Categories Medieval India



  • The Mughal period saw an outburst of cultural activity in the fields of architecture, painting, music and literature.
    • The Mughals brought with them Turko-Mongol cultural traditions which mingled with the rich cultural traditions existing in the country.
    • The Sultanat period and the provincial kingdoms which grew up during the fourteenth and fifteenth century saw many-sided cultural developments.
    • The Mughals absorbed these rich cultural traditions, so that the culture which followed was the contribution of peoples of different ethnic groups, regions and faiths.
    • Such a culture could be called Indian or national in a broad sense.
  • The establishment of Mughal rule in India revitalized Indo-Islamic architecture.
    • The prevalent architectural forms and techniques were amalgamated with those brought from Central Asia and Persia.
  • The foundation of a new style of architecture in India had already been laid in the thirteenth century with the introduction of the arcuate technique where spaces were covered with domes and entrances were made with the help of arches.
    • The Mughals carried this tradition and created a synthesis of the pre-Turkish technique, viz., trabeate with the arcuate. 
    • The final result of this blending (trabeate + arcuate) was the emergence of a distinct style of their own.
  • The Mughal style of architecture took a concrete form during the reign of Akbar, yet the basic principles of Mughal architecture were provided by Babur and Humayun.
  • The Mughals built magnificent forts, palaces, gates, public buildings including sarais, hamams, mosques, baolis (water tank or well) etc. They also laid out many formal gardens with running water. In fact, use of running water even in their palaces and pleasure resorts was a special feature of the Mughals.

Mughal gardens

  • Mughal gardens are a group of gardens built by the Mughals in the Islamic style of architecture.
  • This style was influenced by Persian gardens and Timurid gardens.
  • Significant use of rectilinear layouts are made within the walled enclosures.
  • Some of the typical features include pools, fountains and canals inside the gardens.
  • The famous gardens are the
    • Char Bagh gardens at Taj Mahal,
    • Shalimar Gardens of Lahore, Delhi and Kashmir
    • Pinjore Garden in Haryana.
  • Babur was very fond of gardens and laid out a few in the neighbourhood of Agra and Lahore.
  • Only a few of the Mughal gardens have survived:
    • Nishat Bagh in Kashmir,
    • Shalimar garden at Lahore,
    • Pinjore garden in the foot-hills near Kalka
    • Arambagh (now called Ram Bagh) near Agra.
  • These terraced gardens give us an idea of the Mughal concept of gardens.


  • Had no time to devote to big architectural projects.
  • Though had very less time, he took considerable interest in building secular works (e,g: gardens and pavilions). Very little of this work is extant today.
  • For Babur, the most important aspect of architecture was regularity and symmetry which he did not find in the buildings, in India.
    • Perhaps, his dissatisfaction was directed at the Lodi buildings which he saw at Lahore, Delhi and Agra.
  • Standing structures attributed to him are mosques (built in 1526) at Panipat and Sambhal and also in Ayodhya.
    • These structures possess no architectural merit.
    • They were adaptations of earlier buildings, and do not therefore give an idea of his architectural concepts.
  • Babur’s secular works mainly comprise the laying of gardens and pavilions.
    • Garden of Dholpur: Only the excavated ruins of this garden are visible.
    • Ram Bagh and Zahra Bagh at Agra: have undergone many alterations.
    • In Baburnarna, he claims credit for some pavilions.
      • None of Babur’s pavilions are surviving today.


  • He also had very less time for such work.
  • The surviving buildings have the same inconsequential character as that of Babur.
  • Two mosques from among several other buildings erected during the first phase of his reign survive. both are devoid of any architectural marit.
    • One of these lies in ruinous condition at Agra.
    • The other is at Fatehabad (Hissar).
  • There is no notable building from Humayun 2nd term.
  • Humayun’s tomb: 
    • This building is a landmark in the development of the Mughal style of architecture.
    • This structure was inspired by the Persian culture.
    • Constructed during Akbar reign (work began in 1564), under the patronage of his widow Hamida Bano Begum.
    • Architect: Mirak Mirza Ghiyas (a native of Persia).
      • He brought many Persian craftsmen to Delhi to work on this structure.
      • The tomb has thus become representative of an Indian rendition of a Persian concept.
    • Though it built during Akbar reign but because of peculiar features, it has been treated separately.
    • One of the earliest specimens of the garden enclosure (Garden tomb).
    • It is raised high on an arcaded sandstone platform.
    • The tomb is octagonal in plan and is crowed by a high dome. which is actually a double dome.
      • The method of making double dome was practised in Western Asia before it was imported into India.
Humayun’s Tomb
Geometrical sandstone and marble pietre dura inlay patterns over the entrance iwan or high arc, and the chhatris and small minarets that surround the white marble central dome.


  • The real phase of Mughal architecture began with Akbar.
    • Akbar had the means as well the strong desire to undertake construction on a large scale.
    • Like Babur, he not only had a fine aesthetic taste, but was personally interested in the construction of building which he not only supervised, but sometimes himself engaged in the work.
    • He was concerned, above all, to bring together the fine architectural traditions existing within the country.
  • During the reign of Akbar, we find two traditions of architecture working simultaneously.
    • Persian tradition with which Humayun had become familiar during his stay at the court of Shah Tahmasp.
    • The Persian tradition is reflected in the mausoleum of Humayun, started by his widow Haji Begum in 1564 and completed in eight years time.
      • This square building of red sandstone was placed on  a high platform and was topped by a white marble dome of graceful contours.
      • The dome had a slightly constricted neck, and rose high in the sky.
      • It was derived, though not exactly copied from Timurid architecture.
      • It represents an Indian interpretation of a Persian conception.
      • The Persian features were the true double dome which had appeared in India in the tomb of Sikandar Lodi, but had not fully matured. It had been familiar in West Asia for long.
      • The double dome enabled a pleasing sky-line, and an interior roof In keeping with the enclosure inside.
      • A second feature of Persian influence was the arrangement of the rooms inside.
        • Instead of one enclosure, there were separate rooms in the corridors linked by passages.
        • However, such an arrangement can be found in earlier, pre-Turkush buildings.
        • The Indian feature was the entire building being placed in a formal garden with a large gate.
        • The dome was supported by slender minaraets which was a feature of the Gujarat style of architecture.
        • Graceful kiosks (a small, separated pavilion open on some or all sides)were a familiar feature in Rajasthan.
        • The arches on all sides, and the fine white inlay work added to the pleasing effect of the building.
  • Akbar’s reign can be taken as the formative period of Mughal architecture. It represents the finest example of the fusion of Indo-Islamic architecture.
  • He encouraged a hybrid style, containing foreign as well as indigenous element.

Structural Form

  • The architecture of the reign of Akbar represents encouragement of the indigenous techniques and a selective use of the experiences of other countries.
  • The chief elements of the style of architecture that evolved under Akbar:
    • used red sandstone as the building material.
    • a widespread use of the trabeated construction.
    • arches used mainly in decorative form rather than in structural form.
    • dome was of the ‘Lodi’ type, sometimes built hollow but never technically of the true double order.
    • the shafts of the pillars were multifaceted and the capitals of these pillars invariably took the form of bracket supports;
    • the decoration comprised of boldly carved or inlaid patterns complemented by brightly coloured patterns on the interiors.

Building Projects

Akbar’s building projects can be divided into two main groups, each representing a different phase.

The 1st Phase:

  • The first group comprised buildings of fort and a few palaces mainly at Agra, Allahabad and Lahore.
  • Agra Fort:
    • One of the earliest building projects was the construction of a fort at Agra.
    • The Agra Fort was started in 1565 and completed in eight years’ time.
    • The Agra fort, with its massive battlements and crenalated walls, its gates consisting of two octagonal towers of dressed red sandstone linked to each other was the pattern of the forts which were built at Lahore, Ajmer and Allahabad later by Akbar.
      • The Red Fort at Delhi built by Shah Jahan was also patterned on the fort at Agra.
    • According to Abul Fazl, within the Agra fort, Akbar built “upward of five hundred edifices of red stone in the fine style of Bengal and Gujarat.”
      • Most of these buildings were demolished by Shah Jahan to make way for his own style of buildings (white marble palaces).
      • Delhi Gate of the Agra fort and Jahangiri Mahal (inside the Agra Fort) and Akbari Mahal are the only representative buildings of Akbar’s reign.
      • Akbari Mahal was once known as the Bengali Mahal, owing its name to the Bengali designs used in the Mahal.
    • Delhi Gate of Agra Fort probably represents Akbar’s earliest architectural effort.
      • It formed the principal entrance to the fort. The architecture of the gate shows an originality signifying the start of a new era in the building art of India.
    • Jahangiri Mahal:
      • Built by Akbar.
      • Use of red sandstone.
      • It is a fine specimen of the fusion of the Hindu and Islamic building designs.
      • Combination of beam and bracket used
    • The roofs of these palaces were flat, and supported by exquisitely carved pillars.
      • The palace is said to have been based on the Man Mandir in Gwaliyar fort, and has many Rajasthani features, such as the heavy red sand stone brackets and balconies, carved with peacock and serpent motifs.
      • The walls and staircase carry geese, flamingos and lotus carvings, as also figures of mythical animals, such as winged dragons, half elephants, birds etc.
    • 800px-Agra_Fort_13
      Jahangiri Mahal in Agra Fort
  • The same style is manifested in the other palace-fortresses at Lahore and Allahabad.
  • Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila:
    • It was built during the reign of Akbar.
    • It has two gates one is known as Alamgiri Gate build by Emperor Aurangzeb which opens towards Badshahi Mosque and other older one known as Masjidi Gate which was built by Akbar.
  • But the fort at Ajmer represents a different class. Since it spearheaded the advancing frontier of the Empire, the walls of the forts were thickly doubled.
  • Note:
    • The mosque-cum madarsa called Khair-ul-Majalis, outside the Purana Qila with a magnificent gate was built by Maham Anaga in 1561.
Khairul Manazil, a mosque and later a madarsa built by Maham Anga, stands opposite Purana Qila.

The 2nd Phase:

  • The second phase of Akbar’s architectural scheme coincides with the conception and creation of a ceremonial capital for the Empire at Sikri, this new capital was named Fatehpur.
    • The building at Sikri, which was later named Fatehpur after the victory at Gujarat, were commenced when the Kachhawaha princess was expecting Salim.
    • Many palaces and public buildings were put up during the next fifteen years.
    • The whole complex was on top of a hill by the side of an artificial lake.
    • The city was circled by a wall built on the plains.
  • The city was built in a very short span of time (1571-1585) and does not follow any conscious overall plan. An asymmetry seem to have been deliberately incorporated into the setting-out and design of the complex.
  • All the buildings are rich in red sandstone, using traditional trabeate construction.
  • The pillars, lintels, brackets, tiles and posts were cut from local rocks and assembled without the use of mortar.
  • The buildings in Fathpur Sikri may be resolved into two categories:
    • religious and
    • secular character.
  • Religious buildings:
    • Jami Masjid;
    • Buland Darwaza and
    • Tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti.
  • Jami Masjid:
    • The most magnificent building at Fatehpur Sikri is the Jama Masjid with an interior courtyard of unusually large proportions.
    • It was one of the first buildings to come up in the Fatehpur Sikri complex in 1571-72.
    • It uses the typical plan of a mosque-
      • a central courtyard,
      • arcades on three sides and
      • domed skyline.
    • It was built in the manner of Indian mosques, with iwans (rectangular space, usually vaulted, walled on three sides, with one end entirely open) around a central courtyard.
    • A distinguishing feature is the row of chhatri over the sanctuary.
    • There are three mihrabs in each of the seven bays, while the large central mihrab is covered by a dome, decorated with white marble inlay, in geometric patterns.
    • The main-sanctuary had arched entrances, domes with pillared kiosks.
    • In the courtyard is the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti.
Jama Masjid, built by Akbar in Agra
JAMA MASJID PLAN: 1.Badshahi Darwaja 2. Buland darwaja, 3. Prayer room of Friday Mosque, 4. Tomb of Salim Chisti,5.lsam Khan Mausoleam
  • Buland Darwaza:
    • On one side of the Jami mosque is a massive gateway leading up to a flight of stairs.
      • This is the Buland Darwaza started by Akbar in 1573 to commemorate his victory at Gujarat.
    • This is 55 metre high, from the outside, gradually making a transition to a human scale in the inside.
    • Red and yellow sandstone with white marble inlay outlining the span of the arches.
    • It carries two inscriptions in the archway.
    • The central portico comprises three arched entrances, with the largest one, in the centre.
    • The gate is in the style of what is called a half-dome portal.
      • What was done was to slice a dome into half.
      • The sliced portion provided the massive outward façade of the gate, while smaller doors could be made in the rear wall where the dome and the floor meet.
      • This devise, borrowed from Iran, became a feature in Mughal buildings later.
    • 695px-Fatehput_Sikiri_Buland_Darwaza_gate_2010
                 Buland Darwaza (gateway to Jama Masjid), the 54 mt. high entrance to Fatehpur Sikri complex
      Buland Darwaza
  • Tomb of Salim Chishti (completed in 1581) stands in the courtyard of the Jami Masjid.
    • It is one of the finest specimens of marble work in India.
    • A white marble encased tomb of the Sufi saint, Salim Chisti (1478–1572), within the Jama Masjid’s courtyard.
    • The serpentine brackets supporting the eaves and the carved lattice screens are remarkable features of this structure.
    • The tomb is topped by a dome and thirty-six small domed chattris, and contains a number of graves, all male descendants of Shaikh Salim Chisti.
    • Tomb_of_Salim_Chisti-Sikri-Fatehpur_Sikri-India0013
      Tomb of Salim Chisti (white marble). Tomb of his grandson Islam Khan in red sandstone can be seen in side.
  • Secular buildings:
    • Buildings of secular nature are more varied and thus numerous.
    • These can be grouped under
      • palaces 
      • administrative buildings;
      • structures of miscellaneous
    • The religious buildings  are invariably built in the arcuate style while in secular buildings dominates the trabeate order (having straight horizontal beams or lintels rather than arches). 
  • Palace complex in Fathpur Sikri comprises a number of apartments and chambers.
    • The royal haram was on the side of the Emperor’s palace.
      • It has a guard-house, and a high wall to separate it from the public buildings.
      • Further, behind the palace was the Jama Masjid which also had an access from the city below on the plain.
    • Water from the lake below was lifted up to provide for running water and the fountains.
    • Jodha Bai palace:
      • One of the palaces within the haram complex is called the Jodha Bai Palace.
      • It is the largest of these buildings.
      • It is massive and austere in character.
      • This palace may have housed the Emperor’s Hindu wives.
      • This was a large palace with suites of rooms around a courtyard – a traditional design which continued in residential buildings till recent times.
      • The bases, columns, and capitals are borrowed from the traditional type of temple pillars.
      • It also has a chapel or puja room.
        Jodha Bai Palace
    • Panch Mahal:
      • A unique building of the palace complex.
      • It was meant to be a place where the women of the haram could take air.
      • five storeyed building with receding terraces, each with a flat roof supported by intricately carved pillars.
      • The size of the five storeys diminishes as one goes upwards.
      • the columns on which the five storeys have been raised are all dissimilar in design.
        Panch Mahal
  • Administrative buildings:
    • Entering the palace complex through a gate with three arches, called Naubat Khan (Also known as Naqqar Khana meaning a drum house, where musician used drums to announce the arrival of the Emperor):
      • With the royal karkhanas and the mint on the right, one reaches the vast courtyard called diwan-i-am.
      • Behind the diwan-i-am was building called the diwan-i-khas and by its side the treasury meant mainly for precious stones.
    • Diwan-i Khas:
      • Hall of Private Audience
      • The diwan-i-khas is a single hall which has a large pillar supporting a circular stone platform.
        • From this central platform, stone bridges radiate to each corner to connect with the hanging galleries.
        • Central pillar has a square base and an octagonal shaft, both carved with bands of geometric and floral designs.
        • The central pillar, with various patterned shafts and brackets supporting the central platform appears to be based on a wooden Gujarati derivative. Mythical animals can be seen on the friezes outside.
      • The plan of this building is rectangle with four chhatris on the roof.
      • Is in two stories from outside.
      • Inside, there is a magnificent carved column in the center.
      • It is here that Akbar had representatives of different religions discuss their faiths and gave private audience.
        Diwan-i-khas, The Hall of Private Audience.
    • Diwan-i Aam:
      • Hall of Public Audience where the ruler meets the general public.
      • It is a spacious rectangular courtyard surrounded by colonnades.
        Diwan-i-Aam, Hall of Public Audience, Fatehur Sikri
    • Ibadat Khana/ House of Worship:
      • It was a meeting house built in 1575 CE by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, where the foundations of a new Syncretistic faith, Din-e-Ilahi were laid by Akbar.
    • Anup Talao:
      • In front of the Emperor’s palace was the Anup Talao with a platform in the centre.
      • It was a pool with a central platform and four bridges leading up to it.
      • This was the place where Akbar sometimes held philosophical debates or organized musical parties.
      • It was to the double-storied palace to which some philosophers were drawn up on a cot from which they discoursed.
      • At a corner of the Anup Talao is small square building of red sand stone the walls of which are beautifully carved.
        • This is miscalled Turkish Sultana’s house (Hujra-i-Anup Talao) for no queen could have lived in such a public place.
          Hujra-i-Anup Talao or Turkish Sultana House, a pleasure pavilion attached to a pond. Above shown is carved design on the wall.
    • Khwab-gah (House of Dreams):
      • The courtyard behind the Diwan-i-Am led to the Emperor’s double storeyed palace or khwab-gah, Akbar’s residence, which was screened off from the public buildings by a wall which has been demolished.
  • Buildings of the miscellaneous character are scattered all over the cily complex:
    • 2 caravansarais.
    • Karkhana building.
    • Water-works: comprises a single deep baoli flanked by two chambers.


  • After Akbar, a secure Empire and enormous wealth in legacy permitted both Jahangir and Shah Jahan to pursue interest in the visual arts.

New Features

  • Marble took the place of red sandstone (so it is called age of marble) during period of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. This dictated significant stylistic changes:
  • The arch adopted a distinctive form with foliated curves, usually with nine cusps;
  • Marble arcades of engrailed arches became a common feature.
  • The dome developed a bulbous form with stifled neck. Double domes became very common.
  • Inlaid patterns in coloured stones became the dominant decorative form
  • In the buildings, from the latter half of the Jahangir’s reign, a new device of inlay decoration called pietra dura was adopted. In this method, semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, onyx, jasper, Topaz and cornelian were embedded in the marble in graceful foliations.


  • Jahangir was a much greater patron of the art of painting and he was not a notable builder.
    • His love of flowers and animals as reflected in the miniature painting of his period, made him a great lover of the art of laying out gardens rather than building huge monuments.
    • Jahangir also built Mughal gardens: the Shalimar Gardens and Nishat Bagh, in Kashmir, and their accompanying pavilions on the shore of Dal Lake in Kashmir.
  • Under Jahangir the Hindu features became lesser in the style; his great mosque at Lahore is in the Persian style, covered with enameled tiles.
  • At Agra, the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula, which was completed in 1628, was built entirely of white marble and covered in pietra dura mosaic.
  • He also built a monument to his pet deer, Hiran Minar in Sheikhupura, Pakistan and due to his great love for his wife, after his death she went on to build his mausoleum in Lahore.

Major Buildings

The tomb of Akbar:

  • Located at Sikandra, eight kilometers from the Agra on Delhi road.
  • It was designed by Akbar himself and begun in his own lifetime hut remained incomplete at the time of his death. Subsequently, it was completed by Jahangir with modifications in the original design.
  • It is a curious mix of the architectural schemes of both Akbar and Jahangir.
  • Tomb is located in the midst of an enclosed garden.
  • A square structure built up in three stories.
  • The gateway is ornamented with painted stucco-coloured stone and marble
  • Materials = Red sandstone + stucco-coloured stone + marble.
  • The decorative motifs include, besides the traditional floral designs, arabesques and calligraphy, gaja (the elephant) hamsa (the swan) padma (the lotus), swastika and chakra.
  • The architectural importance of Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra can be gauged from the fact that several mausoleums built subsequently reflect the influence of this structure to varying degree. e.g: The tomb of Jahangir at Shahadara near Lahore and of Nur Jahan’s father Mirza Ghiyas Beg at Agra(i.e tomb of Itimadud Daula).

The tomb of Itimadud Daula (1622-28):

  • With the consolidation of the empire, the Mughal architecture reached its climax.
    • Towards the end of Jahangir’s reign began the practice of putting up buildings entirely of marble and decorating the walls with floral designs made of semi-precious stones.
    • This method of decoration called Pietra dura was used in the small, but slender tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula built during Jahangir’s reign.
  • Built by Nur Jahan on the grave of her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg marks a change in architectural style from Akbar to Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
  • The transition from the robustness of Akbar’s buildings to a more sensuous architecture of the later period is evident in the conception of this structure.
  • The tomb is a square structure raised on a low platform.
  • There are four octagonal minarets, at each corner, with graceful cupolas.
    • Like his own tomb started by Akbar but finished by Jahangir, it had no dome, but only a small cloister on the flat roof decorated with varigated design of perforated screens.
  • The main tomb is built in white marble and is embellished with mosaics and pietra dura.
  • Four red sandstone gateways enclosing a square garden.
Entrance Gate From Exterior
Mausoleum of Itimad-ud-Daulah


Pietra dura on mausoleum wall
Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb in Agra, is decorated with arabesques and geometric patterns.
Domed top of minaret


  • Was one of the greatest patron of the building art.
    • Marble replaced red sandstone as the principal building material and the decorative art of inlaying achieved distinction with the introduction of semiprecious stones as inlay material, called pietra dura (prachin kari).
    • Introduced the bulbous domes and convoluted arches in his buildings.
  • In contrast to Jahangir, Shah Jahan was a prolific builder. His reign was marked by a extensive architectural works in his favourite building material, the marble.
  • Rather than building huge monuments like his predecessors, Shah Jahan built elegant monuments.
  • His predecessors built huge buildings to demonstrate their power.
  • The force and originality of their building style gave way to a delicate elegance and refinement of detail, illustrated in the palaces erected in his reign at Agra and Delhi.
    • Some examples include the Taj Mahal at Agra and the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan.
  • The Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) in the Agra Fort and the Jama Masjid at Delhi are imposing buildings, and their position and architecture have been carefully considered so as to produce a pleasing effect and feeling of spacious elegance and well-balanced proportion of parts.
  • Shah Jahan also built the Tomb of Jahangir and sections of the Lahore Fort that include the Moti Masjid, Sheesh Mahal, and Naulakha pavilion which are all enclosed in the fort.
  • He also built a mosque named after himself in Thatta called Shahjahan Mosque.
  • Shah jahan also built the Red fort in his new capital in shahjahanabad in Delhi.
    • Red fort made of red sandstone is famous for its special buildings-diwan-i-aam and diwan-i-khas.
  • Another mosque was built during his tenure in Lahore called Wazir Khan Mosque, by Shaikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari who was the court physician to the emperor.

Some of Shahjahan’s famous buildings:

The palace-forts, e.g, the Lal Qila (Red Fort) at Delhi:

  • The Red Fort, constructed by Shah Jahan, was built as the fortified palace of Shahjahanabad, capital of Shah Jahan, in 1648.
  • Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone
  • Is a regular rectangle.
  • There are two gate-ways — the Delhi and Lahore Gates.
  • Inside, there are several notable buildings: Diwan-i Aam, Diwan-i Khas and Rang Mahal.
  • All of these buildings have floral decorations on the walls, columns and piers.


  • Major structures of Red Fort:
    • Naubat Khana/ Nakkar Khana:
      • the drum house. Music was played at scheduled times daily.
    • Diwan-i-Aam/ Public Audience Hall:
      • It was also used for state functions.
      • The courtyard (mardana) behind it leads to the imperial apartments.
    • Rang Mahal:
      • It housed the emperor’s wives and mistresses.
      • It was brightly painted and decorated with a mosaic of mirrors.
    • Diwan-i-Khas:
      • Hall of Private Audience, constructed of white marble, inlaid with precious stones.
      • François Bernier described seeing the jewelled Peacock Throne here during the 17th century.
      • At either end of the hall, over the two outer arches, is an inscription by Persian poet Amir Khusrow: If heaven can be on the face of the earth,It is this, it is this, it is this”.
    • Moti Masjid:
      • A later addition, it was built in 1659 as a private mosque for Aurangzeb.
      • It is a small, three-domed mosque carved in white marble, with a three-arched screen leading down to the courtyard.
Moti Masjid
    • Hammam:
      • Imperial baths, consisting of three domed rooms floored with white marble.
    • Shahi Burj:
      • 3 storey octagonal tower.
      • The water feeding, the Nahr-i-Bihisht, is channelled up from the river with a hydraulic system through the tower and then carried by channels into various other buildings of the fort.
Shahi Burj
    • Lahori Gate:
      • The Lahori Gate is the main gate to the Red Fort, named for its orientation towards the city of Lahore.
    • Delhi Gate:
      • The Delhi Gate is the southern public gate, similar to the Lahori Gate.
    • Nahr-i-Behisht (Stream of Paradise):
      • The imperial apartments consist of a row of pavilions on a raised platform, overlooking the Yamuna.
      • The pavilions are connected by a canal, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht  running through the centre of each pavilion.
      • Water is drawn from the Yamuna via a tower, the Shahi Burj.
    • The Khas Mahal:
      • It was the emperor’s apartment. Connected to it is the Muthamman Burj, an octagonal tower where he appeared before the people waiting on the riverbank.
From left: Moti Masjid, the hammam, Divan-i-Khas, Khas Mahal and the ‘Rang Mahal
  • While the Red Fort is famous for the trellised scale of justice in the Rang Mahal, architecturally the most impressive is the flat roofed Diwan-i-Am where all the skills of the Hindu pillar maker have been used to provide clear vistas from the throne. The multi-foialiated arches give an effect of rippling water.
  • Thus, we find a unique combination of the arcuate (resembling an arch) and the trabeate forms in the buildings of Shah Jahan at the Red Fort.

Moti Masjid in Agra Fort:

  • Mosque building reached its climax under Shah Jahan, the two most noteworthy ones being
    • the Moti Masjid in the Agra fort, built like the Taj entirely in marble, and
    • the Jama Masjid at Delhi built in red sandstone. A lofty gate, tall slender minarets, and a series of domes are a feature of the Jama Masjid.
  • In Moti Masjid, Shah Jahan made experiment with an alternative scheme- an open arcaded prayer hall.
  • The designer has also dispensed with the minarets. In their place, chhatris have been used on all four comers of the prayer hall. (i.e no minaret but 4 chhatri.)
  • There are three bulbous domes.
  • Use of white marble.
  • blackmarble calligraphy.

Jami Masjid in Delhi:

  • An extended and larger version of the Jami Masjid at Fatejpur Sikri and thus becomes the largest building of its kind in India.
  • Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
    • Construction began in 1650 and was completed in 1656.
    • The foundation of the historic Jama Masjid was laid on a hillock in Shahjahanabad.
    • Building material used here is red sandstone + white marble
  • It is built on a raised platform surrounded by arcades.
  • The floor of the mosque is covered with white and black marble ornamented to imitate the Muslim prayer mat
  • There are two smaller gateways in the middle of the norther and southern wings.
  • Three bulbous domes in white marble.
  • The courtyard of the mosque can be reached from the east, north and south by three flights of steps, all built of red sandstone.
  • The mosque faces west.
    • Its three sides are covered with open arched colonnades, each having a lofty tower-like gateway in the center.
  • Two lofty minarets, 130 feet high, and containing 130 steps, longitudinally striped with white marble and red sandstone, flank the domes on either side.
  • Under the domes of the mosque, is a hall with seven arched entrances facing the west and the walls of the mosque are covered with marble.
  • There is a prayer hall, with eleven arched entrances, of which the centre arch is wide and lofty, and in the form of a massive gateway, with slim minarets in each corner, with the usual octagonal pavilion surmounting it.





Garden-tombs, e.g., the Taj Mahal.

  • Taj Mahal is the logical culmination of the development of imperial architecture in the country.
  • Construction work began in 1632, and most of it was completed by the year 1643.
    • Taj was said to be designed by an Italian, Geronimo Veroneo. Amongst others whose names are mentioned as architects is Ustad Isa Effendi and Ustad Ahmad from Lahore.
    • According to a manuscript which gives details about the construction of the Taj, Shah Jahan had appointed a council of experts to advice him, and designers submitted plans for the proposed tomb on paper.
    • Shah Jahah had his own ideas and made valuable suggestions. On this basis a number of models in wood were prepared.
    • It would, thus, appear that there was no single designer of the Taj. Like Mughal paintings, it was a collective effort. Thus, Amanaf Khan Shirazi, it is agreed, was the calligrapher, and Ismail Khan served as the dome builder.
  • The Taj Mahal, regarded as a jewel of the builder’s art, brought together in a pleasing manner all the architectural forms adopted by the Mughals earlier so as to make them their own.
    • These included:
      • putting the mausoleum in a formal garden with streams of running water and fountains,
      • erecting the main building on a lofty marble platform to impart solidity to the building and
      • a beautiful sky-line to the dome. 
  • The plan of the complex is rectangle with high enclosure wall and a lofty entrance gateway.
  • There was the half-dome portal at the entrance.
  • There are octagonal pavilions, six in all
  • To the west of this structure is a mosque with a replica on the east side retaining the effect of symmetry.
  • A beautiful bulbous dome topped with an inverted lotus finial and a metallic pinnacle.
    • Finial was originally made of gold but was replaced by a bronze one in late 19th century.
  • At the four corners of the platform rise four circular minarets capped with pillared cupolas.
    • four slender, minarets linking the platform to the main Building.
  • The decorative features:
    • In exterior: Calligraphy and inlay work.
    • In interior:  pietra dura .
    • Delicate marble screens and kiosks (chhatris) adding to the effect.
  • Main building material: Marble, Finest quality brought from Makrana quarries near Jodhpur.
  • The garden in front of the main structure is divided into four quadrants with two canals running across, forming the quadrants.
  • The cenotaph in the main hall was enclosed originally with a screen in golden
  • But it was later replaced by Aurangzeb with a inarble screen.


Following figures shows exterior decoration in Taj Mahal:

Minaret of TajMahal
Finial of the dome of the Taj Mahal
Main iwan and side pishtaqs of TajMahal
Plant Motif outside wall of TajMahal
Calligraphy of Persian poems
Calligraphy of Persian poems
The domes and vaults of the sandstone buildings are worked with tracery of incised painting to create elaborate geometric forms

Following figures shows interior decoration in Taj Mahal:

 Cenotaphs with Tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal at underground level
Jali screen surrounding the cenotaphs
Pietra Dura in TajMahal


  • His temperament reflected in buildings. Therefore, they are austere in both material and style.
  • In Aurangzeb’s reign, squared stone and marble was replaced by brick or rubble with stucco ornament. Srirangapatna and Lucknow have examples of later Indo-Muslim architecture.
  • Aurangzeb had none of his father’s passion for architecture. Under him, the generous encouragement given by his predecessors to the arts was almost withdrawn. Very few buildings are associated with his name. The major buildings include:
  • The mausoleum of his wife Rabia ud Dauran in Aurangabad:
    • An attempt at emulating the Taj Mahal, but serious miscalculation happened and went wrong.
    • Minarets are superfluous and are the only major deviation in copy from the original scheme of the Taj Mahal.
    • Bibi_ka_Maqbara
      Bibi ka Maqbara, Aurangabad, commissioned by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb
  • Badshahi Masjid in Lahore:
    • Constructed in 1674.
    • This mosque is adjacent to the Lahore Fort and is the last in the series of congregational mosques in red sandstone and is closely modeled on the one Shah Jahan built at Shahjahanabad.
    • Vast court.
    • Free standing prayer hall.
    • Minarets at each comer of the hall.
    • building material: Red sandstone + White marble.
      • The red sandstone of the walls contrasts with the white marble of the domes and the subtle intarsia decoration.
    • Atop the prayer hall, three bulbous domes in white marble rise beautifully.
    • Mosque_amjad_2006
      Badshahi Mosque in Lahore
  • Moti Masjid at Lal Qila, Delhi:
    • Marble used in its construction is of a very fine quality.
    • Similar to the Moti Masjid built by Shah Jahan in Agra fort.
    • The three bulbous domes cover the prayer hall.
  • He made additions to the Lahore Fort and also built one of the thirteen gates which was later named after him (Alamgir).
    • The Alamgiri Gate, built in 1673 A.D., is the main entrance to the Lahore Fort in present day Lahore.
    • It was constructed to face west towards the Badshahi Mosque.
  • Another construction of Mughal era is the Lalbagh Fort (also known as “Fort Aurangabad“), a Mughal palace fortress at the Buriganga River in the southwestern part of Dhaka, Bangladesh, whose construction started in 1678 during the reign of Aurangzeb.
Lalbagh Fort with tank
  • Many monuments from this period are associated with women from Aurangzeb’s imperial family.
    • The construction of the elegant Zinat al-Masjid in Daryaganij was overseen by Aurangzeb’s second daughter Zinat-al-Nisa.
    • The tomb of Aurangzeb’s sister Roshanara Begum and the garden surrounding it.
    • Bibi Ka Maqbara.
  • Although not many buildings were put up by Aurangzeb who was economy-minded, the Mughal architectural traditions based on a combination of Hindu and Turko-Iranian forms and decorative designs continued without a break into the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
    • Thus, Mughal traditions influenced the palaces and forts of many provincial and local kingdoms.
    • Even the Harmandir of the Sikhs, called the Golden Temple at Amritsar which was rebuilt several times during the period was built on the arch and dome principle and incorporated many features of the Mughal traditions of architecture. 
The Harimandir Sahib, commonly known as the Golden Temple
  • Golden Temple is the holiest Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India.
    • The city was founded in 1574 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das.
    • On 3 January 1588, Muslim Sufi saint Sai Hazrat Mian Mir laid the foundation stone of the Harmandir Sahib and in 1604 he completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the gurdwara.
    • There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, which symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions.The present-day gurdwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with the help of other Sikh Misls.
    • In the early nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the gurdwara with gold,
  • There was no attempt to establish some kind of a communal representation in the buildings between what were considered Hindu elements and those considered Islamic.
    • The rulers used whatever elements and devises they considered useful and aristic.
    • It was their fine aesthetic sense, and the skill of the Indian craftsmen which effected a conjunction which was both graceful and pleasing.

The Safdar Jang’s Tomb (post-Aurangzeb’s period):

  • It was a period of decline. In disturbed political scenario Later emperor hardly paid attention in buildng activities.
    • Emulation of Taj Mahal.
    • It is double storeyed and is covered by a large and almost spherical dome.
    • The minarets rise as turrets and are topped by domed kiosks.
    • The main building stands on an arcaded platform
    • Used red sandstone+ marble.


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