MUGHAL ARCHITECTURE

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Location: Delhi
Construction Style Based On: Indo-Islamic Persian Style
Some Famous Monuments Of This Architectural Style: Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Jama Masjid


There is perhaps no city in India that can compare with Delhi in the number of its monuments. The capital city is particularly rich in material for the study of Indo-Muslim architecture.

Mughal architecture is a characteristic of Indo-Islamic-Persian style that flourished on the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal empire (1526-1857). This new style combined elements of Islamic & Mughal Architecture, which had been introduced to India during the reign of Delhi Sultunate and had produced great monuments such as the Qutub Minar, with features of Persian art & architecture. Mughal monuments are found chiefly in northern part of India, but there are also many remains in Pakistan.

The monuments of the early Pashtun style (1193-1320) - represented by the Quwatu'l-Islam mosque, the Qutub Minar, the tomb of Iltutmish, and the 'Ala'i Gate - reveal the adoption and adaptation of Hindu materials and style to Islamic motifs and requirements. The later Pashtun styles represented in Tughluqabad and in the tombs of the Sayyid kings (1414-1451) and Lodi kings (1451-1526) are characterized by finer domes and decoration and the use of excellent marble and tiles.

The first great Mughal monument was the Humayun Tomb, made during the reign of Akbar. The tomb, which was built in the 1560's, was designed by a Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas. Set in the midst of a garden at Delhi, it has an intricate ground plan with central octagonal chambers, joined by an archway with an elegant facade and surmounted by cupolas, pavilions, and pinnacles.

Jahangir, who resided at Lahore, built less than his ancestors but effected the significant change from sandstone to marble. It was Shah Jahan who perfected Mughal architecture and after establishing Delhi as his capital, built the famous Red Fort, which contained the imperial Mughal Palace. The Red Fort is one of the most important buildings of the city of Delhi. Its massive red sandstone walls, 75-feet in height, enclosing a complex of palaces, gardens, military barracks, and other buildings. The two most famous of these are the Hall of Public Audience - 'Diwan-i-Am' and the Hall of Private Audience - 'Diwan-i-Khas'. The Hall of Public Audience has 60 red sandstone pillars supporting a flat roof. The Hall of Private Audience is smaller and has a pavilion of white marble.

Under the Aurangzeb the decline of the arts began, although his ornate Pearl Mosque at Delhi is worthy of mention.

The Mosques or Masjids are a constant reminder of the simplicity of the Mughal architecture. The mosque is basically an open courtyard surrounded by a pillared verandah, crowned off with a dome. The Principal Mosque or Jama Masjid situated in Delhi, reveals an increasing use of marble, elaboration of external surfaces with florid decoration, and the construction of circular domes and lofty minarets.

The Tomb or 'maqbara' are not actual in nature but they introduced an entirely new architectural concept. While the masjid was mainly known for its simplicity, a tomb could range from being a simple to an awesome structure enveloped in grandeur. The Muslim tomb usually consists of solitary compartment or tomb chamber known as the 'huzrah' in whose centre is the cenotaph or 'zarih'. This entire structure is covered with an elaborate dome. In the underground chamber lies the mortuary or the maqbara, in which the body is buried in a grave or 'qabr'.

The larger mausoleums used to have a separate mosque such as Humayun's tomb. In such cases the mosque stands discreetly at a little distance from the main tomb and an enclosed area surrounded the whole complex or 'rauza'. The tomb of a Muslim saint is called "dargah", literally meaning a court or palace.

The final example of Mughal architecture in India would be Safdarjung's Tomb in Delhi. Set on a high platform, the mausoleum is crowned with a high circular dome with four polygonal towers inlaid with marble. Built of red sandstone and marble panels, the effort must have been made to construct something similar to Humayun's Tomb.



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