Discuss the salient Features of Indo-Islamic Architecture. What new elements were added to the Indian architecture by the Muslims?

Published: May 1, 2016

Islam came along with the migration of Muslim merchants, traders, the saints and finally the conquest of Muslim rulers. The early Islamic architectural activity was visible as back as 8th century in some parts such as Sindh and Gujarat, yet the large scale building activity began only in the early 13th century by the Turkish state after the Turkish conquest of north India.
Islamic architecture is characterised by a few visible symbols. One is the arch, which frames the space; the second symbol is the dome, which looms over the skyscape; and the third is the minaret, which pierces the skies. Minarets were actually symbols in the middle of deserts. They represented fire, which was lit atop them to guide travellers. The dome represents the infinite and also the sky.
Muslims forbidden to replicate living forms on any surface, developed their religious art and architecture consisting of the arts of arabesque, geometrical patterns and calligraphy on plaster and stone. In spite of the obvious Saracenic, Persian and Turkish influences, Indo-Islamic structures were heavily influenced by prevailing sensibilities of Indian architectural and decorative forms.
The Indo-Islamic architecture inculcates the elements of Saracenic, Turkish and Arab architecture.
The Muslims absorbed many features of local cultures and traditions and combined them with their own architectural practices. So, a mix of many structural techniques, stylized shapes, and surface decorations came about through constant interventions of acceptance, rejection or modification of architectural elements.
The first new element added in the Indian architecture was the use of shapes instead of natural forms. This apart, use of calligraphy as inscriptional art was also a new element added to by Muslims.
Muslim added the inlay decoration and use of coloured marble, painted plaster and brilliantly glazed tiles.
The Dome was a new element added by the Muslims. The Islamic architecture was arcuate i.e. an arch or dome was adopted as a method of bridging a space.
The Muslims used the cementing agent in the form of mortar / Limestone / Chuna for thefirst time in the construction of buildings in India.

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