Architecture in Medieval period in India

Architecture in Medieval period in India

The architecture of the Delhi Sultanate

The arch and dome were new architectural additions.

Using lime-mortar in building and residential design altered building techniques.

True arch construction was a significant feature of the period architectural style.

A four-centered arch design was introduced in their buildings by the Tughluqs in the 14th century.

Stone has been used abundantly in the masonry work of this period.

The material for plastering buildings was gypsum.

Lime-plaster was reserved for areas to be protected against water leakage as in walls, canals, and drains.

In the later period, gypsum mortar became popular in buildings.


Monuments like the Quwwatul Islam mosque (1198), Qutab Minar (1199–1235), Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra (1200) and Iltutmish’s tomb represent the early forms of Indo- Islamic architecture.

The early buildings show signs of being worked upon by local craftsmen while the later buildings show the development or the maturing of the Indo-Islamic style.

In these monuments, one can see the dome’s gradual creation and true arch.

The closest examples are Iltutmish (1233–34) and Balban (1287–88).

The Qutub Complex Alai Darwaza (1305) and the Nizamuddin Jamat Khana Masjid (1325) are examples of the Khalji era.

The new architectural style of the Tughluq period:

  • the stone rubble was used as the principal building material
  • the battering of walls and bastions
  • the four-centered arch
  • pointed dome
  • an octagonal plan of tomb building.
  • the “batter” or sloping walls


In eastern India:

There was the development of two distinctive schools in Bengal and in Jaunpur.

These schools introduced two important features.

The first was the ‘drop arch’, which had a span greater than its radius and centers at the import level.

The second was the method of raising the roof in a system of arched bays where small domes supported by diagonally arranged brick pendentives that helped transition from a square to a circular base.

The best examples of Jaunpur’s architectural styles are the mosques.

The styles here closely resemble the Tughlaq style.

Using arch and beam is notable in this style.


In western India:

Regional architectural styles developed in Gujarat in the 14th century.

Large-scale use of demolished temple building material.

There is a modern style in which the mosque architecture copied the temple architectural imprint.

In central India, the development of new art forms is visible in the Malwa region; Dhar and Mandu cities illustrate this style.

Another important region that developed its distinctive style was the Deccan where the Bahmani kingdom created a very different architectural style as compared to the northern architectural forms.

The Deccan style developed with the fusion of the Tughlaq style from the north and the Iranian style.

The architectural style growth here correlates with the move of the capital of the kingdom from Gulbarga (1347) to Bidar (1425) and finally to Golconda (1512).

During Gulbarga’s first step, the architectural style represents a distinctive Islamic architecture that followed the Tughlaq style.

In the second phase, the Iranian style of architecture is adapted, followed by a shift in a dome shape and the use of colored tiles, wall paintings.

Vijayanagara art was another significant regional creation in the Deccan.

The distinctive style is best demonstrated using Hampi’s architectural forms.

The city also had an extensive network of waterworks and public buildings, such as the elephant stables and the Lotus Mahal, besides palaces and temples.

The distinctive characteristics of this style are architectural and decorative use of pillars.

The shrines on Hemakuta hill, Virupaksha temple, and the Hazara Rama temple are examples of Vijayanagara temple architecture.

The Architecture of the Mughal Empire

The Mughal Emperor Akbar initiated the grand projects that symbolize this period.

Among the early structures of this period are the two mosques built by Babur at Sambhal and Panipat in 1526.

Babur also built gardens at Dholpur and at Agra at Ram Bagh and Zahra Bagh.

Two mosques belong to the reign of the second Mughal emperor Humayun, one at Agra and the other at Hissar.

Mughal architecture’s grandness started with the building of the Tomb of Humayun and its creation by Persian Mirak Mirza Ghiyas.

This tomb is the earliest specimen of a garden enclosure and is raised on an arcaded sandstone platform.

The Jahangir Mahal is a blend of Hindu and Islamic constructions.

Mughal architecture under Akbar entered a new phase with Fatehpur Sikri’s building.

This town-palace was constructed from 1571 to 1585 entirely of red sandstone.

The important buildings of the reigns of Jahangir include the Tomb of Akbar at Sikandara and the tomb of Itmad Ud Daula.

Among the important monuments of the reign of Shah Jahan are the Lal Qila (in Delhi), the Moti Masjid (at Agra), the Jami Masjid in Delhi and the Taj Mahal (at Agra).

The Taj Mahal is the grandest project of Shahjahan.

The Taj construction began in 1632 and ended in 1643.

Major examples of Mughal architecture under Aurangzeb are the Moti Masjid at Lal Qila in Delhi, the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore and the mausoleum built for his wife Rabia ud Dauran at Aurangabad.

The Aurangabad mausoleum had been based on the Taj Mahal.