Introduction

  • Art and architecture are true manifestations of the culture of a period as they reflect the mind and approach of that society. It is here that the ideas and techniques of a society find visual expression.
  • The most important source ‘for the study of architecture is the surviving remains of buildings themselves.
    • These enable us to grasp architectural techniques and styles peculiar to our period but doesn’t help in understanding other related aspects of architecture such as the role of the architects and the drawings and estimates and accounts of the buildings.

New Structural Forms

    • Arch and Dome:
      • The incidence of masonry building increases significantly after the 13th century. This was primarily possible due to the use of lime-mortar (new technique)as the basic cementing material.
        • the arch and the dome needed a strong cement, otherwise the stones could not be held in place. The Turks used fine quality lime mortar in their buildings.
      • 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.
      • Neither the arch nor the dome was a Turkish or Muslim invention. The Arabs borrowed them from Rome through the Byzantine empire, developed them and made them their own.
      • New technique of use of lime-mortar (as the basic cementing material) was introduced.
        • The building of true arch required stones or bricks to be laid as voussoir in the shape of a curve and bound together firmly by a good binding material. This binding material was lime-mortar. (Figure 1 shows the diagram of an arch)
      • The result of the introduction of the new technique was that the pre-Turkish forms; lintel and beam and corbelling, were replaced by true arches and vaults and the spired roofs (shikhad) by domes.
      • Arches are made in a variety of shapes, but in India the pointed form of the Islamic world was directly inherited. In second quarter of the 14th century,another variant of the pointed form, the four-centered arch, was introduced by the Tughluqs in their buildings.’lt remained in vogue till the end of the Sultanate.
        • The pointed arch was adopted in the Islamic world quite early due to its durability and ease of construction.
        • The usual method of raising a pointed arch was to erect a light centering and place one layer of bricks over it. This layer supported another thin layer of flat bricks over which radiating voussoirs of the arch were fixed in mortar. These two bottom layers of brick-work would, if needed, act as permanent shuttering for the arch (as shown in Figure 3).
        • The employment of bricks instead of an all-wood centering was a feature typical of regions deficient in reserves of wood such as West Asia and even India
      • But the construction of dome demanded especial techniques. The problem was to find a suitable method for converting the square or rectangular top of the walls of the room into a circular base for raising a spherical dome. two solutions:
        • Convert the square plan into a polygon by the use of squinches across the corners.
        • Later, in the fifteenth century, stalactite pendentives came to be used for the same purpose.
    • Building Material:
      • In early Turkish buildings in India newly quarried material was rarely employed by the architects.
        • The fashion was to use richly carved capitals, columns, shafts and lintels from pre,-Turkish buildings. (may be due to less resources). Towards the beginning of the 14th century when the supply of such matetial had exhausted, buildings were raised by using 1 originally quarried or manufactured material.
      • In the masonry work, stone has been used abundantly. The foundations are mostly of rough and small rubble or, wherever it is available, of river boulders, while the superstructure is of dressed stone or roughly shaped coarsed stonework. However, in either case, the buildings were plastered all over.
        • Khalji period a new method of stone masonry was used. This consisted of laying stones in two different courses, that is headers and stretchers. This system was retained in subsequent buildings and became a characteristic of the building technique of the Mughals.
      • The material commonly used for plastering buildings was gypsum. Apparently lime-plaster was reserved for places that needed to be secured against the leakage of water, such as roofs, indigo-vats, canals, drains, etc.
      • In the later period (around 15th century) when highly finished stucco work became common, gypsum mortar was preferred for plaster work on the walls and the ceiling.
    • Decoration:
      • Decorative art of islamic building served the purpose of concealing the structure behind motif rather than revealing it.
      • The depiction of living beings was not allowed (as per Quran), Mostly the elements of decoration were, in most cases, limited to:
        • Calligraphy : Quranic sayings are inscribed on buildings in an angular, sober and monumental script, known as kufi. They may be found in any part of the building-frames of the doors, ceilings, wall panels, niches etc., and in variety of materials- stone, stucco and painting.
        • Geometry: Geometric shapes in abrstract form are used in these buildings in a bewildering variety of combinations. The motifs indicate incorporation of visual principles : repetition, symmetry, and generation of continuous patterns. Dalu Jones: the generating source of these geometric designs is the circle, which could be developed into a square, a triangle or a polygon.
        • Foliation: the dominant form of decoration employed in Sultanate buildings, is the arabesque. It is characterised by a continuous stem which splits regularly,producing a series of leafy secondary stems which can in turn split again or reintegrate into the main stem. The repetition of this pattern produces a beautifully balanced design with a three dimensional effect.
      • They also freely borrowed Hindu motifs such as the bel motif, swastika, lotus, etc. The skill of the Indian stone-cutters was fully used for the purpose.
      • The Turks also added colour to their buildings by using red sandstone. Yellow sandstone or marble was used in these buildings for decoration and to show off the colour of the red sandstone.
      • These pan-Islamic decorative principle were used for all kinds of buildings in the Delhi Sultanate.

Stylistic Evolution

    • The purpose of the discussion here is to provide you with a general outline of the evolution of the Indo-Islamic architectural style under the Sultans of Delhi and to highlight the features that characterise its more prominent phases.
    • The Early Form:
      • The history of Indo-Islamic architecture proper commences with the occupation of Delhi by the Turks in AD. 1192.
      • Jami Masjid (Quwwatul Islam mosque) : Qila Rai Pithora was captured by Qutbuddin Aibak and he constructed mosque here, It was completed in 1198. It was built from The wreckage Of twenty seven Hindu and Jain temples demolished by the conquerors.
        • Mosque is near the QutbMinar in Qutab Minar Complex, Delhi.
        • The only new construction at Delhi was a facade of three elaborately carved arches in front of the deity room (garbhagriha) which was demolished.
      • The building at Ajmer called Arhai Din ka Jhonpara (preiouslya  monastery).
      • In these constructions, the hand of the local architect is quite evident.
        • The lintels, carved-columns and slabs, have been used liberally by only turning their carved sides inwards or using them upside down. The arches of the screen have been built by employing the method of corbelling. And the ornamentation of the screen, is emphatically Hindu in conception.
      • However, the borrowed elements of Hindu architecture were soon discarded and relatively little was retained by the maturing Indo-Islamic style.
      • In later buildings of this phase, such as Qutab Minar (built 1199-1235), Arhai Din Ka Jhoupra (built c.1200) and Iltutmish’s tomb (completed 1233-4), though corbelling could not be replaced as the principal structural technique, decoration became almost fully Islamic in detail. The dome was raised with the help of corbelled ourses supported on squinches built at the corners of the square chamber.
      • Qutub Minar:
        • Qutab Minar is among the most famous and the most magnificent building built by the Turks. It is a tower or minar adjacent to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
        • It was called the mazana or place from where the call for prayer (azan) was called. It was much later that this minar began to be called the QutbMinar, possibly because it was started by Qutbuddin Aibak, or because, where completed by Iltutmish, Quibuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, the famous sufi saint, was living at Delhi, and the minar began to be considered a token of his spiritual attainments.
        • Some of the stones used at the base of the minar appear to be those belonging to some of the destroyed temples of the area.
        • Originally, it was only four stories high, but the top of the minar was hit by lightening, and Firuz Tughlaq repaired it, and added a fifth storey.
        • The main beauty of the minar lies in the skilful manner in which balconies have been projected, yet linked with the tower by a devise called “stalactite honey-combing” (A framework of hexagonal cells resembling the honeycomb built by bees).
        • the use of red and white sandstones in the panels and in the top stages add further to the effect.
      • The growth of the building activities of the Turks after the consolidation of the Delhi sultanat under Iltutmish is shown by the wide range of buildings belonging to this period. Thus, the mosque and group of buildings at Badaun (U.P), the lofty gate at Nagaur, and at Hansi and Palwal in Haryana are an index of the determination of the Turks to build their own buildings.
        • Iltutmish’s own tomb, built near the end of his reign, is an indication of the mixing of the Hindu and Muslim traditions of architecture.
          • The tomb was a square building, but by putting pendantives and squinch arches (A small arch built across the interior angle of two walls) in the corners, it was made octagonal on which a dome was built. This devise was used in many square buildings later on.
          • Even more remarkable was the intricate carving on the walls, where calligraphy was combined with Indian floral motives.
      • The culmination of the architectural style designated by us as the Early Form was the mausoleum of Balban built around 1287-88.
        • It is in ruins now but occupies an important place in the development of Indo-Islamic architecture, as it is here that we notice the earliest true arch.
        • The second half of the 13th century saw the flocking into India of many scholars, including mathematicians and architects from West Asia, following the devastation caused there by the Mongols. Thus, we see the first true arch in the plain and simple tomb of Balban. That is to say, it was based on radiating voussoirs and a coping stone, not putting one stone over the other to cover the gap, and then put a stone or slab on top.

The Khaljis

  • The Khalji period saw a lot of building activity. Alauddin built his capital at Siri, a few kilometres away from the site around the Qutb. Alauddin planned a tower twice the height of the QutbMinar but did not live to complete it (Alai Minar).
      • However, he added an entrance door to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. This door, which is called the Alai Darwaza.
        • It was the first building in which the dome was built not on the principle of overlapping courses of masonary, gradully decreasing in size as they rose upwards, but on the basis of radiating voussoirs.
        • The horse-shoe arch used for the first time in the building, is pleasing in appearance.
      • In Alai Darwaza (built 1305) at the Qutub complex, and the JamatKhana Masjid (built 1325) at Nizamuddin, a marked change in style appears. In the evolution of Indo-Islamic architecture, this phase occupies a key position as it exhibits a distinct influence of the Seljuq architectural traditions as also certain salient features of composition which were adopted in the succeeding styles.
      • The decorative devices— merlons in the inside of the arch, use of lotus on the spandrel of the arch, and use of white marble in the trellis work and the marble decorative bands to set off the red sandstone give to the building an appearance of grace and strength which is considered a special feature of Indian architectural tradition.
      • The characteristic featuresof’this phase:
        • Employment of true arch, pointed horse-shoe in shape.
        • Emergence of true dome with recessed arches under the squinch.
        • Use of red sandstohe and decorative marble reliefs as new building materials
        • Appearance of ‘lotus-bud’ fringe on the underside of the arch – a Seljuq feature.
        • Emergence of new masonry-facing, consisting of a narrow course of headers -alternating with a much wider course of stretchers – again a Seljuq feature.
      • In addition, the decorative features characterised by calligraphy, geometry and arabesque now became much bolder and profuse.

The Tughluqs

      • There was great building activity in the Tughlaq period which marked the climax of the Delhi sultanat as well as the beginning of its decline.
      • A new architectural style came into vogue in the buildings of this period.
      • The architecture of this period can be divided into two main groups.
        • To the first group belong the construction of Ghiyasuddin and Muhammad Tughluq, and
        • the other to those of FerozTaghluq.
      • Ghiyasuddin and Muhammad Tughlaq built the huge palace-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 up on a high platform. Its beauty was heightened by a marble dome.
      • A striking feature of the Tughlaq architecture was the sloping walls, called “batter”, and gives the effect of strength and solidity to the building.
        • However, the batter is used sparingly in the buildings of Firuz 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 the buildings of Firuz Tughlaq in the Hauz Khas, which was a pleasure resort and had a huge lake around it, alternate stories have arches and the lintel and beam.
        • The same is to be found in some buildings of Firuz Shah’s new fort ,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.
        • In the buildings of Firuz, rubble is finished by a thick coat of lime plaster which was colour washed in white—a method used in buildings till recent times.
      • Since it was not easy to carve this type of stone or lime paster, the Tughlaq buildings have a minimum of decoration. But the decorative device found in all the buildings of Firuz is the lotus.
      • A devise used in the tomb of Firuz Tughlaq is a stone-railing in front which was Hindu design.
      • Many mosques were also built during this period, such as the Kalan mosque, in Nizamuddin the Khirki mosque in South Delhi (By Firuz Tughlaq). They were of undressed stone and lime plaster, and hence not very elegant. The pillars were thick and heavy.
      • Also, the Indian builder had not yet developed the confidence of raising the dome high enough. Hence, the buildings appear squat.
      • Tomb of FST in Hauz Khas:
      • Another architectural devise which was used for the first time in the tomb of Firuz’s wazir,Khan-i-Jahan Telangani, was the octagonal tomb.
        • Many features were added to it:
          • a verandah was built around it with long, sloping chajja or eaves as a protection against sun and rain.
          • At each corner of the roof, chhatris or kiosks were built. Both these features were ofGujarati or Rajasthani origin.
        • Both the arch and the lintel and beam are used in their buildings.
      • The general features of the Tughluq style of architecture are listed below:
        • Stone rubble is the principal building material and the walls are in most cases plastered.
        • The walls and bastens are invariably battered, the effect being most marked at the corners.
        • The experimental use of a new shape of arch- the four centered arch-necessitating its reinforcement with a supporting beam.
          • This arch-beam combination is a hall-mark of the Tughluq style.
          • The pointed horse-shoe arch of the preceding style was abandoned because of its narrow compass and therefore the inability to span wider spaces.
          • It was seen first in Giyasuddin Tughluq and was common in buildings of Firoz Shah Tughluq.
        • Emergence of a pointed dome with clearly visible neck in contrast with rather stifled dome of the preceding style.
        • Introduction of encaustic tiles as an element of decoration in the panels of the buildings.
        • In the tombs of this period, emerges an octagonal plan which came to be copied and perfected by the Mughals in the 16th-17th century.
      • An additional feature was the element of reduced ornament, confined mostly to inscribed borders and medallions in spandrels executed in plaster or stucco.

The Final phase

      • By the last days of sultanate a large number of tombs were built in and around Delhi so much so that over a period of time the area around Delhi looked like a sprawling qabristan (graveyard).
      • Yet some of these structures are important from architectural point of view and can be considered as heralding a distinct style.
      • The Lodiscontinued the Tughlaq tradition of using rubble or undressed stone and lime plaster in their buildings. But by this time, the Indian architects and masons had gained full confidence in the new forms. Hence, their domes rose higher in the sky.
        • A new devise which appeared in India for the first time was the double dome. Tried experimentally at first, it appears in a developed form in the tomb of Sikandar Lodi. It became necessary as the dome rose higher and higher. By putting an inner cover inside the dome, the height remained proportionate to the room inside. This devise was later on used in all buildings.
        • other 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. Many of these features were adopted by the Mughals later on, and their culmination is to be found in the Taj Mahal built by ShahJahan.
      • The more important of these tomb-buildings took two separate forms, the distinguishing features of which are given below:
        • Mausoleums designed on an octagonal plan incorporating the following elements:
          • main tomb-chamber surrounded by an arched verandah.
          • one storey high.
          • verandah with projecting eaves supported on brackets.
        • The other type was built on square plan. These were characterised by the following elements:
          • absence of verandah around the main tombchamber.
          • exterior comprised of two, and sometimes three storeys.
          • absence of eaves and supporting brackets
      • There is an original treatment of coloured tile decoration in these buildings. It is set sparingly in friezes. In addition, there are intricately incised surfaces of plaster.
    • The end of the Delhi Sultanate in 1526, also signaled an end of the Sultanate style of architecture, which had begun showing signs of stagnation in the 15th century.
    • By the time of the break-up of the Delhi Sultanat, individual styles of architecture had also developed in the various kingdoms in different parts of India. Many of these, again, were powerfully influenced by the local traditions of architecture. This, as we have seen, happened in Bengal, Gujarat, Malwa, the Deccan, etc.
    • Thus, we not only see an outburst of architectural activity but a coming together of the Muslim and Hindu traditions and forms of architecture. In the various regional kingdoms which arose during the fifteenth century, attempts were made to combine the style of architecture which had developed at Delhi with regional architectural traditions.
  • From top left clockwise:(1)Bara Gumbad tomb and mosque, Lodhi Gardens, (2)The three domed mosque, adjacent to Bada Gumbad, Lodhi Gardens(3)Sheesh Gumbad, Lodhi Gardens(4)Sikander Lodi’s Tomb(5)Walled enclosure of the Sikander Lodi’s Tomb(6)Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, who was last of Saiyyid dynasty:
  • Public Buildings and Public Work:
    • Contrary to the popular opinion that the number of structures other than royal buildings(e.g: palacecitadels, tombs or mosques) was abysmal, we in fact notice that such structures far outnumber royal buildings.
    • The majority of these buildings comprised sarai, bridges, irrigation-tanks, wells and baoli, dams, kachehri (atlministrative buildings), prison- houses, kotwali (police-stations), dak-chauki (post-stations), hammam (public baths), and katra (market places), etc. They were available to the general public regardless of their religious affiliations.
    • Sarai is perhaps the most conspicuous of these public buildings.
      • It was introduced in India by the Turks in the 13th century. The earliest one is from Balban’s time.
      • Among late rulers both Muhammad Tughluq and Feroz Tughluq are known to have built a large number of sarais in Delhi as also along the major land-routes of the Sultanate.
      • The main features of these sarais;
        • Square or rectangular disposition, enclosed on all four sides by masonry walls, with entry through one of sometimes two gateways.
        • Series of rooms fronted by small vaulted spaces along all the four sides inside the enclosure. Warehouses in the corners of the enclosure.
        • Existence of a small mosque and one or more wells in the open courtyard within the enclosure.
    • Bridges:
      • Only small and medium sized rivers were provided with masonry bridges.
      • Major rivers such as the Ganga and the Yamuna were provided with bridges made of boats.
      • We have at least two masonry bridges made of boats.
      • At least two masonry bridges of this period surviving even today:
        • One is located at Chittorgarh over the Gambheri river.
        • The other was built over Sahibi, a tributary of Yamuna, at Wazirabad Delhi.
    • Weirs and step-wells:
      • For example, gandhakkibaoli built by Iltutmish at Mehrauli (Delhi) is one of the step-wells.

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