Rulers and Buildings
Short Answer Questions
Question 1: What are the two technological and stylistic developments evident from the 12th century?
Answer: There were two technological and stylistic developments noticeable from the twelfth century, which are as follows:
- Arcuate form of architecture: In this form of architecture, the weight of the superstructure above the doors and windows was sometimes carried by the arches.
- Increased use of limestone cement in construction: This was of high quality. It hardened into concrete when mixed with stone chips. It made the construction of large structures easier and faster.
Question 2: What are the kinds of structures built by kings and their officers between the 8th and the 18th century?
Answer: Between the 8th and the 18th century, the structures built by the kings and their officers were:
- Safe, protected and grandiose places of rest in this world and the next world: like forts, palaces, garden residences and tombs.
- Structures meant for public activity: like temples, mosques, tanks, wells, bazaars and caravanserais.
Question 3: Write a note on the significance of water in the kingdoms.
Answer: It was believed that if a just king is ruling, there will be enough rain, i.e. no water scarcity. At the same time making precious water available by constructing tanks and reservoirs was highly appreciated. For constructing a large reservoir just outside Dehli-i Kuhna, Sultan Iltutmish got universal respect. The reservoir was called the Hauz-i-Sultani or the ‘King’s Reservoir’. Big and small tanks and reservoirs were constructed by rulers for people’s use. Sometimes these were part of a temple, mosque or gurudwara.
Question 4: Briefly describe the adaptation of architectural styles by the Mughals.
Answer: The Mughals were particularly skilled in adapting architectural styles in their own building construction. For instance, in Bengal the local rulers had developed a roof that was designed to resemble a thatched roof. This ‘Bangla dome’ was liked by the Mughals to such an extent that they used it in their architecture. The impact of other regions was also noticeable. Many buildings in Akbar’s capital Fatehpur Sikri showed the influence of the architectural styles of Gujarat and Malwa.
Long Answer Type Questions
Question 1: Describe the attacks on temples by rulers.
Answer: The following rulers attacked temples:
- Shrimara Shrivallabha: When this Pandyan king invaded Sri Lanka in the early ninth century, he seized valuable items like the statue of Buddha made of gold.
- Sena II: To avenge the above attack, the next Sinhalese ruler, Sena II attacked Madurai, the capital of the Pandyas. He tried to restore the above seized Buddha statue.
- Rajendra I: In the 11th century, when he built a Shiva temple, he filled it with prized statues seized from defeated rulers.
- Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni: He was a contemporary of Rajendra I. During his campaigns in the subcontinent, he also attacked the temples of defeated kings and indulged in looting of their wealth and idols. Though he was not a very important ruler at that time, he gained a lot of appreciation as a great hero of Islam due to his attack on temples (especially the one at Somnath).
Question 2: With reference to Babur and Humayun, describe the forts and gardens.
Answer: Babur: In his autobiography, he described his interest in planning and laying out formal gardens, placed within rectangular walled enclosures and divided into four quarters by artificial channels. These gardens were called chahar bagh (four gardens) because of the symmetry in their division into quarters.
Humayun: Important aspects of Mughal architecture like the central towering dome and the tall gateway (pishtaq) were first visible during his reign. The tomb was placed in the centre of a huge formal chahar bagh and built in the tradition known as eight paradises or hasht bihisht which is a central hall surrounded by eight rooms. Red sandstone edged with white marble was used in the construction of the building.
Question 3: Describe temples and mosques during the period.
Answer: Temples and mosques, besides being places of worship; were also meant to demonstrate the power, wealth and devotion of the patron.
Temples: Kings constructed the largest temples. On the other hand; the other, lesser deities were the gods and goddesses of the allies and subordinates of the ruler. The temple was a miniature model of the world ruled by the kings and his allies; when they worshipped their deities in the royal temples it was as if the just rule of gods were brought on earth.
Mosques: Muslim Sultans and Padshahs did not claim to be incarnations of god. However, Persian court chronicles described the Sultan as the “Shadow of God”. The Quwwat al-Islam mosque has an inscription states that God chose Allauddin as a king because he had the qualities of Moses and Solomon who were the great lawgivers of the past. God Himself was the greatest lawgiver and architect. He introduced order and symmetry in the chaotic world.
Question 4: Describe architecture during Shah Jahan's reign.
Answer: Different elements of Mughal architecture were fused together in a grand harmonious synthesis during his reign. Huge amount of construction activity, especially in Delhi and Agra, took place during his reign. Taj Mahal was the biggest architectural accomplishment during his reign. The ceremonial halls of public and private audience (diwan- I khas o am) were planned carefully. These courts, placed within a large courtyard, were also described as chihil sutun or forty-pillared halls. His audience halls resembled a mosque. The pedestal on which his throne was placed was described frequently as qibla, the direction faced by Muslims while praying. This is because everyone faced that side when the court was in session. These architectural features suggest the idea of king as God's representative. His audience hall aimed to give the message that the king's justice will treat all equally, creating a harmonious world.
During the early years of his reign, his capital was Agra, a city where the nobility had constructed their homes on the banks of the river Yamuna. These were set in the midst of formal gardens which were created in the chahar bagh format. There was also a variation of chahar bagh format present during the time. It was called the river-front garden in which the dwelling was not located in the middle of the chahar bagh but at its edge, close to the river bank.