Friday, 26 February 2016



·         Monumental structures over graves of rulers and royalty was a popular feature of medieval India.
·         Some well known examples of such tombs are those of Ghyasuddin Tughlaq, Humayun, Adur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, Akbar, and Itmaduddaula.
·         The idea behind the tomb was eternal paradise as a reward for the true believer on the Day of Judgment. This leads to the paradisiacal imagery for tombs.
·         Beginning with the introduction of Quranic verses on the walls, the tomb was subsequently placed with paradisiacal elements such as garden or near a water body or both, as in the case of Taj Mahal.
·         They were not only intended to signify peace and happiness in the next world, but also to showcase the majesty, grandeur and might of the person buried there.

1.Taj Mahal

·         Taj Mahal was built in Agra by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum (a kind of large tomb) for his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal.
·         It was commissioned in the year of 1632 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
·         Taj Mahal was the apogee of the evolutionary architectural process in medieval India.
·         The Taj complex is entered through a monumental red sandstone gateway, the opening arch of which beautifully frames the mausoleum.
·         The tomb is laid out in a Chahar Bagh (garden), crisscrossed with paths and water courses, interspersed with pools and fountains.
·         The structure is placed on the northern extremity of the bagh instead of the middle to take the advantage of the river bank (Yamuna).
·         The straight path through the bagh reaches the plinth of the tomb.
·         At the corners of the terrace stand four tall minarets, one hundred and thirty two feet high.
·         The main body of the building is topped with a drum and a dome and four cupolas forming a beautiful skyline.
·         Towards the west of the white marble faced tomb lies a red sandstone mosque and a similar construction in the east to maintain balance.
·         The marbles for the building was quarried from the Makrana Mines, Rajasthan.
·         The inner arrangement of the mausoleum consists of a crypt below and a vaulted, octagonal tomb chamber, with a room at each angle, all connected by corridors.
·         Light to every part of the building is obtained by means of carved and perforated Jalis, set in the arched recesses of the interior.
·         Four types of embellishments have been used with great effect for the interior and exterior surfaces of the Taj Mahal.
·         These are stone carvings in high and low relief on the walls, the delicate carving of marble into jails and graceful volutes (spiral ornament on the pillars), and the creation of arabesque with pietra dura on walls and tombstones and geometric designs with tessellation.
·         The art of calligraphy is used with the inlay of jasper in white marble to unite Quranic verses.
·         Calligraphy provides a decorative element on the walls and a continuous connection with the almighty.

2. Gol Gumbad, Karnataka :

·         It is situated in the Bijapur district of Karnataka.
·         It is the mausoleum of Muhammed Adil Shah, the 7th sultan of the Adil Shahi Dynasty of Bijapur (1498-1686).
·         Built by the ruler himself, it is a striking edifice in spite of being unfinished.
·         The tomb is a complex building such as a gateway, a Naqqar Khana, a mosque and a sarai located within a large walled garden.
·         Gumbad is a square building topped with a circular drum over which rests a majestic dome, giving the building its nomenclature.
·         It is built of dark grey basalt and decorated plaster work.
·         The dome of Gol Gumbad is the largest in the world.
·         The building has an amazing acoustical system. Along with the drum of the dome, there is a whispering gallery where sounds get magnified and echoed many times over.
·         While its structural peculiarities of dome, arches, geometric proportions and load bearing techniques suggest Timurid and Persian styles, it is made of local material and is decorated with surface embellishments popular in Deccan.

Sarais :

·         Sarais were largely built on a simple square or a rectangular plan and were meant to provide temporary accommodation for Indian and foreign travelers, pilgrims, merchants, traders, etc.
·         They were public domains which thronged with people of varied cultural backgrounds.
·         This lead to cross cultural interaction, influence and syncretic tendencies in the cultural mores of the times and at the level of people.

Structures for common people :

·         One of the architectural features of medieval India was also a coming together of styles, techniques, and decorations in public and private spaces for non-royal sections of the society.
·         These include buildings for domestic usage, temples, mosques, Khanqahs and dargahs, commemorative gateways, pavilions in the buildings and gardens, bazaars, etc.

Jama Masjid:

·         Large mosques spanning huge spaces also dotted the landscapes of the Indian sub-continent in medieval times.
·         Congregational prayers were held here every Friday afternoon, which required the presence of minimum of forty Muslim male adults.
·         At the time of prayers, a khutba was read out in the name of the ruler and his laws for the realm were also read out.
·         In medieval times, a city had one Jama Masjid which, along with its immediate surroundings, became the focus of the lives of the people, both Muslim and Non-Muslim.
·         This happened because a lot of commercial and cultural exchanges were concentrated here besides religious and indirect political activity.
·         Generally, such a mosque was large with an open courtyard, surrounded on three sides by cloisters and the Qibla Liwan in the west.
·         It was here that the mihrab and mimbar for the Imam were located.
·         People faced the mihrab while offering prayers as it indicated the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca.

Additional Note: Architecture in Mandu, Madhya Pradesh = Provincial Style ;

·         The city of Mandu is located in Madhya Pradesh, at an elevation of over 2000 feet and overlooks the Malwa Plateau to the north and the Narmada valley to the south.
·         Mandu’s natural defence encouraged consistent habitation by Parmana Rajputs, Afghans, and Mughals.
·         As the capital city of the Ghauri Dynasty (1401-1561) founded by Hoshang Shah, it acquired a lot of fame.
·         Mandu was associated with the romance of Sultan Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupamati.
·         The Mughals resorted to it for pleasure during the monsoon season.

Art and Architectures of Mandu :

·         Mandu is a typical representation of the medieval provincial style of art and architecture.
·         It was a complex mix of official and residential-cum-pleasure palace, pavilions, light and airy, so that these buildings did not retain heat.
·         Local stone and marble were used to great advantage.
·         The royal enclave located in the city comprised the most complete and romantic set of buildings, a cluster of palaces and attendant structures, official and residential, built around two artificial lakes.

Eg: 1.  The Hindola Mahal, Mandu :

·         It looks like a railway viaduct bridge with its disproportionately large buttresses supporting the walls.
·         This was the audience hall of the Sultan and the place where he showed himself to his subjects.
·         Batter was used very effectively to give an impression of swinging (Hindola) walls.

Eg: 2. Jahaaz Mahal, Mandu :

·         It is an elegant two storey Ship Palace’ between two reservoirs, with open pavilion, balconies overhanging the water and a terrace.
·         It was built by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Khilji and was possibly used as his harem and the ultimate pleasure and recreation resort.
·         It had a complex arrangement of watercourses and a terrace swimming pool.

Eg: 3.Rani Rupamati’s Pavilion, Mandu :

·         Rani Rupamati’s double pavilion perched on the southern embattlements afforded a beautiful view of the Narmada valley.
·         Baz Bahadur’s Palace had a wide courtyard ringed with halls and terrace.

Eg: 4.Hoshang Shah’s Tomb, Mandu :

·         It is a majestic structure with a beautiful dome, marble jail work, porticos, courts, and towers.
·         It is regarded as an example of the robustness of Afghan structures, nut its lattice works, carved brackets and torans lend it a softer hue.

Eg: 5.Jama Masjid, Mandu :

·         It was built on a large scale to accommodate many worshippers for Friday prayers.
·         The building is faced with red sandstone.
·         The Mimbar (where Imam stands to deliver sermons) in the Quibla liwan (a long narrowed hall) is supported on carved brackets and the Mihrab has a lotus bud fringe.

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