Monuments in India
monuments in India
India is blessed with number of world heritage monuments showcasing the breathtaking architecture and intricate work. Taj Mahal, a unique master-piece is the wonder in itself, an absolute epitome of Indian culture, heritage and civilization. Behind each monument is an underlying sense of mystery, intrigue and romance. Five thousand years of Indian History has given us the treasure of thousands of monuments across the country, monuments belonging to Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians. Visit the monuments of India, they are not only fairy tales carved out of stones, bricks, and mortar narrating the tales of valor and courage of Indian rulers.
Monuments in India forms a great heritage of India and they are evidence of India's historical past. These monuments reflects the culture and the heritage of yore days. Visit India in order to spectacle the miraculous beauty of Indian monuments. Be it Taj mahal or khajuraho, Indian monuments forms an attractive tourist spots for travellers from all over the world. Plan your monument tour to India and come across the diversity of culture and heritage.
Heritage Has Its Roots In Mohenjodaro and Harappa Civilization
The famous monumental heritage of India--the forts, palaces, temples, mosques, churches etc. is an evidence proving that architecture in India had been a form expression.
The era of architecture in India began with the settlement of the cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. The Great Bath, the Assembly Hall and the Drainage System are a few examples of the earlier architectural forms. Architecture in India evolved over a period of time, incorporating definitive influences from its various rulers , be it Hindus, Muslims or British.
Religious and Spiritual Monuments
Hindu architecture concentrates immensely on the religious and spiritual. The construction of Temple was what architecture was all about. The famous Khajuraho Temples, Jain shrines at Dilwara, Jagannath Temple at Puri, Konark Sun Temple and Kailashnath Temple at Ellora are some of the finest medieval specimens of famous Hindu Architecture.
The Muslim invasions brought about a tremendous change in the forms of architecture, with the features like arches, tombs, mosques, minarets etc. Qutub Minar, Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid (Delhi) remain unexcelled even today.
British Style of Architecture
Leaving more than a lasting impact on India's architecture, the British followed various architectural styles - Gothic, Imperial, Christian, English Renaissance and Victorian being the essentials. The Rajabai Tower at Mumbai (Bombay), Victoria Memorial at Calcutta, Law Courts at Chennai (Madras) and the layout of the cities of New Delhi and Chandigarh are few of the examples symbolizing the British colonial architecture in India.
Delhi Red Fort
Built during the reign of Shah Jahan, the Lal Qila (or Red Fort) has been a mute witness to innumerable conspiracies, scandals, battles..... Completed in a span of nine years, it cost about ten million rupees , with about half the sum going towards the building of palaces.
The fort is octagonal in shape, like most Islamic buildings in India. The north of the fort is connected to the smaller Salimgarh fort. The Red Fort is an intimidating structure. It measures 900m by 550m, with its rampart walls covering a perimeter of 2.41km. It towers at a height of 33.5m. On the outside, you can still see the moat that was originally connected with the Yamuna River.
The Major Gateways
Besides the Lahori Gate, the entry point is the Hathipol (elephant gate), where the king and his visitors would dismount from their elephants. The other major attractions of the Red Fort are the Mumtaz Mahal, the Rang Mahal, the Khas Mahal, the Diwan-i-Am, the Diwan-i-Khas, the Hamam and the Shah Burj.
Every year, on the 15th of August, the National Flag of India is hoisted at the Red Fort by the Prime Minister , celebrating India's independence..
Purana Qila (Old Fort)
Humayun- The Mughal Emperor Costructed The Fort
When the second Mughal emperor Humayun decided to make a city of his own he decided on the site of the ancient city of Indraprastha. Humayun was quite a scholar with a fine grasp on such matters and so it is certain that the site was chosen deliberately. When his Sher Shah Suri overthrew him, he destroyed most of Dinpanah (refuge of the faithful) as the city of Humayun was called to make way for his own Dilli Sher Shahi or Shergarh. Incidentally, Humayun was probably the only emperor in history who built a city in Delhi and did not give it his own name – this was typical of Humayun's rather sophisticated and dreamy character. The Layout of The Massive Colossal
In plan the Old fort, now simply called Purana Qila by Delhites, is irregularly orbital. The walls of the immense Qila tower down on the road that takes one to Pragati Maidan from the height of 18m, and run on for about 2km. It has three main gates – the Humayun darwaza, Talaqi darwaza and Bara darwaza (which one uses to enter the fort today). The double-storeyed gates are quite huge and are built with red sandstone. of all the gates entry was forbidden from Talaqi (forbidden) darwaza, the northern gate. It is not clear why this was so. Other Attractions of The Fort
Sher Shah Suri and his successor could not complete the city, and when Humayun defeated Sher Shah's son to take back his city, he did not deal with Dilli Sher shahi as the latter had done with Dinpanah. In fact the Mughal emperor very handsomely completed the city and even used several of the buildings like the Sher Mandal, a rather pretty two-storeyed octagonal building. Humayun used this as his library and, then tripped to his death from its steps.
Excavation of Grey Ware Pottery
Several excavations have taken place in the Purana Qila in an attempt to prove, or disprove as the case may be, whether it is indeed the site of Indraprastha or not. Diggings have yielded Painted Grey Ware pottery which has been dated to 1000BC. Similar stuff has been noticed in other sites associated with the epic Mahabharata as well, which seem to conclusively prove that this indeed was the place where Indraprastha once flourished. These excavation have also thrown up material, like coins, associated with the Gupta (about 4-5th century AD) and post-Gupta ages (700-800AD) of Indian history as well.
One of the most fascinating buildings, and also one of the few that still survive, in the Purana Qila is the Qila-i-kuhna masjid. Sher Shah Suri built it in 1541 (also see History) and he was obviously out to make a definite style statement. The mosque is quite a place; its prayer hall measures 51.20m by 14.90m and has five doorways with the 'true' horseshoe-shaped arches. Apparently the idea was the build the whole mosque in marble, but the supply ran out and red sandstone had to be used instead. But the builder used the material at hand very skillfully and the result is quite spectacular – the red sandstone and the marble contrast beautifully with each other to give the mosque a very distinctive air. The mihrabs (prayer niches) inside the mosque are richly decorated with concentric arches. From the prayer hall, staircases lead you to the second storey where a narrow passage runs along the rectangular hall. The central alcove is topped by a beautifully worked dome. In the courtyard at one time there was a shallow tank, which had a fountain. The mosque has an inscription which says 'As long as there are people on this earth, may this edifice be frequented, and people be happy in it.' A noble thought – amen to it.
Fort Stands In Isolation
'Ya base gujjar, ya rahe ujjar.' (May [this city] be the abode of nomads or remain in wilderness.)
These words, with which the great Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya cursed Ghiyas-ud-din's city, seem to still echo all over the ghostly ruins of Tughlaqabad. The citadel frowns down ominously like some Gothic palace all over the Qutub-Badarpur road and seems to prefer its splendid isolation. Which is of course not exactly what Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq had in mind when he started out building it. It would have broken the old sultan's heart if he had seen just how swiftly the saint's curse went into action; soon after his death in fact.
Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq Raised The City
It seems that even when he was far from being a king Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq had dreamed of raising his city, Tughlaqabad. Earlier, Ghiyas-ud-din had been a general (he rose to being the governor of an important province like Punjab, but that's another story) in Ala-ud-din Khalji's army. Once while on the road with Ala-ud-din, Ghiyas-ud-din, on spotting this area, mentioned to the sultan what an ideal setting it seemed to provide for a new city. Upon this the king indulgently (and, knowing Ala-ud-din, also perhaps patronizingly) replied, 'When you become king, build it.' Knowing full well, as every boss, that while he was around there was not a shadow of a chance of anyone else taking his place. After the death of Ala-ud-din various events conspired to put the general on the throne at last. Then he fulfilled his long-cherished dream.
A Stratigical Layout of The Fort
Romanticism apart, Tughlaqabad also made perfect strategic sense. Those were the times the Mongols were a real menace to society and generally a pain in the neck for all the sultans of the Delhi Sultanate. Almost everything that the sultans built was aimed baffling the Mongols with sheer structural magnificence (read somewhere to duck in and hope for the best).
Tughlaqabad fort, situated as it was on high rocky ground, was ideally located to withstand sieges. Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq helped matters along by putting up formidable walls which, though short on aesthetic value, are excellent examples of solid unimaginative masonry and not the type that any invading army could hope to scale in a hurry. Tughlaq put ramparts towering at heights of anywhere between 9m (30ft) to 15.2m (50ft), and rising up to 29.8m (98ft) around the citadel, between himself and the Mongols.
The fort is half-hexagonal in shape and Ghiyas-ud-din seems to have built defenses around and in it till he was blue in the face. The outer walls are built around the silhouette of the surrounding land and, what with their height and width, add formidably to the natural barriers. They were also well defended. On the north, east and west sides it is protected by trenches that go far down, and in the south a lake acts sentinel.
To Reach The Inner Complex of The Fort
The parapets have small loopholes all over them from where Ghiyas-ud-din's soldiers to spot invaders quickly and start saying it with arrows. The fort has or at least had thirteen portals and the inner citadel has three more. If you could reach them that is, because it was defended in depth by three layers of battlements.
For all the defense, the city of Tughlaqabad hardly saw any warfare. Perhaps that is why it bears such an air of dejection – it could never fulfill the task it was built for. You enter the fortress by a highway, which was set one 27 arches, almost all of them have vanished now. Water being prized commodity (and allegedly one of the reasons why Tughlaqabad was finally abandoned) there was a huge reservoir to store rainwater in the fortress; you can still see it.
When one enters the fort, the first impression is of emptiness; the ruins begin registering later. It is difficult to imagine that if one was somehow transported a few centuries back, these very walls would come alive, with people brushing past you and if things got really lively one could even find oneself in the midst of a full-scale Mongol invasion.
As you enter, to the left, used to be the palaces and to the right still stand the ruins of the a tower (Bijai Mandal, not to be confused with the one in Jahanpanah; also see Bijai Mandal), several halls and a subterraneous passage that led to the Bijai Mandal in Jahanpanah. Just beyond was the city, with its streets (all laid out in a grid), houses, mosques, peoples and bazaars.
An Excellent View
A walk up the walls is well worth the while and, well, one of the main reasons why people come here at all. The vista is glorious; the ruins inside the fort, Ghiyas-ud-din's tomb next door and remains of the Adilabad fort (built by Ghiyas-ud-din's son Muhammad) lay scattered in front of you like petty detail.
Walking along the southern side of the fortress next to the outer wall is a way out of the impregnable fortress which one supposes was reserved for dire emergencies in case of prolonged sieges. This was a standard practise all over India; a secret escape route was part of the building plan in any fortress. Don't feel tempted to try it, if you value your neck. Further towards the west there is an abysmal tank which you don't want to go falling into – it is called the road to hell (Jahannum ka raasta) and for obvious reasons.
For a place of its size, Tughlaqabad was built with surprising speed, just four years. and of course abandoned with equal speed in 1327. Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, probably being one of those modern free thinking guys who didn't want to be known by his father's laurels, chose to make a city of his own called Jahanpanah. One of his first achievement being to do away with Ghiyasuddin by arranging one of those accidents that were so frequent in medieval ages; a pavillion built to welcome Ghiyas-ud-din fell on him, of all things.
Anyway, with the sultan's death, the city's short-lived glory to an abrupt end.
South of Tughlaqabad and once connected to it by a causeay is the fortress of Adilabad, which was built by Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq. In plan it is a smaller version of Tughlaqabad, with the trademark sloping walls of huge stone. Inside Adilabad was the legendary Qasr-i-hazaar satun or the Palace of a thousand pillars, which seems to have been a really popular idea back then (see Bijai Mandal). The palace had a huge audience hall, which was built on columns of varnished wood. Towards the southern gateway you can still see a vaulted corridor which used to be flanked by guardrooms. Adilabad has all the marks of a fine Tughlaq building with that style's typically austere walls, bare surfaces, corbeled arches and crenellation.
Outside the fortress towards the east is the Barber's fort. It is not known whether a barber actually ever lived in the tiny fortress of Nai ka kot (barber's fort), but it seems Ghiyas-ud-din certianly did. He used this place as a temporary residence when Tughlaqabad was coming up. It is built in the same style as Adilabad.
The Construction of the Massive Tomb
The construction of Humayun's tomb was taken up by the grief-stricken wife of Humayun, Hamida Banu, also known as Bega Begam in 1565. Legend has it that the design of the Taj was inspired from this tomb's. In pure architectural sense, this building is probably superior and much more beautiful that the stunning Taj. Sacrilege? But really, the only thing this building lacks is the showy marble.
A Magnificent Architecture
The complex took nine years to complete and the tomb itself is a dazzling landmark in the evolution of Mughal architecture in India. Hamida Begum is said to have spent one and a half million rupees on it and you just have to see it to know that every penny was worth it.
One of The Planned Structures
The plan of the building is simply brilliant and very mathematical. The tomb is set bang in the middle of large square-patterned typically imperial Mughal-style garden which is neatly divided into sub-squares by paved lanes. There fourth side of the tomb is not walled; simply because the river was supposed to make up for the wall, but it flows there no more. The high arches and double dome that became so associated with Mughal architecture make their debut here. The place is studded with fountains which were extremely popular in those days – a Mughal might have been poor in many things, but never in fountains. The intricate and delicately beautiful latticework on the tomb remained the trademark of Mughal architecture right down the ages.
Further down is the Jamali Kamali masjid and tomb, which has recently been renovated by INTACH, an autonomous cultural organization. Jamali was the alias of the Sufi saint Shaikh Fazlullah, who was also known as Jalal Khan. The saint had a prodigious life – he lived right through Sikander Lodi's reign, the famous battle of Panipat in 1526, Babur and died during the lifetime of Humayun. Who Kamali was remains a tantalizing mystery.
The tomb and mosque bearing their names lie within yards of each other. They were started in Babur's time in about 1528 and finished in Humayun's reign by 1535-36.
The tomb lies immediately behind the mosque and is a smallish chamber. Small but not humble. Upon entering it your eye is immediately caught by the richly ornamented ceiling and walls. They are covered with tiles of various hues and patterns in incised and painted plaster. Several verses compose by Jamali are also inscribed on the walls.
The beautiful and spruce lawns of Jamali Kamali make it a popular picnic spot for Delhites.
On way to the masjid, a short distance away you'll probably spot the tombs of Sheikh Alauddin (died 1541-42), descendant of the famous Sufi saint Shaikh Faridu'd-din Shakarganj and Shiekh Yusuf Qattal (died 1527) who was a disciple of Qazi Jalaluddin of Lahore.
The Artistic Work
Both the tombs are somewhat similar in design. They are small pavillions with domes that rest on twelve pillars. The pillars have some magnificent red sandstone latticework screens between them. However there are some individual features. The tomb of Sheikh Alauddin is somewhat more ornate than that of Yusuf Qatal. It has coloured and chiseled plaster symbols on the arches and the parapets. Bands of intricate written inscriptions run on the ceiling of the dome. The tomb of Yusuf Qattal is comparatively smaller, but enchanting nonetheless and its dome is encircled by encaustic tiles.
About 8km from the Qutub Minar, on road from andheria More, is Sultan Ghari's tomb. It was built by Altamash in 1231 for his son and heir-apparent Nasiruddin Mahmud, who died in battle in 1229 in Lakhnauti (Lucknow). It is built in the same style as the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and is assembled from assorted destroyed Hindu temples and other buildings.
The Insides of The Tomb
You approach the octagonal tomb-chamber from a raised courtyard. Under a rubble-built platform the tomb is built like a crypt (ghar). The platform is encompassed by rows of columns on the east and west sides and the other sides are plain walls. These together with the domed parapets on the corners make the tomb look more like a fortress.
It is possible that the corridors of this tomb were at one time used as a madrasa. In the centre of the western wing there is a marble prayer niche which is richly and profusely embellished all over with verses from the Holy Quran.
Th exterior of the tomb had been grey sandstone to begin with, but Feroze Shah Tughlaq (1351-88) changed all that and had it faced all over with marble. Next to the Sultan Ghari tomb, lie the tombs of the other two sons of Altamash Ruknuddin Feroze Shah (died 1237) and Muizzudin Bahram Shah (died 1241), who occupied the throne of Delhi for very brief periods, before and after the sultan's favorite child and heir Raziya Sultana.
In the same complex is the tomb of Shams-ud-din Altamash (1211-36), the son-in-law and successor of Qutub-ud-din Aibak.
Altamash is widely regarded as the real founder of the Delhi sultanate and had a very successful reign (see history).
His tomb was built in 1235 and is quite an interesting example of Islamic architecture in India. It marks the phase when the sultans had stopped spare parts from broken temples for their buildings. The building was made from foundation up and not assembled.
It seems that there had been plans to cover the tomb chamber with a dome, as is obvious from the squinches which make their first appearance in this building. It is said, once the dome fell but was replaced by Feroze Shah Tughlaq and then again fell down, beating even his patience for it was not replaced.
Inside the tomb there are three mihrabs (prayer niches). The central one of these is located higher than the other two and is profusely decorated with marble. The tomb itself is quite simple, but its entrance is intricately carved with geometrical and arabesque patterns. There are some Hindu motifs too though – like wheels, the lotus, diamonds and so on.
South to the fortress of Tughlaqabad is the tomb of its builder, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. A once fortified causeway lead to the tomb compound, which at one time stood within a large reservoir. Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq was obviously a man of set ideas – while he was about fortifying everything in sight, he fortified his tomb as well. What against is hard to say; probably Mongols who took the term happy hunting grounds too literally.
The reservoir is no longer stores any water and the bridge over it has been broken off in the middle to make way for an extremely busy road. The tomb is based roughly on a pentagon in plan and its entrance is guarded by massive portals.
The mausoleum itself is very simple, very much the warrior's tomb. Simple with the same sloping red sandstone walls which are Tughlaq hallmarks. Each wall has arched gateways decorated with the inevitable, but beautiful, latticework and white marble. The dome is entirely of white marble and is quite striking indeed. This rather severe tomb does allow itself a few inscribed panels, arch borders, latticework screens and 'lotus-bud' edges which decorate it.
Towards the left of the entrance, in the corridor, there is a tiny grave which is said to be that of the sultan's favorite dog; which is not exactly a typical thing for a Muslim, who consider dogs unclean, to do.
The Family Mausoleum
The mausoleum is quite a family affair. In here sleeps not only Ghiyas-ud-din but also his wife, Makh Dumai Jahan and his second son Mahmud Khan, who died with him under the pavilion. Near the northern side of the tomb there is an octagonal tomb with an inscribed slab over its southern door, according to which Zafar Khan lies buried here. Who this Zafar Khan was is not recorded, but this was the first tomb to be built here and gave Ghiyas-ud-din the idea of building his own mausoleum here too. The top of the enclosed walls offers excellent views of both Tughlaqabad and Adilabad Forts.
More by this Author
RURAL INDUSTRIALIZATION – A HISTORICAL PRESPECTIVE In India the rural dwellers, who constitute more than 70 per cent of India’s population are facing the acute problems of unemployment and...