It goes without saying that the Mughals were great builders. Many of the Mughal buildings have come down to us. Fergusson was of the opinion that Mughal architecture was of foreign origin.
However Aurangzeb because of his puritan ideas did not extend his patronage to fine arts. Indian architecture entered upon a new phase with the advent of the Mughals. The art and architecture of the period after 1526 reveal a happy blending of Muslim and Hindu art traditions.
Mughal emperors erected building of supreme beauty and grandeur. Forgusson has opined that the Mugha style of architecture was foreign in origin. But this view has been critcised by Havell. Sir John Marshall has expressed the view that India is a vast country with manifold diversities.
So it cannot be said that architecture in India “ever conformed to a single universal type. Much depended upon the personal tastes of the emperors.” Persian influence over the Indian art increased after the establishment of the Mughal rule and this continued till the end of the reign of the great Mughal Akbar. But during the reign period of his successors Indian architecture and paintings became essentially Indian.
The Mughal architecture was more symptuous and decorative than that of the Sultanate period.
Babur did not like the buildings which he found at Delhi and Agra. He did not appreciate the Indian art and skill. So he thought to construct new buildings.
It is said that he invited from Constantinople the pupils of the famous Albanian architect sinan to work on Mosques and other monument in India. Babur employed Indian stone masons in the construction of these buildings.
In his memories he writes, 600 men worked daily on his buildings at Agra and nearly 15,000 men were employed daily on his buildings at Sikri, Biyana, Dholpur, Gwalior and Kiul. Most of the buildings of Babur have been destroyed but two have survived to this day.
The first one is a Mosque in the Kabulibag at Panipat and the other is Jamimaasjid at Sambhal. The reign of Humayun was a period of anxiety and trouble. He had no time to devote himself to artistic activities.
A mosque of the time of Humayun still exists in a dilapidated condition at Fatehabad in the Hissar Firuza district of Haryana. Another Mosque is still seen at Agra. The rulers of Sur dynasty were great builders.
The buildings of Sher Shah are fine examples of medieval architecture. Sher Shah built massive forts at Rolitas and Mankot.
The two most remarkable buildings of his time are the Purana Qila near Delhi and his tomb at Sasanam in Bihar. “The Mosque reflects Persian in its recessed portals, small minarets round the dome and in its fine masonary, though in other respects it is India.
“Sher Shah’s Mausoleum is located on a high plinth in the middle of a tank. This building is famous for it’s of design and dignity and reveals a happy blending of Hindu and Muslim architectural ideas.
The reign of Akbar witnessed a remarkable growth of architecture. Akbar evinced great interest in the construction of buildings. Abul Fazal lias referred 10 the fact that Akbar regulated the prices of the building materials and fixed the wages of the craftsmen. The spirit of tolerance guided all his activities.
Abul Fazal has remarked that his sovereign, “planned splend edifices and dressed the work of his mind and heart in the garment of stone and clay.” He adopted both Persian and Hindus style of architecture. He introduced in the buildings the decorative features of Hindu and Jaina temples.
The fact that he favoured the Hindu style is known from his palace in the Agra fort which is called the Jahangiri Mahal. The earliest building of his reign is the tomb of Humayun. This building is more Persian than Indian in design and its “principal novelty lies in its four towers at the four angles of the main building and the narrow-necked some features which reached their high water-mark during Shahjahan’s reign.”
However the ground plan of the tomb is Indian and the free use of white marble in the outward appearance of the edifice is Indian. Forts, fortnesses and places at Agra and Lahore are the remarkable structures of the reign of Akbar. The Agra fort is a massive structure of red sandstones.
But the most notable buildings of Akbar’s reign are his palaces at Fatehpur Sikri. In 1569 Akbar laid the foundation of his new city on the summit of a hill near Sikni in memory of Shaikh Salim Chisti.
The most magnificent buildings at Fatehpur Sikri are Jodh Bai’s Palace. Diwan-e-Am or emperors public audience, the Punch Mahal, Jami Masjid, the Buland Darwaza and the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti.
Fergusson called the Jami Masjid as “a romance of stone.” The Buland Darwaza or mastive archway was constructed to commemorate the conquest of Gujarat. This gateway was built of marble and red sandstone.
Its height is 176 feet and it is the highest gateway in India. Two other remarkable buildings of this period are the palace of forty Pillars at Allahabad and the Mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandara near Agra.
The design of this massive Mausolem was inspired by the Buddhist Viharas of India. This building was constructed during the period from 1605 to 1613. Another notable building of the regin period of Jahangir is the tomb of Itimad- ud daulah at Agra.
It was built by empress Nurjahan. It is wholly built of marble. This building is unique for the in laying of precious stones of different colours in a most delicate manner. “It conveys the impression of a rich article of jewellery magnified into architecture.” Another important building is the tomb of Jahangir on the opposite bank of the river Ravi at Shahdra near Lahore.
Shahjahan was the most magnificent builders among the Mughal rulers. He carried the decorative art to perfection and made large-scale use marbles in the construction of the buildings. He found the Mughal cities of standstones and he left them of marbles. He constructed .a number of buildings within the fort of Agra He established the new city of Shahjahanbad on the right band of the Jumna.
The notable buildings of Shahjahan inside the Agra fort one, the Mussaman But and the Pearl Mosque orthe Moti Masjid. The Moti Masjid represents the architectural zenith of the time of Shahjahan and the beauty of the structure lies in its purity and simplicity.
The Principal buildings of the reign of Shahjahan are the Rang Mahal, Hira Mahal, Moti Mahal, the Diwan-i-Am and the Diwan-i-Khas within the Red fort in Delhi. The Diwan-i-Khah is more siglily ornamented than any building of Shahjahan.
The Jam-i-Masjid near the Red fort is also an impressive and dignified building. It was built to “attract the eyes of the faithful from a far and proclaim the glory of Islam.
The interior of this Mosque is austere and simple. The Jam-i-Masjid is the largest Mosque in India. The construction of this mosque v. as completed in years at a cost of ten lakhs of rupees.
The most important building of Shahjahan’s period is the Taj-Mahal, the Mausoleum which he erected over the grave of his beloved wife Anjumand Bunu teller known as Mumtaz Mahal. The queen died in 1630.
The master architect of this building was Ustad Isha. A sum of 50 Lakhs of rupees was spent in the construction of this building which is rightly regarded as one of the wonders of the world for its beauty and magnificence.
Another celebrated work of art of this period was the Peacock throne. The throne was in the form of a cot bedstead on golden legs. The enamelled canopy was supported by twelve emerald pillars, each of which bore two peacocks encrusted with gems.
A tree covered with dimonds, emeralds, rupees and pearls stood between the binds of each pair.” The throne was 3 yards in length, 21yards in width and 5yards in height.
Jewels worth 86 lakhs of rupees and one lakh totals of gold valued at 14 lakhs of rupees were utilised in the making of this throne. In 1739 Nadir Shah of Persian invaded – India and carried away this famous throne.
Mughal emperor Aurangzeb did not encourage the growth of architecture because he was a Puritan. The little marble Mosque in the fort of Delhi, the Mosque at Varanasi which was built on the ruins of the temple of Viswanath and the Badshah Mosque in Lahore are the notable buildings of the reign period of Aurangzeb. These buildings are the latest specimen of Mughal style of architecture.