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Taj Mahal

In their rule of about three hundred years, they have left a remarkable impact on the Indian Subcontinent. Starting from cuisine, clothes, art, architecture the Mughals has played a very important role in constructing the rich culture of the sub-continent. One of the most influencing reflections of their rule is their architecture. Therefore, we are emphasizing on some of the most remarkable architectural landmarks built during the Mughal Rule.

 

Taj Mahal

Involvement of 22, 000 workers including masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome-builders and other artisans called on from all over the central Asia and Iran, and some 22 years later when a monument with a unique blend of Persian, Islamic, and Indian architectural styles came into its own, it was a sight to behold! The grandeur of the structure then created was such that even decades after its creation, it is still regarded as one of the most arresting and attention-grabbing manmade monuments of the world. Not just Taj, even structures alongside it add to the architectural beauty and artistic wonder of the place. The entire Taj complex consists of five major constituents, namely Darwaza (main gateway), Bageecha (gardens), Masjid (mosque), Naqqar Khana (rest house) and Rauza (main mausoleum).


The Taj Mahal covers an area of 42 acres in total with the terrain gradually sloping from south to north, towards the river Yamuna in the form of descending terraces. The main gateway situated at the end of the long watercourse, decorated in calligraphy with verses from Holy Quran and a domed central chamber, was constructed from the period 1932 to 1938. The original door of this massive sandstone gateway was made out of solid silver. It was constructed to serve the function of preventing the people from getting any glimpse of the tomb until they are right in the doorway itself. With a vertical symmetry, the main gateway of Taj Mahal stands bordered with Arabic calligraphy of verses from the Quran, made up of black stone. The main tomb of Taj Mahal stands on a square platform that was raised 50 meter above the riverbank and was leveled with dirt to reduce seepage from the river. The four minarets on each corner of this square are detached, facing the chamfered angles of the main and are deliberately kept at 137 feet to emphasize the beautiful and spherical dome that itself is 58 feet in diameter and 81 feet high. The western side of the main tomb has the mosque and on the eastern side is the Naqqar Khana (rest/guest house), both made in red sandstone. The two structures not only provide an architectural symmetry, but also make for an aesthetic color contrast. One can only marvel at the mosque and the rest house as despite being on the opposite ends, the two are mirror image of each other. Out of the total area of 580 meter by 300 meter, the garden alone covers 300 meter by 300 meter.


Source: tajmahal.org

Akbar’s Tomb

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Completed between 1612 and 1614 as per inscriptions on its south gate, the construction of the mausoleum is said to have commenced during emperor Akbar’s (1556-1605) lifetime in 1604 but concluded during his son, Jehangir’s reign (1605-1627). This is perhaps accurate, as the Akbarnama states nothing about the description of the monument except for noting Behistan or Behistabad(Abode of Paradise) in Sikandra as the burial place of the emperor. Recorded references to the tomb are mostly from Jehangir’s rule; they mention his discontent with the initial progress on the mausoleum and outline his active involvement in its design, modification and embellishment. The mausoleum complex is square in plan and aligned on the cardinal axis, with the tomb at its center and four gates, one along each wall. Based on acharbagh, or walled square garden composition much like his father Humayun’s (1530-1540, 1555-1556) tomb, the tomb of Akbar has a tall sandstone clad gate with ornate marble inlay carvings and inscriptions. It consists of a colossal arched niche flanked on either side by double-stacked balconies. Surmounting the gate pavilion are four towering white marble minarets, one at each corner. Its inscriptions were written and designed by Abd al- Haqq Shirazi (later known as Amanat Khan), famed calligrapher of Mughal monuments including Taj Mahal. While the inscriptions on the north elevation facing the tomb eulogize the deceased emperor, those above the entrance praise Jehangir, the patron of the tomb. Beyond the lofty gate lies the Charbagh divided into quadrants by watercourses designed to evoke the rivers of paradise. Hence, the mausoleum itself is physically and metaphorically located at the center of a heavenly garden, Behistan. A paved causeway leads from the gate to the mausoleum. It is a five-tiered structure much like a truncated pyramid enveloped by low galleries. The domed and vaulted galleries are a hundred and five meters long serving as a large square plinth for the four square stories located at their center, each of which steps in as the structure rises. The gallery space is rhythmically arranged with massive pillars supporting arches roughly 6.7 meters apart. The central bay of each side is marked by a high pishtaq surmounted by a rectangular chattri, or roof kiosks. Only the southern pishtaq gives access to the burial chamber, a small square room at the end of long corridor at the heart of the building domed at eighteen meters. Of the vaulted bays behind the four pishtaqs, the southern one is the most elaborate in ornamentation. The burial chamber also houses the tombs of the emperor’s daughters, Shakrul Nisha Begam and Aram Bano.


Source: Archnet.com


Fatehpur Sikri

 

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The royal city at Fatehpur Sikri, situated 26 miles west of Agra, was built at the orders of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. While Akbar himself was illiterate, he took a keen interest in literature, architecture, and the arts. He is also reputed to be a very tolerant ruler, and the buildings at Fatehpur Sikri blended both Islamic and Hindu elements in their architectural style. One of the buildings even reflects the new sycretistic faith founded by Akbar, Din-e-ilahi, which though very short-lived remains a matter of controversy.


Popular legend has it that since Akbar was without an heir for a long time, he made a pilgrimage to the renowned Sufi saint, Sheik Salim Chisti, to seek his blessings. When a son — later to be known as Jahangir — was born to him, Akbar named him after the saint as a mark of his gratitude and built the new capital to mark his birth. Construction of the new ceremonial capital, with its elaborate palaces, formal courtyards, reflecting pools, harems, tombs and a great mosque, commenced in 1571. A large number of masons and stone carvers worked hard on an area that was over two miles long and a mile wide; they used a brilliant red sandstone available locally, which provides the buildings with much of their lustre. Shortly after the work was completed fifteen years later, it was realized that there was a lack of an adequate water supply and the pristine complex was abandoned.

Source: sscnet.ucla.edu

Humayun’s Tomb

 

Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s tomb is known as the first example of the monumental scale that would characterize subsequent Mughal imperial architecture. Commissioned, it is believed, by Humayun’s senior widow, Haji Begam, or by her son Akbar, the tomb is the first to mark the grave of a Mughal emperor; Humayun’s father Babur, who founded the dynasty, had requested out of piety that he be buried in a garden. Humayun’s Tomb is now one of the best-preserved Mughal monuments in Delhi.


The tomb design is attributed to Sayyid Muhammad and his father, Mirak Sayyid Ghiyath (Mirak Mirza Ghiyas), Persian architects and poets active in the Timurid and later the Mughal courts. The tomb is situated south of the Purana Qila, on the eastern edge of Delhi. It is set in the center of a garden in the classical Mughal char bagh pattern. A high wall surrounds the garden on three sides, the fourth side being bounded by what was once the bank of the river Jamna, which has since been diverted. The garden is divided into four parts by two bisecting water channels with paved walkways (khiyabans), which terminate at two gates: a main one in the southern wall, and a smaller one in the western wall.


Source: Archnet.com

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

Near the gardens of Taj Mahal stands the important 16th-century Mughal monument known as the Red Fort of Agra. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. There are a number of exquisite buildings like Moti Masjid – a white marble mosque akin to a perfect pearl; Diwan-E-Am, Diwan-E-Khaas, Musamman Burj – where Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan died in 1666 A.D., Jahangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal and Sheesh Mahal. Agra Fort, an excellent example of Mughal architecture, is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.


The construction of the Agra fort was started around 1565, when the initial structures were built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, and subsequently taken over by his grandson Shah Jahan, who added most of the marble creations to the fort. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone, punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9m wide and 10m deep moat surrounds the outer wall. An imposing 22m high inner wall imparts a feeling of invincible defensive construction. The layout of the fort was determined by the course of the river, which in those days flowed alongside. The main axis is parallel to the river and the walls bridge out towards the city.


The fort had originally four gates, two of which were later walled up. Today, visitors are allowed entry only through the Amar Singh gate. Jehangir Mahal is the first notable building that the visitor sees as he enters through Amar Singh gate. Jehangir was Akbar’s son and the heir to the Mughal throne. Jehangir Mahal was built by Akbar as the women’s quarters. It is built of stone and is simply decorated on the exterior. Ornamental Persian verses have been carved on a large stone bowl, which were probably used to contain fragrant rose water. Akbar built a palace, adjacent to Jehangir Mahal, for her favourite queen Jodha Bai.


Built by Shah Jahan, entirely of marble, the Khaas Mahal demonstrates distinctive Islamic-Persian features. These are well blended with a striking range of Hindu features such as chhatris. It is considered to be emperor’s sleeping room or ‘Aramgah’. Khaas Mahal provides the most successful example of painting on a white marble surface. On the left of the Khaas Mahal, is the Musamman Burj, built by Shah Jahan. It is a beautiful octagonal tower with an open pavillion. It boasts of its openness, elevation and cool evening breezes. This is where Shah Jahan lay on his deathbed, gazing at the Taj.


Musamman Burj,

Sheesh Mahal or the Glass Palace is the finest example of decorative water engineering in the hammams. It is believed to have been the harem or the dressing room, and its walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors which are the best specimens of the glass-mosaic decoration in India. To the right of Sheesh Mahal is Diwan-I-Khaas, the hall of Private Audience. The marble pillars are inlaid with semi-precious stones in delightful floral patterns. Adjacent to this, is the Mammam-E-Shahi or the Shah Burj, used as the summer retreat.


The Diwan-E-Am used to house the famous Peacock Throne, which was taken to the Red Fort when Shah Jahan moved his capital to Delhi. The throne alcove is of richly decorated white marble. Nagina Masjid, built by Shah Jahan, was the private mosque of the ladies of the court. Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque is the prettiest structure at Agra Fort. The building is presently closed for visitors. Near Moti Masjid is Mina Masjid, which seems to have been constructed by Shah Jahan strictly for his private use.

 

Source: knowindia.com



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