UPSC History Arts and Cultural Movements Architecture


Category : UPSC




             One of the first requirements of the new rulers was houses to live in, and places of worship. They at first converted temples and there existing buildings into mosques. Examples of this are the Quwwatul-Islam mosque near the Quatab Minar in Delhi and the building at Ajmer called Arhai Din ka Jhonpra. The only new construction in Delhi was a façade of three elaborately carved arches in front of the deity room (garbha griha) which was demolished. In their buildings, the Turks used the arch and the dome on a wide scale. Neither the arch nor the dome was a Turk- ish or Muslim invention. The Arabs borrowed them from Rome through the Byzantine empire, developed them and made them their own.


            The use of the arch and the dome had a number of advantages. The dome rose higher. Many experiments were made in putting a round dome on a square building and in raising the dome higher and higher. In this way, many lofty and impressive building were constructed. The arch and the dome dispensed with the need for a large number of pillars to support the roof and enabled the construction of large halls with a clear view. Such places of assembly were useful in mosques as well as in palaces. However, the arch and the dome needed a strong cement, otherwise the stones could not be held in place. 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, with the arrival of the Turks.


            The arch and the dome were known to the Indians earlier, but they were not used on a large scale. The Turkish rulers used both the dome and arch method as well as the slab and beam method as well as slab and beam method in their buildings. In the sphere of decoration, the Turks eschewed representation of human and animal figures in the buildings. Instead, they used geometrical and floral designs, combining them with panels of inscriptions containing verses from the Quran. Thus, the Arabic script itself became a work of a art. The combination of these decorative devices was called Arabesque. They also freely borrowed Hindu motifs such as the bell motif, the bel motif, swastika, lotus, etc.


            The most magnificent building constructed by the Turks in the thirteenth century was the Qutab Minar. This tapering tower, originally 71.4 metre high, build by Iltutmish, was dedicated to the Sufi saint, Qutab-ud Din Bakhtiyar Kaki, who was greatly venerated by all the people of Delhi. Although traditions of building towers are to be found both in India and West Asia, the Qutab Minar is unique in many ways.


            The Khaiji period saw a lot of building activity. Alauddin built his capital at Siri, a few kilometers away from the site around the Qutab. But he added an entrance door to the Qutab This door, which is called the Alai Darwaza, has arches of very pleasing roportions. It also contains a dome which, for the first time was built on correct scientific lines. Thus/ the art of building the arch and the dome on scientific lines had been mastered by the Indian craftsmen by this time. Chiyasuddin and Muhammad Tughlaq built the huge place-fortress complex called Tughlaqabad. By blocking the passage of   the Jamuna, a huge artificial lake was created around it. The tomb of Ghiyasuddin marks a new trend in architecture. To have a good skyline, the building was put upon a high platform. Its beauty was heightened by a marble dome.


            A striking feature of the Tughlaq architecture was the sloping, walls. This is called better and gives the effect of strength and solidity to the building. However, we do not find any batter in the buildings of Firoz Tughlaq. A 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. This is found in a marked manner in the buildings of Firoz Tughlaq. In the Hauz Khas, which was a pleasure resort and had a huge lake around it, al- ternate stories have arches, and the lintel and beam. The same is and had a huge lake round it, alternate stories have arches, the lintel and beam. The same is to be found in some buildings of Firuz Shah's new fort which is now called the Kotla. The Tughlaqs did not generally use the costly red sandstone in their buildings but the cheaper and more easily available greystone. Another device used by the Lodis was placing their buildings, especially tombs, on a high platform, thus giving the Building a feeling of size as well as a better skyline. Some of the tombs were placed in the midst of gardens. The Lodi Garden in Delhi is a fine example of this. Some of the tombs were of an octagonal shape. Many of these features were adopted by the Mughlas later on and then culmination is to be found in the Taj Mahal built by Shah Jahan.

You need to login to perform this action.
You will be redirected in 3 sec spinner