Mughal Culture

Mughal Architecture

     The Mughal style was an agglomeration of various styles, partly foreign and partly indigenous. The early Mughals liked and followed the Persian styles, but the successors of Akbar did not. Their style was more sumptuous and decorative than the style that preceded it and in delicacy and ornamentation furnished a striking contrast to the art of pre-Mughal days.


     He held a very poor opinion about Indian architecture which he came across at Delhi and Agra. He wanted to raise beautiful buildings of his own choice. For this purpose he invited foreign architects. Out of many, buildings of Babur the two that survive are a mosque in the Kablibagh at Panipat and the other Jama Masjid at Sambhal in Ruhelkhand.


Humayun led a life of stress and strain, yet he found time to erect two mosques. Din-Panah is his palace at Delhi.


     In l569 Akbar laid the foundation of the city of Fatehpur Sikri and constructed a number of buildings there.  The most important buildings at Fatehpur are Buland Darvaza and Jama Masjid. The former Is the highest gateway in India measuring 176 feet and built to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat.  The gate is in the style of what Is called a half dome portal.  The tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti is another important building here, besides House of Birbal; House of the Princes of Amber, Sonhala Makan and the Diwan-i-Khas. Dr. Smith beautifully remarks that Fatehpur as “a romance in stone".

     At Agra, the Agra Fort was constructed under his personal supervision. There are two gateways called Delhi Gate and Amar Singh Gate. He also constructed Lahore Fort, Akbar’s mausoleum at Sikandara whose construction was started by the king himself but was completed by Jahangir is modeled on Buddhist Viharas.


     He was more interested In painting than architecture The two most important buildings of his time are the Tomb of Akbar and the Tomb of ltimad-ud-daulah. The latter was built by Nur Jahan over the grave of her lather. It is built of white marbles and Is one of the earliest buildings to be decorated with pietra dura or a method of decorating the walls with floral designs made of semi-precious stones. 

Shah Jahan

     He was the most prolific builder and architectural art reached its zenith during his reign. His most important buildings in Delhi are Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas and Jama Masjid. The Diwan-i-Khas is highly decorative and Shah Jahan himself called it "Paradise on Earth”. The Moti Masjid at Agra Is regarded as the ‘purest and loveliest house of prayer“. It is made entirely of marble like the Taj. The Taj is regarded as the apex of  Mughal architectural art. Its master architect was Ustad Isa. It took 22 years to complete and has been described as “a dream in marble".


     He was not much interested in architecture.  In I669, he built a mosque; in 1674 he constructed the Badshahi mosque at Lahore, but it is a poor imitation of the older model.

Mughal Literatrue:

Book  Author
Humayun Namah Gulbadan Begum
Ain-i-Akbari Abul Fazal
Akbar Namah Abul Fazal
Twarikh-i-Alfi Mulla Daud
Tabaqat-i-Akbari Nizamuddin Ahmad
Thzuki-i-Jahangeri Jahangir
Iqbal Namah Mutamaid Khan
Badshah Namah Abdul Hamid Lahuri and also by Muhammad Warish
Shanhjahan Namah Inayat-Khan and also by Muhammad Salih
and Majma-ul-Bahrin
Dara Sukoh
Raqqat-i-Alamgiri Aurangzeb
Muntakhab-ul-lubab Khafi Khan
Alamgir Namah Mirza Muhammad Kazim
Nuskha-i-Dilkhus Bhimsen
Futuhat-i-Alamgiri Ishwar Das

Mughal Painting

It is a combination of various elements partly foreign, partly Persian and partly Indian.

Under Babur and Humayun:

Unfortunately no painting of Baburi line has been found. Humayun developed a great taste for painting during his exile in Persia. When he came back to India. He brought him with two skillful persian painters: Mir Saiyyed All and Khwaja Abdus samad. They illustrated Dastan-i-Amir Mamzah. Indeed these two proteges of Humayun formed the nucleus of the Mughal school of painting which came in prominence in Akbar's reign. So, Humayun may be considered the original founder of the Mughal School of painting. 

Under Akbar

The chief painters in his court were Abdus Samad, Mir Saiyyed Ali and Farrukh Beig. Among Hindu painters were Jaswant, Darawan, Tara Chand and Jagannath. Akbar got illustrated not only of Persian texts,  but also of Mahabharata and Ramayana and his historical work Akbar Nama. In fact, Akbar laid down the foundation of Mughal miniature paintings, but it was Jahangir who gave it maturity.

Under Jahangir

Mughal painting reached its climax under Jahangir who had a very discriminating eye and claimed that he could identify the hands of several artists in a composite picture. Apart from painting hunting, battle and court-scenes, under Jahangir new direction was made in portrait painting and printings of animals. Mansur was the great name in this field who excelled in painting birds.

Under Shan Jahan

He was more interested in architecture than painting. Percy Brown observes “with his (Jahangir's) passing, the soul of Mughal painting also departed" But Dara Shikoh was a patron of the pictorial art as is testified by his precious album preserved in the Library of India Office.

Related Questions

1. The word Mansab stood for : -- View Answer

2. Which of the following are true with regard to Akbar?
I. He abolished Jaziya and Pilgrim Tax in 1564 and 1563 A.D. respectively
II. He erected the 'Ibadat Khana' for holding religious discussions
III. His Din-i-Ilahi was a code of social conduct
IV. He got the Khutba to be read in his name in 1574 A.D. -- View Answer

3. Which of the following buildings is not situated at Fatehpur Sikri? -- View Answer

4. Which of the following was/were steps taken by Sher Shah to promote trade and commerce?
1. Making travel safe for traders
2.Building a new highway between Delhi and Warangal
3. Abolishing int3rnal duties and levying taxes only at the points of import and sale
4. Building sarals along roadways -- View Answer

5. Sher Shah is well known for his administrative skill, especially his : -- View Answer

6. The Sarak-i-Azam which ran from the Indus to Sonargaon (in Bangladesh) was built by : -- View Answer

7. Who among the following Indian rulers was a contemporary of Akbar? -- View Answer

8. Consider the following statements :
1. Humayun regained his Delhi throne from Sher Shah in 1555
2. Humayun defeated Hemu at the second battle of Panipat in 1556
Which of these statements is/are correct? -- View Answer

9. During the Mughal period which one of the following traders first came to India? -- View Answer

10. Akbar wanted to establish friendship with the Rajputs because : -- View Answer

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More Questions and Answers

1. Indus Valley Civilization
2. Mahajanapadas-The Magadha empire
3. The Mauryan Empire and Sangam Age
4. Post Mauryan Period
5. Guptas and Post Gupta
6. The invasion of Arabs
7. Mughal Empire
8. Advent of Europeans
9. Indian National Movement

Related Articles

1. Akbar
2. Aurangzeb
3. Babur
4. Downfall of the Mughal empire
5. Humayun
6. Jahangir
7. Mughal Administration
8. Shah Jahan
9. The Sur Empire (Sher Shah)