NCERT Class 11 Indian Culture Chapter 8: Aspects of Indo-Islamic Architecture

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NCERT Class 11 Indian Culture Chapter 8: Aspects of Indo-Islamic Architecture
Islam to India & Spain
  • 7th-8th century – Islam to India & Spain - Muslim merchants, traders, holy men and conquerors
  • By 8th Century – Construct in Sind, Gujarat
  • 13th century – large scale building activity after Turkish conquest
  • 12th century - trabeation, brackets, and multiple pillars to support a flat roof or a small shallow dome
  • While arches were shaped in wood and stone, these were unable to bear the weight of the top structure.
  • structural techniques, stylized shapes, and surface decorations
  • According to E. B. Havell, Hindus conceived manifestations of god everywhere in multiple forms as part of their religious faith whereas a Muslim thought of only one with Muhammad as His Prophet. Hence, Hindus adorned all surfaces with sculptures and paintings. Muslims forbidden to replicate living forms on any surface, developed their religious art and architecture consisting of the arts of arabesque, geometrical patterns and calligraphy on plaster and stone.
Jama Masjids
  • Jama Masjids, tombs, dargahs, minars, hammams, formally laid out gardens, madrasas, sarais
  • Saracenic, Persian and Turkish influences + Indian architectural and decorative forms
  • Tombs: Taj Mahal, Akbar՚s Tomb and Humayun՚s Tomb
  • Forts: Red Fort, Lahore Fort, Agra Fort and Idrakpur Fort
  • Mosques: Jama Masjid of Delhi, Badshahi Masjid and Moti Masjid
  • Gardens: Shalimar Gardens, Bagh-e-Babur and Verinag Garden
  • Caravansaries: Akbari Sarai and Bara Katra
  • Bridges: Shahi Bridge and Mughal Bridge
  • Milemarkers: Kos Minar


Provincial Style

Provincial Style

  • Central India: Jaunpur, Malwa
  • East India: Bengal
  • West India: Gujarat
  • South India: Bijapur
  • Gujarat - regional character for patrons borrowed elements from temple traditions such as toranas, lintels in mihrabs, carvings of bell and chain motifs, and carved panels depicting trees, for tombs, mosques and dargahs. Example is white marble dargah of Shaikh Ahmad Khattu of Sarkhej

Decorative Forms

Decorative Forms
  • Traditional mosaics are made of small, flat, roughly square pieces of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae.
  • tessellation (mosaic designs) and pietra dura were made use of for surface decoration particularly in the dado panels of the walls.
  • Lapis lazuli was used in the interior walls or on canopies
  • arabesque, calligraphy and high and low relief carving and a profuse use of jalis
  • Spandrels of the arches were decorated with medallions or bosses.
  • The central dome was topped with an inverted lotus flower motif and a metal or stone pinnacle.
  • Motifs (repeated patterns) were also painted on or carved in stone. These motifs included varieties of flowers (Iran)
  • From 16th century onwards arches were designed with trefoil or multiple foliations. Spandrels of the arches were decorated with medallions or bosses

Forts and Uniqueness

Forts & Uniqueness
  • Walls were then cased over with chunam or limestone plaster or dressed stone. An amazing range of stones were utilised for construction such as quartzite, sandstone, buff, marble, etc. Polychrome tiles were used to great advantage to finish the walls.
  • After 17th Century – bricks and more flexibility in material
  • Forts -When such a fort was captured by an attacking army the vanquished ruler either lost his complete power or his sovereignty. Chittor, Gwalior, Daulatabad (Devgiri) & Golconda
  • At heights for security, unhindered space, concentric circles on outer walls (Golconda)
  • Daulatabad (strategic) -staggered entrances so that gates could not be opened even with the help of elephants. It also had twin forts, one within the other but at a higher elevation; labyrinth or complex pathway could lead to the enemy soldier going in circles or falling to his death several hundred feet below
  • Gwalior fort – steep height (babur praised it)
  • Chittorgarh – largest fort in Asia -longest length of time as the seat of power; stambhas or towers to signify victory and bravery
  • Daulatabad Fort – Yadava; Admednagar
  • No separate exit from the fort, only one entrance/exit - This is designed to confuse the enemy soldiers to drive deep into the fort in search of an exit, at their own peril.
  • No parallel gates - This is designed to break the momentum of the invading army. Also, the flag mast is on the left hill, which the enemy will try to capitulate, thus will always turn left. But the real gates of the fort are on the right & the false ones on the left, thus confusing the enemy.
  • Spikes on the gates - In the era before gunpowder, intoxicated elephants were used as a battering ram to break open the gates. The presence of spikes ensured that the elephants died of injury.
  • Complex arrangement of entryways, curved walls, false doors - Designed to confuse the enemy, false, but well-designed gates on the left side lured the enemy soldiers in & trapped them inside, eventually feeding them to crocodiles.
  • The hill is shaped like a smooth tortoise back - this prevented the use of mountain lizards as climbers, because they cannot stick to it.


Minar Was for the Azaan
  • Minar was for the azaan or call to prayer. Height symbolizes the power
  • Qutb Minar – Delhi, associated with the much-revered saint of Delhi, Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki – 234 ft high – 5 storeys; minar is a mix of polygonal and circular shapes. It is largely built of red and buff sandstone with some use of marble in the upper storeys
  • Chand Minar – Daulatabad – 210 ft high; four storeys – Delhi + Iran; Quranic verses

Tombs Sarais

Tombs Sarais


  • Ghyasuddin Tughlaq, Humayun, Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, Akbar and Itmaduddaula
  • tomb was eternal paradise as a reward for the true believer on the Day of Judgement
  • Quranic verses on the walls and within garden or water body like Taj Mahal - From 1632 onwards it took nearly twenty years and 20,000 specialized workers to complete this monument
  • showcase the majesty, grandeur and might of the person buried there

Taj Mahal

  • It was built in Agra by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj complex is entered through a monumental red sandstone gateway the opening arch of which beautifully frames the mausoleum. The tomb is laid out in a Chahar Bagh, criss-crossed with paths and water courses, interspersed with pools and fountains
  • At the corners of the terrace stand four tall, tapering minarets – 132 ft high. Towards the west of the white marble-faced tomb lies a red sandstone mosque and a similar construction in the east to maintain balance.
  • Makrana mines in Rajasthan – white marbles. All sides of the building, the twin elevations of floor to roof and roof to pinnacle, atop the foliated crest of the dome, measure 186 feet each.
  • vaulted, octagonal tomb chamber above, with a room at each angle, all connected with corridors. Light to every part of the building is obtained by means of carved and perforated jalis
  • graceful volutes (spiral ornament on the pillar) , and the creation of arabesques with pietra dura (yellow marble, jade and jasper) on walls and tombstones and geometric designs with tessellation & calligraphy
  • Four Rivers of Paradise reinforced with fountains and lined with cypress trees.


  • largely built on a simple square or rectangular plan and were meant to provide temporary accommodation to Indian and foreign travelers
  • cross-cultural interaction, influences and syncretic tendencies in the cultural mores

Common People

buildings for domestic usage, temples, mosques, khanqahs and dargahs, commemorative gateways, pavilions in buildings and gardens, bazaars


Mandu – 60 Miles from Indore
  • Mandu – 60 miles from Indore; 2000 ft high; Malwa in north & Narmada in south
  • capital city of Ghauri Dynasty (Hoshang Shah)
  • Sultan Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati – monsoon
  • residential-cum-pleasure palace, pavilions, mosques, artificial reservoirs, baolis, embattlements
  • Royal Enclave located in the city comprised the most complete and romantic set of buildings
  • Hindola Mahal looks like a railway viaduct bridge with its disproportionately large buttresses supporting the walls. This was the audience hall of the Sultan
  • Jahaaz Mahal is an elegant two-storey ‘ship- palace’ between two reservoirs, with open pavilions, balconies – ship that never sailed
  • The city of Mandu is adorned with spell-binding Afghan architecture surrounded by baobab trees, native to Africa
  • Rani Rupmati՚s double pavilion – Narmada view
  • A madrasa called Asharfi Mahal
  • Hoshang Shah՚s tomb is a majestic structure with a beautiful dome, marble jali work
  • Jama Masjid of Mandu was built on a large scale to accommodate many worshippers for Friday prayers – 40 people minimum.
  • The mimbar in the Qibla Liwan is supported on carved brackets and the mihrab has a lotus bud fringe
  • Pathan architecture of Mandu with its surface embellishments of jalis, carved brackets
Five Pillars of Islam

Qibla – direction in which Salat (Namaz) is offered – towards west Mecca

Gol Gumbad

Gol Gumbad
  • Gumbad is situated in Bijapur in the Bijapur District of Karnataka. It is the mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah (1626 – 1656) the seventh Sultan of the Adil Shahi Dynasty of Bijapur
  • Naqqar Khana, a mosque and a sarai located within a large-walled garden.
  • dark gray basalt and decorated plasterwork
  • Wall is 135 ft long, 110 ft high and 10 ft thick
  • The tomb chamber contains the burial place of the Sultan, his wives and other relatives, while their real graves lie perpendicularly below in a vault, accessed by stairs. The hemispherical masonry dome over a square base was constructed with the help of pendentives
  • Whisper gallery - acoustical system , magnified sound and echo
  • At the four corners of the building are seven-storied octagonal spires or minaret-like towers. These towers house staircases leading to the top dome.

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid
  • Congregational prayers were held here every Friday afternoon which required the presence of a minimum of forty Muslim male adults. At the time of prayers, a Khutba was read out in the name of the ruler and his laws for the realm were also read out
  • Focus of lives of both Muslim and non-Muslim
  • Mosque was large with an open courtyard, surrounded on three sides by cloisters and the Qibla Liwan in the west. It was here that the mihrab and the mimbar for the Imam were located. People faced the mihrab while offering prayers as it indicated the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca.
  • Mihrab a niche in the wall of a mosque, at the point nearest to Mecca, towards which the congregation faces to pray.