Islamic Architecture

Islamic Architecture was imported into India with the establishment of the Slave Dynasty. Earliest Islamic monuments in India were often built over existing Jain, Buddha or Hindu monuments and by recycling the material of the existing structures. Adhai-Din-Ka Jhonpara at Ajmer and monuments at Chanderi are typical examples of this type of construction.

Mosques and tombs in India mostly represent Islamic Architecture. Mosques feature domed prayer halls at one end of an open a courtyard (sahn). The mihrab (arched niche) faces west, towards Mecca. The main form of adornment is surface decoration using geometry, arabesque and calligraphy. This is because hero worship is prohibited among the Muslim community. Jama Masjid at Delhi is a typical example of an Indian mosque.

Another type of Islamic building in India is the tomb or the mausoleum. These were evolved from the basic cube and hemisphere vocabulary of the early phase into a more elaborate form during the Mughal Period. The tomb chamber houses the commemorative plaque below, which is the grave. Well known examples for the Islamic Architecture are the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur, Agra Fort, Buland Darwaza, Humayun's Tomb, Qutab Minar and Safdarjang Tomb.

Secular structures include defensive forts, wells, palaces, stables and halls of audience.

Islamic architecture was later fostered by the rulers of the Sultanate of Delhi and it attained perfection in Taj Mahal, a contribution of the Mughals. Islamic architecture in India was at its zenith during the tenure of the Mughals. Vassal kingdoms of the Mughals encouraged the Mughal Architecture. Monuments at Pandua built by the Sultans of Bengal, structures at Jaunpur built by Sharqis, lace-like intricate carvings in mosques in Gujarat constructed during period of Gujarat Sultanate are typical examples of Islamic influence in India. Ancient Jain and Hindu motifs also found their way into the mosques in Gujarat.

Numerous kingdoms in the Deccan Region encouraged Islamic architecture. Awadh legacy in Faizabad and Lucknow; mosques, havelis and palaces in the erstwhile princely states of Dujana and Farrukhnagar in Haryana, Tonk in Rajasthan are other important centers in India exhibiting Islamic architecture.

Updated on 13th October, 2015


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