Turkish Architecture in India

Turkish Architecture came to India with the establishment of Delhi Sultanate. Their arrival in India marked a new phase in the cultural development of the country. The interaction of the Turks with Indians, in the long run added to the enrichment of the culture.

In the beginning, the Turks converted temples and other existing buildings into mosques. The Turks, for the construction of their buildings, initially used the indigenous artisans. Later on, some master architects were brought to India from West Asia.

In their buildings, the Turks used the arch and the dome on a wide scale. The use of the arch and the dome had a number of advantages. The dome provided a pleasing skyline. The arch and dome needed strong cement and the Turks used fine quality light mortar in their buildings. Thus, new architectural forms and mortar of a superior kind became widespread in north India.

The style of decoration used by the Turks, had no human or animal figures, since their use was considered un-Islamic. The Turks used scrolls of flowers and verses of the Quran, which were intertwined in a very artistic manner. The combination of these decorative styles was called Arabesque. They also freely borrowed Hindu motifs such as the bell motif and the ‘swastika’. Red sandstone, yellow sandstone and marble were widely used in construction.

Turkish Architecture was at its zenith during the Tughlaq period. A striking feature of the Tughlaq architecture was the sloping walls. This gave the effect of strength and solidity to the building. The second feature of the Tughlaq architecture was the deliberate attempt to combine the principles of the arch, and the lintel and beam in their buildings. The Tughlaqs did not generally use the costly red sandstone, but cheaper and more easily available gray stone. Thus there was an outburst of building activity, marked by the growth of many styles of architecture in different parts of the country. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the style of architecture evolved in Delhi under the Tughlaqs was carried forward and modified in the various regional kingdoms throughout India.

Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid in the Qutab Minar Complex in Delhi is the best example of Turkish Architecture in India. Monuments in and around Lucknow shows traits of Turkish Architecture and it also influenced the Mughal Architecture.

Updated on 15th October, 2018


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