The salient features of the architecture during the Sultanate period may be estimated under these heads as given below:
A Mixture of Indian and Iranian Styles: The first salient features of the Delhi Sultanate Architecture were that from the very beginning there was the mixing of Indian and Iranian styles in it. Though the Turkish Sultans had brought with them the architectural styles of Persia and Central Asia, but they had not brought with them the builders. The first need of the new rulers was residential houses and prayer mosques. So with the help of Indian Artisans they built these buildings in the least time. The initial buildings of the Turks show that Indian style was adopted in them. It was due to two reasons:
(a) Firstly, the builders were Indians, and
(b) Secondly, they were constructed out of the temples broken during the war.
A good example of such type of architecture is ‘ The Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque of Delhi, (ii) Pointed Arch; Narrow and High Towers and Use of Domes: A look at the towers, palaces, mosques, forts and tombs of this period shows that during this period generally pointed Archs like the English alphabet ‘B’ in Reverse Shape and very high towers were used.
The pointed archs did not rest on any support but the stones were arranged in slanting way to give it that shape. In many tombs semi-circular domes were made. A good example of such type of architecture is ‘ Tomb of Gayasuddiri and lQutub Minar . Both the constructions were constructed during Sultanate period. ‘Qutub Minar’ is a good example of the tower getting narrower as it attains height.
New Style Places of Worship: The Turkish Sultans started a new style of constructing places of worship by desecrating the temples and constructing mosques out of them. These were a new thing for India because none of the preceding invaders had before them resorted to this practice of breaking the worshipping places of other religions and convert them into their own.’ The Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque’ in Delhi was constructed over a broken temple.
The mosque in Ajmer called ‘Adai-din-ka-Jhonpada’ was constructed either after breaking a “Buddhist monastery” or a ‘Hindu Temple’. These places of worship were neither decorated with statues nor with human paintings. They had a huge chamber, Tombs of New Style: Tombs were constructed during the Sultanate period often in memory of Sultans, big Amirs and many Sufi saints.
The size and design of these tombs were not alike, e.g. during the time of Firoz Tughlaq Octagonal or for his Wazir-Khan-i-Jahan Telangani, eight-doored tombs were constructed. Sayyids and Lodhis also constructed octagonical tombs, Many Types of Stones and Good Quality Lime was used: During the Sultanate period many coloured stones like red, light black, yellow and white marbles were used.
During this period huge buildings were constructed without supporting pillars and to keep them together very good quality of lime was used, Scientific Constructions: During the Sultanate period buildings were constructed in a scientific manner-a thing which they had learned from the Arabs. In fact this scientific building was not an original invention of Arabs also.
They had adopted it from Byzantine Empire. They were the first in India to use large scale arches and domes in their buildings. Before their advent the style of building arch was to narrow the distance between all the stones till it became narrow enough to keep just a stone at the top. The Turkish Sultans used both Stone and Beam to build Dome and arch. By this method they were able to construct High Square or round domes which made the buildings look grand and huge.
(vii) New Style of Decorating the Buildings: During the Sultanate Period human and animal figures were not used to decorate the buildings but rather various types of flowers and leaves, geometrical designs or the Quranic Ayats were used for this purpose. This method of embelishing the buildings is called the Arabic Method but with the passes of time the Delhi Sultans adopted certain Hindu elements of embelishment also like the lotus, swastik, creepers, bells, kalash etc.