The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
will be held on 6-8 February, 2020 in Perth, Western Australia.
READ MORE

Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
Some of the Buddhist Illustrations created by Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
FREE for everyone to use

We would also appreciate your feedback on Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia. Please write feedback here
Here you can read media articles about the Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia which have been published all over the world.

Paypal-logo.jpg
Articles by alphabetic order
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 Ā Ī Ñ Ś Ū Ö Ō
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0


The monuments of India

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Please consider making little donation to help us expand the encyclopedia    Donate Paypal-logo.jpg    Enjoy your readings here and have a wonderful day  


2nhwalk.jpg
Y-in-temple.jpg
Stup h.jpg
Tonpa Sherab Miwoche.jpg
Img5.jpg
Kri0024.JPG
Buddhatrans.jpg
1977zxc.jpg
8 5278303 n.jpg
Troon-L1ga.JPG
E-pray-in-te.jpg
Buryatia 63.jpg
Meditation-graphic.jpg
968.JPG
1189707.jpg
24xc.jpg
10bnm8 n.jpg
Manju-22.jpg

Architecture "We must remember that it is in the Realm of finearts in general, and architecture in particular, that the character of people belonging to a particular region and epoch is given a permanence which is not possible in any other Form of culture."

India expresses its artistic Wealth in an incredible number of monuments. The monuments in India can both geographically and thematically be divided into Buddhist, Jainist, Hindu, Indo-moslem and colonial Art.

Indus Valley

One of the earliest surviving evidence of architecture in India is the one related with Indus Valley Civilization or Harrapan culture. The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest civilizations, dates back to more than 5000 years. The urban planning of the twin cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa is an amazing example of how sophisticated the ancient civilization of Indus Valley was. They created not only planned structure of buildings and cities but it also created structures that have lasted for thousands of years. The "Great Bath" and the "Granary" are good examples of the architecture of this era.

The Great Bath-Mohenjo-daro The "great bath" at Mohenjo-daro is considered by many scholars as one of the earliest public water tanks that was used for special religious functions. The water was used to purify and renew the well being of the bathers. This is still practiced in India, as many Hindus believe that a dip in the Ganges River will wash away their sins and purify them.

Mohenjo-daro

The tank measures approximately 12 meters north-south and 7 meters wide, with a maximum depth of 2.4 meters. There are two wide staircases that lead down into the tank from the north and south. At the foot of the stairs is a small ledge with a brick edging that extends the entire width of the pool. People coming down the stairs could move along this ledge without actually stepping into the pool itself.

The Great Granary/ Great Hall-Harappa Scholars still debate the purpose of the structure found during the excavation of Indus valley which was initially Thought to be a granary. The Great Granary or the Great Hall is said to have three major building. "The earliest structure is represented by a single wall that is oriented east-west and lies directly below the second major building, the Great Hall. The Great Hall was first modified with the addition of an external mud-brick platform and subsequently completely filled with clay. On top of this new platform the Later Hall was built. Although it is disappointing to have to state that the actual use of these buildings remains unknown, it is possible to confirm that there is no direct evidence for their use as granaries (Meadow, Kenoyer and Wright 1999)."

Buddhist Architecture

The rise of Buddhism in India resulted in number of Monasteries and rock-edicts that can be seen even today in modern Orissa and Central India. The main feature of Buddhist Architecture is the stambhas (pillars), Stupas (topes), rails, chaityas (assembly hall) and viharas (Monasteries). Emperor Asoka (273-236 B.C.) raised Stupas in Buddha's honor all over India. The Buddhist Stupa at Sanchi is one of them. The Stupas at Sanchi traced the development of the Buddhist Architecture and sculpture at the same location beginning from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D.

Dhamekh Stupa at Sarnath

The Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest Stupas in India. It measures 36.5 m in diameter and 16.4 m high with a hemispherical dome. The construction of this massive structure dates back to 3rd century B.C. The whole structure was later enlarged. Today the original brick structure built by Ashoka is inside the enlarged stone one. The Stupas are large hemispherical domes surmounted by a finial or 'harmika'. They contain a central chamber, in which the Relics of the Buddha were placed. There are four entrances or toranas to the great Stupa. The magnificently carved gateways at the Sanchi Stupa depict incidents from The life of the Buddha and his previous incarnations as Bodhisattvas described in Jataka tales. A railing or vedika encircles the Stupa. The railing and the gates are richly sculptured. Near the Stupa stands a Chunar sandstone pillar which has some edicts by Ashoka- the Buddhist ruler of India.

Another remarkable example of the buddisht architecture is the Dhamekh Stupa at Sarnath near Varanasi in Uttarpradesh. It is believed that it was in Sarnath that Buddha delivered his first sermon now termed Dharamachakra Pravartan or "the Wheel of law" to his five disciples after attaining Enlightenment. Built around 6th century, the present Stupa stands 31.3 meters tall and 28.3 meters wide.The lower portion of the Stupa is covered with beautifully carved stones, that has a band of Swastika with a finely chiselled Lotus wreath, running over and below it

The beginning of the Temple Architecture

The Gupta period in the history of India was the revival period for Hinduism which had experienced a set back with the rise of Buddhism. In the seventh and the eighth century the Hindu school of architecture began to flourish.

There were number of temples built during 7th and the 8th century. Though the basic pattern of the temples; the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) for the idol; the Shikhara (prominent roof); flight of steps often built on a platform leading to the temple; and a porch covering the entrance to the temple, which is supported by carved pillars remained the same, one did see varieties in style as temple architecture in the North and South evolved.

The distinction between the North and South Indian style was based on the Form and shape of Shikharas or the prominent roof and the distinctiveness of its decoration. The North Indian style is technically called the nagara and is marked by the curvilinear towers. The South Indian style, known as the dravida, has towers in the Form of truncated pyramids. The third style, the vesara, combines in itself both the North Indian and South Indian styles.

North Indian Temple Architecture

The North Indian style called the Nagara style is marked by the curvilinear towers. The shrine is square at the center, but there are projections on the outside leading to cruciform shape. These projections occur throughout the height of the structure. Depending on the number of projections on the side they are called; triratha-1 projection, pancharatha-2 projections, saptharatha-3 projections, navaratha-4 projections.

The style is found mostly in Orissa, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The temples of Orissa are the ones that can be described as the typical Nagara style. In this style, the structure consists of two buildings, the main shrine taller and an adjoining shorter mandapa. The main difference between the two is the shape of the sikhara. In the main shrine, a Bell shaped structure adds to the height. In all Hindu temples, there is the kalasa at the top and the ayudha or emblem of the presiding Deity.

Some of the temples of this style are: The Parasurameswara temple at Bhuvaneshwar, Lingaraja temple at Bhubhaneswar, Sun temple at Konarak and Jagannath temple at Puri


The Gupta Age ( 350 - 650 AD)

Some of the earliest temples in North and Central India belong to the Gupta period. The temples are at Sanchi, Tigawa (near Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh), Bhumara (in Madhya Pradesh), Nachna (Rajasthan) and Deogarh (near Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh) are some of the examples.

The temples built during this Time were very simple and unimpressive compared to those seen during the medieval period of Indian history. They were just meant to house the shrines, while the other Rituals were performed in the open air. Though the temples were modestly built like the one at Tigawa, near Jabalpur. "It had all the characteristics of early Hindu temples - an inner garba-griha surrounded by an ambulatory Path or cella, an outer portico with columns in the front, and above all, a flat roof of stone."

The Prathiharas (647- 1200 AD) Temples of Osian, near Jodhpur, Rajasthan

The temples of Osian, near modern Jodhpur in Rajasthan are among the earliest medieval temples built by the Pratiharas in the eighth century. There are fifteen Hindu temples and shrines, and a cluster of Jain temples (11th century), built during the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty between the 8th and the 12th. The temples are built in red sandstone have intricate carvings on their walls, pillars and shikhars. The are dedicated to Harihara - the symbolic union of Hindu Gods Vishnu and Shiva, to the Sun God and Shakti (mother Goddess).

The temples built during the early 8th century had smaller shrines, about eight feet tall. The shikhara had become a crowning feature of the temples and Hindu architecture at this Time. The builders of Osians are credited for adding the mandapa (open assembly hall supported on column) to the temples.

Teli-ka-Mandir at Gwalior

Teli-ka-mandir is said to be a last attempt at adopting the Buddhist Chailtya hall roof over a rectangular plain as a model for Hindu shrine. It is similar to one of the forms of the rathas of Mahabalipuram in the South.The Teli-ka-mandir has finely sculptured horizontal friezes. The 24 meter high tower, is rectangular at the base and become pyramidical halfway up. This Form of architecture was discarded by the North Indian Hindu architects later but could be seen in the architecture of the Southern India.

Temples of Orissa

Kalinga (modern Orissa), had succession of kings who sought peronal glorification through the building of temples in the region. The elliptic curve of the Shikara of the Gupta period was discarded by the Orissan architect and a perpendicular prismatic tower was adopted. The vertical profile of the Orissa shikhara converged only near the apex, towards the circular Kalasha (the crowning stone at the top). This "shoulder type" spire became the distinguished feature of Orissa temples.

The Vaital Deul Temple at Bhubaneshwar; built during the 7th century is inspired by the Buddhist Architecture and is a refined version of the Teli-ka-mandir at Gwalior. The 35 feet high shrine of the temple is surmounted by a chailtya hall vault. The difference between the Teli-ka-mandir and Vailtal Deul is that the outer surface of the vault is unadorned and is replaced by three Kalasa type finials, generally found over shikaras on the ridge of the lower vault.

Simple shrines consisting of a small ‘Sri Mandir’, or ‘deul’ as the main cella, crowned by the shikhara was built all over Orissa. Later mandapas (covered halls) were added to the temple's single roomed shrines where devotees could congregate. The earliest known example of this modification is seen in the 8th century temple of Parasurameswar

The Temple of Parasurameswar, Bhubaneshwar This small temple shows the early stages of development of the two main Orissan temple components: the beehive-shaped tower (generally referred to as the deul ) and the porch in front of the tower (generally called the Jagamohan). The temple of Parasurameswar has a lowslung structure attached to the Sri mandir. The rectangular plan of the temple encompasses, the central aisles of the mandapa and the side aisles covered with massive stone slabs. This leaves between the two roofs a narrow opening which lights the interior.

The Little Gem of Mukteshwar, Bhubaneshwar

This 10th century temple is an important transition point, between the early and the later phases of the Kalinga school of temple architecture. This temple is a rare example of a temple planned and built without subsequent additions as was done before. Hence, architecturally the temple of mukteshwar shows better relationship between the cella and the mandapa compared to the temples built earlier. For the first Time the mandapa received due attention from the architect. The mandapa built was square rather than rectangular and the tapering pyramidical roof of the mandapa was made lower than the shikhara tower to show the subservience of the mandapa to the "duel". The meticulous planning of both duel and the Jagmohan, resulted in a fine structure of Mukteshwar.

Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneshwar

The Lingaraja temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva also called Tribhubaneshwar or the Lord of Three Worlds. The two famous temples built in Orissa during the 10th century; the Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneshwar and the Jaganath temple of Puri in Orissa are identical in style and construction.

The Lingaraja temple built in 1000 AD, consisted of a Sri mandir (cella) and a Jagmohan (porch) of gigantic proportion. The Nat mandir (Hall for dance) and the Bhog mandir (Hall for Offerings) were later added to the temple to accommodate various new Rituals. The cella is 56 feet (17 meters) and rises about 140 feet (43 meters). The mandapa is rectangular in plan and is supported by 4 massive columns and its pyramidal roof reaches 100 feet (30.4 meters).

Unlike the Khajuraho temples that were built during the same period as the Lingaraja, the Lingaraja temple is of more important to Hindu devotees. It is an important Pilgrimage center for the Hindus. The Khajuraho temple on the other hand has been completely deserted in terms of Hindu worship. Prayers are no longer offered in the Khajuraho temple.

The Sun Temple is also known as the Black Pagoda. It was built in the 13th century. Indian mythology often describes the Sun God riding his chariot of Time pulled by seven horses. This description was used to build the Sun temple. The entire temple complex in Konark was designed in the Form of a huge chariot drawn by seven horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely carved wheels.There are two rows of 12 wheels on each side of the Konark sun temple. The twelve meticulously carved wheels are more than 10 feet (3 meters) in diameter and are positioned on the long side of the terrace on which the temple was erected. The wheels of the chariot symbolises the divisions of Time. Some say the wheels represent the 24 hours in a day and others say the 12 months. The seven horses are said to symbolize the seven days of the week.

The parapets on either side of the flight of steps rising upto the entrance has a row of Life-size sculptures. Over the main platform are placed the combination Jagmohan (porch) and deul. Many parts of the temple has now collapsed. In its original Form, the deul was 235 feet high and the jagamohana was about 150 feet high.The tower over the Garbagriha is missing, however the Jagmohana is intact.The temple has a three-tiered pyramidal roof topped off by a fine spire.The walls of the Sun temple in Konark contain superb carving of human and animal figures, foliage, men, warriors on horses amidst floral, geometric and other Interesting patterns. There are three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset.

Temples of Khajuraho

While the temples of Orissa were being built a parallel development was taking place in the Bundelkhand region in Cental India were the Chandela rulers embellished their capital city with temples.

The temple of Khajuraho is a famous both for its architectural excellence as well as erotic sculpture. All the temples of Khajuraho are set on broad high terraces. The stone used for the temples are either granite or a combination of Light sandstone and granite. Each of these temples has an entrance hall or mandapa, and a sanctum sanctorum or garbha griha. The roofs of the various sections of the temple have a distinct Form. The porch and hall have pyramidal roofs made of several horizontal layers. The inner sanctum's roof is a conical tower - a colossal pile of stone (often 30m high) made of an arrangement of miniature towers called shikharas.

The shikharas of Khajuraho are architectural masterpiece. Unlike the rigid, vertical shikaharas of Orissa, there is an ascending parabolic outline rising to the top. The horizontal tiers of the shikharas found in the Orissa architecture was replaced by vertical bands planted in the middle of each of the four faces of the shikharas. The functional part of the temple, the cella and its attached mandapa (porch) are in contrast strikingly modest in volume. Every facade-wall, window, pillar, and ceiling of Khajuraho is carved with figures of mythical and historical origins. There are literally hundreds of exquisite images on the interior and exterior walls of the shrines with some most graphic, erotic and sensuous sculptures the World.

South Indian Temple Architecture

The style that developed in the temple architecture in the Soutern India is called the "dravida". The distictive characteristics of the Southern style is the Vimana and the Gopurams. The Vimana is a tall pyramidal tower consisting of several progressively smaller storeys. This stands on a square base. The Gopuram has two storeys seperated by a horizontal moulding. The Prakara or the outer wall, envelops the main shrine as well as the other smaller shrines.

The Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Vijayanagar rulers, and the Nayaks all contributed to the Southern style of temples.

The Chalukyas ( 540 - 757 AD)

In the North the Gupta rulers are credited for developing the temple architecture. In the South, the Chalukya rulers are among the early rulers who developed the Hindu style of temple architecture. The early temples show a great deal of Buddhist influence. The temples of Aihole reflect the experimental phase of development of the Hindu style of temple architecture that evolved from simple rock cut shrines to large and complicated structures

Some of the modest temples in Aihole are the Ravana Phadi, Durga Temple, Meguti Temple and the Lad Khan Temple.

The Lad Khan Temple is one of the earliest temple built by the Chalukyas. It marks a step in the Evolution of the classical temple architecture in the South. This seventh century temple was named after Lad Khan, a Muslim prince, who used the temple as his home. The layout of Lad Khan is based on that of a nine-square Buddhist Vihara. The temple is a large square building with a projecting porch and decorative pillars. A stone ladder leads to a shrine with sculptures of Vishnu, Siva, and Surya on the walls. The stone roof of this temple has a stunted structure, considered as a nascent Form of a shikhara. Overall the temple is simple in style and has minimum ornamentation.

The seventh century Durga Temple at Aihole is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It took its Name from the Kannada word "durgadagadi" or "temple near the fort." This temple also shows Buddhist influence in its architecture. The temple is planned like the Buddhist Chaitya halls surrounded by verandah with giant pillars.The roof of this temple shows little advancement than the Lad Khan Temple though this temple was built much later. The temple has excellent sculptures of Narasimha, Vishnu with Garuda, Harihara, and Varaha. It has relief panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The rock cut structures at Mahabalipuram in South India is credited to three great Pallava kings Mahendravarman- I (600-630 AD), Narasimhavarman I (630-666 AD), and Narasimhavarman II (700-728 AD). It is said that the early sculptor architect tried to build structures from granite modeling the wooden structures that existed. The Pallava ruler are said to be the pioneers of dravidian style of temple architecture and they built the temples in Mamallapuram. They spread their influence to Thailand, Cambodia, and Java in Indonesia. Dharmaraja Ratha at Mahabalipuram was adopted by the later rulers as the appropriate Form of Vimana to crown the south Indian Hindu temple

The rathas (chariots) of Mahabalipuram are monolithic structure each carved out of a solid Body of rock; dedicated to a particular God or Goddess. There are eight rathas at Mahabalipuram out of which five are named after the five Pandavas and Draupadi from the great Indian epic- the Mahabharata. The rathas are similar to Buddhist viharas (Dharmaraja; Arjuna; & Nakula, Sahadeva's rathas) and chaityas (Bhima's ratha) and also show the early development of Hindu temple architecture.

The five rathas are small temples ( the biggest Measuring 42 feet by 35 feet, and the tallest- 40 feet high) constructed in the Form of chariots. The smallest and the simplest one is the Draupadi ratha and the largest is the multi-storied Dharmaraja ratha. The later southern temples have been largely influenced by the Dharmaraja & Arjuna ratha styles. The Dharmaraja, Bhima, Arjuna & Draupadi rathas have been carved out of one single boulder. Draupadi and Arjuna rathas share a common platform. These rathams are characterised by open verandahs in the ground story, with typical Pallava style pillars. The pillars have sculpture of lion at the base.

The Pandyas

The Pandyas in Madurai established control in the south in the sixth century. The Pandyas are credited for adding lofty gateways-gopurams (literally Cow-Gate) at the entrance. This served the two-fold object of alleviating the monotonus drabness of the enclosure, and at the same Time making the temples visually attractive. The Evolution of the Form of the Gopuram, was from a rectangular base, with a pyramid crowned with a barrel vaulted Form derived from the Buddhist Chaitya. The typical Pandya style can be seen in the Sundara Pandya Gopuram added to the Jambukesvara temple Eastern Gopuram, Great Temple, Chidambaram.

The Cholas ( 850–1173) Brihidesvara Temple, Thanjavur

Brihidesvara Temple, Thanjavur

By the early eleventh century, the Pandyas were subjugated by the strong Cholas. The Chola king Rajaraja the Great built one of the tallest temples of the Time at Tanjore dedicated to Lord Shiva. Till then the maximun height of the temples did not exceed 60 feet. The temple of Tanjore has massive square of 82 feet, that contains the pradakshina Path, running around the cella. The cube of the garbhagriha is 50 feet on which is the pyramidical tower of 130 feet made from a single stone.The tower of the temple has 13 storeys converging into a truncated pyramid.

The two flat roofed mandapas in front of the Vimana are placed along the central axis. The Vimana, 61 meters high and topped with a bulb-shaped monolith. The walls of the temple are covered in rich sculpted decoration. The portico housing the sculptures of the Holy Nandi bull is situated along the same axis, but is detached from the main temple.

The Hoysalas (1000-1300 AD) Star Temples of Halebid and Belur

Temples at Belur and Halebid

The beginning of Muslim rule in the North had many orthodox north Indian architects and craftsman, who did not want build muslim edifices, to move south. This resulted in the confluence of the Hindu architecture of the North and the South that gave rise to a new style during the Hoysala period.

The Hoysala kings planned their temples and shrines within which were situated more than one central garbhagriha or inner cella. In some temples one can see more than 5 cellas. These cellas were grouped along one end of a large common mandapa. The plan of each of these cella was a star shape instead of a square on seen before. The towers were Bell like in shape (vesara style). The temples are intricately carved and scenes depicting the Life and Times of the Hoysala rulers and their Gods.

The Rashtrakutas (757- 973 AD) Kailash Nath Temple, Ellora

Temples at Ellora

The Rashtrakutas after defeating the Chalukyas establised themselves in the Western Ghats. They revived the rock-cut Form of architecture that had flourished in the region because of the Buddhist Monks who had carved out Caves of Ajanta and Karli. Unlike the Buddhists rock-cut architecture, the temple at Ellora is not just a mere interior chamber cut in the rock, but is a complete temple.

There are a group of thirty three rock cut shrines at Ellora, near Aurangabad. Twelve of these are Buddhist, cut in the Gupta period, four are Jains and the remaining seventeen are Hindu shrines. One of the famous amongst them is the Kailashnath temple, a monolithic sculpture of a shrine dedicated to Shiva about 790 AD. The temple is said to be built by cutting three massive trenches to isolate a huge portion of rock over 200 feet long and 100 feet high from the cliff like formation of Ellora. beginning from the top this huge mass of rock was gradually cut into the shape of a Vimana to crown the main cell. The flat roof mandapa in front of the sanctum is suuported on 16 column in groups of four, the five shrines which surrounds the cella.

The Caves of Elephanta

Three-head Hindu God Shiva

The cave temple complex of Elephanta is dedicated to the Hindu God-Shiva.The entire complex was created around 8th century (the Time and authorship is debated).There are six Caves carved from solid rock. The Caves are situated 250 ft (76 m) above sea level. The largest cave is 130 ft/40 m long. It consists of a main chamber and two lateral ones, courtyards and several subsidiary shrines. There are three entrances to the temple on the north, east, and west sides. The ones on the east and the west mark the axis of the temple. A hall with 20 pillars lines the axis.

The Caves of Elephanta

On the western end of the temple is the cell inside which is the monolithic Shivalingam (representation of Shiva) is present. The cave has famous three-headed bust of the Hindu God Shiva called the Mahesamurti which depicts the three aspects of Shiva. On the left is the Bhairon, the wrathful Destroyer aspect of Shiva, on the Right is the Vamadev, the Creator and in the middle is the Tatpurusha, the Maintainer of The Universe.

In the Elephanta Caves one can see various manifestation of Shiva that icludes the Nataraja (Lord of Dancers), Yogishwar (Lord of the Yogis), Ardhanarishwar (half male and female aspect of the Lord), Gangadhara (the Lord who contained the torrents of the descending River Ganga) etc.

Jain Temple Architecture The Jains temples did not have any distinct architectural style of their own. Their styles are often an amalgamation of the Buddhist and the Hindu architecture.

Temples at Dilwara, Mount Abu, Rajasthan ( 1100- 1300 AD)

Dilawara Temple

There are four main temples in Dilwara: the Vimal Vashi temple, the Luna Vashi temple, the Adinath temple and the Parshvanath temple. Among these the Vimal Vashi and the Luna Vashi are the most notable. These temples are dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras (saints) and have served as storehouses of illustrated manuscripts and treatises.

The temple Vimal Vasahi is the oldest of these Jain temples, was built in 1031 A.D by Vimal Shah. It is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankar. The temple is built with translucent white marble. It uses Gurjar-Pratitar temple architecture, made up of a central shrine, a room with a transcept, a large colonnaded area, and an ambulatory lined by 52 small shrines, each housing a statue.

The Vimal Vashi temple has a rectangular courtyard. The enclosing cells are decorated with the images of the Trithankaras or saints of the Jain Religion. The main Body of the temple consists of octagonally planned mandapa connected to the shrine at the other end by a transept having two parallel rows of pillars. The most exquisite feature of the temple is the ornamental ceilings with beautiful sculptures over the mandapa. The dome consists of eleven concentric friezes decorated with patterns of figures and Animals in procession. The dome culminates in a pendent suspended from the apex. The decorations on doorways, pillars, panels and niches of the temple are a monumental splendor.

Indo-Muslim Architecture

The Muslims came to India at the end of the 12th century. Muhammad-bin-Sam, the Ghori king, conquered Delhi and it neighboring parts and assigned his slave Qutb-ud-Din Aibak to rule. This marked the beginning of the Mamluk or the Slave Dynasty (1205-1290) in India. The Mamluks were succeeded by the Khiljis (1290-1320). Then came the Tuglaqs (1320-1412) who were replaced by the Sayyids (1414-1451) and the Lodhis (1451-1526) and finally the great Mughals.

The Muslims brought their own traditions, which had far reaching effects on the cultural, social and religious Life of The country. Architecture was no exception. The Muslim Art of building was different in both Form and Spirit and in method and material of construction from the Hindu architecture. The Muslim style of architecture was based on arches, vaults and domes unlike the Hindu style that used pillars, lintels and pyramidal towers. The ornamentation of the structures also differed greatly. The Hindu style of ornamentation was expressive of natural, particularly human forms. The decoration on Muslim buildings, under religious injunction avoided representation of living beings and hence took the Form of geometrical or floral patterns, inscriptions in various styles of Writing, gilding and painting and mosaics in stone and marble by the method of inlay and pietra dura.

The Islamic architecture in India is an Interesting mingling of seemingly different styles in varying degree. Since the Hindu Rituals were very different from those of the Muslims for e.g. Muslims bury their dead and Hindus burn them. This gave rise to the practice of erecting tombs over the graves. Some of finest architecture can be seen on the tombs of the Muslim rulers. Islamic building types may be divided into two main categories: a) religious and b) secular buildings.


Qutb-ud-din, the first Sultan of India built the oldest mosque in India, the Quwwat-ul-Islam (Power of Islam) and its lofty minaret in 1193. The first Muslim construction in India made use of the materials taken from destroyed Hindu temples. The columns from the temples were used for walls and a small cupola was built where the walls met. The Prayer hall was given façade with five pointed arches and decorated with bands of Koranic script. The minaret which originally had three floors was made with sandstone of different colors. Two more floors were later added by Iltutmish. The lowest story has 24 flutings, alternately round and angular, the second has round flutings only and the third only angular. Iltutmish also increased the size of the mosque with addition of another courtyard and the mausoleum. The mausoleum with eight pointed arches and geometric patterns showed great Hindu influence.

The Tombs of Iltutmish and Sultan Ghari

Balban's Tomb - First Muslim monument with a true arch instead of Hindu corbeling It was in the tomb of Ghias-ud-din Balban (1266-87) that the arches constructed on true scientific principles for the first Time appears. Balban's tomb is a simple structure consisting of a square domed chamber and arched entrance on its four sides.

There was a marked development in the buildings during this period with building techniques, ornamentation and the usage of the true arch. The Khiljis came to Power 50 years after Iltutmish. The third ruler of the dynasty, Ala-ud-Din (1296-1316 AD) was one of the ambitious builders of the Time. The Alai Darwaza was a part of Ala-ud-din-Khilji’s extension of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. It was one of the four grand gateways; the other three could not be completed because of the Death of Ala-ud-din in AD 1316.

The Alai Darwaaza is moderate in size and consists of a square hall covered by a single dome.The exterior walls made with red stone and white marble gives a pleasing color effect. The main structure consists of a single hall thirty-four and a half feet inside, fifty-six and a half outside. The domed ceiling rises to the height of 47 feet. The three doorways on the east, west and south are lofty pointed arches of the Horse-shoe type which rise above the flanking side bays. The perforated, lattice work window screens are set in the recessed windows on both sides of the entrances.The interior is decorated with beautiful geometric patterns.

Some of the other structures built by Khiji was the city wall of Siri, the tomb of Ala-ud-din-Khilji and the "madrasa" which are now in a dilapitated condition.

The Tuglaq period (1320-1412)

The Tuglaqs gave the Islamic-Indo-architecture a different setting. The buildings are austere and simple, unlike the rich surface decoration and elaborate ornamentation seen during the Khilji period. " A remarkable feature of the building of the Tuglaq period is their fine proportions, and if they do not possess qualities of charm and elegance they are expressive of strength and virility."

Source

asia.isp.msu.edu