Sunday, 9 July 2017

Some fascinating Islamic monuments of Delhi - a glimpse

Among the cities of North India, Delhi has the largest number of monuments built by the Muslim rulers, in particular, Moguls. The architecture is a fusion of Indo-Turkic-Persian with strong  Indian character. They include mausoleums, masjids, forts, tombs, etc. Each Mogul building is impressive and artistically fascinating. Given below is a brief account of some of the historical monuments that connect us with the by-gone era of luxury, affluence and workmanship.

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi:

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi history of india - blogger
Humayun's Tomb, Delhi. indovacation.net
Interior. Humayun's Tomb, Delhi IndiaOuting.com


Among the  Mughal (also Mogul) architectural wonders of Delhi, India, the significant one is the tomb of Humayun – one of the most popular heritage destinations of India. Humayun was the son of the first Mughal Emperor of India.Hamida Banu Begam, also known as Haji Begum, Humayun’s Persian wife, took the major initiative and  looked after the construction of the tomb worthy of her husband's name; the work  began in 1569 (fourteen years after Humayun’s death). A sum of rupees 15 lakhs (1.5 million) was spent on the tomb. Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian, was the architect employed by Haji Begam for this tomb.

The tomb stands in the centre of a square garden, and causeways (charbagh) separate this Mughal Tomb into four main gardens. Further, there are water-channels in the centre. You can enter this enclosure through two majestic double-storied gateways situated on the west and south. A baradari (pavilion) occupies the centre of the eastern wall and a hammam (bath chamber) in the centre of northern wall.The  main grave  in the centre of this cell-complex is  accessed by a passage on the south. The octagonal central chamber contains the cenotaph, and the diagonal sides lead to corner - chambers which house the graves of other members of the royal family.  Inlaid tile work, carvings comprising both Indian and Persian decorative elements, and carved stone screens – are a few highlights making Humayun Tomb wonderful.

Red Fort, New Delhi:


People who visit Delhi will never miss the magnificent fort complex called Red Fort that was built of red sandstones. Emperor Shah Jahan, the fifth Mogul ruler  built a new capital called Shahjahanabad,  and Red Fort was the palace of the ruler.. The historical fort is the legacy of Mogul dynasty and is a symbol of their past glory and pomp.  

Red Fort, Delhi. ScoopWhoop

The huge Red Fort (Lal Qila), built in 1648 is characteristic of many strong sturdy entrance doors, and thick massive walls (33 meter tall)  and it was impossible for the invaders to cross the walls to get into the fort. The complex encompasses several buildings such as  the Drum House, the Pearl Mosque, the Hall of Public Audiences, Royal Baths, Palace of Color and the white marble Hall of Private Audiences. The Chatta Chowk extension to the fort is an interesting one. The huge hemispherical dome draws our attention. 

Among the gates, the Lahore Gate draws our attention because, on the independence day, it comes alive with parades, flag-hoisting, and other celebrations. he Lahore Gate – gets immersed in the freedom celebration and draws a major crowd on every Independence Day.

An evening sound and light show takes the audience right back to the Mogul history and its connection with this famous fort.

It was Shahjahan who transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi and laid the foundations of Shahjahanabad in 1938. the seventh city of Delhi. The capital is enclosed by strong walls made of rubble stones, with bastions, gates and wickets at intervals. Once, it had 14 gates and some have been demolished. The Lal-Qila, or the Red Fort, lying at the town's northern end on the right bank of the Yamuna and south of Salimgarh, was the main seat of power. Work begun in 1639 and completed after nine years. The Red Fort is an irregular octagon, with two long sides on the east and west, and with two main gates, one on the west and the other on the south, called Lahori and Delhi gates respectively and its configuration is different from Agra Fort.  Red sandstone is widely used for walls, gates and a few other structures in the fort, whereas  marble stone is used  for the construction of palaces, etc.

From the western gateway  one has to pass through the vaulted arcade, called Chhatta-Chowk, to reach   the Naubat- or Naqqar-Khana ('Drum-house'. Here ceremonial music was played  and it also served as the entrance to the Diwan-i-'Am.  The Diwan-i-Khass ('Hall of Private Audience') is a highly-ornamented pillared hall, with a flat ceiling supported on engraved arches. Here, on the marble dais, it is  believed, the famous Peacock Throne that was carried away by the Persian invader Nadir Shah, was kept.


 The other part of the fort is the Tasbih-Khana (chamber for counting beads for private prayers') made  of three rooms, behind which is the Khwabgah ('sleeping-chamber').  The octagonal Muthamman- Burj, was a part from where the emperor appeared before his subjects every morning. An interesting fact is a  small balcony,  projecting from the Burj, was added here in 1808 by Akbar Shah II, and it was  used by King George V and Queen Mary when they appeared before the people of Delhi in December 1911. 

Yet another part in the fort was the Hammam ('Bath') consisting of  of three main apartments divided by corridors. The entire interior, including the floor, is built of marble and inlaid with coloured stones. Surprisingly, the baths were provided with 'hot and cold water’. To the west of the Hammam is the Moti-Masjid ('Pearl Mosque'), added later by Mogul ruler Aurangzeb.

Jama Masjid, Delhi:
Delhi Jama Masjid Inside ViewAmazing India Blog

Among the masjids of India, Jama Masjid has a 
huge court yard and is considered the largest one  with a capacity of 25000 devotees who  can pray comfortably at a time. I is indeed a - a mind-boggling figure., Located in Old Delhi, it was not built in a short period but it took a long time for Shah Jehan to complete the work - Jahan’s great architectural  feat.

Jama Masjid in DelhiMakeMyTrip
 In 1644, Shahjahan commenced in Delhi his great mosque, the Jami'- Masjid the largest mosque in India, and completed it in 1650. It is square quadrangle in shape with arched cloisters on the sides and a tank in the centre is 100 meters wide. Built on a raised plinth, it has three imposing gateways accessed  by long flights of steps. Its prayer-hall, with a facade of eleven arches, flanked by a four-storeyed minaret on either end, is covered by three large domes ornamented with alternating stripes of 'black and white marble.

 This amazing masjid, which is being visited by lots of people every day has four towers  and two 40 meter minarets, besides three gates.

The unique features of Jama Masjid are the eye-catching carvings and etched  verses  of  the accentuate the  walls. These ornate, artistic works enhance the beauty of Jama Masjid.  One can see a collection of Mohammad's preaching, – the Koran written on deerskin, a red beard-hair of the prophet, his sandals and his footprints and these which are embedded in a marble block.

Taj Mahal:

The Taj Mahal commonly referred to as the Taj is a remarkable architectural achievement ever made by the Mogul rulers of India and it shows the wonderful of tradition and imagination of Mogul Architects had and how they had given shape to it. The Taj is the Mausoleum  built on the banks of the river Yamuna in Agra by Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved wife and queen Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth to their 14th child, Gauhara Begum.

The Taj, once considered one of the seven wonders in the world, is believed to be the work of a designer whose mastery over the designs of building had no parallel. Built  on a raised platform  in a unique way, considering the lose nature of the soil adjacent to the river bed, it took 22 years for Shah Jehan (reigned 1628–1658) to complete it and the services of men in several thousands were required  for the construction work.  They tirelessly worked  under the direction  of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

Taj Mahal, main entrance, Delhi. news.zing.vn

 The work was commissioned in 1932 and the work on the principal  mausoleum was actually  completed in 1643. The  additional work on the surrounding buildings, garden, etc., continued for another 10 years. It was in 1653 he Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed  at an estimated cost  of about  32 million rupees, at that point of time  which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million). 

The most appealing feature is the geometric  patterns that went into the construction. The main  large central  marble dome (35 meters / 115 ft) high) is  surrounded by four tall minarets at all four corners. The tomb is the center part  of a 17-hectare (42-acre)  complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

Amazing Taj Mahal, delhi. NDTV.com

The center of attraction is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. The  main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.

Everyday thousands of travellers visit  this place, that  was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India.

Qutub Minar, New Delhi:

Qutub Minar, Delhi Maps of India

The Qutub tower  consists of distinct storeys, and each has a projecting balcony. In order to lessen the overburden, the  diameter of the succeeding storeys decreases gradually when measured from top to bottom – 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top. Tower is made of partly marble and red stones. This combination highlights the beauty of this structure. Unlike many structures built by the Muslim rulers in the past the ground floor of the tower has a mosque called  Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. This one is believed to be the first mosque constructed in India.

The  inscriptions on the East Gate frankly point out explain that  historical fact that the construction materials that went into building the Qutub Minar were removed from 27 Hindu temples after destroying them. I t impli3s that Qutub Minar was built at the cost of demolishing 27 valuable, historical Hindu temples that were lost for ever. 

Qutub Minar is an important  UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area of Delhi. The Minar is surrounded by several historically important monuments including Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque,  built at the same time as the Minar, and the much older Iron Pillar of Delhi.Yet another attraction is nearby pillared Cupola known as "Smith's Folly", a remnant of 19th century restoration of the 6th story. 

Ref: From various sources