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Mughal Architecture


The process of synthesis was completed under the Mughals and the new architecture which had started taking shape with the establishment of the Sultanate reached the pinnacle of glory. Babar and Humayun the first two Mughal kings erected a number of buildings with the help of Persian architects and these now in ruins are not very impressive. Humayun had to flee the country in the face of the rising power of the Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri. There was a short Afghan rule before Humayun recovered the Indian territories for the Mughals. The most important buildings is the mausoleum of Sher Shah at Sasaram. It is well-proportioned building and stands in the middle of a tank.

The Mughal architecture began in the reign of Akbar. The first important building of Akbar's reign is Humayun's tomb at Delhi. In this magnificent tomb the Persian influence is very strong particularly in the construction of the dome. Indian builders used stone and marble. The two significant features of the Mughal architecture are the large gateways and the placement of the building in the midst of the large park. The tomb provided many architectural ideas for the building of the Taj Mahal later. Akbar also built the forts of Agra and Lahore. He built his palace within the Agra fort. Many new buildings were constructed in the fort and old ones altered by his successors. For the first time living beings -elephants, lions, peacocks and other birds were sculptured in the brackets. The crowning achievement of the reign of Akbar was the building of his new capital at Fatehpur Sikri about 40 kms from Agra. The buildings at Fatehpur Sikri have been built in a variety of styles making it one of the most magnificent capitals in the world. It had a circumference of over 10 kms. The arch of the Buland Darwaza is about 41 meters high and is perhaps the most important gateway in the world. The tomb of Salim Chishti built in white marble is exquisite in its beauty. Another notable building is the Ibadat Khana or the House of Worship where learned people belonging to various religions gathered together and discussed questions of philosophy and theology in the presence of Emperor. Then there is the Panch Mahal a five storeyed building modelled on the Buddhist viharas.

During the reign of Jahangir the mausoleum of Akbar was constructed at Sikandara. This is a magnificent monument as after a long time minar became architecturally significant. It has beautiful arches and domes.

But the whole structure is inspired by the Buddhist viharas. Jahangir also extended the palace buildings in the Agra fort and built the beautiful tomb of Itmad-ud-daula the father of NurJahan. The tomb was built in marble and is notable for its beautiful coloured inlay work. NurJahan built a beautiful mausoleum for her husband at Shahdara near Lahore.
The greatest of the Mughal builders was Shah Jahan. His reign marks the highest development of Muhgal architecture. Some of the finest monuments of our country were built during his reign. Under him there was an exceedingly liberal use of marble, delicate decorative designs, variety of arches and beautiful minarets. The list of buildings built by ShahJahan is long with city of Shahjahanbad, Redfort, Jama Masjid, TajMahal and many others. The most magnificent of Shah Jahan's buildings is the Taj Mahal built in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It represents India's culture at its best and has been aptly described as the dream in marble. It is remarkably well conceived and all its parts the gateways, central dome, elegant minars, the delicate decoration, the inlay work in coloured marbles an precious stones, the lovely gardens surrounding it and the fountains in front have been perfectly executed. The only notable buildings of the reign of Aurangzeb the last of the Mughals are the Badshahi mosque at Lahore and the Moti Masjid at Delhi. The period after him is one of the general decline. The new style of architecture had a significant influence on the construction of Hindu temples and the secular buildings of the Rajputs during this period.