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Day 22: History - History (Day 13 to 23)

Art, Culture, and scientific Development in India

Art, Culture, and Scientific Development in India

Mauryan Art and Architecture

  • The Mauryan period provides the earliest examples of ancient Indian art and architercture. Megasthenes has described the grandeur of the Mauryan palace at Pataliputra. Some remains of this palace have been found at Kumrhar near Patna.
  • Ashokan pillars at Rampurva, Lauriya Nandangarh and Sarnath present excellent examples of stone sculptures which developed in this period. Our national emblem comes from the Asokan pillar at Sarnath near Benaras. All these pillars are circular and monolithic, and are made of sand stone found at Chunar, near Mirzapur in U.P.
  • We also find some rock cut architecture like LomasaRisi cave in the Barabara hills near Gaya belonging to the Mauryan period.
  • Among several stone and terracotta sculptures of this period, polished stone sculpture of a chauri-bearing female known as Didarganj Yakshini is most famous.

Art and Architecture in Post Mauryan Era

Art in the post-Mauryan period was predominantly religious. Two most important features concerning art and architecture of this period are the construction of stupasnd development of regional schools of sculpture. Idols of the Buddha were carved out for the first time in this period. On account of contact with the foreigners from northwest, a specific school of art called Gandhara School of art developed in this period. It was influenced, to a great extent, by the Greek style or art forms.


  • A stupa was a large hemispherical dome with a central chamber in which relics of the Buddha or some Buddhist monk were kept in a small casket. The base was surrounded by a path for clockwise circumambulation (pradakshina), enclosed by wooden railings which were later made in stone.
  • Three prominent stupas of this period are at Bharhut and Sanchi (both in M.P), which were originally built by Ashoka but enlarged later, and Amravati and Nagar junkonda (both in Andhra Pradesh). The Bharhutstupa in its present form dates to the middle of the second century BC. It is important for its sculptures. Its railings are made of red stone.
  • Three big stupas were constructed at Sanchi in this period. The biggest of the three, which was built originally by emperor Ashoka, was enlarged to twice its size sometime in the second century BC. A number of stupas were also constructed in south India during this period but none has survived in its entirety.
  • The Amravati stupa, situated at Amravati in Andhra Pradesh took its final shape sometime in the second century AD. The sculptures on stupas are drawn on the themes based on Jataka and other Buddhist stories.

Rock Cut Architecture

  • Apart from the stupas, this period also marks a progress in rock cut architecture. A large number of temples, halls and places of residence for monks were cut out of the solid rocks near Pune and Nasik in Maharashtra under the Satavahanas.
  • The place of worship generally had a shrine cell with a votive stupa placed in the centre. This place was known as a chaitya and the rock cut structure used as the residence for monks was called a vihara.

Schools of Sculptural Art

  • The first century witnessed the division of Buddhism in two parts, Hinayana and Mahayana. Mahayana Buddhism encouraged Buddha’s worship as a god in human form. As a result a large number of Buddha images were built in different regions.
  • There were three major schools of sculptural art which developed in this period. These were: Mathura school of art, Gandhara School of art and Amravati school of art.

The Mathura School

  • The most prominent contribution of the Mathura school to the contemporary art was the images of Buddha which were carved for the first time perhaps in this art form. The Mathura artists used local red stone with black spots to make the images. Mathura has also yielded large numbers of sculptures of Jaina deities besides the ayagapatas or stone slabs to place objects of worship.
  • The Brahmanical influence on the art school of Mathura is also evident. During the Kushana period a number of sculptures of brahmanical deities were carved, which included Kartikeya, Vishnu, Kubera.

The Gandhara School of Art

  • The Gandhara region was situated in the north western part of the Indian Subcontinent. This region was successively ruled by the Greeks, Mauryas, Sungas, Shakas, and Kushanas for many centuries. The school of art which developed here around the beginning of the Christian era has been called variously as Graeco-Roman, Indo Greek or Graeco-Buddhist. This is perhaps because this school has all the influences-Roman, Greek and Indian. The theme of sculptures in predominantly Buddhist but their style is Greek. The chief patrons of Gandhara art were the Shakas and Kushanas.
  • The stone used for making idols of Buddha and Bodhisattava was predominantly blue-grey schist. Chief characteristics of Gandhara school of art lies in its beautiful portrayal of human figures with distinguished muscles of the body. Buddha is depicted with a garment draped in Graeco-Roman fashion, and with very curly hair. These beautiful images of the Buddha are ranked among the best pieces of sculptures.

The Amravati School of Art

  • The Amravati school of art flourished in the region of Andhra Pradesh between the lower valleys of rivers Krishna and Godavari. The main patrons of this art form were the Satavahans but it carried on even later, patronized by their successor Ikshavaku rulers. This art is said to have flourished between 150 BC and 350 AD. Sculptures of this school are mainly found on the railings, plinths and other parts of stupas. The thematic representations include the stories from the life of the Buddha.
  • An important characteristic of the Amravati school is the ‘narrative art’. The medallions were carved in such a manner that they depict an incident in a natural way. For example one medallion depicts a whole story of ‘taming of an elephant by the Buddha’. Another important feature of Amravati art is the use of white marble like stone to carve out the figures. There is prominence of human figures rather than of nature.

Art and Culture during Gupta Period


  • The Gupta period is considered as the Golden Age of art and literature. A huge body of religious and secular literature was compiled in this period. The two great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata were finally completed in the fourth century. The stories of both the epics symbolize the victory of good over evil. Both Rama and Krishna came to be considered incarnation of Vishnu. The Gupta period marks the beginning of the writing of the literature known as Puranas. These texts refer to the stories about the Hindu gods and mention the ways to please them through fasts and pilgrimages.
  • The major Puranas written in this period are the Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana and the Matsya Purana. For the worship of Shiva, Shiv Purana was written whereas the various incarnations of Vishnu are glorified in Varaha Purana, Vamana Purana, and Narasimha Purana. They were meant for the worship by common man. Some Smritis or the law books were also compiled in the Gupta period. One of these, the NaradaSmriti throws light on the general social and economic rules and regulations of the period.
  • The literature in Gupta period was written in Sanskrit. The greatest of all the poets was Kalidasa who lived in the court of Chandragupta II in the fifth century AD. His works are very famous and have been translated in many European languages. Some of the works that he authored are Meghadutam, Abhijnanashakuntalam, Raghuvamsha, Kumarasambhava and Ritusamhara. The notable feature of his works is that the characters of higher caste speak in Sanskrit while those of lower caste and women speak in Prakrit. The other famous dramatists to have flourished in this period are Shudraka, writer of Mrichchhkatikam and Vishakhadatta who authored Mudrarakshasa.
  • In the seventh century Banabhatta, the court poet of Harsha, wrote Harshacarita praising his patron. Written in an ornate style, it became a model for later writers. The early history of Harsha is reconstructed on the basis of this text. Another text written by him is Kadambari. Harsha too was considered to be a literary monarch. He is said to have authored three plays: Priyadarshika, Nagananda and Ratnavali.
  • In south India, the period from AD 550–750 witnessed the growth of Bhakti literature in Tamil. Songs were composed by the Vaishnava saints (Alvars) and Saiva saints (Nayannaras) in praise of their respective gods. One of the most famous of the Alvar saints was a woman called Andal. The Vaisnava devotional songs are later arranged in a text called NalayiraPrabandham while those of the Saivites are preserved in the text known as Devarama.

Art and Architecture

  • Ancient Indian art was mainly inspired by religion. As in earlier times, Buddhism gave a great impetus to art in Gupta period also. A life size image of Buddha made in copper is found from Sultanganj in Bihar. Beautiful images of Buddha were also created at Mathura and Sarnath. The finest examples of Buddhist art during Gupta period are the paintings of Ajanta caves. Depicting the life of Buddha and the Jataka stories, these paintings with lustrous colors have not faded even after fourteen centuries. The Ajanta caves are now included in the list of the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.
  • It is for the first time in the Gupta period that the temples in the form of structures were constructed in north India. These temples were made in the architectural style known as Nagara. Two of these temples, one made of bricks at Bhitargaon in Kanpur and the other of stone at Deogarh in Jhansi have been found in Uttar Pradesh. Here the images of Vishnu are placed in the center as a chief deity.
  • The Gupta coins are also pieces of art. They are well designed and meticulously crafted. They carry aesthetically impressive depictions of the activities of the rulers.
  • The lyrist type of gold coins issued by Samudragupta show him playing a lute. His interest in music can be detected from this representation. He also issued ashvamedha type of coins as mentioned above, In peninsular India also the worship of Vishnu and Shiva was becoming popular.
  • The Pallava rulers constructed stone temples in seventh and eighth centuries to house the images of these gods. The most famous are the seven rathas or temples each made out of a solid, piece of stone constructed by king Narasimhavarman at Mahabalipuram, 65 km from Chennai. The Pallavas also built many structural temples. One of the most important among them is the Kailashnath temple, constructed in the eighth century.
  • The Chalukyas of Vatapi also erected numerous temples at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal. Pattadakal has as many as ten temples built in seventh and eighth centuries and Virupaksha temple. The southern style of architecture came to be known as Dravida.

Science and Technology

  • An idea of the progress of science and technology in the Gupta period can be had from the important texts written on these subjects during this period. The most notable among them is an astronomical text called Aryabhatiyam, written by Aryabhatta in the fifth century.
  • Aryabhatta was an astronomer and a mathematician. He for the first time suggested that the earth rotates on its axis, and revolves around the sun and causes eclipse. He was the first to invent “zero” and the use of the decimal system.
  • Another scholar Varahamihira (end of sixth century) was a great astronomer who has written a number of books on astronomy. His work Panchasiddhantika deals with five astronomical systems. Brahmagupta a well-known mathematician also lived in the Gupta period.
  • Metallurgy also saw technological advancement in Gupta times. The bronze images of Buddha produced on a considerable scale in the period are an example of advanced technology. The twenty-three feet high iron pillar at Mehrauli in Delhi too speaks volumes of the iron technology prevailing in the Gupta period. Standing in the open, this pillar has not gathered rust even after fifteen centuries.
  • The wonderful paintings of Ajanta, still intact, indicate besides other things, the art of making colors during this period.

Cultural Developments in Medieval India

  • The Medieval period is considered as an age of great cultural synthesis in India. During this period a new phase of cultural development was initiated. The Turks and Mughals introduced fresh ideas and helped in giving rise to new features in the areas of religion, philosophy and ideas, Language and Literature, Styles of architecture and use of building material, Painting and Fine arts, Music and performing arts.
  • India already had a very rich cultural tradition in all spheres. The synthesis between different cultures gave birth to new philosophical and religious traditions, ideas, forms and styles in almost all spheres of culture.

Literature and languages

Sanskrit literature

  • The medieval period witnessed the growth of a rich corpus of literature that accompanied the development of new languages. The conventional view among historians was that the patronage of the Sanskrit language had declined because the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate led to the patronage of Persian. But this period witnessed the growth of a rich corpus of Sanskrit literature. This period is marked with composition of poetical works called the Kavya (poetical narrative) and the texts that codified laws called the Dhramashastras.
  • During the first half of the medieval period Sanskrit received patronage from the numerous smaller political establishments in central and south India. In western India HemachandraSuri was an important Jain scholar who composed works in Sanskrit, as was Chaitanya. There were also many dramas written during this period. A new style of writing called the champu also emerged during this period. It was a form that mixed both prose and poetry.
  • Among the Sanskrit works that were written with the patronage of the Rajput kings were their family histories like the Prithvirajavijaya and the Hammirmahakavya. Among the historical poems of the period was the Rajavinoda that was a biography of Sultan Mahmud Begarha of Gujarat written by his court poet, Udayaraja. Another important work was Kalhan’sRajtarangini, which presented a history of the kings of Kashmir. It was written in the 12th century A.D.
  • The second Rajtaranginni was written by Jonaraja who wrote the history of the kings of Kashmir from Jayasimha to Sultan ZainulAbidin and the third was written by Srivara who wrote the history of the region till 1486. Apart from these there were the prabandhas which were semi historical texts written during the period.
  • After the 15th century the patronage of the Sanskrit language was maintained in the southern courts of the rulers of Vijayanagar, Nayakas of Tanjor and the chiefs of Travancore and Cochin. The various genres of Sanskrit literature like Mahakavyas, Slesh Kavyas, Champu Kavyas, Natakas and the historical Kavyas continued. Among the important writers of this period were Govinda Dikshita (SahityaSudha and Sangitsudhanidhi being among his important works); AppayaDikshita (in the court of the Nayaka ruler of Vellore); Nilanatha Dikshit (who was a minister in the court of the Nayaka of Madurai); Chakrakavi (who was patronized by the rulers of Kozhikode).
  • The historical Kavyas gave a glimpse not just of the exploits of the various rulers but also a glimpse of the social perception of the writers. Some of the Mughals like Dara Shukoh also came to be mentioned in these Kavyas. The Mughal prince is also credited with the composition of a prasasti in honour of Nrisimha Sarasvati of Benaras. There were also a few works composed in the courts of the rulers of Bijapur and Golconda, but Sanskrit literature during this period began to decline.

Persian literature

  • With the establishment of the Delhi sultanate a new language and literary style was introduced into the sub-continent.
  • The development of Persian literature in the sub continent entered a new era in the writings of Amir Khusrau. He was a poet born in a family of Turkish immigrants and began as a poet in the reign of Sultan Balban. He was a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya and was patronized in the courts of Jalaluddin Khalji, Alauddin Khalji and Ghiyasuddin Tughluq. He is said to have composed ninety-nine works on different themes and numerous verses of poetry. His poetry was written in the different forms of lyric, ode, epic and elegy. His writing style represents the first instance of Persian styles being composed in the Indian context. This came to be known as the Sabaq-i-Hindi (the Indian style).
  • Among the important works composed by him are, Mutla-ul-Anwar, ShirinKhusrau, LailaMajnun and Ayina-I-Sikandari, these works were dedicated to Alauddin Khalji. Amorig his five Diwans (Ghazals) are Tuhfat-us-Sighar, BaqiyaNaqiya and Nihayat-ul-Kamal. He also wrote masnavis (narrative poems), which have been of great historical and literary value. Among these are the Qiran-us Sa’dain, Miftah-ulFutuh (dealing with the military success of Jalauddin Khalji), Tughluq Nama (describing Ghiyasuddin Tughluq’s rise to power) and the hazan-ulFutuh (giving an account of Alauddin Khalji’s conquest of the South). Among the other important Persian poets was Shaikh Najmuddin Hasan who was also one of the poets in the court of Alauddin Khalji. His ghazals earned him the title, S’aid of Hindustan.
  • The court chronicles were an important feature of the literature during the period of the Delhi Sultanate. Some important of these were, the Tabaqat-I-Nasiri by Minaj-us Siraj, Futuh-us Salatin by Isami and the Futuhat-I Firozshahi by Feroz Shah Tughluq. Ziauddin Barani made the most important contribution to Persian literature during this period. The Tarikh-I Firozshahi and the Fatwa-I Jahandariare his important works. The Sufi literature of the period developed a new form called the malfuzat that was in the form of a dialogue of the Sufi saints. The most famous of these was the Fawaid-ulFu’ad written by Amir Hassan Sijzi containing the anecdotes of the Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya and Khair-ul-Majalis containing the anecdotes of Sheik Nasiruddin Mahmud. During this period there were many works that were translated into Persian. The TutiNama (book of the parrot) by Zia Nakshabi was the first Persian translation of Sanskrit stories. The Mahabharatha and the Rajtarangini were also translated into Persian during this period. The number of translations of Sanskrit works into Persian grew during the reigns of FerozTughluq and Sikandar Lodi.
  • Like that of the sultanate, Persian also continued as the official language of the Mughal court. The Mughal rulers and princes also maintained a tradition of writing. The first Mughal emperor Babur, himself a literary figure, wrote his memoirs in Turkish which was subsequently translated into Persian by Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan. Humayun composed a Persian diwan. Prince DaraShukoh wrote a biographical account of the Sufi saint Miya Mir and his disciples in the SakinatulAuliya. He also wrote the Majm’aul Bahrain (Mingling of two Oceans). There was a new genre of Persian literature known as the Sabaq-i-Hindi (the Indian style) created during this period by the Persian poets visiting and living in the sub continent. Writers like Faizi, Urfi, Talib, Ghani Kashmiri and Bedil were among those who benefited from the patronage they received from the Mughals.
  • Among the important works of Faizi was Tabashir al Sabh. He also authored many translations of Hindu religious books. Abdur Rahim Khan Khana a talented scholar and poet lived during the reign of Akbar and Jahangir. Akbar patronized great scholar historian AbulFazl. He is said to have maintained a library of more than four thousand books. He is known for the patronage he extended to many writers of the period. The poets Ali Quli Salem and Abu TalibKalim were important poets during the reign of Shah Jahan. The latter is said to have authored the Padshahnama. Persian literature in the south received patronage from the AdilShahi rulers of Bijapur, here Malik Qummi and Mulla Zuhuri were regarded as important Persian poets. The QutabShahis of Golconda patronized poets like Muhammad Hussain Tabrezi. The development of Persian literature in the Mughal court played an important role and influenced the development and growth of regional literature. Languages like Punjabi, Pushtu, Sindhi and Kashmiri were strongly influenced by Persian.

Literature in South India

  • In the south Villiputturar was an important literary figure of the period. The tradition of using Sanskrit words and literary expressions is ascribed to him. Other important works in Tamil are commentaries written by Vaishnava scholars and also commentaries on works of the sangam age like the Tolkappiyam and the Kural. There were also a number of philosophical works and commentaries that were written on the Puranas.
  • Many of the works in Tamil literature were related to Shaivism and Vaishnavism. Among the important works of the medieval period was the Irusamayavilakkam written by Haridasa, the Sivadarumottaram and the Saiva Samayaneri both written by Marainanarbandar. In the realm of philosophy the notable works were the Cidambarapuranam (1508) by Purana Tirumalainathan and the Palanittalapuranam by Balasubramanya Kavirayar.
  • During this period the most famous Telugu poet was Errapragada who popularized the Champu genre of literary writing (mixed form of verse and prose). He also translated the Bhagavata Purana into Telugu. The Vijayanagar ruler Krishnadeva Raya wrote the Amuktamalyada in Telugu. The most celebrated poet in his court was AllarraniPeddana and Nandi Timmaha who wrote the Parijatapaharana. Bhattumurti or Rama Raja Bhushan is known for the Vasucaritra and the Hariscandra Nalopakhyanam (that narrates the story of Nala and Raja Harishchandra).
  • In the Kannada-speaking regions Jain writers dominated the literary compositions of the period. The works of Basava and his followers who popularized the Virasaiva movement in the region also form an important aspect of Kannada literature. The patronage of the Hoysala rulers further helped the development of the language. The VadiVidyananda of Geroppa is an anthology of Kannada poets. The Jain scholar Salva wrote works like the Trilokararara (on cosmology), Aparajiyasataka (on Philosophy) and the Bharataesvaracarita (the story of the famous king Bharata).
  • Malayalam emerged as an independent language during this period. The language was in oral form and the earliest work composed in the 14th century was the Rama Charitam. The works of Rama Panikkar who wrote BharataGatha, Savitri Mahatmyam and the Bhagavatam are considered important in malayalam.


  • The important phase in the development of music during this period belongs to the time of Amir Khusrau. It is during this period that the qawwali style is said to have developed. He is also credited for the development of many modern ragas like aiman, gora and sanam. He is credited with the creation of a new musical instrument, the sitar that was a combination of the Indian vina and the Iranian tambura. The Turks are credited with bringing musical instruments like rabab and sarangi into South Asia.
  • In Vrindavan Swami Haridas promoted music and is considered to have taught Tansen who was at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Tansen is regarded as an important exponent of the Hindustani classical music and is credited with introducing ragas as the MiyankiMalhar, MiyankiTodi and Darbari. Raja Mansingh is said to have played an important role in the perfection of the Dhrupad style of North Indian Music.
  • In the south a system of ragas known as the Janaka and Janya ragas existed during this period. The Swaramela Kalanidhi by Ramamatya of Kondavidu written in 1550 describes 20 Janan and 64 Janya ragas.
  • By the 18th century several new forms of music like Tarana, Dadra and Ghazal had come into existence.


  • The earliest reference to murals is in a qasida in praise of Iltutmish, which describes the figures depicted upon the sqandrels of the main arch that was raised to welcome the envoy of the Caliph. In another reference in the Tarikh-I Ferozshai there is a reference to the Sultan seeking to ban the tradition of figural paintings on the walls of the palaces of Delhi. Quaranic calligraphy also became popular across South Asia during this period. The earliest copy of the Quran (dated 1399) was written in Gwalior. The manuscript was decorated with a variety of ornamental motifs. By the 15th century the kingdoms of Gujarat, Malwa and Jaunpur emerged as important centres of art.
  • Paintings in medieval India entered a new phase under the Mughals. They altered the character of painting across north India. The Mughal paintings are defined by the styles and subjects popular at the imperial court. The early origins of the Mughal School of painting can be traced to Kabul. During the reign of Humayun two Persian artists, Mir Syed Ali and Abdus Samad were patronized.
  • Akbar deputed them to illustrate manuscript of Hamzanama. This manuscript of 1,400 pages was compiled by artists drawn from Gwalior, Gujarat, Lahore and Kashmir. It is during this period that many features of Mughal painting developed. Many paintings of this period are collaborative efforts with two or even four painters working on one painting. Among the important features of the paintings of this period are restricted movement of the figures, fineness of lines of drawings and flat depiction of architectural columns. The Mughal paintings are also marked with a naturalism and rhythm, the clothing of the objects assumed Indian forms and the use of subsidiary scenes in the background. The two most common themes in Mughal paintings of this period are specific events in the court and the portraits of leading personalities.
  • During the reign of Jahangir there were other changes in the style of Mughal paintings. The paintings of the Jahangir period accentuate a formalist style and have broad margins which are well decorated with the depiction of flora and faces of human figures, the naturalistic representations matured during the reign of Jahangir. The use of trees, birds, streams and rivers in the backdrop of the paintings became very popular.
  • There are interesting scenes of love and portraits of women members attached to the royal court in Mughal paintings of the Shah Jahan period, while the paintings of the Aurangzeb period provide glimpses of the Mughal emperor during his campaigns. As in architecture the Mughal paintings also gave way to the growth and development of regional styles that tried to replicate the same features and characteristic decorative designs.
  • Rajput paintings that are also of the same period consist of various different court styles, corresponding to the various Rajput kingdoms. The Rajput paintings during the 16th and 17th centuries used many representations of mythology and of court scenes.
  • The Rajput paintings are spread over a larger geographical region, with each region forming a separate sub topic in the artistic scheme. The other styles that were popular were the regional styles of the Deccan and the regions of Bengal, Gujarat and Orissa. The Rajput paintings further flourished in the eighteenth century when many of the artists shifted to the courts of their new patrons. This also coincided with the emergence of many smaller regional styles of paintings. These paintings are known for the intensity of the colours that they use and depict hunting scenes, portraits of individuals and of musical sessions. The main styles of this painting were the Mewar, Bundi and the Kishangarh schools.


Architecture of the Delhi Sultanate

  • Monuments like the Quwwatul Islam mosque (1198), Qutab Minar (1199–1235), Adhai Din KaJhonpra (1200) and Iltutmish’s tomb represent the early forms of Indo-Islamic architecture. The early buildings show signs of being worked upon by local craftsmen while the later buildings show the development or the maturing of the Indo-Islamic style. In these monuments one can see the gradual development of dome and the true arch. The best examples of this are the tombs of Iltutmish (1233–34) and Balban (1287– 88).
  • The Alai Darwaza in the Qutub complex (1305) and the JamatKhana Masjid at Nizamuddin (1325) are examples of Khalji period. Here one notices changes marked by the distinct influence of the Seljuq architectural tradition. The employment of the true arch shaped like a pointed horse shoe; the emergence of true dome; use of red sand stone and decorative marble reliefs; the emergence of the lotus bud fringe on the underside of the arch and the new masonry were the important features of this new style.
  • The new architectural style of the Tughluq period is represented with the use of stone rubble as the principle building material, the battering of walls and bastions, a new type of arch called the four centred arch, the emergence of the pointed dome and the introduction of an octagonal plan of tomb building. Another important feature of Tughlaq architecture was the “batter” or sloping walls. This gave the structures an effcct of strength. During the subsequent period numerous tombs were built using the octagonal plan while others were built using the square plan.
  • The Architectural monuments of the Sur’s can be divided into two periods, the first with buildings at Sasaram (1530–40) like the tombs of Sher Shah’s father and Sher Shah himself. The second phase from (1540–45) is represented by buildings like the PuranaQila in Delhi and the QilaiKuhna Masjid inside the Qila. The slight flatness in the curve towards the crown is indicative of the last stage before the development of the four-centred arch developed during the Mughal phase.

Regional Variations

  • During this period there was a development of various regional architectural forms. In eastern India there was the development of two distinctive schools in Bengal and in Jaunpur.
  • The most prominent buildings of the Bengal school belong to the Malda district in the remains of the two cities, Gaur and Pandua. Here there is an introduction of two important features. The first was the ‘drop arch’, which had a span greater than its radius and centres at the import level. The second was the method of raising the roof in a system of arched bays where small domes supported by diagonally arranged brick pendentives that helped transition from a square to a circular base. Another development in this period was the transition from constructing bamboo houses to brick structures, during which a special form of a curved roof developed. The best illustrations of the architecture styles from Jaunpur are the mosques. The styles here bear close resemblance to the Tughlaq style. The use of the arch and beam are notable features of this style.
  • In western India the development of regional architectural forms is notable in 14th century Gujarat. Here there is a distinctive change in the art form from the 14th into the 15thcentury. In the former there was a large scale use of building material from demolished temples and in the latter there is a development of a new style in which the layout of the mosques copied the architectural imprint of temples.
  • In central India the development of new art forms is noticeable in the Malwa region; the cities of Dhar and Mandu are illustrations of this style.
  • Another important region that developed its distinctive style was the Deccan where the Bahmani kingdom created a very different architectural style as compared to the northern architectural forms. The Deccan style developed with the fusion of the Tughlaq style from the north and the Iranian style. The development of thearchitectural style here coincides with the shifting of the kingdom’s capital from Gulbarga (1347) to Bidar (1425) and eventually to Golconda (1512). In the first phase in Gulbarga the architectural style is representative of a distinctive Islamic architecture that followed the Tughlaq style. In the second phase there is an adaptation of Iranian architectural styles, this is accompanied with the use of coloured tiles, mural paintings and a change in the shape of the domes.
  • Another important regional development in the Deccan was Vijayanagara art. The distinctive style is best illustrated using the architectural forms in the city of Hampi. Besides palaces and temples the city also had an extensive network of waterworks and public buildings such as the elephant stables and the Lotus Mahal. The unique features of this style were the use of pillars for architectural and decorative purposes. The climax of temple architecture at Vijayanagara occurred under the Tuluva rulers. The architectural tradition was accompanied by a vibrant sculptural tradition that used many mythological figures and narratives. The shrines on Hemakuta hill, Virupaksha temple and the Hazara Rama temple are examples of Vijayanagara temple architecture.

The Architecture of the Mughal Empire

  • This period witnessed large scale architectural activities that represented the peak of Islamic art in India. It was also a period where there was a great exchange of ideas and styles that led to the creation of a style that was very different from the Sultanate period and that had many features of local or regional styles. The Mughal Emperor Akbar initiated the grand projects that symbolize this period.
  • Among the early structures of this period are the two mosques built by Babur at Sambhal and Panipat in 1526. Babur is also credited with the laying out of gardens at Dholpur and at Ram Bagh and Zahra Bagh at Agra.
  • Two mosques one at Agra and the other at Hissar belong to the reign of the second Mughal emperor Humayun. The grandness of Mughal architecture began with the construction of Humayun’s tomb and its design by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas from Persia. He brought with him Persian craftsmen to work on the tomb. This tomb is the earliest specimen of a garden enclosure and is raised on an arcaded sandstone platform. The tomb is octagonal and crowned by a high dome. The dome is a double dome, which is built in two layers one which provides the ceiling to the interior of the building and the other, which provides the outer layer that crowns, the building.
  • During the reign of Akbar many indigenous styles were encouraged leading to the common use of sandstone, the use of arches (mainly in a decorative form) and the decoration that comprised mainly of boldly carved or inlaid patterns complemented by brightly coloured patterns on the interiors. Among the important monumental projects undertaken was the building of Agra fort, within the fort were many structures that were built in the Gujarat and Bengal styles, which were subsequently demolished by Shah Jahan who remodelled the fort and its interiors. The JanangirMahal conceived as a robust building in red sandstone, is a fusion of Hindu and Islamic building designs. The combination of beam and bracket form the principal structural system, the same styles are seen in the palace fortresses of Lahore and Allahabad. Mughal architecture under Akbar entered a new phase with the construction of Fatehpur Sikri. This city-palace was built entirely of red sandstone between 1571–1585. The buildings could be studied under two categories, religious and secular. Among the religious buildings are, the Jami Masjid, the Buland Darwaza and the tombs of Shaikh Salim Chishti. The secular structures are the palaces, administrative buildings and other structures. The Jama Masjid uses a typical plan of a mosque with a central courtyard, arcades on three sides and a domed skyline. In its courtyard lies the tomb of SalimChishti. Among the palaces are buildings known as the JodhBai palace, the PanchMahal (the size of this five storey structure that diminishes as one goes higher), the Diwan-i-Khas (is in the form of a rectangle and is two stories from outside) and the Diwan-i- Am. Among the other buildings here are the Hathi Pol and the Karkhana buildings.
  • The important buildings of the reigns of Jahangir include the Tomb of Akbar at Sikandara, and the tomb of ItmadudDaula. The tomb at Sikandara is designed as a tomb enclosure enclosed by a garden, the tomb itself is three stories high the first being an arcaded platform making the basement the middle portion is in three tiers of red sandstone while the highest one is made of white marble which is open on top with a screen surrounding it. The tomb of ItmadudDaula built in 1622–28 marks a change in architectural style from the Akbari period. This enclosed tomb with a dome roof is enclosed with a beautiful marble tracery. Jahangir is also known to have laid the famous Mughal gardens in Kashmir.
  • Among the important monuments of the reign of Shah Jahan are the LalQila (in Delhi), the Moti Masjid (at Agra), the Jami Masjid in Delhi and the TajMahal. The LalQila is designed as a rectangle along the banks of the river Yamuna. There are two gates, the Delhi and Lahore gates. There is a moat that runs all along the fort except on the riverside. The important buildings inside the fort are the Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas and the Rang Mahal. The Moti Masjid in Agra was an experiment with an alternative scheme of an open prayer hall that had also dispensed with the minarets and replaced them with chhatris on the four coners of the prayer hall. The Jammi Masjid is a larger version of the Jammi Masjid in Fathepur Sikri. It is built on a large platform; within the mosque there are colonnades on three sides with the sanctuary along the fourth. There are three marble domes rising above the sanctuary. The TajMahal represents the grandest project of Shahjahan. The construction of the Taj began in 1632 and was completed by 1643. The plan of the complex is rectangle with a high enclosure wall and a lofty gateway in the middle. The main building of the Taj stands on a high marble platform at the northern end of the enclosure. There is a huge dome that covers the top of this structure, with an inverted lotus finial. The decorative features of the building consist mainly of calligraphy and inlay work in the exterior and pietradura in the interior.
  • The Moti Masjid at LalQila in Delhi, the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore and the mausoleum built for his wife RabiaudDauran at Aurangabad are the main examples of Mughal architecture under Aurangzeb. The mausoleum at Aurangabad was modeled on the TajMahal. Of architectural monuments after Aurangzeb the tomb of Safdar Jang in Delhi is representative of the continuation of the tradition of the Mughals by the regional governors.

Decorative Styles

  • Another feature of the art of this period was the decorative art in Islamic buildings that was introduced in the sub-continent for the first time. These decorative styles were usually in the form of calligraphy, geometrical figures and foliation.
  • In calligraphy quranic sayings were inscribed on buildings in an angular, sober and monumental script called kufi. The calligraphy was found on different parts of the buildings as on doorframes, ceilings, wall panels, etc. The geometric shapes on the other hand were used in different variety of combinations. The generating source of these designs was the circle, which was then developed into a square, triangle or polygon. These forms were then elaborated by, multiplication and sub division, by rotating and by symmetrical arrangements.
  • The dominant form of decoration employed in the sultanate buildings was the arabesque. It was characterized by a continuous stem that split regularly, producing a series of leafy secondary stems which split again to reintegrate into the main stem.

GK through MAP (Snippets)

Freedom Struggle in Utter Pradesh

Freedom Struggle in Utter Pradesh


90 Days Planner (Day 22 History- Art & Culture)

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