It deals, extremely briefly, with the evolutionary process of Mughal Architecture, practically from l3abur to Shah Jehan (1526 to 1658 AD). Instead of being an exotic phenomenon, as it is largely misunderstood, Mughal Architecture, like the Gupta art, was deeply rooted in the soil and it grew and developed not only on indigenous forms and techniques, but also on its concepts, customs and beliefs. It was owing to the decisive participation of native sources, in its development, that such a wonderful monument as the Taj Mahal could be built in India, and nowhere else. The Land, the People and the Culture have made it what it is, which is why it is so diametrically different from any other art of Islam.
Written in a simple language, without the research jargon, and adequately illustrated, the book gives an authoritative appraisal of the subject with landmark examples.
Professor K. Nath (b. 1933), MA., Ph.D., D. Lilt, taught History at Agra College and University of Rajasthan Jaipur, from where he retired as Professor & Head of Department of History & Indian Culture. For almost half a century, he has been studying Indian historical architecture, chiefly Mughal Architecture, on which subject he has authored 55 books, 15 monographs and 179 research-papers, including the multi-volume series: History of Mughal Architecture. With his knowledge of Sanskrit arid Persian, he writes authoritatively. His is, essentially, a study of the Land, the People and the Culture.
This monograph was originally addressed, as the “First Prof. BR. Grover Memorial Lecture,” to the joint conference of the Indian Archaeological Society (lAS) and the Indian History & Culture Society (IHCS) at SIAACM Ernakulam (Cochin, Kerala) on 19 December 2002. Following its general appreciation, Dr. S.P. Gupta, Chairman of the (lAS), planned to publish it in the book-form, with the addition of illustration.
Accordingly, it is being published, in its original form, along with 32 b&w and 4 colour plates. Though extremely short and simple, it gives full appraisal of the subject. It ventures to define its ethos; interpret its forms and concepts; and identifies the determinants which have made it what it is. In fact, a lifetimes experience of study has gone into the making of this work.
My heartiest thanks are due, foremostly, to Dr. S.P. Gupta for taking the initiative in this direction, and steering it through. It is a curious phenomenon of Indian intellectualism that scholars, here, are generally ignored in their lifetime, and are honoured posthumously, as Iqbal aptly lamented: It is a happy feature that Dr. Gupta who is himself a renowned scholar is trying institutionize the patronage of scholarship which is the only way to its survival.
Babur (AD 1526-30) not only founded the Mughal rule in India, he also made a modest beginning of the architectural style which was later developed, on a massive scale, by his grandson Akbar (1556- 1605), and Akbar’s grandson Shah Jehan (1628-58). This dynasty is popularly called Mughal though Babur descended as a MirdusizdirtTimz7 rid and, racially, he was a Chaghtai-Turk. Their architectural style also bears the dynastic nomenclature: Mughal.
With its own constructional and ornamental techniques, norms and concepts, grown from a sound historico-cultural and geophysical background, and a transparent evolutionary process, Mughal Architecture was a fully developed style and a perfect discipline, as none was prior to it in medieval Tndia. It had a time- span of 132 years, practically from 1526 to 1658, and Agra-Fatehpur Sikri, Lahore-Kashmir-Kabul, Delhi, Allahabad, Ajmer, Ahmadabad, Mandu and Burhanpur are its major centres. Nearly 400 first class monuments of this style have survived, including forts, palaces, tombs, mosques, gates, minarets, tanks, step-wells, sarais, bridges, kos-minars and, of course, the Taj Mahal which marks that zenith of an art from where it could only decline. A scientific historical appraisal of this art, in the context of the country’s vast cultural heritage, over and above the romantic tales largely coined by film story-writers; fanciful anecdotes circulated by over-zealous guides and guide-books; and popular misnomers which are at present associated with it and which have much blurred its real significance and historical importance, is much needed.
It is noteworthy that Mughal Architecture was the dominant and the most important architectural style of India, of the medieval period (c. AD 1000-1803). Like the Gupta art, the Pratihara art, the Chandela art, the Chalukya art, the Pallava art and the Chola art, it was also deeply rooted in the soil like a tree and, after the decline of the dynasty and dwindling of the State patronage, it developed, on the strength of its own inherent vigour and vitality, into a National style of architecture in which buildings of all denominations: city-walls, palaces, houses, public structures, chhatris, gateways, tombs, mosques, and even temples were raised, from Kashmir to Kanya-Kumari and Assam to Okha and, truly, it is this Legacy of art, rather than the art of the Mauryas or the Guptas, that has come down to us, as a living phenomenon in modern times.
It is a vast subject and only a few of its distinctive characteristics, with landmark examples, can be elucidated here.
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