Art, Architecture, Literature




Art, Architecture, Literature:

Mughal architecture is a remarkably symmetrical and decorative amalgam of Persian, Turkish, and Indian architecture. Mughal architecture first developed and flourished during the reign of Akbar the Great (1556–1605), where it was known for its extensive use of red sandstone as a building material. Architecture reached its peak in refinement and attention to detail. The reign of the three emperors, Akbar, Jahangir, and Shahjahan was a period of peace, order, and prosperity. A new era began in the field of art and architecture. The etched designs on the marble walls of Mosques, tombs, and palaces are evidence of the highly advanced styles of art and architecture. The carved designs on the tombs of Salim Chisti at Fatehpur Sikri and Taj Mahal are its paramount examples. During the period of Akbar and Jahangir, the art of ivory carving received royal patronage. The Mughal paintings originated from the Persian styles of painting. There are miniature paintings of Persian style in the manuscript of ‘Baburnama’. The art of painting received encouragement during the period of Akbar. He appointed skilled painters in his court. During the period of Jahangir, paintings were done based on the court and hunting scenes.

The paintings of this period were done in a more realistic style, which is vibrant and attractive. These paintings, portray birds and animals, cloud formations, human figures, and natural scenery. During the Mughal period, the art of music seems to have received royal patronage. During the period of Akbar, the Persian, Kashmiri, Turkish musicians were given royal patronage. Tansen was a great singer in the court of Akbar. During this period the Hindustani music prospered. During the period of Jahangir and Shahajahan, music was encouraged as well. However under Aurangzeb’s rule art declined, since he had banned all art forms. The influence of the Persian style of architecture was more prominent till Akbar’s period. In the later period, it evolved by absorbing Indian elements, which came to be known as the ‘Indo-Islamic’ style of architecture.

The architectural style during the Sultanate period had great implements on strength and simplicity. But during the Mughal period, the focus shifted to aesthetics. During the period Pradesh was built in Persian style. The memorial built during the period of Shershah Sur at Sahastram (Bihar) is an excellent example of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The Purana Qila was built by Shershah at Delhi. The city of Fatehpur Sikri was set up during Akbar’s period. Later the buildings like Jama Masjid, Buland Darwaza were built in Fatehpur-Sikri. Akbar built the important forts like Agra fort, Lahore fort, Allahabad fort, and Attock fort. The use of Red stone and marble, huge domes, arches were the salient features of the architecture of this period. The Mughal Emperors were nature lovers. They created huge gardens. Among them, the Shalimar garden at Lahore, Shalimar garden, and Nishat garden in Kashmir are popular even today. The period of Shahajahan was the most glorious period of Mughal architecture. ‘Diwan-i-Aam’ and ‘Diwan-i-Khaas’ in Red fort, ‘Jama Masjid’, ‘Moti Masjid’, were built during his period. The ‘Taj Mahal’ of Agra built by him is incomparable and immortal. Later, Mughal architecture began to decline. During the Mughal period, excellent literature was created in the Persian language. Babur himself knew Persian and Turkish languages. His autobiography known as ‘Baburnama’ is well-known. Another important text is ‘Tarikh-i-Rashidi’ by Mirza Hyder written during the period of Humayun.
Akbar got many Sanskrit texts translated in Persian which includes ‘Rajatarangini’, ‘Lilavati’, ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mahabharata’, ‘Harivamsh’ and ‘Panchatantra’. Abul Fazal wrote the famous ‘Akbarnama’ and ‘Ain-i- Akbari’. Dara Shukoh, the son of Shahjahan, was a Sanskrit scholar. He translated text of several Upanishads texts in the Persian language from Sanskrit. During the Mughal period, a number of biographical, historical texts were written. Among them Khafi Khan’s ‘Tarikhi- Khafikhan’ is well-known. During the Mughal period, a number of literary works of high quality were created in local north Indian dialects. To mention a few, ‘Ramacharitamanas’ written by Goswami Tulsidas, the compositions of Surdas and Meerabai, Padmavat composed by Malik Muhammad Jaysi, dohas of Saint Kabir.

Mughal architecture began to decline after the death of the emperor Aurangzeb in 1707.


In 1758, the army of Afghan King Ahmadshah Abdali was pushed back beyond the boundaries of Attock by Maratha army. After driving away Abdali, the Marathas camped at Shalimar garden in Lahore. Riyasatakar G.S.Sardesai in Marathi Riyasat Vol.4 states that, “Dadasaheb (Raghunathrao Peshwa) has captured Lahore. The old palace of the Emperor is located outside the city in Shalimar garden. Adina Beg made arrangements for the stay of Dadasaheb here and arranged a huge festival of lights in his honour, for which one lac rupees were spent. This occasion was arranged on the onset of the year known as ‘Bahudhanyasamvatsar’. This opened great future for Raghunath Rao.’’
On 21 April 1758, the Maratha Sardar Hari Raghunath Bhide wrote a letter to the Peshwa in Pune regarding the Punjab campaign. He states, “the army of the Deccan had previously not marched up to Delhi, but now it has marched up to Chenab.”

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