Art is both religious and secular in character.  The field of art is wide consisting mainly three forms-architecture, sculpture and painting.  The term architecture applies only to buildings.  Architecture is distinguished from sculpture and painting by its spatial quality, though it is not exclusively spatial.  A good architect needs the help of a sculpture as well as a painter.  The former freezes an emotion in stone or metal, in the walls of the temple, in its interior and also carves out independent pieces in the round as well as in the intaglio.  Painting, a more gentle art, involves use of colours and a brush.  Done on the wall it is known as a fresco or tempera or it may be an independent piece of art.

Indus Valley Architecture

The journey of Indian architecture begins with Indus Valley civilization (3rd millennium BC).  The remains of Harappa and Mohenjodaro cities reveal a remarkable sense of town planning.  The buildings, made of both burnt and unburnt bricks, often of two or more storeys, were arranged on grid pattern, were strictly utilitarian, arranged on grid pattern, were strictly utilitarian, without decorative motifs or plasters, and seem to have been built with skill and a sound knowledge of building principles.  Pillars, corbelled arches, stair-cases, etc. were used.  The sot outstanding examples of architecture of this phase are the Great Bath at Mohenjodaro and the citadels and the granaries of the two cities.

Vedic period architecture

After the decline of the Indus Valley cities in the second millennium B.C., the highly developed and standardized brick architecture of this period gave way, in the Vedic Period that followed, to pastoral settlements of mud, thatch, bamboo and timber in the valleys of the rivers from the Saraswati to the Ganga.  Probably there were clusters of circular huts with domed thatched roofs, gables, arched timber palaces and loggias.  This situation continued till the advent of the Mauryas.

Mauryan architecture (321-200 B.C.)

With the exceptions of the walls Rajagriha near Patna, which have no artistic value, we have no architectural remains between the Harappan period and that of the Mauryas.  May be, this was because few buildings were made of stone during this time.  Megasthenes mentions that the palace of Chandragupta Maurya, though very large, was built of carved and gilded wood, and the earliest stone buildings to have survived were evidently modeled on wooden originals.  Use of stone in the buildings probably began with the reign of Ashoka.  The increasing adoption of stone as a building medium was due partly to foreign contacts, but also to the gradual disappearance of timber forests from the more populous and civilized regions of India.

Fragments of polished stone columns, found at Patna, supported the roof of a palace, identified as that of Ashoka.  The monolithic pillars set by Ashoka consisted of three parts – the prop, the shaft and the capitol.  The prop buried in the ground, the shaft or main pillar supported the capitol.  The prop buried in the ground, the shaft or main pillar supported the capitol.  The capitol consisting of the fine polished stone containing one or more animal figures in the round are remarkable for vigorous design and realistic beauty.  The capital of Sarnath pillar, erected to mark the spot where the “Blessed One” first turned the “Wheel of Law”, is the best of the series.

Ashoka also built quite a large number of stupa.  Best examples of stupa are at Sanchi and Sarnath.

Post Mauryan (200BC – 300 AD) architecture

The building of stupas continued on much larger scale in this period.  Hundreds of caves were also cut of solid rocks mainly for monastic purposes.  Unlike the Ashokan caves, which were plain chambers, the caves now began to be decorated with pillars and sculptures.

These caves were of two types.  One type was for the residences of monks, known as Viharas.  The Viharas were quite plain and consisted of a central hall with small cells on all sides.  The other type consisted of the Chaityas or halls of worship.  A Chaitya consisted of a long rectangular hall with apsidsal end, that is, the side opposite the entrance was semi-circular and not straight.  Two long rows of pillars divided the hall into a nave (big central part) and tow side aisles (narrow parts at the two sides.).  a small stupa, called a Dagoba, stood near the apsidsal end.

The front wall was decorated with elaborate sculptures, and there were three small doorways leading to the nave and the side aisles.  But a big horseshoe window above the central doorways leading to the nave and the side aisles. But a big horseshoe window above the central doorway admitted a volume of light which illuminated the Dagoba at the far end.

Besides, the general building activity continued following more or less the tradition of the Mauryas.

Religious architecture

The growth of Buddhism and Jainism and the rise of the sectarian cults of Hinduism gave a great impetus to the progress of architecture.  The major forms of architecture evolved as a result were: Stupa (memorial structure of Buddha), Viharas (residential complexes or monasteries), Chaityas (halls for religious worship), caves and temples.


The stupa is a massive solid domical structure of brick or stone, resting on a round base, intended to serve as a respectable for the relics of Buddha or Buddhist monks.  It was sometimes surrounded by a plain or ornamented stone railing with one or more gateways, which were often of highly elaborate pattern and decorated with sculptures.

The most important stupas are located at Bharut, Modhgaya and Sanchi in North India and Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda in the South.


The early viharas (monastery) were planned in much the same way as a private dwelling housing for monks having only a courtyard surrounded by small single rooms opening into it.  In course of time the viharas became large establishments and served besides their usual purposes, as important educational centres.  The remains at Nalanda and Paharpur are the most noteworthy examples of viharas.  Other examples of viharas are caves at Ajante, Karle, Ellora, all in Maharashtra and Bagh in Madhya Pradesh.


The chaitya was a deep excavation in the form of a basilloca with a frame and two aisles and a stupa, with a great horse shoe opening in the façade.  Important ancient chityas are at Karle, Ajanta, Bhaja etc.  Chaitya at Karle has a fine hall with highly polished and decorated pillars and vaulted roofs.


As the Buddhist structures the earliest temples were rock cut caves, excavated in western Deccan in early Christian era-e.g. at Ajanta and Karle.  The second phase produced some exhaustive creations.  The growing popularity of image worship in Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism stimulated building activities the cave temples of Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, the Mandapas and Rathas of Mahabalipuram and the Kailasanatha temple at Ellora by the great ruler Krishna (Rashtrakuta) are some of the great achievements of this period.

All the Buddhist caves in general are a complex of Vihara, Chaitya hall and Stupa.  So they meet a secular need of the clerical community, wherein they not only lived but also prayed the lord.

Ajanta Caves: the Ajanta caves are located 60 miles away from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra.  There in all 30 caves of which 25 are vihara caves and 5 Chaitya caves.  There are caves with both the Buddhist and the Hindu features.  Chronologically Ajanta temples date from 2 B.C. to 5 century A.D.

Caves X, XIX and others are of the Buddhist cult.  The Ajanta caves are more famous for their paintings.  The examples like the Jataka story of Saddanta Jataka (when Bodhisattva took the form of an elephant) and the sleeping princess, etc. are noteworthy paintings.  Besides paintings, these caves are also notable for sculptures.  For instance, the sculpture of Nagaraja at cave no.  XIX is considered to be an outstanding example of the period.  The traits of Ajanta both in painting and sculpture are also found at Bagh caves and Sittannavasal.

Ellora Caves: Located 33 km. from Aurangabad, Maharashtra.  Ellora caves are famous for their architecture, sculpture and painting.  Total numbers of caves are 71.  These caves are believed to be built around 8th century AD.  Besides, the Buddhist caves Ellora stands as a centre for the evolution of Hindu architecture.  During the period of Krishna I, the cave 16 was made a temple for Kailasanatha.  It is a monolithic temple and falls in the continuity f the Buddhist tradition as in examples like Elephanta near Bombay, Jogeshvari in Bombay, which were all carved out during the Rashtrakuta regime.  The temple of Kailasanatha at Ellora is two storied one.  The pillars and other components received dexterity of artistic and descriptive nature even though such is not found at Jogeshvari which is also Siva temple in cave with stalactites and stalagmites, wherein the pillars are carved with lotus medallions.

Elephanta Caves: Are located near the harbor of Bombay in Arabian Sea, on an island, which appears like an elephant and hence called Elephanta.  These caves underwent a process of destruction by the Portuguese, have a temple of Siva and many sculptures.  Of sculptures the three headedSiva (depicting three moods- the creator, the preservator and the destroyer) is famous one.  The middle head is of the Siva, the left one is of Uma/Sakti and the right one is of Aghora Bairava.  This is a conglomeration of the Sattva (Siva), Rajah (Uma) and Tamah (Bhairava) qualities in the world.

Bagh Caves: Belonging to 6th century AD, these are located in Madhya Pradesh.  There are in total nine caves (all of which are vihara caves) with beautiful frescoes and sculpture, stone works.  However, these caves are badly damaged.  The caves of Bagh not only indicate a painting tradition as found in Ajanta but also the constructions like verandahs, which are affiliated to different caves and help to identify the architectural tradition during the Gupta period.

Junagadh Caves: Uparkot i.e., citadel is an ancient fortress which has been the scene of historic sieges between the middle of the 14th century and end of the 16the century A.D.  Its entrance is from the archway and it is a fine specimen of the Hindu torana.  It had many Buddhist monasteries in ancient times.  Some of the caves were two or three stories high.  It belonged to about 300 AD.  The outstanding features of these caves are the halls, connected by winding staircases.  In the upper chamber is a small refractory and a tank surrounded by a corridor, all supported by six richly carved columns indicative of fine craftsmanship.

Sankaram Caves: Are located in the present Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh, near Anakapalli.  The name Sankaram is corrupt form of the Sanskrit word Sangharama which is to denote the whole complex around Stupa, Chaitya and Vihara.  The caves at Sankaram are built on a hill, showing the skills of rock-cut architecture and brick masonry.  These caves speak of a rigorous impact of the Buddhists on the North of Godavari.  They were built during the early 6th century AD.  They speak of the Mahayana and Vajrayana impact in Northern Andhra.

Brahmanical and Jaina Caves: The earliest of the Brahmanical shrines are to be seen in group of caves at Udayagiri (Madhya Pradesh), belonging approximately to the early 5th century A.D. the majority represents small rectangular shrines (occasionally structural caverns enlarged and given the required shape) with a pillared structural portico in front.  Cave No. IX, perhaps the latest in the series, introduces four pillars verandah, and a columned hall with a square sanctum cell deeper at the far end (6th century AD).

In the Dravida country the cave style was introduced in the 7th century A.D. by Mahendravarman Pallava.  A shrine of this mode in the south usually takes the shape of a rectangular hall, or mandapa (mandapam) as it is locally called, with one or more cells cut further deep on one or more sides of the hall.  The façade is composed of a row of pillars with brackets supporting the architrave and their design and decoration give useful data for determining the chronological and stylistic sequence of these caves.

The Brahmanical caves at Ellora are famous for the boldness of their design, spaciousness of their dimensions and skilled treatment of the façade and the interior.  Of the sixteen excavations belonging to this faith, the Dasaavtara (XV), the Ravana-ka-khai (XIV), the Ramesvara (XXI) and the Dhunar  lena (XXIX), besides the far-famed Kailasa-an entire temple complex cut out of the rock is imitation of a distinctive structural form, are the most important.  They may be divided into three types.  The first, represented by the Dasavatara cave, comprises a many-columned hall with the sanctum cell dug out at its far end and the lateral sides of the hall disposed each as a kind of the iconostasis.  In the second type of sanctum, a free standing cubical cell with a processional passage around, is shaped out of a mass of rock at the centre of the back end of the hall.  Of the two caves of this class, the Ravana-ka-khai and the Rameshvara, the latter is more eminent because of the magnificent wealth of sculptures overlying all its part and the rich and elegant design of the massive pillars of the façade with their charming and graceful bracket figures.  The Dhumar lena(middle of the 8th century AD), belonging to the third group, is the most elaborate of the Brahmanical cave-shrines.  It consists of a cruciform pillared hall, having more than one entrance and court, with the free-standing squarer cell, shaped out of the rock, near the back end.  This cave is probably the finest among the Brahmanical excavations, the more well known cave at Elephanta following its pattern generally.

Two caves, one at Badami and the other at Aihole (middle of the 7th century AD), represent the earliest of the Jaina cave of this phase.  Each exhibits a pillared quadrangular hall with the sanctum cella dug out at the far end.  The Jaina caves at Ellora date from the 9th century.  Of these the Chota kailasa (XXX), the Indra Saba (XXXII) and the Jagannatha Sabha (XXXIII) are important.  The first is a reduced copy of its more famous namesake.  The second and the third are each partly a copy of structural from and partly cave excavation.  In the forecourt of each is a monolithic shrine preceded by gateway, both shaped out of the rock, while behind rises the façade of the cave in two storeys, each reproducing the usual plan of a pillared hall with a chapel at the far end and cella at the sides.  Though identical in plan and arrangement, the Jagannath Sabha lacks the balance and organic character of the Indra Sabha.


Perhaps the highest achievement of Indian architecture is seen in temple.

Temple architecture

The erection of sanctuaries for the images of gods dates back perhaps to the 2nd century BC.  Several deva-grahas of pre-Christian centuries have been excavated in extremely fragmentary state.  The Gupta period, however, marks the real beginning of Indian temple architecture.

Gupta Period (A.D.32-600)

What remains of the Gupta architecture are some small temples which exhibit comparative refinement in style these temples  are well-designed, and consist of a square chamber, a cella (shrine) and a portico or veranda as essential elements.  They are decorated with fine sculptured panels, but the decoration is properly subordinated to, and is in full harmony with, the architectural plan of the buildings.  The magnificent temples of large dimensions must have been constructed during the period, but they have been completely destroyed.

High and elaborately worked towers (sikharas) which surmounted the roofs of temples in later ages, had not yet made their appearance, but the beginnings of this development are seen in the Bhitargoan temple and the miniature representations of temples on relief-sculptures of the Gupta period.  The Gupta temples were independent structures built of dressed stone blocks placed together.  Their masonry was held together without mortar.  The finest and earliest Gupta temple is the Dasavatar temples of Deograh near Jhansi.  The shrine has a simple structure with a doorway elaborately carved.  The style continued for about 400 years and was popularly called the Indo-Aryan style.  Other examples are the Vishnu temple at Tegawa in M.P, Shiva temple at nagada, the Parvati temple at Ajaygarh, the Bhittargaon temple near Kanpur, etc.

Post-Gupta Period (AD 600-1200)

It was during this age that the different styles of Indian temple architecture were evolved.  The Indian Shilpashastras recognize three main styles of temple architecture: Nagara in North India, Vessara in territory between Vindhyas and the Kirshna and the Dravida in the South i.e., between the Krishna and Kanyakumari.  The Vesara temples have evolved as a hybrid style of the Nagara and the Dravida.

The Nagara style prefers a tower, known as shikhara, with rounded top and curvilinear outline, while the tower known as vimana, of the Southern or Dravidian style is usually in the shape of a rectangular truncated pyramid.  In South Indian temples pillars play an important part while they are altogether absent in edifices constructed in the North Indian style.  Lastly, in the southern temples, the gateways or gopurams are highly developed, unlike the North Indian temples.

Dravida Style

The history of architecture in South India begins with the Pallava temples.  Some of the Pallava rock-cut temples, known as the seven Pagodas or Rathas of Mammallapuram (7th century AD)  are small temples, each of which is cut out of a single rock boulder of granite with finely sculptured walls.  These pagodas are named after the five Pandava brothers  and Draupadi.  These monolithic temples are complete with all the details of an ordinary temple.  They still show the influence of wood construction.  The apogee of the Pallava style was reached in the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram and the Kailasanatha Temple of Kanchi.  The latter has a pyramidal tower formed of two courses of small barrel vaults, surmounted by a solid cupola, suggesting a Buddhist stupa.  There are three separate parts of it: a sanctum with a pyramidal tower, a mandapa and a rectangular courtyard showing a series of subsidiary shrines or cells.

The Cholas who supplanted the Pallavas in South India were mighty builders.  The Chola architecture is characterized by a massive grandeur.  The huge structures were decorated with minute sculptures were decorated with minute sculptures.  In fact, the Cholas further developed the Pallava style.  The comparatively modest tower of the Pallava style was replaced by a great pyramid, rising from a tall upright base and crowned with a domed finial.  The Chola temples contain elaborate pillared halls and beautiful decoration.  Gradually a huge gateway, called Gopuram, began to be added to the enclosure of the temple.

The Brihadeshwara temple at Tanjore built by Rajaraja is the most magnificent.  The most striking feature is the vimana, 65 metres high built in such a way, that its, shadow does not reach the ground.  Another Chola temple of importance was at Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

From the twelfth century onwards it became usual to fortify the temple, often with three square  concentric walls, with gates on the four sides.  The gates were surrounded by watch-towers or gatehouses, and these developed into soaring towers (gopurams), generally much taller than the modest  shikharaover the central shrine.  The new style is often called Pandyan, from the name of the dynasty which supplanted the Cholas.  This style introduced more elaborate ornamentation, and the use of animal forms in pillars and columns, including the rampant horses and leogryphs.  Besides Gopurams, pillared halls and long colonnades were added as new features in the later temples.  Best examples of these are the Gopurams of Kanchi and Madurai temples.

The Hoysalas (1050-1300 AD) of the medieval Deccan started a new style of architecture.  Their temples are not square but polygonal or star-shaped.  Other characteristics are the high bases or plinths which follow all the windings of the temple and thus offer a huge length of vacant space to be elaborately carved with sculptures.  The shikhara is pyramidal but low.  These temples give a strong feeling of flatness, for platforms and walls alike are covered with rather narrow carved friezes of elephants, horsemen, geese, monsters, and scenes of mythology and legend.  The most important temples of this style are the Kesav temple, at Somnathpur, the Hoysaleshvara at Halebid and the Chenna Kesava at Belur.

Vijayanagar rulers built temples like Hazra, Vithalaswami etc.  these temples have: huge gopurams, higher enclosure walls-as there was threat from the Bahamanis, and hall with pillars with rich decorations.  The temples are mysterious.

Secular buildings – have Indo-Muslim features, e.g. Elephant stable, Lotus Mahal.  Platform of Krishna Deva Raya, Prisons, the Palaces, several baths, pillars and arcades constitute the secular architecture.  The Meenakshi temple at Madurai and the Rameshwaram temple of 17th century were built during the Nayaka period.  The latter has pillared corridors which not only surround it on all sides but also form avenues leading up to it.

Nagara Style

Medieval North Indian architecture is best illustrated by temples- those of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and southern Rajasthan.

The fundamental characteristics of a Nagara temple are cruciform ground-plan and the curvilinear foyer.  Essential plan of north Indian temples includes an inner chamber (Garbhagriha), a pavilion (Mandapa), the vestibule (Antarala) which connects the vimana and mandapa, and the passage (Radhkrishna patha).

Temples of Orissa: A magnificent series of temples at Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark in Orissa by the rulers of Eastern Ganga dynasty, illustrate the development of architecture from the 8th to 13th century.  The most important were the Lingaraja (1000 AD) and Raja Rani (1150 AD) temple at Bhubaneswar, the Jagannath temple at Puri and the gigantic Sun temple at Konark that is fashioned like a chariot moving on twelve giant wheels drawn by seven horses, are indeed splendid examples of architectural dexterity.  The Konark temple is also called the “Black Pagoda” perhaps due to the use of black-stones.  The Orissa temples have no pillars.

Their special features are the profusely ornamented outer wall relieved by projections on surface everywhere, loaded with rich sculpture.  The inner wall surface is plain.

Khajuraho Temples of MP: Under the Chandella kings of Bundelkhan a great school of architecture flourished in the 10th and 11th century; the chief work of which is a beautiful group of temples at Khajuraho.  The standard type of Khajuraho temple contains a shrine-room or sanctuary, an assembly hall, and an entrance portico.  In the Orissan temple these temple these elements were conceived rather as separate entities joined together by vestibules, whereas the Khajuraho architects treated them as a whole, and though each part has its own roof they are not structurally separate.  The temple is curved for its whole length, and its upward thrust is accentuated by miniature shikharas emerging from the central tower.  The tower, and indeed the whole temple, seems intimately at one with the earth, suggesting an enormous ant-hill.  While the Orissan roof is pyramidal in pattern, the Khajuraho builders employed corbelling to produce the effect of a flattish dome.  The mass of the buildings is broken by pillared window openings.  A further distinctive feature is the introduction of small transepts to the assembly hall, giving the whole a ground plan.

The important temples at Khajuraho are the Kandariya Mahadeva temple, the Vishwanath temple etc.

Temples of Gujarat and Rajasthan: The temples of Gujarat and Rajasthan are built on high platform and usually consisted of a shrine and hall only, without an entrance portico.  The shikhara over the shrine, like those of Khajuraho, was adorned with a large number of miniature towers, and the ceilings were in the form of corbelled domes.  The most outstanding feature of this style is its minute and lovely decorativeness.

Best examples are the Dilwara Jain temples built between the 11th and 12th century AD by the Solanki rulers, which are famous for their intricate carvings in marble.  Vimla Vsoli, built in 1031 by Vimal Shah, is the oldest of the Jaina temples.  Dedicated to Adinath, the first of the Jaina Tirthankaras and constructed out of white marble it is a perfect example of Jaina architecture.


These temples combined the features of Nagara and Dravidian styles.

Chalukyan Art: Important sites are Aihole, Badami, Mahakuteshwar and Pattadakal.  The earliest temples closely resemble the Guptan and are of the North Indian type, e.g. Ladkhan temple at Aihole.  Later the Dravidian influence increased.  The famous Virupaksha temple, dedicated to Shiva Lokeshwara, is built of very large closely joined blocks of stone without mortar, quite similar to the Dravidian style.  The main shrine with the Paradakshina passage is distinct from the mandapa which is pillared, with solid walls and pierced stone window.  The sikhars consists of clearly defined stories.

The Rashtrakuta Art: Remembered for cave and rock cut temples at Ellora and Elepanta. Kailash temple at Ellora is dedicated to Shiva and the Elephanta cave is dedicated to the “Trimurti” (Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh).

Indo-Islamic Architecture

Sultanate Period (1206-1526)

With the establishment of the Islam rule in India, the followers of Islam, like the Arabs, the Persians, or the Turks, brought in their train the art of different parts of Western Europe.  The mingling of these with the different indigenous styles of old Indian art during this period, according to the needs of religion and personal taste, led to the growth of new ‘Indo-Islamic’ style of architecture.  The four major components of the Islamic architectural traditions are mosque, mausoleum, fort and palaces.  The mosques consisted of a large rectangular open courtyard surrounded by arcades on all four sides.  The Mehrab which faces Mecca indicates the direction for praying, which in India falls in the west.

The practice of burial of the dead led to the construction of tombs which comprised of domed chamber, the Chhaja, with a dargah in the centre,  a mehab on the western wall, and the grave (Kabra) in an underground chamber.

The essential differences between Islamic and Indian styles are the following.

  • The Indian temples were either spaced by beams or the courses of bricks/stones were laid in cobels to cover the open space.
  • Though use of arch existed in India it was made common in India by the Muslims.
  • The flat lintels or corbelled ceilings were replaced by arches or vaults and the pyramidal roof (or spire) by the dome.
  • Concept of sun-shades or balconies were introduced.
  • Chhajas, kiosks, tall towers and half domed double portals are the other distinguishing features of Indo-Islamic architecture.

The indigenous ornamentation is largely naturalistic, delineating with the conspicuous zest, human and animal forms and the luxuriant vegetation-life characteristic of tropical country.  Since representation f living beings was forbidden by scriptures, the Muslims took recourse to execution of geometrical and arabesque patterns, ornamental writing and formal representation of plant and flora life.

Turks:            The Turks used fine quality mortar and added colour to the building by using red sandstone and white sandstone.  Marble was used for decoration.

The Turks employed Hindu craftsmen and gradually adopted the bell, swastika, kalash and lotus symbols under the Hindu and Buddhist influence.  Initially, their buildings were made of materials taken from Hindu and Jaina temples.  The extensive use of arches and domes dispensed with the need for a number of pillars enabling large halls with a clear view to be constructed.

The earliest constructions are the two: Quwaat-ul-Islam at Delhi and Arahi din-ka Jhopra at Ajmer by Qutb-ud-din Aibak mainly cut out of the old Hindu and Jaina temples.  Qutab Minar at Delhi begun by Aibak was completed by Iltutmish.

Kaljis : The Khaljis added certain new features like the lotus buffing on the other side of the arch, ornamental bases in relief, arch in the form of pointed horse shoe (scientific method), windows, decorative mouldings, arabesque, low reliefs, inscriptional bands and use of red sanstones relieved by marble.  Important Khalji buildings are the Allai Darwaza, Jamait Khama Masjid, Hauz-i-Alahi, and the city of Siri.

Tughlaqs : The Tughlaq rulers built buildings which were massive and simple with little ornamentation except that of the Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s building.  Plain and austere surface of grey stone, cross vaults over large halls, battered walls and bastions, four centered arches and lintel over the openings were employed.  They tried to combine the principle of arch, lintel and beam.  They use encaustic tiles for relief.  The buildings are built on a high platform to have a good sky-line.

Important Tughlaq Constructions are Tughlaqabad by Giasuddin Tughlaq, Adilabad for and Jahanpanath by Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, cities of Hissar –Firuza, Fatehabad and Jaunpur and Kotla Firozshah by Firoz Shah Tughlaq.

Lodhis :The Lodhis brought in balconies, kiosk and caves of the Rajasthani and Gujarati style in their construction.  They placed their tombs on high platforms amidst a garden.  Some tombs were octagonal in shape.

Important constructions are the Lodhi garden, the Sahish Gumbad the Baar Gumbad Mosque, the Bahul Lodhi’s Tomb, Bagh-i-Alam ka Gumbad and Moti Masjid, are all in Delhi.

Provincial styles

The architectural styles followed in provinces like Jaunpur, Bengal, Malwa, Kashmir, Gujarat etc., was essentially of the Delhi style.

Jaunpur: The buildings of Sharqi or Jaunpur school have massive sloping walls, square pillars, smaller galleries and cloisters, which are clearly Hindu features, designed by Hindu masons, and the mosques of Jaunpur have no minarets of the usual type.  One important example is the Atala Devi Mosque.

Bengali : In Bengal also there grew up a mixed style of architecture, characterized by the use of bricks in the main, the subsidiary use of stone, the use of pointed arches on short pillars and the Muslim adaptation of the traditional Hindu temple style of curvilinear cornices copied from bamboo structures, and of beautifully carved Hindu symbolic decorative designs like the lotus.  Important examples are Adina Mosque at Pandua, Dakhila Darwaza and Tantipura mosque at Gaur and also the Bara Sona Masjid and Chhota Sona Masjid.

Kashmir: The Muslim Sultans of Kashmir continued the old tradition of stone and wooden architecture but grafted on it Islamic structural forms and decorative motifs.  Examples are Jama Masjid, Zaina Lanka, etc.

Gujarat : A splendid indigenous style flourished in Gujarat before the coming of the Muslims and the buildings of the conquerors were greatly influenced by that style, though arches were occasionally used for symbolical purposes.  Important buildings are Tin Darwaza, Jami Masjid, Jaliwali Masjid (or, Sadi Saiyyid mosque) at Ahmadabad and the Jama Masjid at Champaner by Mahmud Begarha.

Malwa: At Dhar, the old capital of Malwa, the mosques and buildings had domes and pillars of Hindu form.  But the buildings at Mandu, where the capital was soon transferred, were marked by the predominance of Muslim art traditions, and they clung steadily to the pointed arch style.  Marble and sandstone were used in many of these edifices.  The Tomb of Hoshang Sheh is made entirely of marble – first of its kind in India.  Important buildings include the Jama Masjid, Jahaz Mahal, Hindola Mahal at Mandu.

Multan : Being earliest provincial style, Multan and Lahore were the two centres of the Multan architectural style.  Tombs are the centre of attraction, which are brick structures surfaced with glazed tiles.  Surface coloured tile ornament with its brilliant colour effect employed in the tomb of Dukh-i-Alam are typical of the Multan style.

Deccan: The Bahmani architecture of the Deccan was a composite mixture of several elements – Indian, Turkish, Egyptian and Persian. They also incorporated elements from South Indian temples.  They developed the dome into a full blown bulbous as the Gol Gumbad at Bijapur.  Other important buildings were – the Jama Masjid at Gulbarga, Mehtar Mahal, Ibrahim Rauza and the fort of Golkonda.  Multiple domes and covered courtyard are two special features.

Khandesh : Buildings of the Faruqi or Khandesh style are mostly found at Thalner and Burhanpur.  Buildings have centrally projected openings and wider spacing of the doors and windows; prominence has been given to the parapet wall and also to the stilt sided dome placed on a well proportioned octagonal trum, e.g. Jami Masjid at Burhanpur.

South : Further southward, the Vijayanagar rulers kept the tradition going century had started with the Pallavas and had far advanced during the Chola and Pandya rules.

Mughal Period

The common features of the Mughal buildings were the use of running water, dome, arch, perforated jail work, inlay decoration and artistic calligraphy and laying gardens around the buildings.

During Babur’s reign, the first Mughal ruler, of only four years, magnificent forts, palaces, gates, public buildings, mosques, baolis, etc. were built.  However, it was Sher Shah who symbolized the transition from the Sultanate architecture to the Mughal architecture.  While the perfection of the Qila Kuhna Masjid in the Purana Qila at Delhi became the prototype upon which the Mughals developed their structure, his tomb at Sasaram in Bihar was indeed a fitting climax to the series of octagonal tombs erected by the Tughouqs and the Lodis.

But the real Mughal architecture began with the rule of Akbar.  The emphasis shifted from sectarian to secular architecture.  While still adhering to Persian ideas, which he inherited from his mother, Akbar used Hindu styles of architecture in many of his buildings, the decorative features which are copies of those found in the Hindu and Jaina temples.  The main medium of Akbar’s buildings was the red sand stone.  Major architectural examples under Akbar at the city of Fatehpuri Sikri are Buland Darwaja, Pancha Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Jodha Bai’s Palace, Turkish Sultan’s palace, Salim Chisti’s Tomb and the forts at Lahore, Allahabad and Agra.  He also began building his own tomb at Sikandra which was later completed by Jahangir.

The number of buildings erected during Jahangir’s reign was comparatively lesser.  However, the use of Pietra dura in the buildings increased greatly during his reign.  The structures of Shah Jahan as compared with those of Akbar, are inferior in grandeur and originality, but they are superior in lavish display and rich and skillful decoration.

Under Shah Jahan, the most famous among the builders of the Mughal dynasty, the use of white marble stone immensely increased.  Unlike his predecessors, he built a large number of mosques (sectarian buildings) at Agra and Delhi.  Some his architectural constructions are Mina Masjid and Naginia masjid near Red Fort, Delhi, red stone Jami mosque of Agra and Delhi, red stone Jami Mosque of Agra, Jama masjid at Delhi, Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, Rang Mahal, etc.  Taj Mahal, which he started building in 1631 and completed 1648 as a memorial to his most beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, marked the zenith of Mughal architecture  built in white marble, it is considered one of the wonders of the world.

In Aurangzeb’s reign the style of architecture began to deteriorate.  The few structures of his reign such as Moti masjid (white marble) in Red Fort, foundation of the town Aurangabad near Ajanta and Bibi Ka Maqbara built in memory of Aurangzeb’s wife Begum Rabia Durani by her son were nearly feeble imitations of the older models.  Soon the creative genius of the Indian artists mostly disappeared, surviving partly in Oudh and Hyderabad in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Sikh architecture

The typical features of the Sikh architecture (the Golden Temple is the representative) are the multiplicity of Chhatris (kiosks) which adorn the parapets, angles on each prominence or projection, the invariable use of the fluted domes generally covered with brass or copper gelt, the frequent use of oriel or embowed windows with shallow elliptical cornices, supported on brackets, and the enrichment of all arches by numerous foliations.

Rajput architecture

Picturesque and romantic, most of the Rajput buildings during the Muslim rule in India have hanging balconies of various shapes and sizes and even long  loggias, supported on rows of elaborately carved brackets.  A special characteristic is a carved cornice or cave, arched in shape, producing shadow, and arched like a bow.