Mughal Architecture: Features, Mughal Art and Architecture in India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The distinctive Mughal art and architecture flourished on the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal dynasty. The Mughal dynasty was established after the battle of Panipat in 1526. And after Babur, every emperor took a great considerable interest in the field of Mughal architecture. The Mughals were staunch supporters of their art and architecture.

The Mughal architecture developed Indo-Islamic architecture in the Indian subcontinent. They developed or improved the style of earlier dynasties like Lodhi’s, and it was a combination of Islamic, Persian, Turkish, and Indian Architecture. During this reign, architecture touched its zenith, and many new buildings and tombs were built with great artistic vision and inspiration. Aspirants preparing for UPSC must be well acquainted with Mughal architecture and its features to score well in the exam.

Mughal Architecture

The Mughal period (1526-1857) witnessed the development of Indo-Islamic architecture at a massive scale, dominating the landscape in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent viz Delhi, Agra, and Lahore region. Mughal architecture flourished in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

By the 15th century, India had already seen monumental constructions depicting the beautiful blend of the Indian and Turkish architectural styles under the Delhi Sultanate. In this article, we will discuss Mughal art and architecture in India.

Features of Mughal Architecture

Under the patronage of the Mughals, the art and architecture of the Mughal Empire became more impressive while retaining its elegance. Mughal art and architecture is a distinctive Indo-Islamic architectural style that combines the characteristics of the Persian, Turkish, and Indian styles.

Marvellous cities like Fatehpur Sikri and Shahjahanabad were established during their reign, along with several majestic forts, mosques, and mausoleums throughout their kingdom.

Some Other Features of Mughal Art and Architecture

  • Mughal architecture is a mix of architectural styles from Turkey, Iran, and India.
  • Imposing gateways, forts, palaces, mosques, sarais, and other structures are only a few of the many types of structures that exist.
  • The two main materials used were red sandstone and white marble.

Art and Architecture of Mughal Empire

Under the influence of their rulers, Mughal architecture flourished in northern and central India from the middle of the 16th until the end of the 17th century. Some of the famous structures, like the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, were constructed underneath them. Let us discuss the art and architecture of the Mughal Empire.

Contribution of Babur to Mughal Architecture

Babur was only in power from 1526 to 1530, and the majority of that time was spent fighting. Therefore he was only able to leave behind two notable buildings: the mosque at Kabuli Bagh in Panipat and the Jama Masjid in Sambhal, close to Delhi. In Agra, he also constructed Ram Bagh, the earliest Mughal Garden in India (completed in 1528), in the Charbagh Style.

Mughal Art and Architecture during Humayun’s Era

He succeeded Babur, although Sher Shah Suri was a continuous rival for his whole rule. He started building the city of Dinpanah but was unable to complete it. The Humayun’s Tomb, which was constructed by his widow Hamida Begum and designed by the Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, was the first significant piece of Mughal architecture. It is also referred to as the forerunner of the Taj Mahal.
Mughal Art and Architecture during Humayun's Era

Monuments of Mughal Empire – Sher Shah Suri (Sur Dynasty)

He also constructed the renowned Grand Trunk Road, the Rohtas Fort in Pakistan, the Sher Shah Suri Masjid in Patna, and the Quila-e-Quanah mosque of the Old Fort in Delhi. During his reign, the style of Mughal art and architecture replaced the Lodhi style.

Contribution of Akbar to Mughal Architecture

Massive advancements in Mughal architecture occurred under the reign of Akbar (1556-1605). Shah made Fatehpur Sikri the Mughals’ first planned city. The Buland Darwaza (1576), which was constructed to mark Akbar’s triumph over the Gujarati rulers, the Jama Masjid, the Diwan-i-aam and Diwan-i-khaas, Birbal’s residence, and the Tomb of Saint Salim Chisti are a few of the significant structures in Fatehpur Sikri.
Contribution of Akbar to Mughal Architecture

Mughal Architecture during Jahangir (1605-1627)

The paintings of Mughal architecture held a special fascination for the prince. He completed Akbar’s mausoleum at Sikandra and created Itimad-ud-(his Daula’s wife Nur Jahan’s) tomb, which features some of the best Pietra-dura works in the entire world. Additionally, he constructed Moti Masjid in Lahore and Srinagar’s renowned Shalimar Bagh.

Contribution of Shah Jahan to Mughal Architecture

As he constructed the Taj Mahal in honour of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan immortalized himself. He is aptly referred to as “the prince of builders” since it was during his rule that Mughal architecture reached its pinnacle. He constructed Shahjahanabad, Delhi’s seventh city, which is currently referred to as Old Delhi.

In contrast to his predecessors in Mughal art and architecture, who favoured red sandstone, he used white marble extensively. He also skillfully employed pietra dura and intricate mirror work to build the Jama Masjid in Delhi, the Moti Masjid in the Agra Fort, and the Sheesh Mahal in the Lahore Fort.
Mughal Architecture during Jahangir

Aurangzeb’s Contribution to Mughal Architecture

Aurangzeb preferred modesty to splendour. More mosques were repaired than were erected. Numerous Hindu temples are also claimed to have been demolished by Aurangzeb. A few famous examples during his lengthy rule include the Bibi kaMaqbara in Aurangabad for his wife Rabbia-ud-dauraare and a stunning pearl mosque in the Red Fort, Delhi. As a result, the Mughal architectural style generally suffered under Aurangzeb’s rule.

Under the Mughal architecture, the arches, chhatri, and numerous forms of domes gained enormous popularity in Indo-Islamic architecture. The Indo-Saracenic style of colonial architecture displays these characteristics further because it was so widely used, particularly in north India.

Styles of Mughal Architecture

During this period of Mughal Architecture, two other architectural styles developed in the Punjab and Rajasthan regions, known as the Sikh and Rajput styles, respectively. These styles of the Mughal period are discussed below.

Sikh Style:

The Mughal architecture had an impact on the style as it emerged in the Punjab region. The chhatris and arches were noticeable. The domes evolved to become a significant component of Sikh architecture. The Golden Temple, which Arjan Dev finished in 1604, is the pinnacle of Sikh construction.

Rajput Style:

It combines Islamic and regional styles. They constructed magnificent palaces and forts. The Rajput style of Mughal architecture made great use of arches, cornices, and hanging balconies.
Aurangzeb's Contribution to Mughal Architecture

Paintings under Mughal Architecture

Like Mughal architecture, its art combines Islamic, Persian, and Indian design elements. The renowned Mughal paintings were created by the Persian artists Mir Sayyid Ali and Abu us Samad during the reign of Humayun.
Their work was gradually impacted by regional aesthetics to produce Indian Mughal art and architecture. The Tutinama painting is the first instance of Mughal art (tales of a parrot).
Paintings under Mughal Architecture
Battles, court scenes, hunting scenes, nature, portraits, etc., were common themes in Mughal paintings. Akbar is regarded as the father of Mughal miniature art. Paintings in the Mughal architecture style under the tutelage of Persian artists saw significant growth during Akbar’s reign. The Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and Persian epics served as inspiration for paintings. The Hamza-Nama was ordered by him (adventures of Amir Hamza).
Under Jahangir, the use of softer, more muted hues and increasingly refined brushstrokes were seen. The main topics shown in the paintings of Mughal architecture included depictions of nature, scenes from durbars, the king’s own life as it is shown in Jahangirnama, and portraits. He urged his painters to incorporate elements of the European aesthetic into their own works. Jahangir’s court had many well-known artists, including Abul Hasan, Balchand, Mansur, Aqa Riza, Bishan Das, Goverdhan, Mukhlis, Manohar, Bhim, Daulat, and Inayat.

  • Although paintings also flourished, Shah Jahan placed a greater emphasis on Mughal architecture. During this time, paintings lost their sensuality and changed to be icy and rich.
  • Only a few paintings from his court have survived to provide a record of the evolution of art under Aurangzeb’s reign because he did not support the culture of the paintings.

The Rajput miniature painting style was heavily influenced by the Mughal masterpieces. Awadh, Rajputana, Sikh, and Deccan regions also developed new court cultures as a result of the court artists’ expansion throughout the declining Mughal empire.
Rajput miniature painting style

Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium