Islamic Architecture
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
Hello all,

I was reading the article here on ArchNet concerning Mughal architecture. A specific concern arose, around the Mughal-Islamic use of chatris.

It mentions that chatris are distinctive of Hindu architecture, and that the Mughals pioneered upon this. It then mentions that these chatris, these elements imported from Hindu architecture were "domed":

"Although these pavilions have many of the same Hindu features seen in Akbar's architecture (i.e domed chatris and chajjas)"

"However, the details of the mosque are mostly Hindu in their associations, from the richly carved columns and corbelled arches in the arcades and the sanctuary to the domed chhatris lining the roof."

I was under the impression that the "dome" was introduced into India roughly around the 16th century from Persia, via the Mughal Empire. What is the history of the dome in Hindu architecture, how does it relate/impact Indian Islamic architecture (or did it occur the other way around), and, on the same note, how much did the Mughal Empire shape the use of the dome in native Hindu architecture?

Bryan Stiles
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
Bryan, you are right in stating that the domes were 'introduced'in India by the Muslim rulers but definately not by the Mughal Rulers, it was earlier than that way back first in 1206 when the Muslim Slave dynasty came to Delhi as Sultans. You are also right that The Chatris initially were the part of the Hindu Architecture but then again they were absorbed by what we today better know as the 'Indo-Islamic Architecture' and thus one can see these examples in the Mughal Architecture.
Haseeb Siddique Shaikh
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
And we all know that Dome is not Islamic by birth. Muslims got it from the Romans. I only wish we stuck to our indigenous shape of sacred square introduced to us by Abraham and ishamel and the angels from above.
Raheel Ahmad
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
Hello(salam) Bryan Stiles and others.
1. It is not possible to disclaim the effect of persian muslims architecture on Indian architecture in islamic period ,when the persian culture & persian language were prevalent in Inidia.
Unfortunately many architectural historians,conscious or unconscious,named this rich season of Islamic architecture: Mughal! Whereas the Iranian culture (here through architecture) had a key role during this acculturate. For example: Who was the architect of the greatest monument of India in Taj-mahal? A persian architect from Shiraz (in The heart of Iran). He won the design competition of Taj-mahal among many skillful architects!
With that known brutality in Mughal kings, and nomadic life in Mongolia tribes, is it possible to suppose that Mughal kings built that glorious architecture themselves? No, they only knew war, fire & bloodshed! Civilization can't be formed through these!
Dr. Mohammad Reza Pourjafar (PHD in Arch & Planning from U.O.R. India,1992) has extensive studies on India subcontinent art & architecture. Also he has many articles about interaction between Iranian & Indian architehture. Some related title of them:
One: Impact of Persian Art & Arch. on the subcontinent Art & Arch. in primary period.(The Subcontinent magazine.,Islamic relations org.,Tehran,winter2001)
Two: Continuous impact of pre-Islamic archetype, Char-tagh, on Islamic period mosques in Iran & India.(Mosques architecture congress, Kashan Art uni., fall2000)
These articles has written in farsi, and Unfortunately has n't been translated.
I think that you can talk with Dr.Pourjafar through his E-mail in this address:
2. I think that domed building in India is affected by Persian architecture distinctively.(also read no.3)
3. Note, about my friend response(Raheel Ahmad, March 30, 2007):
It is true that Dome is not Islamic by birth, but Islamic architectures in many regions has n't got it from Romans. It is acceptable that dome technology in some regions (often in ottoman empire) was influenced by Roman domes to some extent, but in wide areas (from Iran to India & central Asia), the dome building technologies is arised from Iran Islamic architecture which is specially affected by ancient Persian architecture(majorly Sasanid Arch.).
It is considerable that at the start of islam, elliptical arches and square plan spaning, was not known in Roman doming but was common in Sasanid doming! Muslims after using Dome(in Farsi,called Gonbad), improved its techniques and by using it in Mosque(Masjid), they made several technical & decorative inventions in dome structure, specially in the transitional part of domes & the arches.
For example nowadays in Persia Islamic Arch. we knows many different type of constructive styles for the transitional part of a dome -like Kar bandi,tagh bandi,Eskonj(in English,translated Squinch), Torombeh(in French,translated Trompe)& etc.- which altogether called "Chapireh". However in Sasanid Arch. there was only one type of Chapireh that called Filpush(or Filgush).
It is notable that in india domes, those persian techniques are usual, not Roman or ottoman techs!
4. I hope you know that this meaning is ultra nationalism. It is not important that who assisted the Mughal kings in making civilization & domes: Persians, Hindus�� but it is important for us to discover the fact, to respect the fact and not to distort it, every time and everywhere.
I just told my smattering and wish there be some keys for more researchs in it.
5. Islam from birth had a selective identity accepting excellency from all in allover & all time. Islam didn't decide to make different cultures, uniform. In architecture too, Islamic culture accepted the diversity of regions architecture, but it spread the sense of unity allover Islamic world! It colored this diversity with a white color of light!
Thus,it is citable that: "Islamic architecture" is not a different type or other style of architecture. It is just "architecture" but in different type or other style!
Mahdi Raeisi Nafchi
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
Hello everyone,

Just to correct this discussion,DOME is an element which was formed in Parthian Architecture and transferred to Romans and other countries and completed by Sassanid era which had a great influence on Islamic architecture(there are so many refrences for this issue like the research by Arthur Upham Pope,and other retain Buildings in Iran).
Tannaz Torabi
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
The domes were always a part of Indian architecture even before the muslim invaders. The buddhist stupas used domes. Refer to the stupa at Sanchi for details.
As far as the mughal and the other islamic architecture in India is concerned, agree to some points mentioned alread - it is rather naive
to believe that the invaders interested in loot and plunder were builders of the calibre being ascribed. Most of the so called creations were existing hindu structures usurped by the invaders. You just have to look at the so called tombs - you can immediately see that they are structures that were either temples or palaces before and which were taken over by force.
Rags Kesh
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
The so called Mughal architecture notably the Taj Mahal,and many other Mughal Forts, Tombs and Mosques in and around Old Delhi and Agra are considered an import, that muslim invaders from Central Asia and Afghanistan brought along with them. Nothing could be further away from the truth. The so called dome structure, which is quite common in Mughal structure is indigenous to ancient Indian architecture. These dome shaped structure dates back to the times of Ashoka the Great, a great Indian king who spread the message of Buddha as far as Japan and Central Asia. The Buddhist Stupas and Vihars had dome like structures and arches. When these docile buddhists were converted to Muslim, they adopted the structure to turn them into mosques with dome like structures in India. If Taj Mahal and all the beautiful structures were an import you would have found similar structures in large numbers, big or small, in the countries of their origin, be it Iran, Afghanistan or Samarkhand (from where Babur the first Mughal hails from). Just because India in the most part of the last thousand years was under foreign rulers be it Islam or European notably English and Portuguese, their history was erased from memory. In fact it was the British archeologists who discovered and reminded the Indians of such a great king as Emperor Ashoka the Great. Hence its very importance that without pride or prejudice the rightful position of Indians be restored as a major contributor to the Human civilization.
Somik Roy
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
Hello, I am based in Birmingham, UK and doing a project to create an Visual Identity for Mandavgrah, A fort in Madhya Pradesh, India.

What I wanted to know was that Mandu is famous for its blend of Hindu-Afghan or Indo-Afghan architecture. How is Afghan architecture different from Mughal Architecture? Is it one and the same?

I understand by the seeing each and every monument in Mandu, that the architecture its nothing to do with decorations as its very minimal on the exterior and the interior. But at the same time its shows Grandeur, Simplicity, and Austerity.

It would be really helpful for me if you could help me out in this.

Thank You.
Nups Afzulpurkar
Domed Chatris in Mughal Architecture - Hindu or Persian?
I have to disagree with some points given here.. The mughals were very intelligent rulers, and the greatest of them all, Akbar, was the true architect of the mughal empire and its architecture. He was well aware of his ancestry and their architectural styles (the timurid style), and he had lived his childhood on indian soil...So he was familiar with Indian architecture. As for the origin of chhatris, the mughal chhatri's predecessors were the chhatris seen in Gwalior fort. These chhatris inturn had their origin in Pre-mughal Islamic architecture, namely the Sultanate Architecture. Sultanate architecture drew heavily from temple architecture, which in turn was inspired by buddhist architecture... the buddhists were skilled in building pillared halls...which became the basis to the 'mandapa' of the hindu temple... and indian builders could build simple corbelled domes.. If u see Some jain temples and the architecture of gujarat, u will see the development of chhatris there.... Surrounding the main dome with 4 chhatris was an idea first developed by the artisans of Gujarat. So i would conclude that chhatris are very much an Indian Production. And as far as Islamic iconoclasm is concerned, neither Taj Mahal, nor any other islamic Tomb in Delhi at least has EVER been a hindu structure before.. We are incapable of accepting that the Muslims were at times liberal and embraced our culture, not destroyed it... They gave us alot of history to be proud of.
Nirvaan Ghosh


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