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Medieval History / Delhi Sultanate

Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate Period


    The art and architecture of Delhi Sultanate period was phenomenal. During the rule of Delhi Sultanate time period, 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 this period is called Indo Persian architecture or Indo Islamic architecture. Urdu language, which is a mixture of Persian and Hindustani, started developing more decisively during this period.

    Delhi Sultanate Art and Architecture

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

    • The versatile genius Amir Khusro was the court poet 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 Persian literary style called Sabaq-i-Hind.

    • Alauddin Khilji gave Amir Khusro a title called "Tuti e 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 Varanasi are designed in Indo-Islamic architecture. This architecture was adopted by all the religions for secular monuments.

    Architectural Monuments of the Sultanate Period

    The architectural monuments of the Sultanate period include Masjids, Minars, Darwajas, Mahals and Maqbaras.

    • 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 Iron Pillar of Chandragupta.

        • 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 Auliya.
    • Minars

      • Qutub 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 of Qutub Minar 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 built by Ala-ud-din Khilji. Alai Darwaza is a gateway to Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, which is located next to the 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. Tomb of Sikandar Lodi in Delhi can be considered as an important art and architecture of Delhi Sultanate period. It was constructed by Sikandar Lodi. It became a model for Mughals. The tomb was built on a raised platform, which is located in the middle of a garden. It is an Octagonal Tomb. It has got double Dome (Dome above Dome). Double Dome architecture was introduced by Sikandar Lodi. (Humayun Tomb and Taj Mahal have double Domes)