Mughal Architecture

With the advent of Islam, the erstwhile Indian architecture was slightly adapted to allow the traditions of the new religion, but it remained strongly Indian at its heart and character. Arches and domes began to be used and the mosque or masjid too began to form part of the landscape, adding to a new experience in form and space. The sahn or the open courtyard for congregational worship with the enclosing cloisters or liwans and the sanctuary at the Western end offered a different architectural vocabulary. The fundamental difference lay in the fact that Islam prohibited idol worship and therefore a concentrated point of focus such as the garba-griha was unnecessary. However, the mihrab on the Western wall of the sanctuary articulating the Qibla or the direction towards Mecca offered a notional focus. 

As idolatory was prohibited, the main means of adornment was surface decoration through the use of geometry, arabesque and calligraphy. Later, mosques began to be built with original material. The Jami masjid at Delhi is a representative example of an Indian mosque. Islamic architecture was also represented by distinct regional styles that drew a lot of inspiration from the local context.

The most popular Islamic building type in India is the tomb or the mausoleum which evolved from the basic cube and hemisphere vocabulary of the early phase into a more elaborate form during the Mughal period where multiple chambers are present and tombs were set in a garden known as the char-bagh. The tomb chamber houses the cenotaph below which is the grave. Well known examples are the Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur and the Taj Mahal, Agra.

December 31, 2019
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