What was Akbar’s contribution towards Mughal architecture?


The Mughal architectural style began as a definite movement under Akbar. The mausoleum of Humayun in Delhi heralded the new movement. In spirit the structure of Humayun’s tomb stands as an example of syn­thesis of two great building traditions of Asia, namely the Persian and (he Indian; and the full efflorescence of Mughal architecture depended on this happy synthesis.

But Akbar’s policy and ideas with regard to architecture were fundamen­tally different from those reflected in the tomb of Humayun. He wanted to create a style with an independent Indian character.

Akbar was the founder of several fortified royal residences, each of which served as his capital during the period. The first of such royal residen­ces to be erected was the fortress palace at Agra which was completed in eight years (1565-73).


Abul Fazl writes in the Ain-i-Akbari: “Within the fort the emperor built upwards of five hundred edifices of red stone in the fine styles of Bengal and Gujarat.” Thus was developed a unified and national style of building art in which each distinc­tive tradition, imperial as well as provincial, played an important part.

Only a few of Akbar’s numerous buildings at Agra have survived. Among those that have escaped destruction, men­tion may be made of two palace buildings known as Akbari Mahal and Jahangiri Mahal.

In general character, the fort at Agra greatly resembles the fortress at Gwalior. The forts that Akbar built almost at the same time at Lahore and Allahabad appear to have been executed on the same grand scale.

Akbar’s most ambitious and magnificent ar­chitectural undertaking, however, was the new capital city that he built on the ridge at Sikri, 36 km west of Agra. To commemorate Akbar’s con­quest of Gujarat in 1572, the city was subsequently named Fatehpur (city of victory).


The monuments of Fatehpur Sikri may be divided into two classes, one religious and the other secular. The secular monuments, such as palaces, office buildings, sarais, pavilions, etc. are by far the most numerous and they illustrate various designs and shapes. Undoubtedly the most impressive creation of this new capital city is the grand Jami Masjid which has been described as the glory of Fatehpur Sikri.

The southern entrance to the Jami Masjid is an impressive gateway known as the Buland Darwaza. The total height of this gateway, including that of the sup­porting terrace, is 53 metres.

Like most other buildings at Fatehpur Sikri, the fabric of this im­pressive gateway is of red sandstone which is relieved by carving and discreet inlaying of white marble that gives an emphasis to the bold linea-ments of the composition. With its immense bull and towering height the Buland Darwaza presents an imposing appearance from whatever angle it is viewed.

Two other additions were later made within the mosque enclosure. One of these is the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti, the patron saint of Sikri.lt is a small, square and attractive building in marble.


The pierced screens of the corridor of this tomb are very finely worked. Close by and to the east of the tomb of the Shaikh stands the mausoleum of Islam Khan, a grandson of the saint, built in 1612.

At Fatehpur Sikri the civil and residential structures are by far the more numerous. They are singularly interesting as elegant types of office and domestic buildings of the period. In the former class mention may be made of at least two fine structures, one known as the Daftar Khana or the office and the other Diwan-i-khas or the hall of private audience.

In the latter, the arrangement of a hanging throne platform connected with hanging galleries by radiating passages represent a novel and original conception. Of the palaces and other residential buildings in the city mention may be made of Jodha Bai’s palace, houses of Birbal ,and Mariam and the Panch Mahal, which is al fantastic five-storeyed pillared structure.

The design of this building has been derived from old assembly halls of India. In the buildings of Akbar there is a predominance of indigenous designs, motifs and practices. His architectural style, built up on the traditions of the soil, was a truly national art movement.

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