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Medieval History / Mughal Sultanate

Art and Architecture of Mughal Empire


    The art and architecture of Mughal empire includes paintings, music, monuments, etc. Illustrated painting and different ragas in music got developed during this period. Mughal architecture is considered the best in Indo-Persian style of architecture.

    Paintings of Mughal Period

    • Illustrated painting got developed during the period of Akbar. It is very expensive and involves a very tedious process in it. Whole story is narrated in the form of illustrated paintings. Hamzanama, an epic of Iran, was taken for illustration and 150 painters worked for 25 years and it came in 12 big volumes. Razmnama, Mahabharata in Persian language, was also illustrated.
    • Sayyid Ali Tabrizi and Khwaja Abdus Samad are two master painters in Iran and they came to India with Humayun.
    • There were 17 master painters in the court of Akbar. Out of 17, 13 were Hindus. Some of the painters are Keshav Lal, Mukund, Farooq Baig, Miskin, Daswant, Madhav, etc. During Akbar's regime, Portuguese introduced 3D painting and the technique of foreshortening.
    • Mughal painting reached to the climax during the reign of Jahangir (greatest patron of painting). Ustad Mansur (an expert in miniature paintings of birds and animals) was given the title Nadir-al-Asr (Unequalled of the age) by Jahangir. Painter Abul Hasan got the title Nadir-uz-Zaman (Wonder of the age). Other painters during his period were Bishan Das, Govardhan, Manohar, etc.
    • Important painters during the period of Shah Jahan were Kalyan Das, Anup Chitr, Muhammad Nadir Samarqandi, etc.
    • No painters were there in the court of Aurangzeb but Dara Shikoh had an album, which contained beautiful paintings.

    Music in Mughal Period

    • Gwalior was the headquarters of Hindustani music. Man Singh contributed a lot to Hindustani music. Two greatest musicians Baiju Bawra and Ramtanu Pande belonged to Gwalior. Baiju Bawra was settled in court of Sultans of Gujarat and Ramtanu Pande aka Mohammad Ata Ali Khan was settled in the court of Akbar.
    • Akbar conferred Ramtanu Pande a title named Tansen. Abul Fazl praised Tansen saying "India never saw in last 1000 years".
    • Tansen invented many ragas in Hindustani music like Miyan ki Todi, Darbari Kanada, etc. He invented a musical instrument called Rudraveena.

    Monuments of Mughal Empire

    • Babur - Babur built 4 mosques in India, they are in (i)Sambal near Delhi, (ii) Agra, (iii) Panipat and (iv) Ayodhya. There is no artistic beauty in these mosques.
    • Humayun -
      • No monuments were built by Humayun but Hamida Banu Begum (his wife) built Humayun's Tomb (World heritage centre by UNESCO) in Delhi.
      • It was beginning of Mughal architecture. Humayun's Tomb is the replica of Timur's Tomb at Samarkand. It has double dome. It is on a platform in a garden. It has got water channels on four sides. It lacked minarets.
    • Akbar -
      • He built 3 Forts, namely (i) Red Fort in Agra, (ii) Lahore Fort and (iii) Allahabad Fort.
      • Monuments at Fatehpur Sikri include -
        • Jama Masjid
        • In the courtyard of Jama Masjid, Sheikh Salim Chisti's Dargah was built (White marble was used for this)
        • Buland Darwaza (180ft x 90 ft) (Largest gateway in the world). It is the gateway for Jama Masjid and Salim Chisti's Dargah
        • Ibadat Khana
        • Panch Mahal (looks like Buddhist Vihara) – It is a 5 storeyed construction.
        • Diwan-e-Aam (Hall for public audience) and Diwan-e-Khas (Hall of private audience).
        • Other palaces like Sultana palace, Jodhabai palace, Mariam palace, etc.
      • Tomb of Akbar, who built his own tomb at Sikandra, in outskirts of Agra.
    • Jahangir -
      • Noor Jahan built Jahangir's Tomb at Shahdara, Lahore.
      • She also built Itmad-ud-Daulah's tomb in Agra. It is the first Mughal Tomb built with white marble of Makrana quarries of Jodhpur. For the first time Pietra dura (inlay of expensive gems in the walls of white marble) was used.
    • Shah Jhan -
      • His reign was glorious period of Mughal architecture.
      • Monuments in Agra -
        • Inisde Agra Fort he built Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas
        • Sheesh Mahal and Jasmine palace
        • Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) - White Makrana marble was used for it.
        • Taj Mahal - It is the Tomb of his wife Arjumand Banu Begum (who got a title Mumtaz Mahal). Shah Jahan was also buried near Taj Mahal. Chief architect of Taj Mahal was Ustad Isa. It was built during 1631 and 1653. It was built at a place where River Yamuna takes a delicate curve. It was built on grid pattern. It is sometimes considered the Tomb of both Mumtaz and Shah Jahan. It is octagonal in its shape.
      • Monuments in Delhi -
        • Red Fort in which a number of palaces were built, mainly Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas. Diwan-e-Khas has two important features, (i) Takht-e-Taus (Peacock throne) for which he spent Rs. 1 crore and (ii) In the walls, a beautiful Persian couplet (poem) is engraved (written by Amir Khusro).
        • Jama Masjid was built opposite to Red Fort. It is one of the biggest Masjids in India which has 3 gates.
    • Aurangzeb -
      • Three monuments were built by him. Bibi Ka Maqbara, his wife's Tomb was built in Aurangabad. His wife was Rabia-ud-Daurani. It is a kind of replica of Taj Mahal. It was built by not using any white marble and Pietra dura. It is poor man's Taj Mahal.
      • He built Badshahi Mosque in Lahore.
      • Moti Masjid was built beside Diwan-e-Khas in the Red Fort of Delhi.