Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The art and architecture of Delhi Sultanate had a distinct style that was influenced by Islamic and Indian traditions. Since Delhi served as the capital of the sultanate, its architecture, and construction exhibited the traits of Indo-Islamic style and heritage. This meant the city witnessed a combination of two entirely different cultures and histories in its infrastructure.

Furthermore, the art and architecture of Delhi Sultanate saw tremendous changes, and there was a nexus between two styles -the Indian and the Islamic. This gave the city a unique identity that it has preserved through the years. This article will analyze and explain some of the key features and aspects of the art and architecture of Delhi Sultanate and provide useful insights that will help those preparing for the UPSC and other competitive exams.

Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate refers to the Muslim rulers who established their reign in India between the 13th and 16th centuries. During this interval, Delhi witnessed the emergence of a distinct style of art and architecture. The art and architecture of Delhi Sultanate also represented a fusion of Islamic and Indian styles that was never seen before. In fact, many of the city’s iconic landmarks are a testament to the legacy of the Delhi Sultanate.

In addition, the art and architecture of the Delhi Sultanate had a significant influence on subsequent architectural styles in India. For instance, the Mughal Empire, which succeeded the Delhi Sultanate, built many iconic buildings in Delhi, such as the Red Fort and the Taj Mahalthat were inspired by the Delhi Sultanate architecture.

Features of Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate

Since the Delhi sultanate had a significant influence on the capital of Delhi, it is interesting to notice how it shaped the city’s architecture. The Delhi Sultanate architecture had some unique features that can be observed in different monuments and landmarks across the city. Here are some of these features.

  • Islamic Influences: The Delhi Sultanate rulers were predominantly Muslims, and this is reflected in the architectural style of the period. The buildings featured typical Islamic elements such as domes, arches, and minarets and were often adorned with intricate calligraphy and geometric designs.
  • Large Courtyards and Gardens: The buildings of the Delhi Sultanate were typically organized around large courtyards used for public gatherings and ceremonies. Also, the Delhi Sultanate architecture cannot be discussed without mentioning the beautiful gardens built by different rulers during this era.
  • Indo-Islamic Fusion: The art and architecture of the Delhi Sultanate also represented a fusion of Islamic and Indian styles. This is evident in Hindu motifs such as lotus and bell-shaped domes in Islamic buildings. For example, the Qutub Minar features intricate carvings of Hindu deities, along with Arabic inscriptions.
  • Use of Red Sandstone: The Delhi Sultanate rulers extensively used locally available materials such as red sandstone, which was abundant in the region.

Notable Architecture of Delhi Sultanate

The capital city of Delhi is home to some of the most magnificent structures in the country. And the Delhi Sultanate contributed immensely to this. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant art and architecture of the Delhi Sultanate.

Qutub Minar

One of the most notable landmarks of Delhi that is part of the Delhi sultanate architecture is the Qutub Minar.

  • The Qutub Minar is a towering minaret located in Delhi that was built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • The minaret is over 73 meters tall and features intricate carvings and inscriptions. Also situated in the Qutub complex, the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque is one of the oldest mosques and was built under the instruction of the first Sultan of Delhi.

Tughlaqabad Fort

Tughlaqabad Fort is a ruined fort located in Delhi, built by the Tughlaq dynasty ruler Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq in the 14th century. The fort was designed as a defensive structure with high walls, towers, and bastions and is one of the best examples of the military architecture of the Tughlaq dynasty and the Delhi sultanate architecture.

Lodhi Garden

The lush green Lodhi Garden is a public park located in the heart of Delhi. It was originally a part of the Lodhi dynasty tombs, built in the 15th century.

Hence, it is an indispensable part of the art and architecture of Delhi sultanate. The architecture of the tombs is a blend of Islamic and Indian architectural styles, with intricate carvings and calligraphy.

Hauz Khas Complex

The Hauz Khas Complex is a group of monuments located in Delhi and includes several buildings built during the Delhi Sultanate period. The most famous of these is the Hauz Khas Mosque, which features intricate carvings and calligraphy.

Delhi Sultanate Architecture and Literature

Besides the exquisite architecture of Delhi Sultanate, other art forms also thrived during this period. The period’s art included calligraphy, manuscript illumination, miniature painting, pottery, metalwork, and architecture. The art was also characterized by a blend of geometric, floral, and other intricate designs and patterns. Also, calligraphy was an essential element of the art and architecture of the Delhi Sultanate. It is evident in the intricate inscriptions and decorative elements of the period’s buildings and objects.

In terms of literature, the Delhi sultanate was blessed with Persian poetry and literature. Urdu and Hindi also flourished in this era as great poets such as Amir Khusro and Mirza Ghalib emerged.

The Architecture of Delhi Sultanate UPSC

The art and architecture of the Delhi Sultanate were an integral part of the era as they helped it stand out. The monuments and structures that were built during this time had a unique style that blended Indian and Islamic cultures in an effortless way. Hence, aspirants who are preparing for the UPSC Exam must study the architecture of the Delhi Sultanate as it is commonly asked in the exam. To help you prepare for the UPSC Prelims and Mains exams, we have compiled a few short notes and listed them below.

  • The architecture of the Delhi Sultanate was characterized by the use of red sandstone, which featured intricate designs and motifs, such as geometric patterns and calligraphy.
  • The Delhi Sultanate period saw the emergence of important architectural structures such as the Qutub Minar, Tughlaqabad Fort, Lodhi Gardens, Alai Darwaza, etc.
  • The period also witnessed the growth of Persian as the primary literary language of the court and the emergence of great poets such as Amir Khusro.
  • The art and architecture of the Delhi Sultanate had a lasting impact on Indian culture, and their influence can be seen in the art and architecture of later periods, such as the Mughal and British colonial periods.

You can refer to the UPSC Books to get more in-depth information regarding the topic of Delhi Sultanate architecture.

Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate MCQs

The candidates can practice the questions related to the topic to test their knowledge. The list of questions has been provided here. It is highly advisable for the candidates to refer to the previous year’s question papers to analyze the type of questions asked in the exam and start their preparations accordingly.

Question: Who built the Gujri Mahal in Hissar, Haryana? [A] Ala ud din Khilji [B] Qutub ud din Mubarak Shah [C] Muhammad Bin Tughlaq [D] Feroz Shah Tughlaq

Answer: (Option D) Feroz Shah Tughlaq

Question: Who penned “Padmavat”? [A] Amir Khusro [B] Bulleh Shah [C] Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana [D] Malik Muhammad Jayasi

Answer: (Option D) Malik Muhammad Jayasi

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