Art and Architecture under Delhi Sultanate

The assimilation of different styles and elements to create a new one is well represented by the architecture of the Delhi Sultanate period.

Delhi Sultanate Art and Architecture

Many of the characteristics of Indian architecture are obvious in the buildings of the Muslim rulers. This was because though the buildings were designed by Muslim architects to suit the requirements of their religious ideas, Hindu craftsmen actually built them.

The new features brought by the Turkish conquerors were:

  • The dome
  • Lofty towers
  • The true arch unsupported by beam
  • The vault

This showed advanced mathematical knowledge and engineering skill. They also brought with them an expert knowledge of the use of concrete and mortar, which had hitherto been little used in India. The Sultans of Delhi were liberal patrons of architecture and they erected numerous splendid edifices.

The Arhai-din ka Jhonpra at Ajmer has a beautiful prayer hall, an exquisitely carved mehrab of white marble, and a decorative arch screen. The first example of a true or voussoired arch is said to be the tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban in Mehrauli.

In the Khalji period, the usage of a voussoired arch and dome was established once and for all. The monuments show a rich decorative character. Famous examples are the tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia at Delhi, whose style of beam-on-brackets under the entrance arch of the central chamber came to be almost regularly employed in subsequent buildings.

The Tughlaq buildings show stark simplicity and sobriety, probably indicating less financial resources as well as puritanical taste. Sloping walls and a dark appearance characterize the buildings. Typical of the Tughlaq style are thick and battered or sloping walls, squinch arches for supporting domes, multi-domed roofs, and tapering minaret-like buttresses of supports at the external angles of buildings. The trabeate and arcuate are combined. Some notable Tughlaq monuments are the fort of Tughlaqabad, the tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, which marked a new phase in Indo-Islamic architecture by serving as a model for later tombs and the fort of Adilabad.

The Sayyid period was too short to allow the construction of elaborate buildings. But the tombs of this period display some characteristics such as the use of blue-enameled tiles, the lotus motif covering the dome, and free use of guldastas. These features had much influence on the architectural style of the subsequent period.

The resources available to the Lodhis were limited, and this is clearly indicated by the hard and bare tombs they erected. But some of their buildings were quite elegant, with the use of enameled tiles—-a technique introduced from Persia. A certain amount of imagination and a bold diversity of design is also displayed in the Lodhi architecture. Another characteristic was the use of double domes. One building of note is the Moth Ki Masjid erected by the prime minister of Sikandar Lodhi.

Also, Read Medieval India -The Delhi Sultanate

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