Abstract of the Chapter



*    Introduction
    Of the visual arts of Ancient and Medieval India, much architecture and sculpture have survived. The brick buildings of the Harappan Culture were utilitarian, strong and competent—though they had little aesthetic merit. No significant architectural remains       between the Harappa Period and that of the Mauryas have been found. 

   Megasthenes mentions that the palace of Chandragupta Maurya which was large and luxurious was built of carved and gilded wood. Indian buildings in the Mauryan period were not mean or primitive, though they lacked a variety of materials. In the                 Medieval Period, the adoption of stone as a building medium was due to foreign contacts. The craftsmen learnt their work from Persia and Greece—yet their output had distinctive Indian characteristics.

   In this chapter we shall study the various styles adopted in making temples, the differences in the architectural style of the North and the South, the Mughal School of architecture and regional influences.

   There is an architectural difference between the temples of the North and those of the South. There emerged two different styles.

*   Structure during 8th and 18th Century
(i)    Between the eighth and the eighteenth centuries kings and their officers built two kinds of structures: the first were forts, palaces, garden residences and tombs-safe, protected and grand places of rest in this world and the next; the second were                       structures meant for public acivitiy including temples, mosques, tanks, wells, caravanserais and bazaars.

(ii)    Kings were expected to care for their subjects, and by making structures for their use and comfort, rulers hoped to win their praise.

(iii)    Construction activity was also carried out by others, including merchants. They built temples, mosques and wells. However, domestic architecture - large mansions (havelis) of merchants - has survived only from the eighteenth century.


*    Engineering skills and construction 
(i)    Monuments provide an insight into the technologies used for construction. Take something like a roof for example. We can make this by placing wooden beams or a slab of stone across four walls. But the               task becomes difficult if we want to make a large  room with an elaborate superstructure. This requires more sophisticated skills.

(ii)   Between the seventh and tenth centuries architects started adding more rooms, doors and windows to buildings. Roofs, doors and windows were still made by placing a horizontal beam across two vertical             columns, a style of architecture called "trabeate" or "corbelled".

(iii)    Between the eighth and thirteenth centuries the trabeate style was used in the construction of temples, mosquies, tombs and in buildings atttached to large stepped-wells (baolis).    


(iv)    Two technological and stylistic developments and noticeable from the twelfth century. (a) The weight of the superstructure above the doors and windows was sometimes carried by arches. The architectural             form was called 'arcuate'.

(v)    Limestone cement was increasingly used in construction. This was very high quality cement.

*    Temple Construction in the early 11th century
(i)    The Kandariya Mahadeva temple dedicated to Shiva was constructed in 999 by the king Dhangadeva of the Chandela dynasty. An ornamented gateway led to an entrance, and the main hall (mahamandapa) where dances were performed. The image of         the chief deity was kept in the main shrine (garbhagriha). This was the place for ritual worship where only the king, his immediate family and priests gathered. The Khajuraho complex contained royal temples where commoners were not allowed entry.             The temples were decorated with elaborately carved sculptures.
(ii)   The Rajarajeshwara temple at Thanjavur had the tallest shikhara amongst temples of its time. Constructing it was not easy because there was no cranes in those days and the 90 tones stone for the top of the shikhara was too heavy to lift manually. So           the architects built an inclined path to the top of the temple, placed the boulder on rollers and rolled it all the way to the top. The path started more than 4 km away so that it would not be too steep. This was dismantled after the temple was constructed.           But the residents of the area remembered the experience of the construction of the temple for a long time. Even now a village near the temple is called Charupallam, the 'Village of the Incline'.

*   Building Temples, Mosques and Tanks
(i)    Temples and mosques were beautifully constructed because they were places of worship. They were also meant to demonstrate the power, wealth and devotion of the person.

(ii)    Take the examples of the Rajarajeshvara temple. An inscription mentions that it was built by King Rajarajadeva for the worship of his god, Rajarajeshvaram. The names of the ruler and the god are very similar.

(iii)    The king took the god's name because it was auspicious and he wanted to appear like a god. Through the rituals of worship in the temple one god (Rajarajadeva) honoured another (Rajarajeshvaram).

(iv)   The largest temple were all constructed by kings. The other, lesser deities in the temple were gods and goddesses of the allies and subordinates of the ruler. The temple was a miniature model of the world ruled by the king and his allies. As they                      worshipped their deities together in the royal temples, it seemed as if they brought the just rule of the gods on earth.

(v)    Muslimd Sultans and Padshahs did not claim to be incarnation of god but Persian court chronicles described the Sultan as the 'Shadow of God'. An inscription in the Quwwat al-Islam mosque explained that God chose Alauddin as a king because he                had the qualities of Moses and Solmon, the great lawgivers of the past.

(vi)    The greatest law giver and architect was God himself. He created the world out of chaos and introduced order and symmetry.

(vii)   As each new dynasty came to power, kings wanted to emphasise their moral right to be rulers. Constructing placed of worship provided rulers with the change to proclaim in the age of rapid political change. Rulers also offered patronage to the learned           and pious, and tried to transform their capitals and cities into great cultural centres that brought fame to their rule and their realm. One of the buildings, Qutub Minar, built by Qutubuddin Aybak and later completed by Iltutmish is five storeys high. It has             been repaired by many rulers like Alauddin Khalji, Muhammad Tughlaq, Firuz Shah Tughlaq and Ibrahim Lodhi.

(viii)  It was widely believed that the rule of a just king would be an age of plenty when the heavens would not withhold rain. At the same time, making precious water available by constructing tanks and reservoirs was highly praised. The Persian term 'ab'               denotes water. Sultan Iltutmish won universal respect for constructing a large reservoir just outside Delhi-i-kunha. It was called the Hauz-i Sultani or the "King's Reservoir". Rulers often constructed tanks and reservoirs-big and small - for use by ordinary         people. Sometimes these tanks and reservoirs were part of a temple, mosque, or a gurudwara. The golden temple or Harmandar Sahib with the holy sarvar (tank) in Amritsar is an example of this. 

*   Why were temples destroyed?
(i)   Kings built temples to demonstrate their devotion to God and their power and wealth. It is not surprising that when they attacked one another’s kingdoms. They of tern targeted these buildings. In the early ninth century when the Pandya king Shrimara             Shrivallabha invaled Sri Lanka and defeated the king. Sena I (831-851), the Buddhist monk and chronicler Dhammakitti noted: “he removed ail the valuables. The statue of the Buddha made entirely of gold in the Jewel Palace and the golden images in           the various monasteries - all these he seized.” The blow to the pride of the Sinhalese ruler had to be avenged and the next Sinhalese ruler, Sena II, ordered his general to invade Madurai, the capital of the Pandyas. 

(ii)   The Buddhist chronicler noted that the expedition made a special effort to find and restore the gold statue of the Buddha.

(iii)   Similarly In the early eleventh century, when the Chola king Rajendra I built a Shiva temple in his capital he filled it with prized statues seized from defeated rulers. An incomplete list included: a Sun-pedestal from the Chalukyas, a Ganesha statue and              several statues of Durga; a Nandi statue from the eastern Chalukyas; an Image of Bhairava (a form of Shiva) and Bhairavi from the Kalingas of Orissa; and a Kali statue from the Palas of Bengal.

(iv)   Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni was a contemporary of Rajendra I. During his campaigns in the subcontinent he also attacked the temples of defeated kings and looted their wealth and idols. Sultan Mahmud was not a very important ruler at that time. But by        destroying temples - especially the one at Somnath - he tried to win credit as a great hero of Islam. In the political culture of the middle Ages most rulers displayed their political might and military success by attacking and looting the places of worship of          defeated rulers.

1.    Superstructure: The part of a building above the ground floor.
2.    Ab: The Persian word meaning water.
3.    Pietradura: Coloured, hard stones placed in depressions carved into marble or sandstone creating beautiful patterns.
4.    Trabeate: It is a style or architecture in which roofs, doors and windows are made by placing a horizontal beam across two vertical columns.
5.    Arcuate: A style of architecture in which weight of the superstructure above the doors and windows is sometime carried by arches.
6.    Chahar Bagh: Formal gardens, built during Mughal period. They were placed within rectangular walled enclosures and divided into four quarters by artificial channels. Chahar Bagh means four gardens because of their symmetrical division into quarters.
7.    Hasht-Bihisht: A central hall surrounded by eight rooms. Also known as 'eight paradises' it was an architectural style of Mughal period.
8.    Gothid: It is a style of architecture in which churches are build making use of high pointed arches, use of stained glass, painted with scenes from Bible, flying buttresses, talls spires bell towers. Eg. Church of Notre Dame in Paris.
9.    Baolis: Large stepped wells.

10.    Diwan-i-khas: The Ceremonial halls of private audience.
11.    Pishtaq: Tall gateway.
12.    Oibla: The direction faced by Muslim at prayers, which is towards Mecca.
13.    Shikara: The top most part of a temple. It is also called as spire.
14.    Chihil Sutuns: The forty pillared hall.

                             "Do you know"
1.    Quwwat-al-islam Mosque was the first Turkish mosque constructed by Qutbuddin Aibak in 1197 AD.

2.    In 1200 AD Qutbuddin Aibak built Adhai-din-Ra Jhopra, a mosque in Ajmer.

3.    Alai Darwaza was the first building built on scientific lines having a true arch during khalji period. Marshal says "Alai Darwaja is the  most beautiful diamond of Islamic architecture".

4.    Babur laid the foundation of Mughal Empire in India. He was born on 14 February, 1483 at Fargana. His ancestors belonged to Tainure on paternal side and Changez khan on internal side.

5.    Babur wrote is autobiography in Turkish language called "Tuzuk-i-Babari".

6.    Mughal period is also known as 'Second Classical Age' due to its multifaceted cultural contributions to Indian history.

7.    Shahjahanabad was the new capital of Shahjahan, built in 1638, AD near bank of Yamuna river in Delhi. 

8.    Shahjahan built a fort in his new capital with red sandstones, which became famous as 'Red Fort'.

9.    'Diwan-i-khas' is built in Red Fort. It  is exceptionally marvelous in style and beauty. Its ceiling is made of silver and decorated with gold, marble and semi-precious stones. Amir Khusro has rightly said "Agar Firdaus Var Rubi Zami nast, Hami Ast Hami               Ast", i.e. If there is any where paradise on earth, is here, it is here.
10.   Some famous building build by Shahjahan at Delhi were Jama Masjid, Lal Kila, Diwan-i-am, Diwan-i-khas, Moti Mahal, Rong Mahal and Nahar-i-Bahisht.

Illustration 1
    Explain pietra-dura.

    It was the flora inlay work with precious and semiprecious stones.

*    Gardens, Tombs and Forts
1.    Under the Mughals, architecture became more complex, Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir and especially Shah Jahan were personally interested in literature, are the architecture. In his autobiography, Babur described his interest in Planning and laying         out formal gardens, placed within rectangular walled enclosures and divided into four quarters by artificial channel.

2.    These gardens were called Chahar bagh, four gardens, because of their symmetrical division into quarters. Beginning with Akbar, some of the most beautiful chahar baghs were constructed by Jahangir and Shah Jahan in Kashmir, Agra and Delhi.

3.    There were several important architectural innovations during Akbar's reign. For inspiration. Akbars' architects turned to the tombs of his Central Asian ancestor, Timur. The central towering dome and the tall gateway (pishtaq) became important aspects           of Mughal architecture, first visible in Humayun's tomb. The tomb was placed in the centre of a huge formal chahar bagh and built in the tradition known as "eight paradises" or basht bihisht - a central hall surrounded by eight rooms. The building was               constructed with red sandstone edge with white marble.

4.    It was during Shah Jahan's reign that the different elements of Mughal architecture were fused together in a grand harmonious synthesis. His reign witnessed a huge amount of construction activity especially in Agra and Delhi. The ceremonial halls of             public and private audience (diwan-i-khas) were carefully planned. Placed within a large courtyard, these courts were also described as (chihil sutun of forty-pillared halls.

5.    Shah Jahan's audience halls were specially constructed to resemble a mosque. The pedestal on which his throne was placed was frequently described as the qibla, the direction faced by Muslims at prayer, since ever body faced that direction when                 court was in session. The idea of the king as a representative of God on earth was suggested by these architectural features.

6.    The connection between royal justice and the imperial court was emphasised by Shah Jahan in his newly constructed court in the Red Fort at Delhi. Behind the emperor's throne were a series pietra dura inlays that depicted the legendary Geek god                Orpheus playing the lute. It was believed that Orpheus' music could calm ferocious beasts until the coexisted together peaceably. The construction of Shah Jahan's audience hall aimed to communicate that the king's justice would treat the high and the           low as equals creating a world where all could live together in harmony.

7.   In the early years of his reign, Shah Jahan's capital was at Agra, a city where the nobility had constructed their homes on the banks of the river Yamuna. These were set in the midst of formal gardens constructed in the chahar bagh format. The chahar            bagh garden also had a variation that histories describes as the "river-front garden". In this dwelling was not located in the middle of the chahar bagh but at its edge, close to the bank of the river.

8.   Shah Jahan adapted the river-front garden in the layout of the Taj Mahal, the grandest architectural accomplishment of his reign. Here the white marbles mausoleum was placed on a terrace by the edge of the river and the garden was to its south. Shah          Jahan developed this architectural from as a means to control the access that nobles had to the river.

9.   In the new city of Shahajahanbad that he constructed in Delhi, the imperial palace commanded the river - front. Only specially favoured nobles-like his eldest son Dara shukoh - were given access to the river. All others had to construct their homes in the       city away from the River Yamuna.    

*    Region and Empire
    Sharing of idea across regions

(i)    As construction activity increased between the eight and eighteenth centuries there was also considerable sharing of ideas across regions: the traditions of one region were adopted by another. In Vijaynagara, for example, the elephant stables of the              rulers were strongly influenced by the style of architecture found in the adjoining Sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda. In Vrindavan, near Mathura, temples were constructed in architectural styles that were very similar to the Mughal palaces in Fatehpur            Sikri.

(ii)    The creation of large empires that brought different regions under their rule helped in this cross-fertilisation of artistic forms and architectural styles. Mughals rulers were particularly skilled in adapting regional architectural styles in the construction of                their own buildings. In Bengal, for example, the local rulers had developed a roof that was designed to resemble a thatched hut.

(iii)    The Mughals liked this 'bangla dome' so much that they used it in their architecture. The impact of other regions was also evident. In Akbars' capital Fatehpur Sikri many of the buildings show the influence of the architectural styles of Gujarat and Malwa.

(iv)    Even through the authority of the Mughal rulers waned in the eighteenth century, the architectural styles developed under their patronage were constantly used as adapted by other rulers whenever they tried to establish their own kingdoms.

*   Churches that touches the skies
    From the twelfth century onwards, attempts began in France to build churches that were taller and lighter than earlier buildings. This architectural style, known as Gothic, was distinguished by height pointed arches, the use of stained glass, often painted          with scenes drawn from the bible, and flying buttresses. Tall spires and bell towers which were visible from a distance were added to the church.
    One of the best-known example of this architectural style is the church of Notre Dame in Paris, which was constructed through several decades in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

    Meditation      :   The practice of thinking deeply in silence.
    Interior           :   The internal part of the building.
    Shrine            :   A place where people come to worship because it is connected with a holy person or event.
    Spiritual         :   Connected with the human spirit, rather than the body.
    Secular          :   Acceptance and tolerance of all religious.
    Calligraphy    :   Beautiful handwriting done with a special pen or brush.