Between fifteenth to eighteenth century, a unique style of architecture developed in India, then under the rule of the Mughal empire. This particular style of architecture, that resulted in several great buildings like Taj Mahal, is a hallmark of the great historical legacy that has been inherited by the two new nations formed in the wake of partition of India.
'Mughal architecture' refers to the unique architectural style that developed during the reign of Mughal rule in India between the fifteenth and eighteenth century. Its three most prominent centres were Agra, Delhi (both erstwhile Mughal capitals are in contemporary India) and Lahore in Pakistan, which was the occasional residence of their rulers. This style arose from the fusion of Indian and Islamic architecture and amalgamated many aspects of local arts and craft of the Northern India. It is characterised by round domes, wide halls, painted tiles and use of red and white marble. Its unique features include three walled 'Iwan' and the double dome and arch structures which developed during the zenith of Mughal architecture under Shah-jehan, who also built Taj Mahal.
The Tomb of Sheikg Rukn-ud-din Abdul Fateh, a Sufi saint better known as Shah-Rukh-e-Alam is situated in Multan. It is considered the oldest structure of architecture resembling a style that belong to the Tughlaq architecture, which is very nearly Mughal.
It was built in the fourteenth century. This architecture achieved its glory in the days of Mughal rule beginning sixteenth century. This Sufi shrine remains extremely popular, attracting over 100,000 visitors during the urs which is held to commemorate his death anniversary every year.
Lahore host the most impressive samples of Mughal architecture within Pakistan. The largest of them is the Lahore Fort built in sixteenth and seventeenth century along with its famous Alamgiri Gate and Naulakha Pavilion. Built on around 20 acres of land at the Northern end of old city of Lahore, this Fort has its origins in a 10th century structure, but most of its existing attractions were built during the Mughal Era, beginning with the laying of foundations duing Akbar's reign, while the latest and the most prized tourist attractions of these, the Alamgiri Gate was built duing Aurangzeb's time. Another tourist attraction in the fort is the Sheesh Mahal, which built by Mirza Ghiya Beg, father of Noor Jahan (wife of Jehangir) and grand father of Mumtaz Mahal (wife of Shah Jehan). Lahore Fort was captured from the Mughals by the Afghan Durranis, who lost it to Sikh Misls, from whom it was taken by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. British paid their homage to Emperor Jehangir by gisting paintings of Madonna and Jesus, which are still there. Later, in 1849, they captures it from Sikhs. The Fort has thus been a witness of Indian history and is living document of how divisions of people in this great civilization led to colonization of India.
Then there is the Wazir Khan Mosque which was built in the 1630s. Another grand building is the Badshahi Mosque built during the reign of emperor Aurangzeb.
Shah-jehan Mosque of Thatta in Sind is another impressive structures belonging to the Mughal style of architecture. Another impressive structure of this style is the Rohtas Fort built near Jhelum by Sher Shah Suri, who did not belong to the Mughal dynasty but occupied the throne of Delhi by defeating the Mughal prince Humayun. The Mughal emperor, Jehangir buit a beautiful Hinar-Minar in Sheikhpura. After his death, his Mausoleum was constructed by his wife in Lahore.
Jehangir's son, Shah-jehan's period was the golden age of Mughal architecture. He constructed Lahore fort, including the Sheesh Mahal and the Moti Masjid. Later, Aurangzeb, who imprisoned his own father, Shah-jehan and killed his borthers to occupy the Mughal throne built the Alamgiri Gate and Badshahi Mosque there.
All these structures are a treat to the eye and great places to visit. They remind one of the golden age of Mughal rule and the prosperity of the land in those days. They are all a must watch if you are visiting these places. Newer buildings such as Lok Virsa Heritage Museum in Islamabad have tried to replicate some features of Mughal architecture.
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