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08 Feb

Medieval India Rulers and Buildings

Rulers and Buildings – Medieval India
• Between the 8th and the 18th centuries kings and their officers built two kinds of structures: First were forts, palaces and tombs. Second were structures meant for public activity including temples, mosques, tanks, wells, bazaars.
• By making structures for subjects’ use and comfort, rulers hoped to win their praise.
• Construction activity was also carried out by others, including merchants. However, domestic architecture – large mansions (havelis) of merchants – has survived only from the eighteenth century.

Engineering Skills and Construction
• Monuments provide an insight into the technologie used for construction.
• Between the 7th and 10th centuries architects started adding more rooms, doors and windows to buildings using “trabeate” or “corbelled” design.
• Corbelled: roofs, doors and windows were made by placing a horizontal beam across two vertical columns.
From the 12th century onwards certain changes were visible.
• “Arcuate“ type design started to appear. Here the weight of the superstructure above doors and windows was carried by the arches . The “keystone” at the centre of the arch transferred the weight of the superstructure to the base of the arch.
• Limestone cement was increasingly used in construction. This was very high quality cement .
Building Temples, Tanks and Mosques
• Hindu rulers took gods’ name. Eg: Rajarajeshvara temple was built by King Rajarajadeva for the worship of his god, Rajarajeshvaram.
• Muslim Sultans and Padshahs did not claim to be incarnations of god but Persian court chronicles
• described the Sultan as the “Shadow of God”.
• Water availability: Sultan Iltutmish [13th century] won respect for constructing a large reservoir just outside Dehli-i kuhna. It was called the hauz-i Sultani or the “King’s Reservoir”.
Religious construction: Why were temples constructed and destructed?
As each new dynasty came to power, kings/emperors wanted to emphasise their moral right to be rulers.


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