Between the eighth and the eighteenth centuries kings and their officers built two kinds of structures: the first were forts, palaces and tombs – safe, protected and grandiose places of rest in this world and the next; the second were structures meant for public activity including temples, mosques, tanks, wells, caravan serais and bazaars.
The part of a building above the ground is known as superstructure.
Between seventh and tenth centuries, roofs, doors and windows were still made by placing a horizontal beam across two vertical columns, a style of architecture called “trabeate” or “corbelled”.
This style was used in construction of mosques, tombs, temples and buildings attached with step-wells.
The weight of the superstructure above the doors and windows was sometimes carried by arches. This architectural form was called “arcuate”.
Limestone cement when mixed with stone chips hardened into concrete.
Temples and mosques were beautifully constructed because they were places of worship and it also demonstrated the power, wealth and devotion of the patron.
The temple was a miniature model of the world ruled by the king and his allies.
Persian court chronicles described the Sultan as the “Shadow of God”.
Sultan Iltutmish won universal respect for constructing a large reservoir just outside Dehli-i kuhna which was called the hauz-i Sultani or the “King’s Reservoir”.
In the political culture of the Middle Ages most rulers displayed their political might and military success by attacking and looting the places of worship of defeated rulers. Eg: Mahmud of Ghazni looting Somnath Temple, Chola king Rajendra I built a Shiva temple in his capital and filled it with prized valuables seized from defeated rulers.
Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, and especially Shah Jahan were personally interested in literature, art and architecture.
The central towering dome and the tall gateway (pishtaq) became important aspects of Mughal architecture, first visible in Humayun’s tomb.
Humayun’s tomb was placed in the centre of chahar bagh and was built in a style called “hasht bihisht” or “eight paradises”.
Babur was interested in planning formal gardens built in rectangular walled enclosure and divided into four quarters by artificial channels. Such gardens were known as “chahar baghs”.
Chahar baghs were constructed by Jahangir and Shah Jahan in Kashmir, Delhi and Agra.
Shah Jahan fused all the elements of Mughal architecture into a harmonious synthesis and it reflected in his new constructions in Delhi and Agra.
Diwan-i-khas and Diwan-i-aam built by Shah Jahan were also known as “chihil sutun” ( forty pillared halls ).
The pedestal on which Shah Jahan’s throne was placed was often known as “qibla”.
Taj Mahal – the white marble mausoleum was placed on a terrace by the edge of the river Yamuna and the river front garden was to its south. This was done so that Shah Jahan can control the access of nobles to the river.
In Bengal, local rulers designed a roof resembling a thatched hut. This design came to be known as “ Bangla dome”.
From the twelfth century onwards, attempts began in France to build churches with high pointed arches, the use of stained glass, often painted with scenes drawn from the Bible, and flying buttresses. Tall spires and bell towers which were visible from a distance were added to the church. This architectural style was known as “Gothic”, and can be seen in Notre Dame church in Paris.
Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
It was constructed by King Dhangadeva of Chandela dynasty in 999 and was dedicated to Lord Shiva.
An ornamented gateway led to an entrance, and the main hall (mahamandapa) where dances were performed.
The image of the chief deity was kept in the main shrine (garbhagriha).
The Khajuraho complex contained royal temples where commoners were not allowed entry.
It had the tallest shikhara amongst the temples of its time.
The architects built an inclined plane to roll 90 tonne boulder for the top of shikhara.
Even now a nearby village is known as Charupallam ( Village of the Incline ).