Wednesday, 24 February 2016



 ·         In the 7th and 8th centuries CE, Islam spread towards Spain and India.
·         Islam came to India particularly with merchants, traders, holy men and conquerors over a passage of 600 years.
·         Although by the 8th century Muslims had begun to construct in Sindh, Gujarat, etc., it was only in the 13thcentury that large-scale building activity was begun by the Turkish state, established after the Turkish conquest of the North India.
·         Thus, in the field of architecture, a mix of many structural techniques, stylized shapes, and surface decorations came about through constant interventions of acceptance, rejections or modifications of architectural elements.

·         In the field of architecture, a mix of many structural techniques, stylized shapes, and surface decorations came about through constant interventions of acceptance, rejections or modifications of architectural elements.
·         These architectural entities or categories showcasing multiple styles are known as Indo-Saracenic or Indo-Islamic Architecture.
·         By the 12th century, India was already familiar with monumental construction in grandiose settings.
·         Certain techniques and embellishments were prevalent and popular, such as trabeation (the use of beam rather than arches or vaulting), brackets, and multiple pillars to support a flat roof or a small shallow dome.
·         The arches in early constructions were shaped in wood and stone, and were unable to bear the weight of the domes/top structures.
·         Such arches needed to be constructed with voussoirs (series of interlocking blocks) and fitted with keystones.
·         In spite of the obvious Saracenic, Persian and Turkish influences, Indo-Islamic structures were heavily influenced by prevailing sensibilities of Indian architectural and decorative forms.

Categories of Styles

The study of Indo-Islamic architecture is conventionally categorized as follows:
1.   The Imperial Style (Delhi sultanate)
2.   The Provincial styles (Mandu, Gujarat, Bengal and Jaunpur)
3.   The Mughal Style (Delhi, Agra and Lahore)
4.   The Deccani style (Bijapur and Golconda)
·         Amongst provincial styles, the architecture of Bengal and Jaunpur is regarded as distinct.

·         Gujarat was said to have a markedly regional character for patrons borrowed elements from the regional temple traditions such as torans, lintels in mihrabs, carving of bell and chain motifs, and carved panels depicting trees, for tombs, mosques and dargahs.
·         The 15th century white marble dargah of Sheikh Ahmad Khattu of Sarkhej is a good example of provincial style and it heavily influenced the forms and decoration of Mughal tombs.

Decorative Forms :

·         These forms include designing on plasters through incisions or stucco.

·         The designs were either left plain or covered with colours.
·         Motifs were also painted on or carved in stones.
·         These motifs include varieties of flowers, both from sub-continent and places outside, particularly Iran.
·         The lotus bridge fringe was used to great advantage in the inner curves of the arches.
·         The walls were also decorated with Cypress, Chinar, and other trees as also with flower vases.
·         In the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, tiles were also used to surface the walls and the domes.
·         Popular colours were blue, turquoise, green and yellow.
·         Subsequently the techniques of tessellation (mosaic designs) and pietra dura (cut and fit technique) were made use of for surface decoration, particularly in the dodo panels of the walls.

·         At times, Lapis Lazuli (a kind of blue stone) was used on the interior walls or on canopies.

·         Arabesque (surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage, tendrils), calligraphy, Jalis (perforated stone or latticed screen), etc. were other decorative works.

Constructing Materials :

·         The walls in all buildings were extremely thick and were largely constructed of rubble masonry, which were easily available.
·         These walls were then cased over with chunam or limestone plaster or dressed stone.
·         An amazing ranges of stones were utilized for construction such as quartzite, sandstone, buffs, marbles, etc.
·         Polychrome tiles were used to great advantage to finish the walls.
·         From the 17th century onwards, bricks were also used for construction and in this phase there was more reliance on local materials.


·         Building monumental forts with embattlement was a regular feature in medieval times, often symbolizing the seat of power of a king.
·         When such a fort was captured by an attacking army, the vanquished ruler either lost his complete power or his sovereignty. This was because he had to accept the suzerainty of the victorious king.
·         Another feature was concentric circles of outer walls as in Golconda that the enemy had to breach these at all stages before getting in.
·         Some of the famous forts are the Fort of Chittor (Rajasthan), Gwalior (MP), Daulatabad-earlier Devgiri (Maharashtra), and Golconda (Hyderabad).
·         The Chittorgarh fort is the largest fort in Asia and was occupied for the longest length of time as the seat of power.


·         Another form of sthamba or tower was the minar, a common feature in the sub-continent.
·         The most striking minars of medieval times are the Qutub Minar in Delhi and Chand Minar at Daulatabad.
·         The everyday use of the minar was for the azaan or call to prayer.
·         Its phenomenal height, however, symbolized the might and power of the ruler.

Eg: 1.Qutub Minar

·         It was built in the 13th century and the Qutub complex in which the minar is present is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
·         The construction of the bottom storey of the minar was started by Qutub-ud-din Aibak (Delhi Sultanate) and his successor Iltumish completed it by adding three more storeys.
·         However Firoz Shah Tughlaq replaced the top storey which was damaged in a lightning and also added one more storey.
·         Hence now it has five storeys and a height of nearly 234 feet (about 73 m) making it the second tallest minar in India (first is Fateh Burj, Punjab).
·         The Qutub Minar also came to be associated with the much revered saint of Delhi, Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki.
·         The minar is a mixture of polygonal and circular shapes.
·         It is largely built on red and buff stone with some use of marble in the upper storeys.

2. Chand minar :

·         It was built in the 15th century by Ala-ud-din Bahmani.
·         It is a 210 feet high (about 30 m) tapering tower divided into four storeys.
·         It is painted in peach now.
·         Its fa├žade once boasted of chevron patterning on the encaustic tile work and bold band of Quranic verses.

·         Although it looked like an Iranian monument, it was the combined handiwork of local architects with those from Delhi and Iran.

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