The advent of Islamism in India dates back to 1206 when Islamic political power was established in the country for the very first time. The Delhi Sultanate rulers came from Turkish, Afghan, and Persian nations, and along with them brought the cultures of Islamic architecture. Before this, stone constructions of temples and shrines (with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism as religious backdrops), had reached the epitome of perfection in India. Islamic architecture, however, has grown in a completely different part of the world was alien architecture to the country. Its elements and standards of beauty were quite different from those of the traditional architecture that had been existing in India for centuries. The Sultans, however, was quite fixated on bringing mosques and palaces, like they had in their home countries, to India. The Islamic architecture brought from Persia was eventually transformed with Indianization, owing to the local Indian craftsmen and gave rise to an altogether new style: The Indo Islamic Architecture style.
Today, Indo Islamic buildings, with their unmatched beauty and grandeur, are the pride of the country and attract spectators from all over the world. Let’s take a look at some Indian cities where this style has flourished.
Because the Delhi sultanate established Islamic architecture in the country, it is obvious that this style is eminent in the city of Delhi. Building materials obtained from the destruction of pre-existing buildings were used for new and improvised structures such as the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. Later, Mughal architecture emerged as a form of Indo Islamic architecture and is characterized by large bulbous domes, the use of white marble and red sandstone, and delicate ornamentation. Humayun’s Tomb was the first notable example of Mughal architecture in Delhi followed by many others like the Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Moti Masjid, and more.
The city of Agra, like Delhi, is home to a large amount of Mughal architecture, the most famous being the Taj Mahal. Apart from that, the Agra Fort, a world heritage site, is a walled city and is another spectacular example of Mughal architecture.
The Adhai din-ka-Jhonpra at Ajmer was another structure built from the remains of indigenous Hindu temples. This mosque was laid on the same plan as the ones in Delhi, with carved pillars used in colonnades.
Islamic architecture gradually began to evolve and spread to other parts of the country, adding to it the local flavors of some of the provisional kingdoms. One such kingdom was that of Bengal. Islamic buildings here were not much different in terms of plan and design, however, the materials used and execution of details made the style quite distinct. A special kind of roof with sloping cornices, often seen in Bengal, was adopted by the Muslims in many of their structures; the Dakhil Darwaza and Darsbari Masjid, are a few examples.
Another provincial style that flourished was that of Gujarat, because of the artistic skills and building techniques of local craftsmen as well as the ambitions of the rulers. Some typical examples are the Tomb of Ahmed Shah, Sayyid Allam’s Mosque, and Haibatt Khan’s mosque.
Malwa region exists towards the west center of the country, having connections with the cities of Dhar and Mandu situated in Madhya Pradesh. The buildings of this region are similar to those of Imperial Delhi. The features of these buildings are the battering walls, pointed arch decorated with spearhead fringes, pyramidal roofs, high raised plinths, etc. A striking feature found in these buildings is the use of colored stones, colored marble, and tiles. The principal material employed here was red sandstone.
Many important Islamic structures were scattered within the fortified city of Golconda, which falls in Hyderabad today. Most structures are now ruined and deserted. A distinctive style of architecture is seen in mosques and tomb structures. Important examples are the Golconda Fort, Mecca Masjid, Qutb Shahi Tombs, and of course the Charminar.
This province situated in northern Karnataka came under the supremacy of Adil Shahis and the mosques, tombs, and fortresses here were of high importance and artistic excellence. The spacious arches, the clerestory, the domes, and intersecting arches were all structural as well as architectural elements. Here, the buildings were finished in plaster.
Indo Islamic architecture has left a large impact on modern Indian architecture, as in the case of the Indo Saracenic Revivalism of the British Raj. Both secular and religious buildings of this time have been heavily influenced by the Indo Islamic style and resulted in impressive pieces of architecture.