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Medieval History / Delhi Sultanate

Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate

    Art and Architecture that was developed during the period of Delhi Sultanate was phenomenal. During the reign of Delhi Sultanate, there was development of composite culture called Indo-Persian culture, which is a combination of all religions. The style of architecture that was developed during Delhi Sultanate period is Indo-Islamic architecture or Indo-Persian architecture. Urdu language, which is a combination of Persian and Hindustani, started developing more decisively during this period.

    Introduction of Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate

    • Hindustani Sangeet (Composite music) got developed during this period. It is a North Indian music. It is a mixture of Indian, Persian and Arabic music.

    • The versatile genius Amir Khusro was in the court of Delhi Sultans. He was a musician, poet, historian and a scholar. It is assumed that he was in the courts of 8 Delhi Sultans starting from Balban to Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. He remained a disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin.

    • Amir Khusro invented two musical instruments namely, Tabla and Sitar. He also invented 19 ragas in Hindustani music like Qawwali, Sanam, Gora, Tarana, Aiman, etc. He invented a new language called Sabaq-i-Hind.

    • Alauddin Khilji gave Amir Khusro a title called "Tote Hind" (parrot of India). Amir's contribution to literature is immense. He wrote many books like Khazain-ul-Futuh (Victories of Ala-ud-din), Miftah-ul-Futuh (Victories of Jalal-ud-din Khalji), Tughlaq Nama (Victories of Ghiyas-ud-din) and two books about love and romance namely Laila-Majnun and Ashiqa.

    • Beams and pillars are not present in Muslim monuments but Domes and Arches are present (roof is not flat). Muslim monuments have superior quality mortar. Generally Dome will be placed on 4 Arches.

    • Muslim monuments will not have any decoration but verses of Quran in Arabic script are used as decorative items. Islam bans living organisms in monuments. Generally, Hindu monuments are beautifully decorated. Indo–Islamic architecture is a blend of Muslim and Hindu architecture.

    • If we see Akbar's tomb, which was built in Indo-Islamic style, we can find flora, lotus, trees, peacocks and Swastik on it. Similarly, Vijayanagara Monuments (e.g. Lotus Mahal) were designed in Indo-Persian architecture. Hawa Mahal in Jaipur and Man Mandir Ghat in Kashi are designed in Indo-Islamic architecture. This architecture was adopted by all the religions for secular monuments.

    List of Delhi Sultanate Monuments

    • Masjids -
      • Qutb-ud-din Aibak constructed two mosques, which are some of the first mosques in India.
        • Quwwat-ul-Islam in Mehrauli (Delhi) - Previously it was a Vishnu temple. At the entrance of the mosque, there remains Chandragupta's Iron Pillar.
        • Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra (Ajmer) - It was also a Vishnu temple converted into mosque in 2 and half days.
      • The first mosque in India, built completely in Islamic tradition, is Jamat Khana Mosque at Delhi. It was being built by Ala-ud-din Khilji. In the courtyard of this mosque, we can find Dargah of Nizamuddin.

    • Minars -
      • Qutb Minar, Mehrauli (Delhi) - Its height is around 73 m and which consists of 5 storeys. It was built up by various Sultans of Delhi. 1-4 storeys are made up of Red sandstone and 5th was made up of White marble. First storey was built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak. Second, third and the fourth storeys were built by Iltutmish. Fourth was damaged. It got repaired and along with the fifth storey was built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq.

    • Darwajas (Gateways) -
      • It is an entrance to some monuments. Alai Darwaza was being built by Ala-ud-din Khilji. It is in front of Qutub Minar.

    • Palaces or Mahals -
      • Feroz Shah Kotla - It was the residence of Firoz Shah Tughlaq.
      • Hauz Khas - It is a structure built in the middle of a tank (lake). It is the summer resort of Firoz Shah Tughlaq. It is a beautiful two storeyed palace. The first storey was built in Indian style of architecture by using Beams and Pillars and second one was built in Indo-Persian architecture using Arches and Domes.

    • Maqbaras or Tombs -
      • Tughlaqs started Tomb architecture. It is a tradition introduced in India by Muslims. The important Maqbara of Delhi Sultanate is Sikandar Lodi Maqbara in Delhi. It was constructed by Sikandar Lodi. It became a model for Mughals. Features of this tomb are such that it was built on a raised platform, which is located in the middle of a garden. The tomb is in octagonal shape. It has got double Dome (Dome above Dome). Double Dome structure was introduced by Sikandar Lodi. (Humayun Tomb and Taj Mahal have double Domes)