Evolution of this form of architecture during the medieval period

Delhi sultanate

  • With the arrival of Turks during the thirteenth century came a new technique of architecture- the architectural styles of Persia, Arabia and Central Asia.
  • The engineering features of these buildings were the domes, arches and minarets. The palaces, mosques and tombs built by the rulers had these features which were blended with the features of the indigenous architecture and a new synthesis in architecture was achieved.
  • This happened because the Turkish rulers of Delhi utilized the services of the local Indian craftsmen who were very skillful and had already constructed beautiful buildings.
  • The earliest building of this period is Quwwatul Islam Mosque at Delhi and the Qutub Minar. The latter is a tower, whose height is 70 metres. It is a tapering tower that has five stories. There are beautiful engravings of calligraphy both in the mosque and on the tower.

Qutub Minar

  • Ala-ud-din Khilji enlarged the Quwat-ul-Islam mosque and built a gateway to the enclosure of the mosque. This gateway is called the Alai Darwaza. He also built the Hauz Khas in Delhi which was a hydraulic structure.

Quwat-ul-Islam mosque

  • The tomb of Mohammad Tughlaq, Firoz Tughlaq and the forts of Tughlaqabad are some more examples of structures built during this time
  • During the Afghan rule the tombs of Ibrahim Lodi at Delhi and Shershah’s tomb at Sasaram were built
  • The architecture of this period also shows how indigenous styles were adopted and utilized by the builders. During these years, the Turks were still in the process of settling down. The rulers were threatened by the Mongols, who made sudden invasions from the north. This is why the buildings of this period are strong, sturdy and practical.

Regional kingdoms

  • With the establishment of regional kingdoms in Bengal, Gujarat and the Deccan, beautiful buildings having their own style were constructed.
  • The Jama Masjid, the Sadi Saiyyad Mosque and the shaking towers at Ahmadabad are a few examples of this architecture
  • In Mandu (central India) the Jama Masjid, Hindola Mahal and Jahaz Mahal were built.
  • In the Deccan, the Sultans erected a number of buildings. The Jama Masjid at Gulbarga, the Madarsa of Mahmud Gawan at Bidar, Ibrahim Rauza, Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur and the fort at Golconda are just a few famous buildings.
  • Gol Gumbaz has the largest dome in the world. All these buildings vary in design and style from the buildings of north India.

Gol Gumbaz

  • In Bengal the oblong shape of many structures and the peculiar style of roof construction were some of the distinctive features of the regional architecture of Bengal like the Adina mosque and the tomb of Jallal-ud-din at Pandua, Khil Darwaza and Tantipara mosque at Gaur.
  • In Jaunpur, the Atala mosque build by the Sharqui rulers had a gigantic screen covering the dome while the tomb of Hoshang Shah at Malwa is made entirely of marble and is made of yellow and black marble inlay work beautifully done by craftsmen.
  • The Bahamani sultans borrowed from the styles of Persia, Syria, Turkey and the temples of Southern India. The Jama Masjid at Gulbarga is quite well known. The courtyard of this mosque is covered with a large number of domes and is the only mosque in India which has a covered courtyard.


  • The advent of the Mughals brought a new era in architecture.
  • Indo-Islamic architecture reached its zenith during this period
  • The first building of this rule was Humayun’s Tomb at Delhi. Red sandstone was used in this building. It has a main gateway and the tomb is placed in the midst of a garden. Many consider it a precursor of the Taj Mahal
  • Akbar built forts at Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. The Buland Darwaza reflects the grandeur of the mighty Mughal Empire. This building was made following Akbar’s victory over Gujarat
  • The tomb of Salim Chishti, Palace of Jodha Bai, Ibadat Khana, Birbal’s House and other buildings at Fatehpur Sikri reflect a synthesis of Persian and Indian elements.
  • During the reign of Jehangir, Akbar’s Mausoleum was constructed at Sikandra near Agra. He built the beautiful tomb of Itimad-ud-daula which was built entirely of marble.
  • Shahjahan was the greatest builder amongst the Mughals. He used marble extensively. Decorative design in inlay work, (called pietra duro) beautiful arches and minarets were the features of his buildings
  • The Red Fort and Jama Masjid of Delhi and above all the Taj Mahal are some of the buildings built by Shahjahan.

Taj Mahal

Jama Masjid

  • The Taj Mahal, the tomb of Shahjahan’s wife, is built in marble and reflects all the architectural features that were developed during the Mughal period. It has a central dome, four elegant minarats, gateway, inlay work and gardens surrounding the main building.
  • The Mughal style of architecture had a profound influence on the buildings of the later period. The buildings showed a strong influence of the ancient Indian style and had courtyards and pillars. For the first time in the architecture of this style living beings- elephants, lions, peacocks and other birds were sculptured in the brackets