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Medieval History / Mughal Sultanate

Mughal Art and Architecture

The Mughal art and architecture includes Mughal monuments, paintings, music, etc. Mughal architecture is considered the best in Indo-Persian style of architecture. The Mughal contribution to art and architecture is immense in India as their rulers were great builders and they built magnificent monuments and buildings, glorifying their rule in India. Illustrated painting and different kind of ragas in music also got developed during the Mughal period.

Mughal Monuments

Almost all the early Mughal emperors built some or other kind of monuments. The Mughal monuments are well known for their structural grandeur with large domes, cupolas, minarets at four corners and Pietra Dura technique. The following section ealaborates the list of Mughal architecture built by various Mughal emperors.

Monuments Built by Babur

The monuments built by Babur in India are only 4 mosques. The mosques built by Babur are in (i) Sambal near Delhi, (ii) Agra, (iii) Panipat and (iv) Ayodhya. There is no artistic beauty in these mosques.

Monuments Built by Humayun

  • No monuments were built by Humayun. Humayun's Tomb was built by his wife, Hamida Banu Begum in Delhi.

  • Humayun's Tomb was the beginning of Mughal era architecture in India. The Tomb's model is the replica of Tomb of Timur at Samarkand. It has double dome structure. It was built on a raised platform in a garden. It has got water channels on four sides. It lacked minarets. It was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Monuments Built by Akbar

The monuments built by Akbar include forts, monuments of Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar tomb, etc.

  • He built 3 Forts at various places. Akbar forts include (i) Red Fort in Agra, (ii) Lahore Fort and (iii) Allahabad Fort.

  • Monuments of Fatehpur Sikri include -

    • Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri

    • In the courtyard of Jama Masjid, Salim Chisti Dargah was built (White marble was used for this)

    • Buland Darwaza, the largest gateway of the world (180ft x 90 ft). It is the gateway for Jama Masjid and Salim Chishti Dargah

    • Ibadat Khana, Fatehpur Sikri

    • Panch Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri. It looks like Buddhist Vihara and 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.

  • The Tomb of Akbar the Great is located at Sikandra, in the outskirts of Agra. Akbar Tomb was built by Akbar himself.

Monuments Built by Jahangir

  • Jahangir architecture mainly includes monuments built by Noor Jahan. It was Noor Jahan, who built Jahangir Tomb at Shahdara, Lahore.

  • Itmad-ud-Daulah Tomb at Agra was built by Noor Jahan. It is the first Mughal Tomb built with white marble of Makrana quarries of Jodhpur. For the first time Pietra Dura technique (inlay of expensive gems in the walls of white marble) was used.

Monuments Built by Shah Jahan

  • His reign was glorious period of Mughal empire art and architecture in India. The Shah Jahan art and architecture includes monuments at both Agra and Delhi.

  • Monuments Built by Shah Jahan 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 - The Taj Mahal was built to house 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 Ahmad Lahori (or Isa Khan). The Taj Mahal was built during the period between 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 built by Shah Jahan 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 in Delhi was built by Shah Jahan opposite to the Red Fort. It is one of the largest Mosques in India which has 3 gates.

Monuments Built by Aurangzeb

  • Three monuments were built by him. Bibi Ka Maqbara is the tomb of his wife, Rabia-ud-Daurani. It was built in Aurangabad.

    It is a kind of replica of Taj Mahal. It was built by not using any white marble or Pietra dura technique. It is poor man's Taj Mahal.

  • It was Aurangazeb, who built the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, one of the largest mosques in Pakistan.

  • Moti Masjid was built beside Diwan-e-Khas in the Red Fort of Delhi.

Mughal Paintings

  • 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 paintings reached to the climax with Mughal miniature paintings during the time 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 called, 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.

The Mughal art and architecture is marvelous in nature. The famous Mughal architecture, Taj Mahal in Agra is listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.