The Mughals were great builders. During their age, architecture reached the pinnacle of its glory. Mughal architecture is a blend of Hindu and Muslim elements. The Mughals borrowed the architectural styles from Persia but adopted Hindu ideas, so their style of architecture is known as the Indo-Persian style. The Mughals built many forts, palaces, mosques, mausoleums, etc. They laid many beautiful gardens as well. The distinctive features of their buildings are that most buildings are built on massive platforms and are very beautiful. Red stone and marble have been used liberally. The buildings have been decorated with exquisite patterns studded with costly jewels. Most of the buildings are surrounded by huge gardens.
Among the Mughals, Babur and Humayun hardly had any time to attend to architecture. Only two mosques constructed by Babur have survived. Sher Shah Suri built the Old Fort at Delhi and also his tomb at Sasaram in Bihar.
Akbar, of course, built many forts and palaces. The Agra Fort built by him in red sandstone is very famous, though the first building constructed by him was his father’s tomb at Delhi near the Old Fort. He built a new city, Fatehpur Sikri, close to Agra and made it his capital. To commemorate his victory in Gujarat, he got constructed the famous Buland Darwaza, (which is also the gateway to Sikri), Sheikh Salim Chisti’s tomb, Jodha Bai’s palace called Panch Mahal, the Rang Mahal and Birbal’s palace. Akbar also started the building of his own tomb which was later completed by his son Jahangir. Akbar employed both Hindu and Muslim builders and architects.
Jahangir and Nur Jahan were great lovers of beauty, but they did not do much in the field of architecture. The most important building of Jahangir is the tomb of Itmad-ud-daulah which was completed in A.D. 1628. It is made of white marble. He laid some very beautiful gardens in Kashmir such as the Nishat Bagh and the Shalimar Bagh.
Shah Jahan’s reign is called the golden age of architecture. He had a very fine taste and spent lavishly on buildings. He made abundant use of white marble. The most important building is the Taj, built in the memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Its dome and the four minarets are the chief glories of the beautiful mausoleum. The building is on the banks of the river Yamuna and is surrounded by gardens. Designs in pietra dura are made on the outer walls. They add to the beauty of the Taj. It took 22 years to complete the Taj which is today a great tourist attraction. Visitors are charmed by its beauty and superb lacy patterns. It is considered as one of the wonders of the world. The other buildings constructed by Shah Jahan are the Red Fort at Delhi, Pearl Mosque, Diwan-i-Aam and the Diwan-i-Khas within the Red Fort. The renowned peacock throne studded with emeralds and other jewels stood in the centre of the Diwan-i-Khas.
But during the reign of Aurangzeb, art and architecture began to decline. He had no interest in artistic skills as he was a fanatic and considered this against the principles of Islam. He only built a few mosques, one at Delhi- the pearl mosque and the other at Lahore.