Mughal Architecture

Mughal Architecture refers to the style of building adopted by the Mughal Dynasty in Northern Indian Subcontinent.  It is a unique mix of Indian and Turkish architecture along with Persian and Iranian touches to it. The Mughal Dynasty contributed to the architectural scene in India from the 16th to the 18th century.

Akbar contributed a lot to the architecture of India. He single handedly added cities; most prominently Fatehpur Sikry, near Agra.  The tomb of Humanyoun, in Delhi was another masterpiece delivered during the tenure of Akbar.  The Lahore Fort was also started during the tenure of Akbar although it had a great contribution from his son Jehangir. Jehangir is also buried along with his wife in Lahore. The city of Sheikhupura is founded after the pet name of Mughal emperor Jehangir who was fondly referred by his father, Akbar as ‘Sheikhu’.  The Hirn Minar (Tower of the Deer) in also situated near Sheikhupura built in the memory of a pet Deer of Jehangir in 1606.  Jehnagir added yet another architectural masterpiece in Lahore by constructing the Shalimar Gardens. Legend has it that it carried underground escape tunnels which were connected to Lodhi Gardens in Delhi.

The peak of Mughal architecture was achieved under the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan who is renowned for building the eternal symbol of love, Taj Mahal in Agra; reffered to as ‘teardrop on the cheek of eternity’ by Rabidranath Tagore. Taj Mahal was constructed in the memory of his beloved Queen Mumtaz. Taj Mahal is one of the most visited tourist sites and has been listed as a wonder of the world. Shah Jehan also made a number of other important contributions in the form of Moti Masjid(Pearl Mosque in Agra Fort), Jamia Masjid in Delhi, and also added the elegant Sheesh Mahal to the Lahore Fort. The Wazir Khan Mosque was also constructed during Shah Jehans golden era in Lahore.

Although the pace slowed down and the flavor was toned down, yet architecture continued to flourish under the conservative emperor Aurangzeb. But he too was responsible for some notable additions such as the beautiful red stoned Badshahi Masjid (emperor’s Mosque) in Lahore. He also added one of the 13 gates of the Lahore fort.  The Lalbagh Fort in Dhaka was also built during the reign of Aurangzeb.

After Aurangzeb, things went downhill for the Mughals Dynasty. Losing the Battle of Plassey in 1757 was instrumental in hurting their cause as the British East India Company gained foothold in India and finally in 1857 after the war of independence the Mughal dynasty was totally abolished. Though this was the end of the road for Mughals but their architecture lived on. Notable buildings continued to be modeled on the basis of Mughal architecture even after the partition of subcontinent. The Prime Minister Secretariat in Islamabad, Pakistan has been designed as per the Mughal Style of architecture and is a sight to watch at night. Its signs are even found on smaller structures such as the Saggian Bridge on River Ravi and Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore.

The Mughals clearly failed in developing any sort of civil infrastructure in the subcontinent during their 3 century tenure but they shall always be remembered for their contribution to the architecture of subcontinent. Their innovations helped to introduce high roofs to combat the blistering summers of the subcontinent keeping the rooms cool and the addition of minarets to public buildings helped introduce an oriental yet Islamic touch in a hindu dominated society. Even if all of their contributions are forgotten, the world will never forget Shah Jehan and the Mughals for building the Taj Mahal.

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