Art and architecture of Mughal empire Upsc

Art and architecture of Mughal empire Upsc

Art and architecture of Mughal empire

The Mughal empire’s rule is a landmark in World art and Architecture. Their buildings were known for their huge structures that are decorated with bulbous domes, minarets, cupolas at the four corners, elaborate designs, and also for pictorial mosaic work which is called Pietra Dura.

Pietra Dura Art and architecture of Mughal empire Upsc
Pietra Dura at Tomb of Jahangir, Lahore By Gajus Scheltema – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The mosques which were during the time of Babur and Humayun were not of much architectural significance. But the Sur dynasty has left spectacular architecture in the form of Purana Qila at Delhi, tombs of Sher Shah, and Islam Shah at Sasaram in Bihar.

Where Purana Qila has raised Citadel and tombs on the terraced platform surrounded by large tanks were artistic features.

Akbar Architecture

It was during Akbar’s rule, that Humayun’s tomb was enclosed with gardens and placed on a raised platform. Built by Indian artisans and designed by Persian architects it set a pattern to be followed in the future.

The Agra fort built with red sandstone is an example where Rajput architectural styles were also used.

The new capital city of Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri enclosed within its walls several inspiring buildings.

gateway to Fatehpur Sikri Buland Darwaza built by Akbar
Buland Darwaza – Image By Marcin Białek – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The magnificent gateway to Fatehpur Sikri, the Buland Darwaza, built by Akbar with red sandstone and marble is considered to be a perfect architectural achievement.

Jahangir Architecture

The mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra near Agra started by Akbar and completed by Jahangir includes some Buddhist architectural elements.

The tomb of Itimad-ud-daula, father of Nurjahan, built by Jahangir was the first Mughal building built completely with white marble.

 Jahangir Architecture
Tomb of Itimad-ud-daula By Muhammad Mahdi Karim – Own work, GFDL 1.2,

Shah Jahan Architecture

Mughal architecture reached its apex during the reign of Shah Jahan.

The Taj Mahal is a marble structure on an elevated platform, the bulbous dome in the center rising on a recessed gateway with four cupolas around the dome and with four free-standing minarets at each of its corners is a monument of universal fame.

The Red Fort in Delhi, encompassed by magnificent buildings like Diwan-i Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Moti Mahal, and Hira Mahal reflect the architectural skills of the times of Shah Jahan.

The Moti Masjid inside the Agra Fort is made exclusively of marble, and the Jama Masjid in Delhi, with its lofty gateway, series of domes, and tall and slender minarets are the two significant mosques built by Shah Jahan.

He also established a new township, Shah Jahanabad (present-day Old Delhi) where Red Fort and Jama Masjid are located.

Aurangzeb’s Architecture

Aurangzeb’s reign witnessed the construction of Badshahi mosque in Lahore and the marble tomb of Rabia-ud-daurani, known as Bibi-ka-maqbara (Tomb of the Lady) at Aurangabad.

Other Mughal Architecture

The Shalimar Gardens of Jahangir and Shah Jahan are showpieces of Indian horticulture.

The Mughals contributed to many civil works for the public works, of which the greatest is the bridge over the Gomati river at Jaunpur, West Yamuna Canal which provides water to Delhi.

Mughal architecture influenced even temple construction in different parts of the Indian subcontinent.

The temple of Govind Dev at Vrindavan near Mathura and Bir Singh’s temple of Chaturbhujat Orchchaa (Madhya Pradesh) display Mughal influence.


Mughals was known for their paintings worldwide, and their miniature is kept at museums worldwide.

Their painting traditions were kept alive in Malwa and Gujarat provinces along with central Asian influences.

During the Humayun period, the master of miniature painting, Abdu’s Samad and Mir Sayyid Ali came to India from central Asia and they inspired many Indian painters.

The primary idea of these paintings is to illustrate literary works. Examples are Persian translations of Mahabharata and Akbar Namah were illustrated through painting by different paintings.

In the Mughals court, European paintings were introduced by Portuguese priests.

Animal painting and time portraits were developed during Jahangir’s period. Mansur was great in time portrait painting and animal painting.

The Mughal miniatures also influenced the great Dutch painter Rembrandt. These painting traditions were continued this Shah Jahan.

But Aurangzeb had a difference in opinion towards painting, which led to the dispersal of the painters to different parts of the country. This has led to the promotion of painting in the provinces.

Music and Dance

According to Ain-i-Akbari, Tansen of Gwalior was credited with composing many ragas, and these were patronized by Akbar along with 35 other musicians.

Jahangir and Shah Jahan were great patrons of music. There was a misconception that Aurangzeb was against music but a large number of books on Indian classical music were written during his rule.

The later Mughal, Muhammad Shah was instrumental in inspiring important developments in the field of music.

Paintings in Babur Namah and Padshah Namah show a woman dancing with musical instruments.


Persian, Sanskrit, and other regional languages grew during the Mughals. The language of administration of Mughal and Deccan states was Persian.

The Persian language also influenced Rajput state administration. Abul Fazal wrote Akbar’s history in Akbar Nama, Mughal administration in Ain-i-Akbari. Ain-i-Akbari also had science, statistics, culture, and geography.

Abdul Hamid Lahori and Muhammad Waris wrote together Padshah Nama, which is a biography of Shah Jahan. Muhammad Kazim wrote Alamgir Nama, describing the first decade of the ruling of Aurangzeb. 

Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan translated Babur’s Autobiography which was written in Chaghatai Turkish into Persian. Dabistan is an impartial work on religious belief.

Several Sanskrit works were translated into Persian. Abul Faizi, a court poet of Akbar and brother of Abul Fazal, translated Mahabharata into Persian.

Dara Shukoh translated Upanishads titled Sirr-I-Akbar (the great secret). The Masnawis of Abul Faizi, Utbi, and Naziri enriched Persian Poetry in India.

There are also several Sanskrit produced during the Mughals. A kavya, named Rajavalipataka was written by Prajna and concluded that the entire history of Kashmir belonged to Akbar.

Several Graeco-Arabic were brought to India via Persian works through Sanskrit translations. Tajika Neelakanthi, is an astrological work written by Akbar’s astronomer Nilakantha.

Rasagangadhara was written by Shah Jahan’s court poet Jaganath Panditha. The greatest achievement of the Mughals is their contribution to literature and making Urdu a common language for various people speaking different dialects.

Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan composed bhakti poetry with a Persian blend, in Brij form of Hindi.

Tulsidas wrote in Awadi, the Hindi dialect spoken in the eastern UP, which was famous for his devotional ideals. Marathi literature was raised during Eknath, Tukaram, Ramdas, and Mukteshwar.

Eknath questioned the superiority of Sanskrit over other languages. Tukaram preached Monotheism. Mukteshwar translated Ramayana and Mahabharata into Marathi.

In the Assamese language, Bhakti poetry was popularised by Shankara Deva. Assamese works were produced in the fields of astronomy, arithmetic, and the treatment of elephants and horses.

Ramayana and Mahabharata are also translated into Assamese. Chaitanya cult also portrayed the love of Krishna and Radha in Bengali literature. The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs written by Guru Arjun and Shaikh Farid and other monotheists contributed to Punjabi literature.

During the Mughal period, Tamil literature was dominated by Saivite and Vaishnavite. Kumaraguruparar, A Saiva poet composed Meenakshiammai Pillai Tamil and Neethineri Vilakkam.

Thayumanavar wrote devotional poems to brides in various Saivite Sections. Christian missionaries like Roberto de Nobili and Constantine Joseph Beschi also contributed to the Tamil language.


This is an article upsc exam for the topic ‘Art and Architecture of Mughal Emperor’. This note is taken from Ncert’s books.

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