Development of Provincial and Mughal Architecture

Development of Provincial and Mughal Architecture

The Provincial Style of Architecture encompasses the architectural trends and developments noticed in different provincial capitals in India, but specifically in-

  •  Punjab(AD 1150-1325)
  • Bengal (AD 103-1573)
  • Gujarat (AD 1300-1572)
  • Jaunpur (AD 1376-1479)
  • Malwa (AD 1405-1569)
  • Deccan (AD 1347-1617)
  • Bijapur (AD 1490-1656)
  • Khandesh (AD 1425-1650)
  • Kashmir (AD 1410 onwards)

 The Adina and Pandua mosques are the earliest architectural examples in Bengal. The Tomb of Akhi Surajuddin, the Kotwali Darwaja, the Dakhil Darwaja and the tomb of Sultan Jalaluddin Mohammed Shah (AD 1414-1431), known as the Eklakhi Tomb, served as prototypes for the subsequent Islamic architecture of Bengal. The other important buildings of Bengal include Tantipara Masjid (AD 1475), Chamkatti Masjid (AD 1475), Lotan Masjid (AD 1480), and Chota Sona Masjid (AD 1510).

 Qadam Rasool Mosque (AD 1530)

Under the Sharqi dynasty, Jaunpur became a great centre of art, culture and architectural activity. During the rule of Shamsuddin Ibrahim (AD 1402-1436) several palaces, mosques, tombs and other buildings came up, the most prominent being the Atala Masjid built in 1378. Later, other buildings were produced that include a Khalis Mukhlis Masajid (AD 1430), Jhangiri Majid (AD 1430) Lal Darwaza Masjid (AD 1450) and the Jami Masjid (AD 1470).

Gujarat witnessed significant architectural activity for over 250 years starting from Muzaffar Shah’s declaration of independence from Delhi and the formation of the Sultanate of Gujarat in AD 1307 until the conquest of Gujarat by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in AD 1500.

Mughal Architecture

The art and architecture of this period have a characteristic of the Indo-Islamic-Persian style that flourished on the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal empire (1526-1857). These new styles combined elements of Islamic art and architecture, which had been introduced to India during the Delhi Sultanate (1192-1398) and had produced great monuments such as the Qutub Minar, with features of Persian art and architecture. Mughal monuments are found chiefly in northern India, but there are also many remains in Pakistan.

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The Mughal dynasty was established with the crushing victory of Babur at Panipat in 1526. During his short five-year reign, Babur took considerable interest in erecting buildings, though few have survived. Babur’s son Humayun was dissolute and wayward in his early years and the Mughal empire fell to the Suris in 1540.


The school of Mughal painting began in 1549 when Humayun (1530-56) invited two Persian painters to his court, then to Kabul. They came to direct the illustration of the Amir Hamza, a fantastic narrative of which some 1400 large paintings were executed on cloth.


In architecture, the first great Mughal monument was the mausoleum of Humayun, erected during the reign of Akbar (1556-1605). The Tomb, which was built in the 1650s, was designed by Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas. Set in a garden in Delhi, it has an intricate ground plan with central octagonal chambers, Joined by an archway with an elegant façade and surmounted by Cupolas, Kiosks and pinnacles. At the same time, Akbar was building his fortress palace in his capital Agra. Native red sandstone was inlaid with white marble, and all the surfaces were ornately carved on the outside and sumptuously painted inside.

Akbar went on to build the entire city of Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory) in which extensive use was made of the low arches and bulbous domes that characterise the Mughal style. Built-in 1571 the choice of the site of Sikri reflected Akbar’s gratitude to a Muslim saint at Sikri for the birth of his son. Countries soon followed suit and built homes surrounding the palace and mosque. The new city became the capital of the empire, but in 1585 it was abandoned.

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Under Akbar, the Persian artists directed an academy of local painters. The drawings, costumes and the ornamentation of illuminated manuscripts by the end of the 16th century illustrated the influence of Indian tastes and manners in the bright colouring and detailed landscape backgrounds. Modelling and perspective also began to be adapted from western pictures. Basawan, Lal, and Daswanth were Akbar’s most famous painters.


Jahangir (1605-27) voured paintings of events from his own life rather than illustrated fiction. He encouraged portraiture and scientific studies of birds, flowers and animals, which were collected in albums. Mansur and Manohar were among their famous painters. Jahangir, who resided in Lahore, built less than his predecessors but effected a significant change from sandstone to marble.

Shah Jahan

It was Shah Jahan (1628-58) who perfected Mughal architecture and erected Agra, its most noble and famous building, the tomb of his favourite wife, which is known as the Taj Mahal. A huge Marble building of a simple, symmetrical plan, it is inlaid with colourful semiprecious material and is set in an equally beautiful and symmetrical garden.

The Taj Mahal continues the tradition of Mughal garden tombs, of which Humayun’s tomb was the first. Shah Jahan established (1638) Delhi as his capital and built there the famous Red Fort, which contained the imperial Mughal palace. The painting also Portraiture was most highly developed at his sophisticated court and link drawings were of high quality.


Under the orthodox Aurangzeb (1659-1707) the decline of the arts began, although his ornate Pearl Mosque (1662) at Delhi is worthy of mention. During his reign, the Mughal academy was dispersed. Many artists then joined the Rajput courts, where their influence on Hindu painting is clearly evident. He was not so aspiring to spend time and resources to erect huge buildings and therefore he has the credit of constructing very few buildings such as Bibi Ka Maqbara (Rabia Durani).

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It is a limitation of the Taj Mahal at Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Apart from this the Badshahi Mosque at Lahore and the Moti Masjid at Lal Quila, Delhi are other two specimens of his contribution to Mughal architecture.    

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