• The establishment of Mughal rule in India revitalized Indo-Islamic architecture. The prevalent architectural forms and techniques were amalgamated with those brought from Central Asia and Persia.
  • The foundation of a new style of architecture in India had already been laid in the thirteenth century with the introduction of the arcuate technique where spaces were covered with domes and entrances were made with the help of arches.
  • The Mughals carried this tradition and created a synthesis of the pre-Turkish technique, viz., trabeate with the arcuate. The final result of this blending (trabeate + arcuate) was the emergence of a distinct styleof their own.

A) Babur:

  • Had no time to devote to big architectural projects.
  • He laid out several gardens in India.
  • In Baburnarna, he claims credit for some pavilions. Unfortunately very few of his buildings survive today.

B) Humayun:

  • He also had very less time for such work.
  • The impact of a long contact with the Persian culture can be seen in the designing and execution of his mausoleum under the supervision of his wife Hamida Banu Begum.

C) Akbar:

  • Under him, the flowering of the Mughal architecture.
  • He encouraged a hybrid style, containing foreign as well as indigenous element.

D) Jahangir: was not a notable builder.

E) Shah Jahan:

  • Was one of the greatest patron of the building art.
  • Marble replaced red sandstone as the principal building material and the decorative art of inlaying achieved distinction with the introduction of semiprecious stones as inlay material, called pietra dura (prachin kari).

Introduced the bulbous domes and convoluted arches in his buildings.

F) Aurangzeb: His temperament reflected in buildings. Therefore, they are austere in both material and style.

Beginning of Mughal Architecture

The Mughal style of architecture took a concrete form during the reign of Akbar, yet the basic principles of Mughal architecture were provided by Babur and Humayun.

A) Buildings of Babur

  • Though had very less time, he took considerable interest in building secular works (e,g: gardens and pavilions). Very little of this work is extant today.
  • Standing structuresare only two mosques(built in 1526) at Panipat and Sambhal. But both these structures are common place, and possess no architectural merit.
  • Babur’s secular works mainly comprise the laying of gardens and pavilions.
    • Garden of Dholpur : Only the excavated ruins of this garden are visible.
    • Ram Bagh and Zahra Bagh at Agra : have undergone many alterations.
  • None of Babur’s pavilions are surviving today.

B) Buildings of Humayun

  • The surviving buildings have the same inconsequential character as that of Babur.
  • Two mosques from among several other buildings erected during the first phase of his reign survive. Both are devoid of any architectural marit.
    • One of these lies in ruinous condition at Agra.
    • The other is at Fatehabad (Hissar).
  • There is no notable building from Humayun 2nd term.
  • Humayun’s tomb: This building is a landmark in the development of the Mughal style of architecture. This structure was inspired by the Persian culture.
    • Constructed during Akbar reign(work began in 1564), under the patronage of his widow Hamida Bano Begum.
    • Architect: Mirak Mirza Ghiyas (a native of Persia). He brought many Persian craftsmen to Delhi to work on this structure. The tomb has thus become representative of an Indian rendition of a Persian concept.
    • Though it built during Akbar reign but because of peculiar features, it has been treated separately.
    • One of the earliest specimens of the garden enclosure (Garden tomb).
    • Is raised high on an arcaded sandstone platforrn.
    • The tomb is octagonal in plan and is crowed by a high dome. which is actually a double dome.
      • The method of making double dome was practised in Western Asia before it was imported into India.

Interregnum: The Sur Architecture

Surs embarked on profound architechural projects. Their buildings laid the ground work on which the Mughals built.

The architectural heritage produced under diverse conditions and in two separate localities of the Surs may be divided into two separate and distinct periods.

  • 1st phase:
    • Emerged at Sasaram (Bihar) under Sher Shah between 1530 and 1540.
    • Agroup of tombs was built illustrating the final fulfilment of the Lodi style, by which it has been inspired.
      • 3 belonging to the ruling family and 1 to Aliwal Khan who was the architect of these tombs.
    • Buildings reflect the ambition of Sher Shah to create monuments grander than anything round in Delhi.
    • The first project of this scheme was the construction of the tomb of Hasan Khan, Sher Shah’s father, in 1525.
    • The tomb of Sher Shah(Sasaram):
      • An architectural masterpiece and major representative of this group.
      • Considerably enlarged the normal proportions of the earlier building.
      • Set it in a beautiful tank approached by a causeway.
      • Increased the number of stories thus producing a beautiful pyramidal structure in five distinct stages.
      • Constructed using the finest Chunar sandstone.
      • Stands on a stepped square plinth.
      • The main building comprises an octagonal chamber surrounded by an arcade.
      • There are domed canopies in each corner of the platform.
  • 2nd phase: (from 1540 to 1545)
        • Several architectural innovations were adopted which got reflected in mature form in the consequent Mughal style.
        • This phase of development took place in Delhi.
        • Sher Shah built the Purana Qila intended to be the sixth city of Delhi. Today, only two isolated gateways survive.
  • The Qilsai Kuhna Masjid : Built about 1542 inside the Purana Qila citadel.
    • The facade of the prayer hall is divided into five arched bays, the central one larger than the others, each with an open archway recessed within it.
    • The facade is richly carved in black and white marble and red sandstone, and the central arch is flanked by narrow, fluted pilasters.
    • One notable feature in this building is the shape of the arches – there is a slight drop (i.e flatness) in the curve towards the crown. It is indicative of the last stage before the development of the four-centred “Tudor” arch of the Mughals.

Architecture under Akbar

  • Akbar’s reign can be taken as the formative period of Mughal architecture. It represents the finest example of the fusion of Indo-Islamic architecture.

A) Structural Form

  • The architecture of the reign of Akbar represents encouragement of the indigenous techniques and a selective use of the experiences of other countries.
  • The chief elements of the style of architecture that evolved under Akbar:
    • Used red sandstone as the building material.
    • A widespread use of the trabeated construction.
    • Arches used mainly in decorative form rather than in structural form.
    • Dome was of the ‘Lodi’ type, sometimes built hollow but never technically of the true double order.
    • the shafts of the pillars were multifaceted and the capitals of these pillars invariably took the form of bracket supports;
    • The decoration comprised of boldly carved or inlaid patterns complemented by brightly coloured patterns on the interiors.

B) Building Projects

Akbar’s building projects can be divided into two main groups, each representing a different phase.

  • The 1st Phase:
    • The first group comprised buildings of fort and a few palaces mainly at Agra, Allahabad and Lahore.
    • One of the earliest building projects was the construction of a fort at Agra.
      • Delhi Gate of the Agra fort and Jahangiri Mahal(inside the Agra Fort) are the only representative buildings of Akbar’s reign.
  • Delhi Gate of Agra Fort probably represents Akbar’s earliest architectural effort. It formed the principal entrance to the fort. The architecture of the gate shows an originality signifying the start of a new era in the building art of India.
  • Jahangiri Mahal: built by Akbar.
    • Use of red sandstone.
    • It is a fine specimen of the fusion of the Hindu and Islamic building designs.
    • Combination of beam and bracket used.
  • The same style is manifested in the other palace-fortresses at Lahore and Allahabad.
  • But the fort at Ajmer represents a different class. Since it spearheaded the advancing frontier of the Empire, the walls of the forts were thickly doubled.
  • The 2nd Phase:
    • The second phase of Akbar’s architectural scheme coincides with the conception and creation of a ceremonial capital for the Empire at Sikri, this new capital was named Fathpur.
    • The city was built in a very short span of time (1 571-1585) and does not follow any conscious overall plan. An asymmetry seem to have been deliberately incorporated into the setting-out and design of the complex.
    • All the buildings are rich in red sandstone, using traditional trabeate construction.
    • The pillars, lintels, brackets, tiles and posts were cut from local rocks and assembled without the use of mortar.
    • The buildings in Fathpur Sikri may be resolved into two categories: religious and secular character.
      • Religious buildings:  (a) Jami Masjid; (b) Buland Darwaza and(c) Tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti.
        • Jami Masjid uses the typical plan of a mosque- a central courtyard, arcades on three sides and domed skyline.
        • Buland Darwaza: Red and yellow sandstone with white marble inlay outlining the span of the arches.
          • built to commemorate Akbar’s conquest of Gujarat in 1573.
  • Tomb of Salim Chishti(completed in 1581) stands in the courtyard of the Jami Masjid.
    • It is an architectural masterpiece as it exhibits one of the finest specimens of marble work in india.
    • The serpentine brackets supporting the eaves and the carved lattice screens are remarkable features of this structure.
  • Buildings of secular nature are more varied and thus numerous.These can be grouped under (a) palaces (b) administrative buildings; and (c) structures of miscellaneous
    • Palace complex in Fathpur Sikri comprises a number of apartments and chambers.
      • Jodh Bai palace: is the largest of these buildings.It is massive and austere in character.
      • Panch Mahal: A unique building of the palace complex.
        • a five storeys structure,
        • The size of the five storeys diminishes as one goes upwards.
        • the columns on which the five storeys have been raised are all dissimilar in design.
  • Administrative buildings:
    • The most distinctive in this category is the Diwani Khas.
      • The plan of this building is rectangle
      • Is in two stories from outside.
      • Inside, there is a magnificent carved column in the center.
    • Another notable building in this category is Diwani Am:
      • It is a spacious rectangular courtyard surrounded by colonnades.
    • Buildings of the miscellaneous character are scattered all over the cily complex:
      • 2 caravansarais.
      • Karkhana building.
      • Water-works: comprises a single deep baoli flanked by two chambers.
    • The religious buildings are invariably built in the arcuate style while in secular buildings dominates the trabeate order.

Architecture under Jahangir and Shah Jahan

After Akbar, a secure Empire and enormous wealth in legacy permitted both Jahangir and Shah Jahan to pursue interest in the visual arts.

  1. A) New Features

Marble took the place of red sandstone (so it is called age of marble)during period of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. This dictated significant stylistic changes:

  • The arch adopted a distinctive form with foliated curves, usually with nine cusps;
  • Marble arcades of engrailed arches became a common feature.
  • The dome developed a bulbous form with stifled neck. Double domes became very common.
  • Inlaid patterns in coloured stones became the dominant decorative form
  • In the buildings, from the latter half of the Jahangir’s reign, a new device of inlay decoration called pietra dura was adopted. In this method, semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, onyx, jasper, Topaz and cornelian were embedded in the marble in graceful foliations.


B) Major Buildings

  • The tomb of Akbar:
    • Located at Sikandra, eight kilometers from the Agra on Delhi road.
    • It was designed by Akbar himself and begun in his own lifetime hut remained incomplete at the time of his death. Subsequently, it was completed by Jahangir with modifications in the original design.
    • It is a curious mix of the architectural schemes of both Akbar and Jahangir.
    • Tomb is located in the midst of an enclosed garden.
    • A square structure built up in three stories.
    • The gateway is ornamented with painted stucco-coloured stone and marble
    • Materials = Red sandstone + stucco-coloured stone + marble.
    • The decorative motifs include, besides the traditional floral designs, arabesques and calligraphy, gaja (the elephant) hamsa (the swan) padma (the lotus), swastika and chakra.
    • The architectural importance of Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra can be gauged from the fact that several mausoleums built subsequently reflect the influence of this structure to varying degree. e.g: The tomb of Jahangir at Shahadara near Lahore and of Nur Jahan’s father Mirza Ghiyas Beg at Agra(i.e tomb of Itimadud Daula).
  • The tomb of Itimadud Daula (1622-28):
    • Built by Nur Jahan on the grave of her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg marks a change in architectural style from Akbar to Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
    • The transition from the robustness of Akbar’s buildings to a more sensuous architecture of the later period is evident in the conception of this structure.
    • The tomb is a square structure raised on a low platform.
    • There are four octagonal minarets,at each comer, with domed roofs.
    • The main tomb is built in white marble and is embellished with mosaics and pietra dura.
    • Four red sandstone gateways enclosing a square garden.
  • Jahangir was a much greater patron of the art of painting. His love of flowers and animals as reflected in the miniature painting of his period, made him a great lover of the art of laying out gardens rather than building huge monuments. Some of the famous Mughal gardens of Kashmir such as the Shalimar Baghand the Nishat Bagh stand as testimony to Jahangir’s passion.


  • In contrast to Jahangir, Shah Jahan was a prolific builder. His reign was marked by a extensive architectural works in his favourite building material, the marble. Some of these were:
    • The palace-forts, e.g, the Lal Qila at Delhi.
      • Is a regular rectangle.
      • There are two gate-ways — the Delhi and Lahore Gates.
      • Inside, there are several notable buildings: Diwani Am, Diwani Khas and Rang Mahal.
      • All of these buildings have floral decorations on the walls, columns and piers.
    • The mosques, e.g. the Moti Masjid in the Agra Fort and the Jami Masjid at Delhi.
  • Moti Masjid:
    • Shah Jahan made experiment with an alternative scheme- an open arcaded prayer hall.
    • The designer has also dispensed with the minarets. In their place, chhatris have been used on all four comers of the prayer hall. (i.e no minaret but 4 chhatri.)
    • There are three bulbous domes.
    • Use of white marble.
    • blackmarble calligraphy.
  • Jami Masjid:
    • An extended and larger version of the Jami Masjid at Fatejpur Sikri and thus becomes the largest building of its kind in India.
    • It is built on a raised platform surrounded by arcades.
    • There are two smaller gateways in the middle of the norther and southern wings.
    • Three bulbous domes in white marble.
    • Building material used here is red sandstone + white marble
  • Garden-tombs, e.g., the Taj Mahal.
    • Construction work began in 1632, and most of it was completed by the year 1643.
    • The plan of the complex is rectangle with high enclosure wall and a lofty entrance gateway.
    • There are octagonal pavilions, six in all
    • Taj stands on a high marble platform.
    • To the west of this structure is a mosque with a replica on the east side retaining the effect of symmetry.
    • A beautiful bulbous dome topped with an inverted lotus finial and a metallic pinnacle.
      • Finial was originally made of gold but was replaced by a bronze one in late 19th century.
    • At the four coniers of the plaTfonn rise four circular minarets capped with pillared cupolas.
    • The decoralive features:
      • In exterior: Calligraphy and inlay work.
      • In interior:  pietra dura .
    • Main building material: Marble, Finest quality brought from Makrana quarries near Jodhpur.
    • The garden in front of the main structure is divided into four quadrants with two canals running across, forming the quadrants.
    • The cenotaph in the main hall was ei~closed originally with a screzn in golden
    • But it was later replaced by Auraigzeb witli a inarble screen.

The Final Phase

A) Buildings of Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb had none of his father’s passion for architecture. Under him, the generous encouragement given by his predecessors to the arts was almost withdrawn. Very few buildings are associated with his name. The major buildings include

  • The mausoleum of his wife Rabia ud Dauran in Aurangabad:
    • An attempt at emulating the Taj Mahal. but serious miscalculation happened and went wrong.
    • Minarets are superfluous and are the only major deviation in copy from the original scheme of the Taj Mahal.
  • Badshahi Masjid in Lahore:
    • Vast court.
    • Free standing prayer hall.
    • Minarets at each comer of the hall.
    • building material: Red sandstone + White marble.
    • Atop the prayer hall, three bulbous domes in white marble rise beautifully.
  • Moti Masjid at Lal Qila, Delhi:
    • Marble used in its construction is of a very fine quality.
    • Similar to the Moti Masjid built by Shah Jahan in Agra fort.
    • The three bulbous domes cover the prayer hall.
  • The Safdar Jang’s Tomb (post-Aurangzeb’s period) : It was a period of decline. In disturbed political scenario Later emperor hardly paid attention in buildng activities.
  • Emulation of Taj Mahal.
  • It is double storeyed and is covered by a large and almost spherical dome.
  • The minarets rise as turrets and are topped by domed kiosks.
  • The main building stands on an arcaded platform
  • Used red sandstone+ marble
error: Content is protected !!
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
    %d bloggers like this: