Indo-Islamic Architecture

INDO-ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE IVIndo-Islamic architecture is the architecture of the Indian subcontinent produced for Islamic patrons and purposes. Despite an earlier Muslim presence in India, its main history begins in 1193. Both the Delhi Sultans and the Mughal dynasty that succeeded them came from Central Asia via Afghanistan, and were used to a Central Asian style of Islamic architecture that largely derived from Iran. The types and forms of large buildings required by Muslim elites, with mosques and tombs much the most common, were very different from those previously built in India. The exteriors of both were very often topped by large domes, and made extensive use of arches. Both of these features were hardly used in native Indian styles. Types of building essentially consisted of a single large space under a high dome. Islamic buildings initially had to adapt the skills of a workforce trained in earlier Indian traditions to their own designs. Unlike most of the Islamic world, where brick tended to predominate, India had highly skilled builders very well used to producing stone masonry of extremely high quality. As well as the main style developed in Delhi and later Mughal centres, a variety of regional styles grew up, especially where there were local Muslim rulers. By the Mughal period, generally agreed to represent the peak of the style, this was especially the case in forts and palace architecture.


Indo-Islamic architecture has left influences on modern Indian architecture, and was the main influence on the so-called Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture introduced in the last century of the British Raj. Both religious and non religious buildings are influenced by Indo-Islamic architecture. The style includes influences from Indian, Islamic, Persian, Central Asian, Arabic and Ottoman Turkish architecture. The start of the Delhi Sultanate in 1206 under Qutb al-Din Aibak introduced a large Islamic state to India, using Central Asian styles. The important Qutb Complex in Delhi was begun under Muhammad of Ghor, by 1199, and continued under Qutb al-Din Aibak and later sultans. The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was the first structure. Beside it is the extremely tall Qutb Minar, a minaret or victory column, whose original four stages reach 73 meters (with a final stage added later). Its closest comparator is the 62-metre all-brick Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, of around 1190, a decade or so before the probable start of the Delhi tower. Another very early mosque, begun in the 1190s, is the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra in Ajmer, Rajasthan, built for the same Delhi rulers, again with corbelled arches and domes.


The Mughal Empire, an Islamic empire that lasted in India from 1526 to 1857 left a mark on Indian architecture that was a mix of Islamic, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Central Asian and native Indian architecture. A major aspect of Mughal Architecture is the symmetrical nature of buildings and courtyards. Akbar, who ruled in the 16th century, made major contributions to Mughal architecture. He systematically designed forts and towns in similar symmetrical styles that blended Indian styles with outside influences. The gate of a fort Akbar designed at Agra exhibits the Assyrian gryphon, Indian elephants, and birds. During the Mughal era design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were fused with and often produced playful forms of the Indian art.

Major Examples of Mughal Architecture includes

The Taj Mahal, Sikandara (Akbar’s Tomb) and Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort, Agra Fort, Masjid-i-Jahan Numa (Jama Mosque of Delhi), King’s Gate (Buland Darwaza) and Complex in Fatehpur Sikri and many more

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