Indo Islamic architecture of Delhi sultanates

Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#1
A brief introduction of the evolution of Indo Islamic architecture in India.


In 1192 AD Delhi officially came under the Muslim rule for the first time when the Rajput ruler Prithviraj chauhan was defeated at the second battle of Tarain and with that the whole new chapter in Indian history began. Soon Delhi became an important political and cultural center in the India and in Islamic world.

The arrival of (Persianized) Afghans and Turks brought new culture along with them which resulted in some drastic changes in the native culture of the India. which was immediately reflected in the field of architecture where new features like Domes and Arches appeared along with the new types of the buildings like Mosques, Madarsa, Mausoleum, Gardens etc. for the first time in most parts of the subcontinent. (interestingly the movement which began with the restriction against all forms of monumental art resulted in the production of some of the greatest monuments of the world :))

Indo Islamic architecture has produced some of the greatest monuments in the Islamic world partially because of the two reasons. First - the Islamic architecture had already passed its experimental phase by the time of the arrival of Islam in the subcontinent. However Second and most important reason is the availability of the skillful and experienced native craftsmen. Thanks to the surge in the temple building activities throughout the continent in the past centuries this craftsmen were extremely skillful (and infact unparalleled in entire world) in the art of stone masonry. As a result most of the Indo Islamic monuments are also composed of the masonary formed of dressed stones in comparision to most of the other parts of Islamic world where relatively inexpensive materials like bricks, plaster and rubble were used as building material.

Indian architecture passed through 3 distinct phases during this time period. First phase is that of destruction and desecration inspired by the religious fanaticism. During the second phase the temple weren't destroyed ruthlessly but rather systemically dismantled to provide the ready made material for the construction of mosques and tombs. It was during this phase that northern India was completely denuded of her architectural treasure. Finally during the third phase there was systemic planning and construction of the buildings when Muslim rulers had firmly established themselves as a ruler.

The early Indo Islamic architecture was heavily influenced by the native Indian architecture especially during the second phase. However soon it was replaced by the architectural traditions developed by the Seljuks in Konia. During the 13th century when middle east was devastated by the Mongols, many scholars and intellectuals from that area took refuge in Delhi, as fortunately India was one of the few places in Islamic world that survived the mongol attacks. It was during this time period that Seljuk influence became prominent. However by 15th century, with the rise of the Mughals Persian influence became dominant. Interestingly despite being in close contact Persian influence appeared very late in Indian architecture partially because Indian stone masons were accustomed to the abundant use of stone (both for foundation and decoration) while Persian architecture favored the use of bricks and glazed tiles!!!

As the title of the thread suggests this thread is dedicated to the discussion of distinct styles of Indo-Islamic architecture that evolved during the Sultanate era by the sultans of Delhi.
 
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Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#2
Architectural style of the Slave dynasty

The first mamluk/slave ruler Qutub-ud-din Aibak was actually appointed as governor of India by Muhammad Ghori in 1191 AD. However after the death of Ghori in in 1206 AD he became independent from Ghurid empire. He died in 1210 AD in lahore while playing the polo. However in that brief time period he commissioned some important monuments.

Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque



Quwwat-ul-Islam (literally meaning Might of Islam) was the first mosque ever built in Delhi, It was built 1193 immediately after the Qutub-ud-din took control of Delhi (known as Qila Rai Pithora at that time) from Prithviraj. The Hindu temple in the centre of the citadel was demolished to make way for the new mosque. According to inscription as many as 27 Jain and Hindu temples were demolished to get the material for the new mosque :notrust: and it isn't hard to figure it out just from one rapid look of the mosque.

Just like all the other mosques, it consists of the courtyard surrounded by the pillared cloisters on the 3 sides. On the western side pillars are arranged in more elaborated fashion to form the sanctuary. (Mecca is on the west side of India)

Two original pillars from Hindu temples are placed one above another to attain the desirable height.



















As you can see, Hindu iconography is still clearly visible on many of the pillars.
 
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Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#3
Sanctaury for the cleric on the west side of the mosque.










Entrance of the mosque





The mastery of the native Indian craftsmen is clearly visible in the delicate carvings of the ceilings which are more or less similar to those seen in the Hindu and Jain temples.










 
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Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#5
An arched facade or screen was added to the mosque after two years on the western side of the mosque, infront of the sanctuary to give it more authentic look. From the construction of the arches it is obvious that it is done by the same native artisans who once produced those magnificent temples which were demolished to get material for the mosque.:sad: this view is further reinforced by the beautiful floral carvings on the facades which are basically Hindu conception (and interestingly in total contrast with the upright lines of decorative Quranic inscriptions which are basically an Islamic conception. :) )

Originally there was one central arch surrounded by 2 small side arches on each side. there must be small arches above the side arches when originally built.










As written by contemporary historian, "and upon the surface of the stones were engraved verses of Quran in such manner as could not be done on wax, ascending so high that you would think that Quran was going up in heave and again descending in another line so low that you would think it was coming down from heaven"


















Also comapre this liberal flowing floral carvings with the another carvings done during the reign of Illtutmish when the mosque was extended. The floral pattern is replaced by more rigid pattern most probably because of the Religious reasons. Yet it still looks amazing.







 

Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#6
On the side note: the Iron pillar in the center of mosque is another wonder of India. Originally It was erected by Chandragupta II in 5th century (most probably in Vidish by wiki article.). It was brought to Delhi as a war trophy from some other place by the Mamluk rulers. The pillar is the testament to the high skill of ancient Indian metallurgists. The pillar is in intact condition even after more than 1500 years!!!

for further information: [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_pillar_of_Delhi]Iron pillar of Delhi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]















English translation of the inscription on the pillar.

 
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Afrasiyab

Ad Honorem
Sep 2007
6,378
#8
Indeed, Jinit. Thank you for letting us know about this treasure. I am amazed by the mosque+temple. (which I found out it is called Qutb Complex)
 
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Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#9
Qutub Minar

Beyond any doubt Qutub minar is one of the most celebrated monument in the Islamic history of India. The construction of the Qutub minar was started in 1200 AD by Qutub-ud-din as minaret for the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque for the muezzins to call the Muslims for the prayer. However grandiosity of the minar itself suggests that the minar was constructed to proclaim the prestige of Islam in this part of the world. Qutub-ud-din could finish only the basement of the minar. The rest of the construction was completed by his Son-in-law Iltutmish. Later on the 5th storey was added by the Firoz shah tughlaq in 14th century. The tower was decorated by the bands of the inscriptions and balconies with delicately ornamented supporting brackets. The grandiosity of the tower is the combination of the vision of the slave rulers and creative genius of Indian craftsmen.

Seen from any point of view the 20tb Minar as a whole is a most impressive conception, the vivid colour of its red sandstone, the changing texture of its fluted stories with their overlay of inscriptional bands, the contrast between the alternating spaces of plain masonry and rich carving, the shimmer of the shadows under the balconies, all combine to produce an effect of marked vitality.... - Percy brown



















 

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