BEGINNINGS OF INDO-ISLAMIC CULTURE
The coming of Islam to India brought in its wake a unique' mingling of cultural traditions, resulting in the growth of a composite culture. Evidence of this cultural contact is evident in the architecture, painting, literature, and music; it is also to be seen in the religious field.
ARCHITECTURE The period from 1206 to 1550 is generally referred to as the Pathan phase of Indo-Islamic architecture. The assimilation of different styles and elements to create a new one is well represented by the architecture of the Sultanate period. Many of the characteristics of Hindu architecture are obvious in the buildings of the Muslim rulers, for though designed by Muslim architects to suit the requirements of their religious ideas, Hindu craftsmen actually built them. The new features brought by the Turkish conquerors were: (i) the dome; (ii) lofty towers; (iii) the true arch unsupported by beam; and (iv) the vault. These showed advanced mathematical knowledge and engineering skill. They also brought with them an expert knowledge of the use of concrete and mortar, which had hitherto been little used in India. The sultans of Delhi were liberal patrons of architecture and they erected numerous splendid edifices.
The best examples of the architecture of the Ilbari Turk dynasty (the Slave dynasty) are the Quwwatul-Islam mosque built by Qutb-ud-din in Delhi during 1191-98 and the Qutb Minar (1206-36) near the mosque which was founded by Qutb-ud-din and completed by Iltutmish. The Qutb Minar is striking for its symmetry and ornament. The Arhai-Din ka Jhonpra at Ajmer, started by Qutb-ud-din, has a beautiful prayer hall, an exquisitely carved mihrab of white marble and a decorative arch screen. The first example of true or voussoired arch is said to be the tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban in Mehrauli.
In the Khalji period, the usage of voussoired arch and dome was established once and for all. The monuments show a rich decorative character. Famous examples are the tomb" of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia at Delhi, whose style of beam-on-brackets under the entrance arch of the central chamber came to be almost regularly employed in subsequent pre-Mughal buildings, and the Alai Darwaza built by Ala-ud-din Khalji in Delhi.
The Tughlaq buildings show stark simplicity and sobriety-probably indicating less financial resources as well as a puritanical taste. The buildings are characterised by sloping walls and a dark appearance. Typical of the TugWaq style is the thick and battered or sloping walls, squinch arches for supporting domes, multi-domed roofs and tapering minaret-like buttresses or supports at the external angles of buildings. The trabeate and arcuate are combined. Some notable TugWaq monuments are the fort at TugWaqabad, the tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din TugWaq which marked a new phase in Indo-Islamic architecture by serving as a model for later tombs, the fort of Adilabad, Firuz Shah's capital at Delhi, now known as Kotla Firuz Shahi, and a group of buildings at Hauz Khas in Delhi with Firuz Shah's tomb.
The Sayyid period was too short to allow construction of elaborate buildings. But the tombs of this period display some characteristics such as use of blue-enamelled tiles, the lotus-motif covering the dome and free use of guldastas. These features had much influence on the architectural style of the subsequent period.
The resources available to the Lodis were limited, and this is clearly indicated by the hard and bare tombs they erected. But some of their buildings show an elegance, with the use of enamelled tiles-a technique introduced from Persia. A certain amount of imagination and a bold diversity of design is also displayed in the Lodi architecture. Another characteristic was the use of double domes. One building of note is the Moth Ki Masjid, erected by the prime minister of Sikandar Lodi.
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