Mughal Architecture and Art in Northern India

Mughal Architecture flourished under Mughal Emperors in the Indian subcontinent between 1526-1857. This golden period saw the revival of Islamic art and architecture and many important monuments were built and the decline started only under the rule of Aurangzeb. Elements of Islamic art and architecture were introduced to India between 1192-1398. The Qutb Minar is a prime example of Persian art and architecture. Mughal architectural monuments are chiefly found in Northern India and it combines elements of Indian, Islamic and Persian styles.


Mughal Architecture is said to have reached its greatest heights under the rule of Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal and several other impressive monuments. The incredible feats of Mughal art and architecture first began with the establishment of the School of Mughal Painting in 1549. Humayun invited two Persian painters to his court (located in Kabul) and they directed the illustration of Amir Hamza. 1400 large paintings were created on cloth.


Mughal architecture’s first great monument was built under the rule of Akbar and this was the mausoleum to Humayun. Built in the 1560s, the tomb was designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas. Akbar's fortress palace was also built in Agra around the same time. He went in to build the entire city of Fatehpur Sikri. Low arches and bulbous domes characterized the Mughal architectural design. Jahangir’s contribution to Mughal Architecture is insignificant compared to his predecessors but he effected the change from sandstone to marble. He encouraged the scientific study of birds, flowers and animals and these were collected in albums. Events from his life were captured in paintings rather than illustrative fiction.


Mughal Architecture flourished like never before during the reign of Shah Jahan who built the renowned monument Taj Mahal, a tomb for his favourite wife. This white marble monument inlaid with colourful semi-precious materials has captured the imagination of the world. In 1638, Shah Jahan built the Red fort and established Delhi as his capital. Portraitures developed during this time and ink drawings which belong to this time period are of the finest quality. From 1659-1707, Mughal Art and Architecture began to decline as the Mughal Empire was under the rule of orthodox Aurangzeb. The Mughal Academy was losing its value and many artists joined the Rajput courts during this time.