Art and Architecture of India During Medieval Period

The coming of the Turks inaugurated a new era in the history of Indian architecture. They brought with them architectural ideas developed in Persia, Arabia and Central Asia. They came into contact with the traditions that had already been developed in India. The interaction of these two traditions resulted in a new synthesis of architectural styles. During the Mughal period, the flowering of this synthesis took place and some of the greatest monuments of India were built.

Main features of the Islamic architecture:

The distinctive features of the Islamic architecture are seen in the standardized architecture of the mosque and the mausoleum. The mosque consisted of a large, rectangular open courtyard surrounded by arcades on all four sides. The mehrab which faces Mecca indicates the direction to the prayer. The call to worship was made from a tall tower or minaret. There were many minarets in some mosques.

The arch in the gateway and other places was another characteristic feature. The dome was another prominent feature of the mosque and the mausoleum. The ancient Indian buildings were decorated with beautiful carving and sculpture white the Muslim buildings were marked by simplicity and lack of a adornment. The two styles were gradually synthesized into a new and unique style.

Architecture under the Sultanate:

The Turkish rulers utilized the services of the local designers and craftsmen who were among the most skilful in the world. The new fusion that started to take place avoided the extreme simplicity of the Islamic architecture and the lavish decoration of the earlier Indian architecture. The Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and the Qutb Minar are the most renowned monuments of India. Ala-ud-din Khalji enlarged the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and built the Alai Darwaza. Decorative element was introduced to beautify the building.

The buildings of the Tughlaq period were significant from the point of view of the development of architecture. They were not beautiful but massive and very impressive. The regional kingdoms in Bengal, Jaunpur, Gujarat, Malwa and Kashmir developed their own distinctive styles of architecture.

The Mughal Architecture:

The process of synthesis was completed under the Mughals. Babur and Humayun erected a number of buildings with the help of Persian architects but those were not very impressive.

The Mughal architecture began in the reign of Akbar. The first important building of Akbar's reign is Humayun's tomb at Delhi. The two significant features of the Mughal architecture are the large gateways and the placements of the building in the midst of a large park are evident here. Akbar also built forts at Agra and Lahore. The crowning achievement of the reign of Akbar was the building of his new capital at Fatehpur Sikri. The buildings at Fatehpur Sikri have been built in a variety of styles. The arch of the Buland Darwaza is about 41 metres high and is perhaps the most imposing gateway in the world. The tomb of Salim Chishti is built in white marble. The palace of Jodha Bai was built in the style of ancient Indian architecture.

During he reign of Jahangir, the mausoleum of Akbar was constructed at Sikandara which was inspired by the Buddhist viharas. After a long time, the minor became architecturally significant here. Shah Jahan was the greatest of the Mughal builders. His reign marks the highest development of Mughal architecture. Some of the finest monuments of our country were built during his time. The list of Shah Jahan's buildings is very large. The most magnificent of Shah Jahan's buildings is the Taj Mahal built in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The only notable buildings of the reign of Aurangzeb are the Badshahi mosque at Lahore and the Moti Masjid at Delhi. The new style of architecture had a significant influence on the construction of Hindu temples and the secular buildings of the Rajputs during this period.