Delhi Sultanate Art and Architecture

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Delhi Sultanate Art and Architecture


The art and architecture of the Delhi Sultanate period was a happy blending of Indian and Islamic styles as is noticed in certain other aspects of the culture of the time.

Sir John Marshall observes that the Indo-Islamic art was not a local variety of the Islamic art, nor is a modified form of the Hindu art. The Indo-Islamic architecture, he points out, derives its character from both Indian and Islamic sources though not always in equal degree.

It has to be mentioned as in India at that time there were Brahmanical, Buddhist and Jaina styles, so also in Islamic style there were Arabian, Persian and Turkish characteristics. The mingling of these diverse styles and influences gave rise to the Indo-Islamic style of architecture during the medieval period. While in the Delhi architecture Islamic influences predominated, the styles of architecture in provinces had their local variations. Thus there were Jaunpur, Bengal, Bijapur, Gujarat styles.

The mixture of the Islamic and Indian styles of art styles was due to various factors such as, use of the Indian craftsmen and sculptors who were naturally guided by the existing art traditions of the country.

There were, however, certain factors which were common to the Indian and the Islamic architecture, namely, open court encompassed by chambers or colonnades both in the cases of temples and mosques. Again, both the Hindu and the Islamic art were ornamental and decorative.

The best specimen of the Delhi architecture of the period is the Qutb Minar. Jama’at Khana Masjid and the Alai Darwaza at Qutb Minar of the time of Ala-ud-din Khalji reveal preponderance of the Muslim ideas over those of the Hindu architects. The Tughluq architecture was prosaic and devoid of splendor. The Lodis tried to revive the brilliance of the style of the Khali period.

In Bengal as well there grew a mixed style of architecture. Use of bricks and adaptation of Hindu temple style and Hindu decorative designs in imitation of lotus were characteristic of the Muslim architecture of the period in Bengal. Adina Masjid, Chhota Sona Masjid, Bara Sona Masjid and Qadam Rasul are specimens of architectural style. It was an indigenous style which had developed there even before the coming of the Muslims and the buildings of the Muslim conquerors bear unmistakable influence of that style. Fine the effects of this influence. In Malwa Jami Masjid, Hindola Mahal, Jahaj Mahal, Hushang’s tomb, Baz Bahadur’s and Rupamati’s palaces, mostly built of marble and sand stones, are excellent specimens of the architectural work of the period.

In the Bahamani kingdom of the south, the art and architectural style betrayed a mixture of Indian, Turkish, Egyptian and Persian characteristics. Jami Masjid of Gulbarga and Chand Minar of Daulatabad and the college of Mahmud Gawan at Bidar bear testimony to this mixed style. Many of the buildings in Bahamani kingdom were built on the site of old temples and with the materials of those temples which gave unavoidably a Hindu look in the style.

At Bijapur the native art began to reassert itself and the Adil Shahi buildings which were constructed by the Indian artists and craftsmen bore an Indian style. Thus, the impact of Hindu and Islamic civilizations was leading to harmony and understanding in the diverse spheres of society, art and culture.

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