Indo-Islamic architecture refers to the Islamic architecture of the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the region of the present-day states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. (1) Although Islam had already gained a foothold on the west coast and far northwest of the subcontinent by the early Middle Ages, the current phase of Indo-Islamic construction began with the subjugation of the Northern Gangster by the Ghurids at the end of the 12th century. (2)
As early as the 7th century, Islam made contact with the Indian subcontinent through trade contacts between Arabia and the Indian west coast, but initially remained limited to the Malabar coast in the extreme southwest. In the early 8th century, an Islamic army led by the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sindh (now Pakistan). For centuries, the Indus formed the eastern frontier of the Islamic sphere of influence. Finally, at the turn of the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, the entire Gangese plain came under the control of the Persian Ghurid dynasty in Bengal. This marked the beginning of the true Islamic era in India. (3)
The Sultanate of Delhi was built in 1206, and was the most important Islamic state on Indian soil until the 16th century. The sultanate sometimes extended as far as the Indian highlands of Deccan, where, from the 14th century onwards, independent Islamic states emerged. Other Islamic empires emerged in the 14th and 15th centuries in the peripheral regions of the weakening Delhi Sultanate; the most important were Bengal in eastern India, Malwa in central India and Gujarat and Sindh in the west. (4)
In 1526, the Babur ruler of modern Uzbekistan established the Mughal Empire in northern India, gradually subjugating all the other Muslim subcontinental states, until the 18th century as the hegemonic power destined for India’s destiny, then in numerous de facto independent states. The last Islamic dynasties were defeated in the 19th century by the rise of British colonial power. They moved to British India or existed as partially sovereign princely states until the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947.
Persian origin and Indian influence
Indo-Islamic architecture has its origins in the religious architecture of Muslim Persia, which brought many stylistic and structural innovations with it, but from the outset shows Indian influence in the treatment of stone and building technology. In the early modern period, Persian and Hindu elements finally merged into an autonomous architectural unit that was clearly distinguishable from the styles of extra-Indian Islam. (5)
With the decline of the Muslim empires and the rise of undisputed British supremacy on the subcontinent in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the development of Indo-Islamic architecture came to a halt. Individual architectural elements found their way into the eclectic colonial style of British India, sometimes also into the modern Islamic architecture of the South Asian states.
The main styles in northern India are the Delhi Sultanate styles of the late 12th century, influenced by the reigning dynasty, and the style of the Mughal Empire from the mid-16th century. At the same time, various regional styles developed in smaller Islamic empires, in particular Deccan, which had gained independence from one of the two northern Indian empires by the 14th century. The concept common to all styles is largely based on Persian and Central Asian models and indefinitely, depending on the period and region, on building decoration and technology. (6)
On the awe-inspiring fusion of subtleness and elegance between Islamic and Indian arts, ARCH 20 writes: (7)
‘’Islamic architecture in India was created throughout the Middle Ages when various architectural styles as Persian and Central Asian, were combined under the power and influence of Muslim kingdoms. This period’s development of Muslim architectural style, known as Indo-Islamic architecture or Indian architecture, was influenced by Islamic art.
The Mughal Empire, which ruled India for over three centuries, was responsible for introducing Islamic architecture to India. The Indo-Islamic architectural style was neither entirely Islamic nor Hindu; it was instead a fusion of Indian and Islamic architectural components. It was characterized by simplicity and firmness in their structures, extensively using patterns and handwriting in designing their layouts.
One of the most famous Islamic architectural features used in this blend between the two cultures was qibla, mihrab, minbar, courtyards, minarets, arches, domes, and arabesque patterns.’’
The Indo-Islamic architecture was marked by several interesting styles that are as follows:
The Imperial Style
Sultanate of Delhi
Until the 12th century, Islamic architecture as an offshoot of Middle Eastern Persian architecture remained a marginal phenomenon on the Indian subcontinent. It was not until the Ghurids conquered the Gangetic plain of North India from 1192 onwards that the true era of Indo-Islamic architecture began. According to the feudal structure of the Delhi Sultanate, which emerged from the Ghurid Empire, architectural styles were closely linked to the reigning dynasty.
At the beginning of the Sultanate, the Slave dynasty (1206-1290) and the Khilji dynasty (1290-1320) prevailed. Under the Tughluq dynasty (1320-1413), the Sultanate experienced its greatest expansion, but was considerably weakened in 1398 by a Mongol invasion. At the end of the period reigned the Sayyid dynasty (1414-1451) and the Lodi dynasty (1451-1526). After the removal of the sultanate by the Mughals in 1526, the Surids were able to temporarily restore the empire between 1540 and 1555. (8)
Architecture of the Sultanate of Delhi
The best-preserved example of a mosque from the infancy of Islam in South Asia is the ruined Banbhore mosque in Sindh, Pakistan, from the year 727, from which only the plan can be deduced.
The beginning of the Delhi Sultanate in 1206 under Qutb al-Din Aibak introduced a large Islamic state to India, using Central Asian styles. The important Qutb complex in Delhi was begun under Muhammad of Ghor, in 1199, and continued under Qutb al-Din Aibakand and later sultans. The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, now a ruin, was the first structure. Like other early Islamic buildings, it reused elements such as columns from destroyed Hindu and Jain temples, including one on the same site whose platform was reused. The style was Iranian, but the arches were still encircled in the traditional Indian manner. (9)
Next door is the very large Qutb Minar, a minaret or victory column, whose four original stages reach 73 meters (with a final stage added later). Its nearest comparator is the 62-metre brick minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, dating from around 1190, a decade before the Delhi tower’s probable debut. The surfaces of both are richly decorated with inscriptions and geometric motifs; in Delhi, the shaft is fluted with “superb cornices of stalactites under the balconies” at the top of each floor. The Iltutmish tomb was added in 1236; its dome, the trunks again corbelled, is now missing, and the intricate carving has been described as having an “angular hardness”, from sculptors working in an unfamiliar tradition. Other elements were added to the complex over the following two centuries. (10)
Another very early mosque, begun in the 1190s, is the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra in Ajmer, Rajasthan, built for the same Delhi rulers, again with corbelled arches and domes. Here Hindu temple columns (and perhaps a few new ones) are stacked in threes to achieve the extra height. Both mosques had large detached screens with pointed corbelled arches added in front of them, probably under Iltutmish a few decades later. In these the central arch is larger, in imitation of an iwan. In Ajmer, smaller screen arches are temporarily cusped, for the first time in India.
By 1300, real domes and arches with voussoirs were under construction; the ruined tomb of Balban (d. 1287) in Delhi may be the first survival. The Alai Darwaza janitor’s house in the Qutb complex, from 1311, still shows a cautious approach to new technology, with very thick walls and a shallow dome, visible only from a certain distance or height. Bold contrasting colors of masonry, red sandstone and white marble, introduce what was to become a common feature of Indo-Islamic architecture, replacing the polychrome tiles used in Persia and Central Asia. The pointed arches meet slightly at their bases, giving a gentle horseshoe arch effect, and their inner edges are not cusped but edged with conventional “spear point” projections, probably representing lotus buds. Jali, openwork stone screens, are shown here; they had long been used in temples.
Early Sultanate style under the Slave and Khilji dynasties
Under the sultans of the Slave dynasty (1206 to 1290), (11) spolia from destroyed Hindu and Jain temples were used to build mosques on a grand scale. Nevertheless, the Islamic conquerors left Hindu masters to carry out their building projects, as Indian masons were far more experienced in domestic stone than building materials than the architects of their homeland who were accustomed to constructing buildings. Although all figurative decoration on the spolia was removed and replaced by abstract motifs or verses from the Koran, the details of the mosques’ facade decoration, unknown in contemporary Near Eastern buildings, show an unmistakable Indian influence from the outset.
Like many early Indian mosques, the work on Quwwat al-Islam Mosque, began at the end of the 12th century in Delhi (North India), the main architectural work of the Slave dynasty, was built on a sacred Hindu or Jain site. In the oldest part, it has a rectangular courtyard, originally part of the enlarged temple district. Mandapa pillars were used for the colonnade surrounding the courtyard. On the other hand, the façade adjacent to the prayer hall to the west of the courtyard was built as a surrounding wall (maqsurah), whose pointed and keel arches are clearly modelled on Middle Eastern models, but still in Kragbauweise. The middle arch, which is higher and wider than the rest, acts as a portal. The Qutb Minar conical ascending minaret, which was also conceived as a sign of Islam’s victory over the “pagan” Indians, dates largely from the first half of the 13th century. Its circular layout loosens ribs in the form of the claws of a star or circle segment, a stylistic element familiar from ancient Persian tomb towers. The Quwwat al-Islam Mosque was extended in the 13th and 14th centuries, with the addition of two large rectangular courtyards and further curtain walls. (12)
On the subject of this mosque, Shashank Shekhar Sinha writes: (13)
‘’Located within the Qutb complex on Delhi’s southern fringe is one of the most complex and controversial monuments of its kind, the Quwwat ul-Islam mosque. While its immediate neighbour, the Qutb Minar boasts of its towering presence, the mosque is infamously seen as a reminder of a violent and communal past. There is a remarkable contrast in the relative public positionings of the minar and the mosque. While the former is celebrated as a historic and architectural icon, the latter is seen as a haunting evidence of destruction, trauma and fanaticism. Guides escorting the visitors around the mosque take them on a graphic tour of the Muslim conquest of Hindustan and destruction of Hindu kingdoms and Hindu temples. Part of the mosque’s negative imagery is related to the complex circumstances under which it was constructed while the other part is connected to its nomenclature—the Quwwat ul-Islam or ‘Might of Islam’ as the mosque is officially known. The most controversial part of this structure is the foundational inscription placed on the eastern gate which now forms the main public entrance. Attributed to Qutbuddin Aibek, it says that 27 Hindu and Jain temples were destroyed to build the congregational mosque.’’
Even outside Delhi, the early Indo-Islamic style of the Slave dynasty flourished. An outstanding example is the Adhai din ka Jhonpra mosque in Ajmer (Rajasthan, northwest India). Built around 1200 with the inclusion of a Jain Mandapa as a courtyard mosque with columnar temple pole entrances, it also received an arched maqsurah. Corridor-supporting squares span flat, lantern and ring ceilings. It was only in the second half of the 13th century, at the end of the Slave dynasty, that true arches with radially arranged stones prevailed.
Tughluq and provincial styles
Under the Tughluq dynasty (1321-1413), which was able to temporarily extend the Delhi Sultanate’s area of power to the south and east of India, all buildings adopted stricter, fortress-like features. Important mosques were built especially during the reign of Firuz Shah. The style of the Tughluq period is represented by the Begumpur Mosque in Delhi. With its rectangular arcaded courtyard, it is structurally associated with the typical Indo-Islamic courtyard mosque. On the west side of the Mecca opposite maqsurah, designed as an arcade, the central arch of a dominant and dominating portal (pishtaq) rises so high that the dome behind it remains invisible. The pishtaq arch has a deep revelation, creating a distant arched niche (Ivan or Liwan). (14)
The Khirki Mosque in Delhi, however, breaks with traditional courtyard mosque construction, as it is divided into four covered parts of the building, each with its own courtyard. Its citadel-like appearance is due to the massive corner towers, high substructure and largely bare stone walls, which were originally plastered. Decorative elements influenced by Hinduism almost entirely disappeared in Tughluq’s time. However, structural features such as narrow interior spaces, horizontal chutes, brackets and tiled ceiling structures reveal that Hindu craftsmen continued to participate in the construction work. (15)
While Delhi’s representative architecture came to a temporary standstill following the conquest and sacking of the city by the Mongol conqueror Timur in 1398, the mosque style of Jaunpur (Uttar Pradesh, North India), given by the Begumpur mosque, became a monumental sequel. The result in the early 15th century Atala Mosque and the largest, built around 1470 Friday Mosque (Jama Masjid) have a particularly high maqsurah at more than twice the pishtaq marked height with slightly flared walls. It completely obscures the dome behind. (16) Arches pierce the rear wall several stories from Ivan. Cantilevered brackets on the flat-roofed courtyard arches and plastic facade decorations suggest Hindu influences. (17)
Following the temporary resurgence of the Delhi Sultanate under the Lodi dynasty (1451-1526), mosque construction in the heart of the country was revived with a number of innovations. The previously flat domes were now augmented by Tambours and thus more accentuated. Archivolts were used to lighten the Maqsurah’s flat surface. (18) The change in the shape of the minaret, initially conical as in Tughluq’s time, then reduced to a cylinder, was also important for the further development of Indo-Islamic architecture. The Moth Ki Mosque in Delhi is one of the major works of Lodi Mosque construction. (19)
The Mughal style
The Mughals, (20) who ruled northern India from 1526, and later also central and parts of southern India, incorporated the Persian-influenced culture of their Central Asian homeland into mosque architecture. At the same time, they incorporated non-Islamic elements on an unprecedented scale. The first great mosque of the Mughal period is the Friday Mosque in the temporary capital Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh, North India), which was built between 1571 and 1574 under the particularly tolerant ruler Akbarwas. On the one hand, it illustrates the original type of mosque in the Mughal style and, on the other, the symbiosis of Indian, Persian and Central Asian building elements during the Mughal era. Although it is a courtyard mosque, unlike its predecessors, the Bethalle and its open courtyard are no longer an architectural unit. Instead, the qibla wall to the west extends beyond the rectangular floor plan. (21)
For Basith Malayamma promoted the development of Islamic architecture in India: (22)
‘’The Mughal Empire promoted development in many fields, including architecture and culture. As a result, created the Indo-Islamic-Persian style, combining the architectural styles of the early Muslim dynasties of India with Turkish and Persian architecture and Hindu-style architecture. Culture of India. Later it came to be known as Mughal architecture. Mughal in Arabic and Persian means Mongolian.
The Delhi Juma Masjid was built between 1650 and 1656 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Juma Masjid in Delhi is one of the most famous Indo-Islamic style mosques decorated with white marble and red sandstone.
The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s wonders, built by Emperor Shah Jahan on the banks of the Yamuna in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal, made of the white barbell, took about 22 years to complete. The Taj Mahal is an innovative style complex that combines Persian and Turkish architectural forms. He brought in sculptors, painters and artisans from all over the world to build the Taj Mahal. Researchers consider the Taj Mahal to be one of the greatest achievements and contributions of Islamic architecture in India. The Mughal Empire spearheaded the construction of complexes such as the Red Fort, Agra Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, and Fatehpur Sikri, which integrated Islamic and Persian cultures without abandoning India’s unique lineage.’’
The Bethalle itself is divided into three sections each covered by a dome, with the central dome overhanging the other two. Each dome features a lotus flower-shaped stucco top and a stucco top. A typical Timurid pishtaq with a particularly deep recess dominates the façade and conceals the central dome. Later Mughal mosques repeatedly attacked the three-domed building with its dominant pishtaq. The small, decorated pavilions (chhatris), characteristic of the entire Mughal style, were carried over as an innovation from the secular architecture of the Hindu Rajputs into Indo-Islamic architecture and date back to the umbrella crowning of Buddhist cult buildings of the classical period. In the Friday mosque at Fatehpur Sikri, they decorate the pishtaq and the arched Konsoldächer Hofarkaden. Two further Persian-style Torbauten (darwaza) were added later, providing access to the courtyard from the east and south. (23)
The final highlight of the Mughal Mosque is the Badshahi mosque completed in 1644 in Lahore (Punjab, Pakistan) dar. It has four minarets in the main building and four more in the corners of the courtyard, but closely follows the construction concept of the Delhi Mosque in Delhi. Thus, in the second half of the 17th century, under the reign of Aurangzeb, the decadence of clear lines in favor of expansive, frivolous forms began to escape. Already at Delhi’s completed Pearl Mosque of 1660, the domes appear bulbous and oversize the tops in comparison with the sensitive building. Nevertheless, the late Mughal Mosque style was maintained in the 19th century for want of new, innovative solutions. Examples include the late 18th-century Asafi Mosque in Lakhnau (Uttar Pradesh) with ornamental balustrade over the Bethalle and considerably enlarged dome crests and the 1878 started, but only completed in 1971 Taj Mosque-in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh, central India) with particularly high and massive minarets.
The mausoleum of the Mughal emperor Humayun in Delhi, completed in 1571 as the first monumental tomb and the first monumental building of the Mughal period, pioneered the style of Mughal tombs. (24) It consists of an octagonal, domed central space, the four faces in the pishtaqs directions with two chattris are upstream. The dome is the first on the Indian subcontinent with a double shell, i.e. two domed roofs were placed on top of each other, so that the inner ceiling does not match the curvature of the outer dome. Later, builders took advantage of this design to inflate the outer pseudo-dome more and more into an onion shape. Four identical octagonal corner buildings, each with a large chattri on the roof, fill the niches between the pishtaqs, so that the entire structure appears externally as a square building with beveled corners and recessed pishtaqs. The present mausoleum stands on a pedestal adjoining the ground, within whose outer walls numerous iwane were admitted.
Humayun’s tomb combines Persian elements inherited from the local building tradition, the latter clearly outweighing the fact that not only was the architect from Persia but, unlike many earlier construction projects, a large proportion of the craftsmen employed were foreign. As a result, Indian architraves, brackets and sculptural ornaments were completely rejected in favor of keel arches and flat facade decoration. The Persian preference for symmetrical forms is reflected in both the tomb and the walled and enclosed garden. The latter corresponds to the Char Bagh type with a square layout and four paths, which thus divide the garden into four smaller squares.
The tomb of Emperor Akbar, who was very fond of Indian architecture, at Sikandra (Uttar Pradesh), however, takes strong links in Hindu architecture. Built on a square plan, it rises like a pyramid in five recessed storeys. While the first floor, with a Persian facade and pishtaq on all four sides, uses the formal Islamic idiom, the upper floors are modeled after Hindu temple halls as open rooms, enriched by Islamic vaults. The usual domed roof, however, is missing.
Under Akbar’s successors in the 17th century, there was a return to Persian stylistic traits, but without abandoning the Indo-Islamic symbiosis. At the same time, white marble replaced red sandstone as the main building material, and forms generally took on softer lines. The transition from Mogul mausoleum to mausoleum is marked by the tomb of the minister Itimad-ud-Daula in Agra (Uttar Pradesh), built between 1622 and 1628. The small, fully-built marble structure has a square floor plan. Four minarets crowned with triptychs highlight the corner points, while the main building is completed not by a dome, but by a pavilion with a curved, domed roof in Bengali style. Precious inlays in pietra-dura technology adorn the façade.
The stylistic shift is finally made with the Taj Mahal, completed in 1648, in Agra, the mausoleum of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s principal wife, which surpasses all Mughal buildings before and since in terms of balance and magnificence. The Taj Mahal combines the features of various predecessors, but deliberately avoids their weak points. From Humayun’s tomb he took the arrangement of four corner buildings with roof pavilions around a domed central building with pishtaq on each of the four sides and the square plan with beveled corners. However, the corner buildings do not project beyond the plain of the pishtaq Facades. Moreover, the distance between the roof pavilions and the dome is less than at Humayun’s tomb, where the Taj Mahal achieves a more harmonious overall impression than the ancient mausoleum, whose effect suffers from the spatial separation of the corner buildings.
The drummed, double onion-shell dome of the Taj Mahal is very expansive and engages the earlier lotus-tipped mosque. The square base, with four tall, slender minarets at the corners, recalls the tomb of Jahangirin Lahore (Punjab, Pakistan), which consists of a simple square platform with corner towers. Like the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula, Pietra-dura marble and semi-precious stone inlays adorn the white marble walls of the Taj Mahal. Overall, the design of the facade with the two superimposed Iwane on either side of the large Iwane pishtaqs to an ancient tomb in Delhi that the Khan-i-Khanan (circa 1627), half-opened. Like many ancient mausoleums, the Taj Mahal surrounds an enclosed Char-Bagh Garden. (25)
The Deccan Style
Deccan rule and architecture
In the Deccan era, the Bahamians of the Delhi Sultanate dissolved around the middle of the 14th century and established their own empire. Internal conflicts led to the decline of central power and the emergence of the five Deccan sultanates in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The strongest of the five sultanates, Bijapur and Golkonda, maintained their independence until they were conquered by the Mughal Empire in 1686 and 1687 respectively. The early, strongly Persian architecture of the Shiite Deccan states is simple and appropriate. From the 16th century onwards, the growing influence of the local Hindu building tradition turned towards softer features and playful decoration, without supplanting the basic Persian character. (26)
The architecture of the Deccan sultanates of the 16th and 17th centuries has a strong Safavid (Persian) character, but was sometimes enriched by Hindu building techniques such as the lintel (instead of the Islamic arch) and the cantilever roof with chajja. The Shiite Deccan sultans left a Hindu-inspired design idiom in the rather sober decoration, in contrast to the Sunni people who ruled North India at the same time. The mature mosque style of the Deccan Sultanate is characterized by perfect domes and the repetition of the main dome in miniature as a tower, for example at the mosque in the mausoleum complex of Sultan Ibrahim II in Bijapur (Karnataka).
The buildings erected in the Deccan region of India belonged to several pre-Moghul kingdoms that ruled the Deccan from the mid-14th century onwards. The monuments bear witness to a culture where local and imported ideas, vernacular and pan-Islamic traditions merge and reinterpret, to create a majestic architectural heritage with exceptional buildings at the very edge of the Islamic world. Many are still standing, but outside this region of the Indian peninsula, they remain largely unknown.
The Deccan Islamic architecture thrived during the rule of: Gulbarga (1347-1422), Bidar (1422-1512), Golkonda (1512-1687), Bijapur (16th and 17th centuries), Khandesh (15th and 16th centuries). Unlike other Muslim rulers who made full use of indigenous art and architecture in their domains, the Deccan rulers largely ignored local art and produced their own independent style. (27)
The influences of this style came from two main sources:
Delhi style: Due to Muhammad Tughluq’s forced migration from Delhi to Daulatabad, many Tughluqian Delhi influences were brought south.
Persian style: Due to the migration of Persians to southern India by sea.
The Deccan style can be divided into 3 main phases:
Gulbarga phase (Bahmani Dynasty): Laying the foundations of the style.
Bidar phase (Bahmani and Barid dynasties): After moving the capital of the Deccan sultanate from Gulbarga to Bidar, the style developed under the Bahmani and later Barid dynasties.
Golkonda phase (Qutub Shahi dynasty): The capital of the Deccan Sultanate was finally transferred to the southern city of Golkonda, stronghold of the ruling Qutub Shahi dynasty.
Some of the main buildings constructed during this period are: Jami Masjid in Gulbarga, Haft Gumbaz, Madrassa of Mahmud Gawan, Tomb of Ali Barid and Char Minar. (28)
The Adil Shahi kingdom was born in Bijapur at the same time as the Golkonda sultanate. While the Qutub Shahi rulers frequented various intellectual channels, the Adil Shahi kings concentrated mainly on architectural activities. As a result, the city of Bijapur boasts over 50 examples of fine monuments in the style that developed there.
Some of the main buildings constructed during this period are: Jami Masjid in Bijapur, Ibrahim Rauza, Gol Gumbaz, and Mihtar Mahal.
The Bijapur School (Karnataka) was developed during the reign of Adilshah, the most important example of it is Gol Gumbaz. Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur is the mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah (1627-1657). It is the largest domed construction in the world, covering a total interior area of over 1,600 square meters. Its underground vaults consist of a square burial chamber and a single large square chamber above ground. Its important feature is a large hemispherical dome surmounting it and seven tiered octagonal towers at the corners. Each of its outer walls is divided into three recessed arches. Inside rests a 3.4 m-wide gallery, known as the whisper gallery, because even a whisper resonates here like an echo beneath the dome. The large dome is hemispherical and covered with a row of petals at the base.
In Bidar, Bijapur (Karnataka) and Golkonda (Andhra Pradesh, southeast India), tombs continued to develop on a square plan until the 17th century. Taut drum domes accentuated the growing mountain trend. From the late 15th century onwards, domes above the warrior line rose into a bulbous canopy of a lotus flower bowl. The lotus decoration, along with many other decorative elements of late Deccan architecture, such as the console shadow roofs, is due to Hindu influence. Deccan’s mausoleum is the Gol Gumbaz, completed in 1659 in Bijapur, India’s largest domed building. The Gol Gumbaz bore Ottoman influence, as the ruling family of the Bijapur Sultanate and some of the craftsmen involved in its construction were of Turkish origin. The tomb has a huge cubic structure, with four seven-storey towers provided at the corner points on octagonal. Each tower is crowned by a slightly spreading lotus dome, while the main dome is semi-circular. The design of the facades and interior has never been completed.
Craftsmen from the small region known as Khandesh, located between Deccan, Malwa and Gujarat, drew inspiration from each of these regions and also added their own original ideas to create a distinct style.
The main innovations of the Khandesh style are:
Changes in the position of openings, such as wider spacing of doors and windows.
Emphasis on parapets above eaves.
Raising of domes by elevating them on octagonal drums and stilts on their sides.
The main buildings constructed in this style are: Jami Masjid in Burhanpur and Bibi Ki Mosque.
The Provincial Style
A profound blend of Islamic and Hindu-Jain features characterizes the architecture of West Indian Gujarat, an independent sultanate from the 14th to 16th centuries. Gujarati mosques correspond in plan to the court mosque type. In columnar constructions, Islamic arches and vaults are often found alongside console-based architraves. Columns, portals and minarets are finely subdivided and decorated by Hindu-Jainist influence. From West Indian secular architecture, stone interlacing occurs mainly in windows and balustrades (Jali) and the covered balcony (Jharokha), which was used on facades. Jewel motifs are borrowed in part from non-Islamic art, such as the plants in the Jali window of the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in Ahmedabad. Many mosques feature columnar Mandapa halls with cantilevered roofs, such as the Ahmedabad Mosque, completed in 1424, which is one of Gujarat’s most outstanding monuments. Their maqsurah links the Islamic arcade with Hindu stone carvings, which is particularly true of the minarets, as in the Timurid mosques of Central Asia flanking the pishtaq on both sides, echoed by the Gujarati Hindu temples of Shikhara.
While the architectural elements of Ahmedabad’s mosques, taken in and out of themselves, combine in a contrasting yet harmonious whole, Champaner’s Friday Mosque of 1450 reveals a particularly distinctive blend of styles. Its layout has exactly the proportions of adopted Persian court mosques, but resembles a Jain temple in elevation with an open pillar hall, flat Kragkuppeln and nave raised three storeys. The large-scale Bethlehem maqsurah relates more closely in its arcades to the formal Islamic language, but acts as one of the facades added later to the Islamic era in India.
Bengal, which had been Islamized relatively late, retired in 1338 as the first province of the Imperial Association of the Delhi Sultanate. It was less influenced than other regions by Delhi architecture, so that in the long period of independence to conquest by the Mughals in 1576 has developped a regional style strongly influenced by local traditions. Since Bengal is poor in stone deposits, fired bricks were the main building material. In the 13th and early 14th centuries, the first temple poles were used to build mosques based on the early Sultanate and Tughluq styles. The great Adina mosque of 1374 in Pandua (West Bengal, eastern India) still corresponds to the Indian court mosque type. Later, the mosques of Pandua and Gaur (on the border between India and Bangladesh) are much smaller and more compact, with no courtyard. In adaptation to the particularly rainy summer, they are completely covered. Depending on the size of the mosque, one or more domes rest on convex curved roofs. The curvilinear roof shape derives from the typical village-like mud houses, which traditionally have roof constructions covered with palm leaves made from bent bamboo sticks. In the decoration, Hindu-inspired motifs have replaced the ornamental forms of the Delhi sultanate. Facade cladding often uses colored glazed terracotta panels. The highlight of the Bengali mosque style is the Chhota Sona mosque in the Bangladeshi part of Gaur. Built in the early 16th century on a rectangular floor plan, it features five vessels with jagged portals and three superimposed yokes.
The mountainous North Indian landscape of Kashmir came under Islamic rule in the first half of the 14th century, but was never part of the Delhi Sultanate. Architectural development was therefore unaffected by Delhi architecture. Kashmir’s independence as a sultanate ended in 1586 with its submission to the Mughal Empire. Nowhere else in the Indian subcontinent has Islamic architecture been so strongly influenced by indigenous traditions as in Kashmir. Many mosques are difficult to recognize as such, because they were built on the model of the region’s Hindu temples as compact cubic buildings, more rarely as complexes of several such cubic buildings, in wood and brick. Their mostly curved roofs, supported by pillars as in Kashmiri houses, are situated above and have a slim, tall tower structure, which is modelled on the pyramid-shaped Kashmiri temple towers. The ends of the tower structures are sometimes designed as umbrella-shaped crowns. The largest mosques also include an open cubic pavilion (Mazina) with steeply sloping turrets, which takes on the function of a minaret. In the decoration, local carvings and inlays alternate with Persian painted wall tiles. A typical example of a Kashmiri mosque is the Shah Hamadan mosque built in 1400 in Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir, North India). Kashmiri tombs differ little from mosques. It was only during the Mughal period that the typical features of Indo-Islamic architecture became apparent. Srinagar’s Friday Mosque, which took its present form in the 17th century, has kielbogige Ivane and pishtaqs surrounding a courtyard. The pagoda-like structures of the pishtaqs, however, correspond to the customary national style.
Unlike Hindus, Muslims do not burn their dead but bury them. While the graves of ordinary people were generally unadorned and anonymous, influential figures such as rulers, ministers or saints often received monumental funerary monuments during their lifetime. The location of the underground stone burial chamber (qabr) marks a cenotaph (zarih) in the aerial part (huzrah) of the tomb. Since the face of the deceased must always point towards Mecca (qibla), Indo-Islamic mausoleums also contain the west-facing mihrab. The tombs of important saints often became centers of pilgrimage.
Smaller mausoleums were often designed as canopied tombs in the style of Hindu-Jain pavilions. To this end, a pillared roof with a hemispherical or slightly conical cantilevered dome was erected over the cenotaph. Such canopied tombs can be found in large numbers at burial sites in the Pakistani Sindh landscape, including Chaukhandi, and in the northeastern Indian state of Rajasthan. Larger tombs were built incorporating Persian features in the masonry. The result was remarkable buildings, some of which are among India’s most important architectural monuments. (30)
Sultanate of Delhi
At the beginning of the development of the Indo-Islamic mausoleum is the tomb of Sultan Iltutmish, built around 1236 in Delhi (northern India). The cenotaph is located here in the middle of a massive cube-shaped space whose square plan has been transformed into an octagon by kielbogen-shaped trumpets. The trumpets support architrave as the base of a no longer preserved, only to be recognized in Kranzkuppel. As in early mosques, the rich plastic decoration of the tomb is due to the Muslim builders’ reliance on Hindu stone masons. However, while early mosques were still composed entirely of temple pylons, freshly broken stone was probably used for the Iltutmish tomb. Above the Balban tomb (1280) for the first time a true vault, which, however, can also be seen only in the pink neck. (31)
In Delhi too, the octagonal floor plan prevailed in the second half of the 14th century, as can be seen in the tomb of the minister Khan-i-Jahan from the time of Firuz Shah. This may be due to the fact that the octagon approaching the circle, as the foundation of the substructure, provides better static properties in the construction of a dome than the square, requiring more complicated trumpet solutions. Under the Sayyid dynasty, a type was established in the first half of the 15th century which, in addition to the octagonal floor plan, features a dome sometimes augmented by a coil and an adjacent arcade with Konsoldach. This type represents the mausoleum of Muhammad Shah in Delhi, whose domed closure in the form of a lotus pavilion and ornament (chattris) on the arcade roof already anticipates certain features of later Mughal mosques and tombs. It was followed in the first half of the 16th century by the very similar tombs of Isa Khan in Delhi and Sher Shah in Sasaram (Bihar, northeast India). (32)
The mausoleum of the Mughal emperor Humayun in Delhi, completed in 1571 as the first monumental tomb and the first monumental building of the Mughal period, pioneered the style of Mughal tombs. It consists of an octagonal, domed central space, the four faces in the pishtaqs directions with two chattris upstream. The dome is the first on the Indian subcontinent with a double shell, i.e. two domed roofs were placed on top of each other, so that the inner ceiling does not match the curvature of the outer dome. Later, builders took advantage of this design to inflate the outer pseudo-dome more and more into an onion shape. Four identical octagonal corner buildings, each with a large chattri on the roof, fill the niches between the pishtaqs, so that the entire structure appears externally as a square building with beveled corners and recessed pishtaqs. The present mausoleum stands on a pedestal adjoining the ground, within whose outer walls numerous iwane were admitted.
Humayun’s tomb combines Persian elements inherited from the local building tradition, the latter clearly outweighing the fact that not only was the architect from Persia but, unlike many earlier construction projects, a large proportion of the craftsmen employed were foreign. As a result, Indian architraves, brackets and sculptural ornaments were completely rejected in favor of keel arches and flat facade decoration. The Persian preference for symmetrical forms is reflected in both the tomb and the walled and enclosed garden. The latter corresponds to the Char Bagh type with a square layout and four paths, which divide the garden into four smaller squares.
The tomb of Emperor Akbar, who was very fond of Indian architecture, at Sikandra (Uttar Pradesh), however, takes strong links in Hindu architecture. Built on a square plan, it rises like a pyramid in five recessed storeys. While the first floor, with a Persian Ivan facade and pishtaq on all four sides, uses the formal Islamic idiom, the upper floors are modeled after Hindu temple halls as open rooms, enriched by Islamic vaults. The usual domed roof, however, is missing.
Under Akbar’s successors in the 17th century, there was a return to Persian stylistic traits, but without abandoning the Indo-Islamic symbiosis. At the same time, white marble replaced red sandstone as the main building material, and forms generally took on softer lines. The transition from Mogul mausoleum to mausoleum is marked by the tomb of the minister Itimad-ud-Daula in Agra (Uttar Pradesh), built between 1622 and 1628. The small, fully-built marble structure has a square floor plan. Four minarets crowned with triptychs highlight the corner points, while the main building is completed not by a dome, but by a pavilion with a curved, domed roof in Bengali style. Precious inlays in pietra-dura technology adorn the façade.
The stylistic shift is finally completed with the Taj Mahal, completed in 1648, in Agra, the mausoleum of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s principal wife, which surpasses all Mughal buildings before in terms of balance and magnificence. The Taj Mahal combines the features of various predecessors, but deliberately avoids their weak points. From Humayun’s tomb he took the arrangement of four corner buildings with roof pavilions around a domed central building with pishtaq on each of the four sides and the square plan with beveled corners. However, the corner buildings do not project beyond the plain of the pishtaq Facades. Moreover, the distance between the roof pavilions and the dome is less than at Humayun’s tomb, where the Taj Mahal achieves a more harmonious overall impression than the ancient mausoleum, whose effect suffers from the spatial separation of the corner buildings. The drummed, double onion-shell dome of the Taj Mahal is very expansive and engages the earlier lotus-tipped mosque and Mausoleums. The square base, with four tall, slender minarets at the corners, recalls the tomb of Jahangirin Lahore (Punjab, Pakistan), which consists of a simple square platform with corner towers. Like the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula, Pietra-dura marble and semi-precious stone inlays adorn the white marble walls of the Taj Mahal. Like many ancient mausoleums, the Taj Mahal surrounds an enclosed Char-Bagh Garden. (33)
The mosque in Indian subcontinent
Daily prayer (salât) is one of the “five pillars” of Islam. On Friday, at least once a week, prayer must be performed in the community. To this end, the mosque (Arabic masjid) is the most important form of Islamic architecture, which, unlike the Hindu temple, is neither a cosmological-mythological symbol nor the seat of a deity. However, there are no fixed rules in the Koran for the construction of a sacred building; only the figurative representation of God or people is expressly forbidden.(34)
The first mosques were therefore oriented towards the construction of the Prophet Mohammad’s house, with an open courtyard (sahn) and a covered prayer room (haram). In the wall of the prayer room is a niche (mihrâb), which indicates the direction of prayer (qibla) in Mecca. Next to it is usually the minbar, a pulpit from which the preacher speaks to the assembled faithful. Another feature was the minaret, (35) a tower from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer. Borrowed from the Christian church, it first appeared in Syria in the 8th century. (36) In addition to its function as a prayer center, the mosque also fulfills social functions. Often, therefore, a school (madrasah), meeting rooms and other facilities are included in the mosque complex. (37)
The first mosque built by Arabs on the Indian subcontinent at Banbhore (Sindh, Pakistan), dating from 727, has been preserved as a ruin. (38) Its square structure is divided into a rectangular courtyard surrounded by colonnades and a rectangular hall with columns. Many of the features characteristic of later mosque buildings are still missing, having had to be taken over from other architecture due to the low level of knowledge of Arab architecture. The minaret is still missing at Banbhore. (39)
For centuries, Sindh was on the eastern periphery of Islamic empires, first the Islamic caliphates of the Umayyads and Abbasids and then the Samanid Empire. Unlike Persia and Central Asia, no significant regional architectural tradition developed there. (40) Also in Punjab, from the early 11th century, part of the Ghaznavid Empire, only fragmentary evidence of architecture inspired by Samanid models has survived. Characteristic features are the dome, but it is only much later that it became a fully-fledged component of Indo-Islamic architecture. In addition to the brick used in Persia, spolia from destroyed Hindu shrines, which Mahmud of Ghazni had brought from northwest India to Afghanistan, was also used as building material. (41)
On the importance of minarets in Indo-Islamic architecture, Mohammad Arif Kamal writes in the Journal of Islamic Architecture: (42)
‘’The Minarets are a distinctive architectural feature of Islamic Mosques. The Minarets have become an essential and integral part of the mosque in the Indian sub-continent as like anywhere in the world. The Minarets evolved in Islamic Architecture at very early times. Although it was not an essential part of the mosque during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and even for some time after the period after him. There are, however, many conflicting views as to exactly where, when and by whom were the first mina-rets built. The minarets were constructed for monumental purposes but became symbolic and became the permanent features of the mosque buildings. These minarets are being built in varied geographical and cultural environments. The Muslim architects used forms that have been acclimatized in their traditional cultures. The architects did not invent new forms but preferred to refine the existing ones with the highest proportion and integrity to the main building. Therefore, they had gone through a transition state in adapting the minarets form, keeping their cultural richness and transforming them into a religious identity most suited to the Islamic buildings. This paper reviews the mosque architecture in general, the various functional aspects of minarets, its evolution in history, and the forms that the architects in India had used to determine their roots and the process of transformation by which it had been recognized as a vital element in the Islamic buildings, especially the mosques. ‘’
With the exception of a few remnants of the wall at Tughluqabad in present-day Delhi, medieval Islamic residences in India have not survived. At Chanderi and Mandu (Madhya Pradesh, central India), the 15th– and early 16th-century ruins give a relatively good idea of the palaces of the Malwa sultans. Built in 1425, the Hindola Mahal in Mandu consists of a long hall covered by wide keel arches, and at the north end is a cross-shaped building with smaller rooms. High, pointed arches pierce the hall’s solid outer walls, which, as in Tughluq’s time, had been shaped like a fortress. The roof construction has not been preserved. Indian Jharokhas loosen up to the otherwise completely unadorned facade of the cross construction. Extensive terraces, some with water pools, and attached domed pavilions make Mandu’s later palaces seem far less defensive. Pointed arches dominate the facades, while Hindu elements such as Jharokha and Jali latticework are missing.
At the beginning of Mughal palace architecture stands Fatehpur Sikri, which was founded in the second half of the 16th century and was for many years the capital of the Mughal Empire. The palace district consists of several staggered courtyards around which all the buildings are grouped. The most important buildings include the Public Audience Hall (Diwan-i-Am), the Private Audience Hall (Diwan-i-Khas) and the Panch Mahal. The Public Audience Hall is a simple rectangular pavilion, while the Private Audience Hall is two storeys high. The first floor has an entrance on all four sides, the second floor is surrounded by a projecting balcony-like gallery, and on the corner points of the roof always rests a chattri. The interior layout is unique: in the center is a pillar that rises like the branches of a tree, supporting the platform on which the throne of the Mughal emperor Akbarwas once stood. From the throne platform, bridges run in all four directions.
The Jahangiri Mahal in Agra (Uttar Pradesh, North India), built at the same time as Fatehpur Sikri, is also extremely Indian in its interior. Rectangular and square columns with expansive brackets support the second floor. Its flat ceiling rests on sloping stone beams, which take on the static function of a vault. Along the courtyard facade, which lies exactly in the center of the building and is completely symmetrical to the Panch Mahal at Fatehpur Sikri, a shadow roof supported by a bracket stretches to the second floor. Persian forms can only be seen on the exterior facade. The entrance forms an Ivan kielbogiger, with implied arches decorating the two-dimensional exterior walls. Indian influences are also evident here in the console-supported eaves, the ornamental balconies on the portal construction and the chattris on the two towers, which emphasize the extreme points of the palace.
As in sacral architecture, the transition from red sandstone to white marble as the preferred building material also took place at the palace during the second quarter of the 17th century under the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. In addition, Islamic forms returned to normal. So, although the open column pavilion was retained as the design of the Fatehpur Sikris palaces, but now taken the place of the sweeping consoles. The playful manipulation of spatial distribution and geometry practiced at Fatehpur Sikri also gave rise to axe-like oriented court arrangements and strict symmetry. In addition to flat roofs such as the Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas in Delhi, the Diwan-i-Khas in Lahore (Punjab, Pakistan) or the Anguri Bagh pavilion in Agra, there are convex domed roofs of Bengali construction, for example at the Naulakha pavilion in Lahore. In the second half of the 17th century, Mughal palace architecture came to a halt.
Indo-Islamic architecture is the architecture of the Indian subcontinent produced for Islamic patterns and purposes. Despite an earlier Muslim presence in Sindh in modern Pakistan, its main history begins when Muhammad of Ghor made Delhi a Muslim capital in 1193. The sultans of Delhi and the Mughal dynasty that succeeded them came from Central Asia via Afghanistan, and were accustomed to Central Asian styles of Islamic architecture largely derived from Iran.
The types and forms of large buildings demanded by Muslim elites, with mosques and tombs much more common, were very different from those previously built in India. The exteriors of both were very often surmounted by large domes, and made extensive use of arches. These two features were rarely used in Hindu temple architecture or in other Indian styles. Both types of building essentially consisted of a single large space under a high dome, and completely avoided the figurative sculpture so important to Hindu temples.
At first, Islamic buildings had to adapt the skills of a workforce trained in earlier Indian traditions to their own designs. Unlike most Islamic countries, where brick tended to predominate, India had highly-skilled builders well accustomed to producing stonework of the highest quality. In addition to the main style developed in Delhi and later in the Mughal centers, a variety of regional styles grew up, particularly where there were local Muslim rulers. In the Mughal period, generally accepted to represent the pinnacle of the style, aspects of Islamic style began to influence architecture made for Hindus, with even temples using scalloped arches, and later domes. This was particularly the case in palace architecture.
Indo-Islamic architecture has left its mark on modern Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi architecture, and was the main influence on the so-called Indo-Saracenic Revo architecture introduced in the last century of the British Raj. Secular and religious buildings are influenced by Indo-Islamic architecture, which features Indian, Islamic, Persian, Central Asian, Arab and Ottoman Turkish influences.
Muslim and Indian-Hindu architecture meet
For the history of architecture, the beginning of the Islamic era in India meant a radical change: in the plains of North India, all Hindu, Buddhist and Jain shrines with figurative representations were destroyed by the Muslim conquerors, so that today, if at all, only the ruins of pre-Islamic architecture bear witness to the Gangetic plan. Buddhism, already weakened for centuries, disappeared completely from India, and with it Buddhist building activity finally succumbed. Hindu and Jain building traditions were definitively suppressed under Muslim rule; however, they survived in South India, in the Deccan highlands and in the border regions of the North Indian plains of the subcontinent.
At the same time, Islam brought new forms of construction, notably the mosque and the tomb, as well as hitherto unknown or little-used building techniques, including vaulting craftsmanship from Asia Minor to India. The basic conception of Islamic architecture is contrary to that of the sacred art of Indian religions: whereas the latter reflects cosmological and theological ideas in the form of a complex symbolic language and iconography, Islamic architecture has no transcendental reference; it is based solely on intentional and aesthetic considerations. Nevertheless, the fundamentally different beliefs of Hindus and Muslims did not prevent fruitful artistic cooperation or cultural exchange, so that a specific Indian expression of Islamic architecture was able to emerge, producing some of the most important architectural monuments on the subcontinent.
Thus, the general characteristics of Perso-Islamic architecture – principally the use of arches to span openings, domes and vaults as space closers and vertical facades with flat decoration – vary according to the period and region of traditional Hindu construction – including waterfalls, flat ceilings and lanterns and plastic wall decoration – superimposed. The secular architecture of North Indian and West Indian Hindus and the sacred architecture of the Sikh religion, which emerged as a reform movement of Hinduism in the 16th century, also have a distinct Indo-Islamic character. (43)
As was the case in pre-Islamic times, the main building materials were dry stone. In northern India, sandstone predominates, with color varying greatly from region to region. For the western stage, red sandstone is typical, while in other regions, brown and yellow varieties dominate. White marble was used for decorative purposes; the Mughals were also at their height in the 17th century, building complete projects in marble. In the Deccan region, grey basalt was the preferred building material. In the alluvial plains of Bengal and Sindh, where natural stone barely exists, brick buildings made of bricks and mortar dominate. In Gujarat, there are natural stone and brick structures.
Large domes and vaults in brick have been given great stability by the use of strong, quick-setting cement-based mortars. Ceiling and roof structures were also sealed with a layer of mortar to prevent water penetration and plant growth.
Arches and waterfalls
The most important feature of Indo-Islamic architecture, the arch, was originally built in the traditional Hindu style as a false cantilevered arch of stacked stones, but cannot withstand major tensile stresses. To improve static properties, Hindu craftsmen building the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque in Delhi in the early 13th century began deforming the joints between the stones in the upper part of the arch perpendicular to the arch line. In this way, they eventually arrived at a true arch with stones laid radially. The most popular arch shapes were the pointed arch and the keel arch. (44)
On the ‘’Salient Features of Islamic Architecture’’, Vishnu, S.S and N. Amutha Kumari write: (45)
‘’ The Muslims had added to the Hindu architecture the special characteristics of spaciousness, massiveness, majesty and width. The Arabs introduced mihrab or arch, dome, minar and tomb in the indigenous architecture. They had enriched design and beauty and adopted the use of coloured stones and glazed files to brighten the effect of colours. The endowed the buildings with has beauties of form and colour. The Muslim had evolved a architecture which was conditioned by the learning characteristics of Muslim mentality, practical needs of their religion and worship and the geography of their religion. The architecture brought to India by our Turkish conquerors was neither exclusively Muslim nor even wholly Arabian. The distinctive feature of the Muslim architecture were massive and extensive buildings aspiring domes, tall minarets, lofty portals, open courtyards, huge walls all bereft of sculpture. The Hindu architectures, on the one hand were characterized by vastness, stability majesty, magnificence, sublimity and infinite richness. The Hindus extensively decorated their buildings with beautiful flowers, leaves and various deities. However, Muslims being conquerors, naturally introduced in buildings their own idea forms and method of construction. Their buildings were greatly influenced by indigenous art traditions and hence the new architecture that emerged was neither completely foreign nor purely Indian. It is worth-while to observe that when these two diverse cultures and architecture came into contact with each other, a new architecture developed which has been described as Indo Muslim or Indo-Islamic or Indo-Saracenic architecture.’’
Architrave constructions with horizontal columns come from the local building tradition. Most commonly found in early mosques, they were also used in heavily Hinduized buildings of later periods, such as the Mughal palaces of the Akbar period. To increase spans, columns were given brackets or cantilevers, which also had a decorative function.
Vaults and domes
In addition to the arch, the dome is a key feature of Indo-Islamic architecture. Mosque prayer halls were covered by one or more – in the Mughal period usually three domes. The earliest Indo-Islamic tombs were simple domed buildings with a cube-shaped structure. Later, there is an accumulation of tombs with a large central dome and four smaller domes, which are located at the vertices of an imaginary square surrounding the circle of the dome. These five-domed buildings have obvious parallels with the practice of the Hindu panchayatana (“five shrines”) surrounding a temple with four smaller shrines at the corners of the square enclosure wall. Especially in Bengal temples were designed as so-called Pancharatna (“five jewels”), five-tower shrines with a central tower and four smaller repetitions of the main motif in the corners.
Structurally, the first Kragkuppeln were built according to ancient Indian custom from superimposed layers of stone; they are also known as “ring-layer ceilings”. While this type did not continue in northern India from the second half of the 13th century, with the transition to the true chapel, it was used in Gujarat and Duckhan until the 16th and 17th centuries, respectively. To even out and stabilize the cantilevered structure of the hemisphere shape, it was plastered inside and out with extra-solid mortar.
Following the example of Buddhist monolithic shrine ceilings, many Indo-Islamic buildings have received ribbed domes with curved stone beams, which give the dome shape in the form of a frame. The ribs have no static function, but reflect the static structure of the wooden dome constructions that preceded the Buddhist Chaitya halls. In the second half of the 16th century, Persian master builders introduced the double dome to the Mughal Empire, which consists of two domes placed one above the other. As a result, the inner spatial effect does not correspond to the outer curvature of the dome, giving the builder greater freedom in designing the inner and outer form. Partly double domes were common in the Deccan region, where the interior of the dome is open to the dome space above.
For the transition from the basic angular shape of the space into the base of the dome, various techniques were used. Persian builders developed the trompe, a vaulted niche that was inserted into the upper corners of a square room. An architrave stood on top of the trompe, which in turn supported the fighters of the dome. In this way, it was possible to transfer the square into an octagon.
In India, the first trumpets were built from two semicircular arches, whose soffits were deformed so as to converge parallel to the architrave of the crown. Behind the arch thus created remained a free space, which partly filled a Kragkonstruktion. Later, several of these pointed arches were offset into each other, so that forces could be diverted more evenly through the masonry. In the smallest arch, a small round niche was enough to completely fill the corner.
Persian and Central Asian architects placed two rows of trumpets on top of each other to create a corner of sixteen as a statically more favorable base for the dome circle. Later, they developed this principle further by inserting the upper rows of trumpets into the gussets of the underlying trumpets, superimposing them in a net-like structure. Since the edges of the trumpets result in crossed ribs, this construction is called a ribbed gusset.
The ribbed gusset was one of the most frequently used solutions in later Indo-Islamic architecture for the transition from wall space to dome. As an alternative to the trumpet, the Turkish triangle was created independently in Turkey and India, blending the corners of the room with pyramidal segments instead of cones. Indian master builders mediated between the square and the octagon. As an alternative, the surface of a Turkish triangle was composed of projecting cubes covered with stucco stalactites (muqarnas). Even entire stalactite vaults are produced.
Other roof and ceiling constructions
Early Indo-Islamic buildings, which were mainly constructed from temple spolia, still have some ceiling constructions in the style of Hindu temple halls. In addition to flat ceilings, these are mainly lantern ceilings, which were built from layers of four stone slabs. The panels are positioned so as to leave a square opening above the center of the room that is rotated 45 degrees from the one above or below. In this way, the ceiling opening narrows until it can be closed by a single angular stone.
Rectangular and square rooms in Mogul splendor buildings often have mirror ceilings made of stone studs, which may date back to old Indian wooden construction. Mirror ceilings resemble mirror vaults, but do not rest on radially grooved arch segments, but on curved stone beams that are connected by skeleton-shaped horizontal beams filled with stone slabs. “Mirror” refers to the straight ceiling plane, which runs parallel to the battle line.
The Bengali builders incorporated the convex barrel-shaped roof of the traditional Bengal bamboo hut into the mosque’s local architecture. The two cornices, which usually survive a long way off, and the ridge are curvilinear. In the time of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, the Bangla roof was also used for the pavilions of the imperial residences. After the demise of the Mughal Empire, it found its way into regional Indo-Islamic secular building styles as the conclusion of bay windows and pavilions.
Jewel ornamental elements
Indo-Islamic architecture is dominated by ornamental elements, from the Middle East, extensive, often multi-colored wall decoration in the form of tiles and inlays. Tiles dominate especially in the part adjacent to Persia in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent (Punjab, Sindh). Like colored glazed earthenware, they were used for the facade cladding of brick tombs and mosques. In the Mughal era, expensive inlays were produced using the pietra-dura technique: artists chiselled beautiful decorative motifs in marble and placed small semi-precious stones (agate, hematite, jade, coral, lapis lazuli, onyx, turquoise) in the fissures. While tiles and inlays were always confined to northern India, plastic trimmings were common in all regions. They were expressed, among other things, in carved facade decoration, richly structured columns, decorated brackets and stone lattices.
In the concrete incarnation, abstract motifs of Near Eastern origin existed alongside those of Indian nature. Sacred buildings are adorned with ribbon inscriptions of Koranic verses painted on tiles or carved in stone. In northern India, artists based on the Near Eastern model of geometric shapes such as squares, six, eight and twelve multi-layered wedges, often star-shaped, painted on tiles, cut into stone or broken into lattice windows (Jalis). Occasionally, even geometrically representable Hindu symbols, such as the swastika, were used. Instead of abstract, angular motifs, the Deccan region is dominated by soft, curved shapes alongside bands of script. In the course of their development, Indo-Islamic architecture increasingly absorbed Hindu-inspired motifs, mainly plant representations.
In the earliest times, the small arabesques were made of highly stylized leaves of Indo-Islamic sacred buildings, which were later complemented by tendrils and garlands of expansive flowers. Of particular importance was the stylized lotus flower used by Hindus and Buddhists, often found in arches and as a stucco dot on domes. Due to the Islamic ban on images, representations of animals and humans, which appeared only frequently during the Mughal period, are much rarer. In Lahore (Punjab, Pakistan), lion and elephant capitals were modeled on a pavilion in the Jahangiri court of the Hindu temple pillars, and painters of humans and elephants were stationed on the outer wall of the fortress. Many Mughal palace spaces were originally decorated with figurative murals.
The tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam (built 1320-1324) in Multan, Pakistan, is a large octagonal brick mausoleum with polychrome glass decoration that remains much closer to the styles of Iran and Afghanistan. Wood is also used internally. This was the first major monument of the Tughluq dynasty (1320-1413), built during the enormous initial expansion of its territory, which could not be sustained. It was built for a Sufi saint rather than a sultan, and most Tughluq tombs are far less exuberant. The tomb of the dynasty’s founder, Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq (died 1325), is more austere, but impressive; Like a Hindu temple, it is surmounted by a small amalaka and a round finial like a kalasha. Unlike the previous buildings mentioned above, it lacks carved texts altogether, and is set in a complex with high walls and battlements. Both tombs have slightly inward-sloping outer walls. (46)
The Tughluqs had a corps of government architects and builders, and in this and other roles were occupied by many Hindus. They left many buildings, and a standardized dynastic style. The third sultan, Firuz Shah (1351-1888), is said to have designed buildings himself, and was the longest-serving ruler and greatest builder of the dynasty. His Firoz Shah palace complex (begun in 1354) in Hisar, Haryana is a ruin, but parts of it are in passable condition. Some buildings from his reign take forms rare or unknown in Islamic buildings. He was buried in the great Hauz Khas complex in Delhi, along with many other buildings from his time and the later Sultanate, including several small domed pavilions supported only by columns.
By this time, Islamic architecture in India had adopted certain features of earlier Indian architecture, such as the use of a high plinth, and often moldings around its edges, as well as columns and supports and hypostyle halls. After Firoz’s death, the Tughluqs declined and subsequent Delhi dynasties were weak. Most of the monumental buildings constructed were tombs. The architecture of other regional Muslim states was often more impressive. (47)
Regional Muslim states before the Mughals
Many regional styles were mainly developed during the Mughal period. The most significant pre-Mughal developments are:
Bahmanids of the Deccan
The Bahmani Sultanate in the Deccan broke away from the Tughluqs in 1347, and ruled from Gulbarga, Karnataka and then Bidar until it was invaded by the Mughals in 1527. The main mosque (1367) in the great Gulbarga Fort or citadel is unusual in having no courtyard. There are a total of 75 domes, all small and shallow except for a large one above the mihrâb and four smaller ones in the corners. The large interior has a central hypostyle space, and wide aisles with “transverse” arches sprouting from unusually low levels (illustrated). This feature is found in other Bahmanid buildings, and probably reflects Iranian influence, which can be seen in other features such as a four-Iwan plan and glazed tiles, some imported from Iran, used elsewhere. The mosque’s architect is said to have been Persian.
Later, Bahminid royal tombs were double, with two units of the usual rectangle-dome shape combined, one for the ruler and the other for his family, as at the Haft Dombad (“Seven Domes”) group of royal tombs outside Gulbarga. The Mahmud Gawan madrasa (begun in 1460) is a large ruined madrasa “of entirely Iranian design” in Bidar founded by a chief minister, with rooms decorated with glass tiles imported by sea from Iran. Outside the city, the Ashtur tombs are a group of eight large domed royal tombs. These have domes that are slightly drawn in at the base, in expectation of the onion domes of Mughal architecture.
The Bengal Sultanate (1352-1576) normally used brick, as had pre-Islamic buildings. Stone had to be imported for most of Bengal, while clay for bricks was abundant. But stone was used for columns and important details, often reused in Hindu or Buddhist temples. Eklakhi’s Mausoleum in Pandua, Malda or Adina is often considered the first surviving Islamic building in Bengal, although there was a small mosque at Molla Simla, in the Hooghly district, probably from 1375, earlier than the mausoleum. Eklakhi’s mausoleum is large and has several features that would become common in the Bengal style, including a slightly curved cornice, large decorative round buttresses and terracotta cut-brick decoration. These features can also be seen in the Choto Sona Mosque (circa 1500), which is made of stone, unusual for Bengal, but shares the style and mix of domes and a curved paddy roof based on village house roofs of vegetable thatch. Such roofs feature even more strongly in the late Hindu temple architecture of Bengal, with types such as the do-chala, jor-bangla and char-chala.
Other buildings in the style are the Nine Dome Mosque and the Sixty Dome Mosque (completed in 1459) and several other buildings in the mosque town of Bagerhat, an abandoned city in Bangladesh that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These show other distinctive features, such as a multiplicity of doors and mihrâbs; the Sixty Dome Mosque has 26 doors (11 at the front, 7 on each side and one at the rear). These have increased light and ventilation.
The ruined Adina Mosque (1374-1755) is unusually large for Bengal, with a barrel-vaulted central hall flanked by hypostyle areas. Bengal’s heavy rains necessitated large covered spaces, and the nine-domed mosque, which could cover a large area, was more popular here than anywhere else.
The Mughal Empire, an Islamic empire that lasted in India from 1526 to 1764, left its mark on Indian architecture, which was a blend of Islamic, Persian, Turkish, Arab, Central Asian and Indian architecture. A major aspect of Mughal architecture is the symmetrical nature of the buildings and courtyards. Akbar, who reigned in the 16th century, made major contributions to Mughal architecture. He systematically designed forts and cities in similar symmetrical styles, combining Indian styles with outside influences. The gate of an Akbar fort designed in Agra displays the Assyrian gryphon, Indian elephants and birds. (48)
During the Mughal era, the design elements of Persian-Islamic architecture were fused, often giving rise to playful forms of Hindustani art. Lahore, the occasional residence of Mughal rulers, boasts a multiplicity of important buildings from the empire, including the Badshahi Mosque (built 1673-1674), the Lahore Fortress (16th-17th centuries) with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the Wazir Khan Mosque (1634-1635) and numerous other mosques and mausoleums. The Shahjahan Mosque in Thatta, Sindh, also dates back to Mughal times. However, its stylistic features are partially different. Singularly, the countless chaukhandi tombs are of oriental influence. Although built between the 16th and 18th centuries, they bear no resemblance to Mughal architecture. The stone masons’ work is typically Sindhi, probably pre-dating the Islamic era. Mughal building activity almost succumbed at the end of the 18th century. Thereafter, almost no specific architectural projects were undertaken.
By this time, versions of the Mughal style had been widely adopted by rulers of princely states and other wealthy individuals of all religions for their palaces and, where appropriate, tombs. Hindu clients often mixed aspects of Hindu temple architecture and traditional Hindu palace architecture with Mughal and, later, European elements.
Key examples of Mughal architecture include: (49)
Tombs, such as the Taj Mahal, Akbar’s tomb and Humayun’s tomb;
Forts, such as Red Fort, Lahore Fort, Agra Fort and Lalbagh Fort; and
Mosques, such as Jama Masjid and Badshahi Masjid
Urban planning and architecture
While Hindu urban developers have ideally based their foundations on a rigorous grid plan, as in Jaipur (Rajasthan, northwest India), Islamic foundations generally have only a few special principles of order. In most cases, Muslim planners limited themselves to assigning buildings to functional units. Nevertheless, many Indo-Islamic planned cities share at least one central area that divides the walled city into four parts – an allusion to the Islamic concept of the four-part paradise garden. (50) Unlike its Hindu counterpart, however, this area is not necessarily oriented east-west or north-south, but can be moved towards Mecca, as in Bidar (Karnataka, south-west India) and Hyderabad (Telangana, south-east India). An example of such a central construction is the Charminar, built at the end of the 16th century in Hyderabad, a four-towered gatehouse that housed a mosque on the upper floor and became the emblem of the city. Its four arcades point in the four directions of the crossroads. (51)
Among the urban residential buildings of Indo-Islamic construction, the Havelis of north-west India stand out, houses of wealthy merchants, nobles and civil servants that imitate the regional palace style. The large havelis have three or four storeys linked by narrow spiral staircases and a roof terrace. Standing on a pedestal, the havelis are accessible from the street via steps. A public reception room in the front area is followed by the private salons, which open onto one or more courtyards shaded by verandas and covered balconies (jarokas). The street facades also feature jarokas and ornamental windows that serve as ice-breakers and windbreaks. Inside, havelis are often elaborately painted. Many havelis have survived in Rajasthan. Depending on the local style of decoration and building materials, mainly sandstone, they form uniform streets in historic towns like Jaisalmer, Jaipur and Jodhpur, as well as in the cities of Shekhawati. The smaller, simpler havelis of the less affluent population are often whitewashed.
On the nature of the Indo-Islamic architecture, Ravindra Kumar writes: (52)
‘’In Islamic architecture the focus is on the enclosed space, as opposed to the outside. The most common expression of this attitude is the Muslim house. It is organized around an inner courtyard presenting to the outside world high windowless walls interrupted only by a low single door. Rarely does a facade give any indication of the inner organization or purpose of the building in question, and it is rare that an Islamic building can be understood, or even its principal features identified, by its exterior. The other more prominent feature is the distinction between urban & non-urban Islamic architecture. It is necessary to make a distinction between urban and non-urban Islamic architecture, because slightly different rules apply to these two different architectural expressions. Much Islamic architecture appears within the urban setting, though it must be added that a number of building-types were especially developed for the non-urban context, even if they frequently appear within the city as well. Most obvious is the caravanserai, which, in the majority of cases, appears in the open countryside along the principal travel routes. Next are the monumental tombs, which, almost without exception appear as isolated monuments, whether in an urban situation or within a proper cemetery. This is especially true when the monument commemorates an important personage; its very function as a commemorative structure makes ‘visibility’ and physical isolation imperative.’’
Conclusion: Indo-Islamic architecture, a subtly elegant art form
Historical civilizations are often identified by their architectural creations that have survived the ravages of time. Indeed, the architectural forms echo socio-cultural, political and economic dynamics of a particular region in a given historical context. (53)
Known as Indo-Islamic architecture, architecture in India was influenced by various architectural styles from the Muslim kingdoms of western and central Asia.
The Mughal Empire, which ruled India for over three centuries, was responsible for introducing Islamic architecture to India.
The Indo-Islamic architectural style was neither entirely Islamic nor Hindu; rather, it was a fusion of Indian and Islamic architectural elements. It was characterized by the simplicity and firmness of their structures, making extensive use of motifs and handwriting to design their layouts. (54)
One of the most famous Islamic architectural features used in this blending of the two cultures was the qibla, mihrâb, minbar, courtyards, minarets, arches, domes and arabesque motifs.
Indian architecture has undergone massive change; new architectural elements have been introduced due to the confluence of Islamic and Indian factors.
Some of these striking and unique features are:
Calligraphy: used for decoration, as well as the arabesque technique, which involved the use of complex geometric patterns;
Mortar: used in buildings as cementing material;
Arches and domes: used to replace the Trabeate architectural style;
Chahar Bagh style in gardens: in which a square block is divided into four similar adjacent gardens; (55) and
The use of water: Water was important in Islamic constructions and used for cooling, decoration and religious causes.
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