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The Mughal rulers were visionaries and their own personalities reflected in the all-round development of various arts, crafts, music, building and architecture. The Mughal dynasty was established with the crushing victory of Babar at Panipat in 1526 A.D. During his short five-year reign, Babar took Early Mughal mosqueconsiderable interest in erecting buildings, though few have survived. The mosque at Kabuli Bagh at Panipat in Punjab and the Jami Masjid at Sambhal near Delhi, both constructed in 1526, are the surviving monuments of Babar. His son Humayun laid the foundation of a city called Dinpanah ("refuge of the faithful") at the Purana Qila in Delhi but the city could not be completed. The Mughal Empire briefly fell to the Suris in 1540 but was re-established by Humayun in 1555. The Persian influence into the Mughal architecture was largely a result of Humayun's observance of this style at the court of Shah Tahmasp during the period of his exile. However, the Persian elements could manifest and mature only several years after his death, as is evident in the Humayun's Tomb at Delhi, which was designed in 1564 by his widow Haji Begum as a mark of devotion, eight years after his death. Humayun's Tomb represents an outstanding landmark in the development and refinement of the Mughal style. In fact the design of the Taj Mahal was modelled on this tomb.

Architecture flourished during the reign of Akbar (1555-1605). The chief feature of the architecture of Akbar's time was the use of red sandstone. In principle Red Fortthe construction was of the trabeate order, although the "Tudor" arch was also used. The domes were of the "Lodi" type, while the pillar shafts were many-sided with the capitals being in the form of bracket supports. One of the first major building projects was the construction of a huge fort at Agra. The massive sandstone ramparts of the Red Fort are another impressive examples. The most ambitious architectural exercise of Akbar, and one of the most glorious examples of Indo-Islamic architecture, was the creation of an entirely new capital city at Fatehpur Sikri. It has been described as "a frozen moment in history". The buildings at Fatehpur Sikri blended both Islamic and Hindu elements in their architectural style. Its structures have been modelled after the simple canvas tents used by semi-nomadic ancestors of the Mughals. The free-standing pavilions are constructed as stone analogues of the tents. The Buland Darwaza, the Panch Mahal and the Darga of Saleem Chisti are the most imposing of all the buildings of Fatehpur Sikri. The Diuwan-e-Khas is another fascinating structure in the complex which was designed for private audiences. It is of cube-like form with an elaborate central column connected to the four corners by bridges. The square plan, although of Central Asian origin, would have represented to the Hindu craftsmen the "mandala" model of the cosmos. There are several palaces in the complex including Jodaha Bai's Palace and the houses of Miriam, the Sultana and Birbal.

Akbar's successor Jahangir (1605-1627) concentrated more on painting and other forms of art than on building and architecture. However, some note-worthy monuments of his time include Akbar's Tomb at Sikandra near Agra, which was completed in 1613. This monument represents a major turning point in Mughal history, as the sandstone compositions of Akbar were adapted by his successors into opulent marble masterpieces. Jahangir is the central figure in the development of the Mughal gardens. The most famous of his gardens is the Shalimar Bagh on the banks of Lake Dal in Kashmir. The adjoining Nishat Bagh built by Asaf Khan also belongs to this period. The Jahangir's Tomb at Shadera near Lahore, built by his wife Nur Mahal, is another outstanding architectural production of this time.

The style of Mughal architecture found expression of exceptional splendour during Emperor Shah Jahan's reign (1628-1658). The single most important architectural change was the substitution of marble for the red sandstone. He demolished the austere sandstone structures of Akbar in the Red Fort and Jama Masjidreplaced them with marble buildings such as the Diwan-i-Am and the Diwan-i-Khas. In 1638 he began to lay the city of Shahjahanabad beside the river Jamuna. The Red Fort at Delhi represents the pinnacle of centuries of experience in the construction of palace-forts. Outside the fort, he built the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Shah Jahan built the Jami Masjid at Agra in 1648 in honour of his daughter Jahanara Begum. The Wazir Khan's mosque in Lahore built in 1634 is another fine example of the Mughal art during ShahMughal splendour Jahan's time. However, it is for the Taj Mahal, which he built as a memorial to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, that he is most often remembered. The high point of the Mughal architecture during the Shah Jahan's time was the mellow marble has subtle low relief carving, lace like jalis, exquisite inlays, pietra dura and calligraphy. The pietra dura work was first incorporated in the Itamad-ud-Daula's Tomb at Agra built by Ghyas Beg, father of Nur Jehan. The extensive decoration of the interiors of monuments with precious and semi-precious stones using the pietra dura technique, which developed in Florence in the 16th century, and the use of pictures, jewellery and metal-works indicate considerable European influence on the Mughal art of this period.

Jahan Ara, daughter of Shah Jahan, was also a generous patron of architecture and showed an eclectic taste in building spacious gardens, mosques, madrasas and serais. She built the famous Begum Ka Bagh and Begum Serai at Delhi. She also built her own tomb near the shrine of the dargah of Hazrat Nizauddin.

The architectural projects of Aurangazeb's reign (1658-1707) are represented by the Bibi-ki-Maqbara, the tomb of Aurangzeb's wife Begum Rabia Durani, which is a poor replica of the famous Taj Mahal and is a fine example of Mughal architecture in the Deccan region. The death of Aurangazeb in 1707 led to the decadence of Mughal architecture.

Aurangazeb's daughters Zeb-un-nissa and Zinat-unnisa Begum also contributed in a small way in carrying forward the Mughal trend of architecture. Zinat-unnisa Begum built the Zinat-ul-Masjid at Daryaganj in Old Delhi built in 1711, while Zeb-un-nissa built her own garden and tomb at Nawankot near Lahore. Qudsiya Begum, the wife of a later Mughal ruler, Ahmad Shah, built the Sunheri Masjid in 1751 opposite the west gate of the Red Fort. The last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar's favourite wife Zinat Mahal built the Zinat Mahal in the Lal Kuan bazaar in Delhi. However, the only significant monument built in the post-Aurangazeb time in Delhi was the Safdar Jung's Tomb built in 1753 by Mirza Mansoor Khan.  


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