortar in their buildings. Thus, new architectural forms and mortar of a superior kind became widespread in north India.

Turkish Architecture was at its zenith during the Tughlaq period. A striking feature of the Tughlaq architecture was the sloping walls. This gave the effect of strength and solidity to the building. The second feature of the Tughlaq architecture was the deliberate attempt to combine the principles of the arch, and the lintel and beam in their buildings. The Tughlaqs did not generally use the costly red sandstone, but cheaper and more easily available gray stone. Thus there was an outburst of building activity, marked by the growth of many styles of architecture in different parts of the country

Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid in the Qutab Minar Complex in Delhi is the best example of Turkish Architecture in India. Monuments in and around Lucknow shows traits of Turkish Architecture and it also influenced the Mughal Architecture.

Lodi Dynasty

Architectures during the Sayyid Dynasty and Lodhi dynasty were class apart and defined the quality of art and craft that prevailed during that period. The construction of Islamic architecture during the Tughlaq dynasty was relaxed under the Sayyid and Lodhi rule. Due to the inheritance of greatly weakened state treasury, both the dynasties were not able to construct monumental buildings. So their desire for architectural constructions were projected in small tombs and mausoleum built throughout Delhi. The pattern of architecture during Sayyid and Lodhi dynasty was therefore restricted to tombs and sculptor only.

The architectures during Sayyid and Lodi dynasty made smaller influence to the cities where they ruled. Whatever they constructed mirrored the broken spirit of the rulers of both the dynasties. No famous building arts, capital cities, imperial palaces and fortresses were created during their regime at Delhi. They were also not credited for any mosques or colleges. During the entire regime of the Sayyid and Lodhi, they constructed several monuments as memorials to the dead.

This architectural period during Sayyid and Lodhi dynasty was known as the period of the macabre (word probably derived from ‘maqbara’ or the cemetery in Arabic). A large number of tombs were constructed around the capital. The three royal tombs of Mubarak Sayyid, Muhammed Sayyid and Sikandar Lodi reflect the prototype of architecture during Sayyid and Lodhi dynasty. Apart from these, other famous architectures of Sayyid and Lodi dynasties in the Delhi neighbourhood are Bara Khan ka Gumbad, Chota Khan Ka Gumbad, Shish Gumbad, Bara Gumbad, Tomb of Shihab-ud-din Taj Khan, Poli ka Gumbad and Dadi ka Gumbad.

Mughal Architecture

Mughal architecture flourished in northern and central India under the patronage of the Mughal emperors from the mid-16th to the late 17th century. The Mughal period marked a striking revival of Islamic architecture in northern India. Under the patronage of the Mughal emperors, Persian, Indian, and various provincial styles were fused to produce works of unusual quality and refinement.

The tomb of the emperor Humāyūn (begun 1564) at Delhi inaugurated the new style, though it shows strong Persian influences. The first great period of building activity occurred under the emperor Akbar(reigned 1556–1605) at Āgra and at the new capital city of Fatehpur Sīkri, which was founded in 1569. The latter city’s Great Mosque (1571; Jāmiʿ Masjid), with its monumental Victory Gate (Buland Darzāwa), is one of the finest mosques of the Mughal period. The great fort at Āgra (1565–74) and the tomb of Akbarat Sikandarā, near Āgra, are other notable structures dating from his reign. Most of these early Mughal buildings use arches only sparingly, relying instead on post and lintel construction. They are built of red sandstone or white marble.

Mughal architecture reached its zenith during the reign of Emperor Shāh Jahān (1628–58), its crowning achievement being the magnificent Tāj Mahal. This period is marked by a fresh emergence in India of Persian features that had been seen earlier in the tomb of Humāyūn. The use of the double dome, a recessed archway inside a rectangular fronton, and parklike surroundings are all typical of Shāh Jahān period buildings. Symmetry and balance between the parts of a building were always stressed, while the delicacy of detail in Shāh Jahān decorative work has seldom been surpassed. White marble was a favoured building material.

After the Tāj Mahal, the second major undertaking of Shāh Jahān’s reign was the palace-fortress at Delhi, begun in 1638. Among its notable buildings are the red-sandstone-pillared Dīvān-e ʿĀmm (“Hall of Public Audience”) and the so-called Dīvān-e Khāṣṣ (“Hall of Private Audience”), which housed the famous Peacock Throne. Outside the citadel is the Great Mosque (1650–56; Jāmiʿ Masjid). The impressive mosque sits on a raised foundation and is approached by a majestic flight of steps, with an immense courtyard in front.

The architectural monuments of Shāh Jahān’s successor, Aurangzeb (reigned 1658–1707), represent a distinct decline, though some notable mosques were built before the beginning of the 18th century. Subsequent works lost the balance and coherence characteristic of mature Mughal architecture.

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