Art and Architecture

Mughal architecture

Mughal architecture, building style that flourished in northern and central India under the patronage of the Mughal emperors from the mid-16th to the late 17th century. The Mughal period marked a striking revival of Islamic architecture in northern India. Under the patronage of the Mughal emperors, Persian, Indian, and various provincial styles were fused to produce works of unusual quality and refinement.

The tomb of the emperor Humāyūn (begun 1564) at Delhi inaugurated the new style, though it shows strong Persian influences. The first great period of building activity occurred under the emperor Akbar (reigned 1556–1605) at Agra and at the new capital city of Fatehpur Sikri, which was founded in 1569. The latter city’s Great Mosque (1571; Jami Masjid), with its monumental Victory Gate (Buland Darzawa), is one of the finest mosques of the Mughal period. The great fort at Agra (1565–74) and the tomb of Akbar at Sikandra, near Agra, are other notable structures dating from his reign. Most of these early Mughal buildings use arches only sparingly, relying instead on post-and-lintel construction. They are built of red sandstone or white marble.

Mughal architecture reached its zenith during the reign of the emperor Shah Jahān (1628–58), its crowning achievement being the magnificent Taj Mahal. This period is marked by a fresh emergence in India of Persian features that had been seen earlier in the tomb of Humāyūn. The use of the double dome, a recessed archway inside a rectangular fronton, and parklike surroundings are all typical of the Shah Jahān period. Symmetry and balance between the parts of a building were always stressed, while the delicacy of detail in Shah Jahān decorative work has seldom been surpassed. White marble was a favoured building material. After the Taj Mahal, the second major undertaking of Shah Jahān’s reign was the palace-fortress at Delhi, begun in 1638. Among its notable buildings are the red-sandstone-pillared Diwan-i-ʿAm (“Hall of Public Audience”) and the so-called Diwan-i-Khas (“Hall of Private Audience”), which housed the famous Peacock Throne. Outside the citadel is the impressive Great Mosque (1650–56; Jami Masjid), which sits on a raised foundation, is approached by a majestic flight of steps, and has an immense courtyard in front.

Literature

Babur and literary activities:

Babur whose mother-tongue was Turkish wrote his ‘Tuzak-i-Baburi’ (Memories of Babur) in Turki. During the reign of Akbar, it was translated into Persian. He patronized several scholars.

Humayun and literary activities:

During his time, his sister Gulabadan Begum wrote ‘Humayunnama’. Humayun also constructed a big library. In fact his death took place on account of a fall from the staircase of his library.

Akbar and literary activities:

Undoubtedly, the period saw the production of a lot of literature of a very high standard. Most of his ‘Navratans’ (Nine Jewels) were great literary figures. Abul Fazal was a great historian, philosopher and scholar of the period. He is famous for two important works ‘Akbarnama’ and ‘Ain-i-Akbari’.

Badauni, a historian of fame wrote, ‘Muntakhab-ul-Tawarikh’. An other noted historian Nizam- ud-Din wrote ‘Tabaqat-i-Akbari’ the Arthava Veda, the Ramayana and the Mahabharat.

Sur, Das, a blind band of Agra wrote Sursagar’ in Brij Bhasha.

Sant Tulsi Das produced the immortal Ramcharitmanas’ in Awadhi, the eastern Hindi dialect.

The period saw the production of a dictionary of Persian-Sanskrit, named Parsi Parkash’.

Guru Granth Sahib’, the most sacred book of the Sikhs was compiled during this period.

Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote the famous Padmavat’.

Jahangir himself wrote his autobiography ‘Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri’. Other important literary and historical works were ‘lqbalanam-i-Jahangir and ‘Masir-i-Jahangir’.

Shah Jahan and literacy activities:

Shah Jahan’s courtier Abul Hamid Lahori wrote ‘Padshanama’. Prince Dara Shikoh was a great scholar of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit. On account of his patronage, the ‘Upanishads’, the Bhagavad-Gita’, the ‘Yoga Vashista’ and the ‘Ramayana’ were translated in Persian.

Aurangzeb and literacy activities:

The most important work during the period was ‘Fatwa-i-Alamgiri’—a digest of Muslim law. Other works were ‘Muntakhab-ul ‘-a famous history by Khafi Khan and ‘Nuskho-i- Dilkusha’ by Bhimsen.