Thank you for visiting Historyland today. I am delighted to share with you this post about Mughal architecture by fellow blogger, Richard Marrison from the HistoryTen website.
Richard Marrison is from Budapest, Hungary. He has an MBA in Cultural Anthropology and loves history. His love and passion for history got him to indulge in creating content on history-related topics
The Mughals developed a style of Indo-Islamic architecture, the Mughal architecture, in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries as their empire expanded throughout the Indian subcontinent. The styles of earlier Muslim kingdoms in India evolved as a combination of Islamic, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Indian architecture.
This style of architecture has giant bulbous domes, thin minarets at corners, massive halls, large arched doorways, and exquisite ornamentation with a consistent pattern of construction and character. Some examples of the style may be encountered in modern Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.
After Babur’s victory at Panipat in 1526, the Mughal empire was created. Babur took a keen interest in buildings during his five-year reign. However, few have survived. His grandson Akbar constructed much, and the style flourished under his rule.
Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri Fort, and the Buland Darwaza were among his achievements. Jahangir, Akbar’s son, commissioned the Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir.
, Mughal architecture achieved its pinnacle during the rule of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal – one of the World’s Seven Wonders, the Jama Masjid, the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore – one of the greatest inventions of Indus Valley civilization, the Wazir Khan Mosque, and reconstructed the Lahore Fort. Aurangzeb, the last great Mughal architect, created the Badshahi Mosque, Bibi Ka Maqbara, Moti Masjid, and other structures.
Mughal inlay art is a notable aspect of Mughal architecture in India, and overlay art was a vibrant expression tool throughout the Mughal Empire’s golden period. The Monuments of Agra (India) depict the many stages of the evolution of Mughal Inlay art from the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries, as practiced by Akbar (r. 1556-1605), Jahangir (r. 1605-1627), and Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658).
One of the most beautiful and popular Mughal art developed indigenously in India is marble inlay, also known as ‘Pachchikari’ or ‘Parchinkari.’ It is thought to be of Italian origin.
However, some argue that it is actually of Indian origin. Combining Hindu, Persian, and Islamic themes, the Mughal architecture mainly features large bulbous onion domes, frequently flanked by four smaller domes. White marble and red sandstone are also frequently used.
Other attributes of Mughal architecture also comprise delicate ornamentation work, such as Pachin Kari ornamental work and jali-latticed screens. Monumental structures are enclosed on all four sides by gardens. Mosques also feature expansive courtyards. Likewise, inscriptions in Persian and Arabic calligraphy also include Quranic verses. Moreover, Mughal architecture also inspired later Indian architectural designs such as the British Raj’s Indo-Saracenic style, the Rajput style, and the Sikh style.
Here are some of the most celebrated Mughal Architectures of all time.
The Shalimar Gardens in Lahore
The Shalimar Gardens are a Mughal garden complex in Lahore, Pakistan. The gardens date from the Mughal Empire’s artistic and aesthetic zenith and are today one of Pakistan’s most famous tourist sites. Designed as a Persian paradise garden, the Shalimar Gardens depict an earthly ideal in which humans coexist in perfect equilibrium with all aspects of nature.
The gardens’ construction began in 1641, under the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan, and was completed in 1642. The Shalimar Gardens were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1981 because they represent Mughal garden design at its pinnacle.
Mughal Gardens were inspired by Timurid gardens created between the 14th and 16th centuries in Central Asia and Iran. A high brick wall elaborately ornamented with complex fretwork encloses the location, allowing for the development of a Charbagh paradise garden – a perfect illustration of earthly heaven.
The Shalimar Gardens are architecturally shaped in the form of a rectangle with a north-south axis, measuring 658 meters by 258 meters and covering an area of 16 hectares. Each terrace level is 4–5 m (13–15 ft) taller than the one before. The gardens’ highest terrace is Bagh-e-Farah Baksh, which translates as “Bestower of Pleasure.” The second and third embankments are the Bagh-e-Faiz Baksh, which translates as Bestower of Goodness.
Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi
The Humayun’s Tomb is the Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, India. Empress Bega Begum (also known as Haji Begum) commissioned the tomb in 1558, and it was created by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and his son, Sayyid Muhammad, Persian architects chosen by her.
It was the earliest garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It is located in Nizamuddin East, Delhi, India, near the Dina-Panah Citadel, also known as Purana Qila (Old Fort), which Humayun discovered in 1533. It was also the first skyscraper on a large scale to use red sandstone. The tomb was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 and has since undergone substantial repair work, which has now been completed.
The complex includes the main tomb of Emperor Humayun, which contains the graves of Empress Bega Begum, Hamida Begum, and Dara Shikoh, Humayun’s great-great-grandson and son of the later Emperor Shah Jahan, as well as the graves of numerous subsequent Mughals, including Emperor Jahandar Shah, Farrukhsiyar, Rafi Ul-Darjat, Rafi Ud-Daulat, Muhammad Kam.
It was a breakthrough in Mughal construction. It established a precedent for succeeding Mughal architecture with its accomplished Charbagh garden, typical of Persian gardens but had never been seen in India previously. It is viewed as a significant divergence from his father, the first Mughal Emperor, Babur’s humble monument in Kabul, known as Bagh-e Babur (Gardens of Babur) (Afghanistan).
The Lahore Fort is a fortress in the Pakistani city of Lahore. The stronghold is positioned at the northern extremity of Lahore’s walled city and covers an area of more than 20 hectares. It is home to 21 famous monuments, some of which date back to the reign of Emperor Akbar. The Lahore Fort is famous for being virtually entirely constructed in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire was at its apex of splendor and opulence.
Though the Lahore Fort site has been inhabited for millennia, the oldest trace of a fortified structure was an 11th-century mud-brick fort. The contemporary Lahore Fort was built in 1566 by Emperor Akbar, who gave the fort a syncretic architectural style with Islamic and Hindu influences.
Shah Jahan’s period additions are distinguished by sumptuous marble with inlaid Persian floral designs. At the same time, the fort’s grand and famous Alamgiri Gate was built by Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughal Emperors, and confronts the renowned Badshahi Mosque.
The Tomb of Jahangir in Lahore
The Tomb of Jahangir is a 17th-century tomb constructed for Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The mausoleum was built in 1637 in Shahdara Bagh, near Lahore, Pakistan, along the banks of the Ravi River.
The site is noteworthy for its interiors, which are highly painted with frescoes and marble, and its exterior is richly ornamented with pietra dura.
The mausoleum, along with the nearby Akbari Sarai and the Tomb of Asif Khan, is part of an ensemble that has been proposed for UNESCO World Heritage classification.
The tomb was built in the Mughal style, influenced by Persia’s Safavid-style architecture. The mausoleum is designed as a takhtgah, or a mausoleum built on a pedestal that acts as a Takht, or “throne.” Except there is no takhtgah on the podium, and it does not appear to have ever been erected.
Jahangir’s mausoleum, like Akbar’s, lacks a central dome because the Emperor is said to have expressly forbidden the erection of a dome over his tomb. Domes were also initially utilized in Mughal funerary architecture at the Tomb of Humayun and were revived by Shah Jahan.
The Taj Mahal
And finally, perhaps the most famous example of the most exemplary Mughal architecture in the world, the Taj Mahal (translated as the ‘Crown of the Palace’), is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the right bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, India.
It was built in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628–1658) to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses Shah Jahan’s tomb.
The tomb is the focal point of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex containing a mosque and a guest house. It is placed in traditional gardens surrounded by a crenelated wall on three sides.
In 1983, UNESCO declared the Taj Mahal a World Heritage Site for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the globally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”
Many consider it an outstanding example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich past.
The Taj Mahal receives about 6 million tourists every year, and it was named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative’s winners in 2007.
The Taj Mahal includes and develops on Indo-Islamic and older Mughal architectural design traditions. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings such as the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, the progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand), Humayun’s Tomb, which inspired the Charbagh gardens and hasht-behesht (architecture) plan of the site, and the Itmad-Ud-Tomb Daulah’s (also known as the Baby Taj).
Shah Jahan Earlier Mughal structures were mainly made of red sandstone, but Shah Jahan encouraged the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. Buildings built under his patronage attained unprecedented heights of refinement, as seen on the Taj Mahal.
Frequently Asked Questions
What was the most significant feature of Mughal architecture?
The inflated dome structure found in every building was the primary characteristic of Mughal architecture. The roof of the dome is hemispherical.
What distinguishes Mughal architecture?
The Mughal era saw a remarkable renaissance of Islamic architecture in northern India. Persian, Indian, and diverse regional styles were combined under the patronage of the Mughal emperors to extract works of remarkable quality and finesse.
With its ideal blend of Islamic, Turkish, Indian, and Persian components, Mughal architecture has created masterpieces that never cease to astound visitors.
During their 300-year reign in India, the Mughals built a lot of magnificent first mosques, tombs, and palaces, leaving their imprint on the country’s heritage splendor.
The sheer aesthetic brilliance and grandeur of these creations continue to elevate the country’s tourism. Millions of people visit India and Pakistan to see the grandeur and splendor of Mughal structures today.