The Mughals ruled a united north India for over three centuries, but the roots of the glorious monuments they built are found in earlier provincial styles of architecture. In this richly illustrated work, the author presents the first comprehensive study of the architecture of the Sultanate period. During the pre-Mughal centuries provincial Islamic styles of architecture developed, some of great importance and originality, each a spontaneous movement arising from its respective rulers and the desire to express particular aesthetic ideals.
Many factors influenced these regional styles, the most important being the indigenous arts prevailing in the region prior to Islam, the technical ability of the craftsmen, the climate conditions and the strength of the bond each province had with the capital, Delhi. In this book, the author traces the architectural development of each Sultanate. She shows that each provincial style is a synthesis between opposing spiritual and aesthetic concepts faced by the early Muslims in India. Nowhere else in the Islamic world was the clash of values more pronounced. But it is precisely these counteracting forces which released the enormous energy that resulted in the construction of the splendid monuments of the Mughal age. This book evolved out of a series of lectures on Indian architecture given at the Oriental Institute, Oxford, in 1991.