Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Islam to the present day. Whilst it does have unique characteristics like its geometric and interlace patterned ornaments, it does draw some influence from Persian, Roman, Byzantine Chinese as Indian architectures as Islam was present from the Near East & North Africa to East Asia.
Indo-Islamic architecture begins with the Ghurid occupation of India at the close of the 12 century A.D. The Muslims having inherited a wealth of varied designs from Sassanian and Byzantine empires and being naturally endowed with good taste for buildings, never failed to adapt to their own requirements the indigenous architecture of almost every foreign country that they conquered. As the first – Muslim invaders of India were merely armed horsemen who had come into the country to loot and plunder and not think in terms of founding towns,
cities or empires. Consequently they did not bring with them architects or masons. The building material obtained from the destruction of other buildings was used for new improvised buildings such as Quwwatul-Islam Mosque in Delhi and the Adhai din-ka-Jhonpra at Ajmer. The advent of the Muslims in India therefore did not immediately make a great impact on Indian architecture and as the physical conquest of India actually took more than a thousand years it was only with the conquest of India by Emperor Babar in 1526 that the Muslims began to think in terms of settling down in the country and in course of time had the
satisfaction that they now belonged to the country and that the country belonged to them.
Qutb Complex, Delhi
Arches, at Qutb complex
Lion capital from Ashoka Stambha, Arches, at Qutb complex Qutb Complex, Delhi Stone, Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
The principal Islamic architectural types are: the Mosque, the Tomb, the Palace and the Fort.From these four types, the vocabulary of Islamic architecture is derived and used for other buildings such as public baths, fountains and domestic architecture.
MOSQUE: The mosque, masjid in Arabic, is the Muslim gathering place for prayer. Masjid simply means “place of prostration.”
TOMB: The tomb architecture is also another feature of the Islamic architecture as the practice of the burial of the dead is adopted. The Mughals added a new dimension by introducing gardens all around the tomb. The Mughal tombs are generally placed at the centre of a huge garden complex, the latter being sub-divided into square compartments, the style is known as char-bagh.
FORTS AND PALACES: The Mughals built magnificient forts and palaces. They laid out many formal gardens in their palaces. Pleasure resorts was a special attraction of Mughals.
The fort at Agra was started in 1565 and completed in eight years of time. The Agra fort with its massive battlements and crenalated walls, its gates consisting of two octagonal towers of dressed red sandstone linked to each other was the pattern of forts which were built at lahore, ajmer and allahabad later by akbar.
The Red fort at Delhi built by Shah Jahan was also patterned on the fort at Agra. Within the Agra fort, Akbar built “upward of five hundered edifices of red sand stone in the fine style of Bengal and Gujarat”. Most of these buildings were demolished by Shah Jahan to make way for his own style of buildings of white marbles.