Provincial architecture: Bengal and Jaunpur

Provincial architecture: Bengal and Jaunpur

  • The regional styles of architecture came into vogue usually after these states had thrown off the allegiance to Delhi.
  • They were distinct from the Indo-Islamic style practiced at Delhi and often displayed definitely original qualities.
  • In the areas which had a strong indigenous tradition of workmanship in masonry, regional styles of Islamic architecture produced the most elegant structures.
    • On the other hand where these traditions were not so pronounced, the buildings constructed for the regional states were less distinctive.
  • In some cases totally novel tendencies, independent of both the indigenous and the imperial Sultanae traditions are also visible.

Eastern India: Two major strands of architectural style emerged there- Bengal and Jaunpur (Sharqi)

Bengal Architecture

  • It developed at the beginning of the fourteenth century.
  • Freed from threat of military invasion from Delhi as a result of agreement with Firuz, and the subsequent weakness of the Delhi Sultanat, the Sultans of Bengal adorned their capitals, Gaur (old Lakhnauti) and Pandua 25 kms with magnificent buildings.
  • Most of the prominent buildings were located within the boundary of the Malda district.

Three phases:

  • The first two are considered preliminary stages and the third its ultimate development into a specific style.
  • First phase (1200-1340):
    • Gaur was the capital seat.
    • Data in the form of  existing buildings is scanty.
    • evident that the buildings raised during this period were wholesale conversions of the existing Hindu structures.
  • Second phase (1340- 1430):
    • Pandua was the capital.
    • Also deficient in data.
    • Adina Masjid at Pandua (built 1364):
      • Surpasses all other Islamic structures in Bengal in size.
      • Built by Sikandar Shah, the second sultan of the Ilyas dynasty.
      • It is the only hypostyle mosque in Bengal.
      • The stones used in the mosque were mostly those pillaged from temples and other buildings from Lakhnauti.
      • It introduces two new features (independent of Delhi and using local traditions) in the architectural style:
        • The “drop” arch (broad sloping arches), having span greater than its radii, and centres at the import level.
        • The method of raising the roof in a system of arched-bays where small domes supported by brick-pendentives in over-sailing courses were raised over each bay.
      • Pillars of a special type also indicate that a new style of architecture,
  • Third phase (1442 to 1576):  
    • Mughals captured the province. Later capital was shifted back to Gaur.
    • The most remarkable as it depicts the emergence of a semi-indigenous style in tune with the peculiar environment and local condition in Bengal.
    • The result was to translate the native bamboo structures into brick.
    • This special form of curved roof became a fixed convention.
    • An indigenous form of decoration, terracotta tiles, was adopted.
    • The buildings were mostly of brick and mortar, stone being used sparingly. The adoption of the lotus, swan etc., as decorative motifs showed the influence of Hindu traditions.
    • Dakhil Darwaza:
      • Mature style of architecture is to be seen in the Dakhil Darwaza (second half of 15th century).
      • Dakhil Darwaza, gateway built in 1425 in Gauda. Made of small red bricks and terracotta work.
    • Feroz Minar:
      • It has certain resemblance like that of the Qutub Minar in Delhi.
      • The Feroz Minar was built by Sultan Saifuddin Feroze Shah during 1485-89.
      • It is adjacent to the Dakhil Darwaza in Gour.
    • Entry gate to Gaur (Shahi Darwaza):
    • During Husain Shah’s reign a number of significant monuments were constructed. Wali Muhammad built Chota Sona Masjid in Gaur.
  • Nowhere in India did climate and local conditions as well as indigenous building styles affect the development of architecture as profoundly as in Bengal. Its merit lies in its dynamic ability to transform itself by adoption and adaptation.

Jaunpur (Sharqis)

  • The surviving architecture of Jaunpur consists exclusively of mosques.
  • All the surviving buildings produced under the Sharqis are located in the capital city Jaunpur.
  • Sharqi architecture of Jaunpur carries a distinct impact of the Tughluq style. prominent features :
    • The battering effect of its bastions and minarets
    • The use of arch-and-beam combination in the openings.
  • Design of the facade of the mosques:
    • Lofty propylons with sloping sides raised in the centre of the sanctuary screen.
    • The propylons consist of a huge recessed arch framed by tapering square minars.
    • E.g:
      • Atala Masjid:
      • Jami Masjid:
  • The propylon was the keynote of Jaunpur style and occurs in no other manifestation of lndo-Islamic architecture. (

Leave a Reply