Architecture

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The Muslims brought with them strongly developed traditions of architecture expressing artistic genius of the Muslim rulers. Their architecture was arcuate that is, depending upon true arches and vaulted roofs and domes. On the other hand, the Hindu architecture was trabeate that is, a simple device of putting a beam over two pillars. Among the characteristic Islamic elements were also the minar, the pendentive and the squinch arches, honey-combing and half-domed portals. The decorative motifs consisted of arabesques, geometric patterns and conventionalized floral designs, interwoven with calligraphic writings of the Holy Quran or inscriptions. The Muslims also used stones of different colors or painting or gilding to beautify their buildings. There is also evidence that mural paintings were widely in use for decorating their palaces and mansions.

The early Muslim buildings in Sultanate era had dominant reflections of Hindu architecture. Qutbud-din-Aibak laid the foundations of the mosque of Quwwat-ul-Islam dedicated to the might of Islam and built Qutb Minar, regarded by ferguson “as the most perfect example of a tower known to exist anywhere. In Aibaak’s days Hindu masons were employed while Iltumish gave the extension of Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque a more distinctively Islamic look. He founded a college known as Nasiriyyah Madrassah and excavated the great Haud-i-Shamsi. Balban due to his preoccupations with the Mongols’ menace could not undertake any large scale building projects. Ala-ud-din Khalaji was zealously fond of architecture. He made excellent additions to Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, excavated a huge tank called Hauz-i-‘Alai extending over seventy acres and built the madrassah-i-Ala’I and constructed several buildings. The Jamat-Khanah mosque at the dargah of Nizam-ud-din Auliya is the earliest surviving example of a mosque in the subcontinent in perfect Muslim style. Ala-ud-din Khalji built the new city of Siri. The famous Ala’i Darwaza is one of the most treasured gems of Indian architecture. Likewise, the splendid tomb of Sheikh Rukn-i-Alam at Multan is also worth seeing. Many buildings erected during Firuz Tughluq’s kingdom are characterized by a severe and puritanical simplicity with Hindu influences reduced to the minimum. Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq built towards the east of the Qutb the new city of Tughluqabad by the side of which stands the Sultan’s own mausoleum. Feruz Shah was the greatest builder king of Delhi before Shahjahan. He found a new city named Feruzabad. He built palace fort known as Kotlah Firuz Shah inside the city. Lodhis also built quite a number of mosques and tombs. Timur’s invasions, however, caused a serious blow to the monuments of Delhi.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 03, 2005