The Mughal Emperors were great builders. They raised a large number of palaces, mosques and forts and other buildings which are notable for the magnificence of their style and designs. The Mughal style of architecture was a mixture of various styles, partly foreign and partly Indian.
Babur had a very poor opinion about Indian architecture. So he summoned many skilled architects from Constantinople to construct buildings at many places in India. But most of the buildings built by Babur have perished. The two that have survived are the mosque in the Kabuli Bagh in Panipat and the Jama Masjid at Sambhal.
Humayun, in spite of his life of stress and strain found some time to erect some buildings. He erected a new fortress town of Din Panah. He also constructed a mosque at Fatehabad in the Hissar district of Haryana.
Sher Shah Sun was a reat builder. Among the buildings constructed by him, his mausoleum at Sasaram is the most famous. In this building, there is a harmonious combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Cunningham was so much impressed by it that he Qonsidered it better than the Taj Mahal. Another important building of Sher Shah was the Purana Qua at Delhi. The mosque inside the building is a structure of such admirable architectural qualities as to entitle it a high place among the buildings of Northern India.
Akbar: Emperor Akbar had a thorough understanding of architectural details. He gathered artistic ideas from the expert artists of his court. The most prominent buildings of Akbar are those at Fatehpur Sikri, his capital from 1569 to 1584. The prominent among Akbar’s monuments are the Buland Darwaza, the Jama Masjid, the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti and the royal palace. The Buland Darwaza is 176 feet high. It is still the highest
Gateway in India and one of the highest in the world. The Jama Masjid described as glory of Fatehpur is one of the greatest and most beautiful mosques in India. But the most beautiful Mughal edifice at Fatehpur Sikri is the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti. Impressed by its finish and form, design and execution, the historians have said that the tomb stands distinguished from Itimad-ud-Daula’s tomb at Agra and the Taj Mahal. The other impressive buildings at Sikri are the house of Birbal, the house of princesses of Ambar, Sonahia Makan, the palace of Turkish Sultana and the Diwani-khas. Dr. V.A. Smith remarks that Fatehpur is a “romance in stone”.
Akbar also built a number of buildings at Agra. He constructed the Agra fort which was completed in 1572 A.D. The walls of this fort are 72 feet high and its circumference is one and a half mile. It has two gateways namely Delhi Gate or Elephant Gate and Amar Singh Gate. Inside the fort are Diwan-i-Aam and Dewan-i-Khas. Akbar also started the construction of a fort at Lahore. He built many palaces in this fort. Its walls had paintings of elephants, tigers and peacocks etc. These paintings show the influence of Hindu art. Later, Shah Jahan completed the construction of the Lahore fort. Akbar started the construction of his tomb at Sikandara near Agra but it was completed by Jahangir. About this tomb, Dr. Iswari Pal Prasad remarks that this building is unique among the sculptures of Asia. Apart from the buildings and monuments mentioned above, Akbar’s style is visible in a number of forts, serais, schools, tanks and wells.
Under Jahangir. Jahangir did not take much interest in erecting buildings and monuments. Nevertheless, two important buildings were erected in his times. One is Itmad-ud Daula’s tomb built by Nur Jahan in the memory of her father. It was wholly built of marble and is really a beautiful structure. The other is Jahangir’s tomb at Shadara near Lahore on the bank of river Ravi. It was also built by Nur Jahan.
Under Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan’s reign is most memorable in the history of India for the excellence of architecture. Shah Jahan was the “most magnificent builder”. He built palaces, forts and mosques at various places such as Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Kabul, Kandhar, Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Mukhlaspur and Kashmir. He carried the decorative art to perfection by making an extensive use of snowy marble in laid with precious stones.
The most magnificent of Shah Jahan’s buildings is the famous Taj Mahal at Agra. He raised, this building in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is a spectacle of supremely moving béauty It has been described as “a dream in marble” and the queen of architecture. Though Shah Jahan invited eminent architects from Shiraz, Baghdad, Constantinople, Bokhara and Samarkand, yet most of them were from Delhi, Lahore, Multan and Kanauj. It took 22 years to complete the construction of the Taj Mahal and its total cost came to about three crore rupees.
The other important building constructed by Shah Jahan was the Red Fort (Lal Qua) at Delhi. The fort has many beautiful buildings such as Rang Mahal, Moti Mahal, Hira Mahal, Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-khas. Shah Jahan called the Dewan-i- khas as a “paradise on earth.” Shah Jahan’s peacock throne, “Takhat-i-Taus” was placed in the Dewan i-khas.
Shan Jahan demolished some buildings in the fort of Agra which were built by Akbar and built some new buildings in their place. The new buildings were Diwan-i- Am, Diwan-i-khas, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal, Suman Burj and Moti Masjid. All these buildings are made of marble. Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque is regarded as the “purest and the loveliest house of prayer”.
Shah Jahan laid the foundation of the city of Delhi and named it as Shah Jahan Abad. It was situated on the banks of the Jamuna.
Shah Jahan built a Jama Masjid opposite the Red Fort at Delhi. It is even more impressive and pleasing than the Pearl Mosque. It is a very large building and is made of red stone.
Under Aurangzeb. Being himself a puritan, Aurangzeb did not take much interest in the art of architecture. Moreover, as he remained busy in his Deccan campaigns, he could pay little attention to the development of architecture. In 1660 A.D., he constructed a Pearl Mosque in the Red Fort at Delhi. In 1674, he built a l3adshahi Mosque at Lahore. In 1679, he built the tomb of his wife Rabia-ud-Durrani at Aurangabad. This building shows that the art of architecture was on its decline during Aurangzeb’s times.
British Period: The British government in India also built great monuments. They got constructed the government buildings on the British pattern. The Victoria Memorial Hall, Writers Building and Fort St. William were built at Calcutta. They built Victoria Terminus
Railway Station (now called Chhatrapati Shivaji) at Bombay
which is a beautiful specimen of architecture. They also built most
magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Parliament House at New
Delhi. It was during this period that Shattar Manzil and Kausar
Bagh were built at Lucknow.