The Islamic architecture in Karnataka may be studied in isolation as well as in terms of its impact on other schools of architecture prevalent in Karnataka during various stages of its history. The Bahmani kingdom, Sultanates that ruled in North Karnataka after the Bahmani regime, the rule of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan South Karnataka are the major instances of dominant Muslim rule and the consequent architectural grandeurs have survived to this day.

Gulbarga, Bijapur, Bidar, Srirangapattana and Bangalore are some important examples where in this architecture has flourished for long. Many other places in the neighbouring regions and else where contain illustrations for this school of architecture. Islamic architecture in India has borrowed hugely from the Persian and the European schools of architecture. Actually Islamic architecture that prevails in India is a fusion of the Persian, the Hindu and Arabic elements. Consequently cross cultural influences are always at work. The style that typifies the Islamic architecture of Karnataka is known as the Deccan style. Mosques, tombs, palaces and forts constitute the important manifestations of Islamic architecture irrespective of geographical regions. Minarets, a four iwan plan(A structure with three subordinate halls and one main hall which faces Mecca) a prayer niche on an inside hall indicating the direction to Mecca, domes and cupolas, the use of geometric shapes and a consistent use of decorative Islamic calligraphy instead of pictures are some of the distinctive features of mosque architecture. Islamic architecture had its own impact on the Indian architecture. New elements were introduced into the Indian architecture that include: use of shapes (instead of natural forms); inscriptional art using decorative lettering or calligraphy; inlay decoration and use of coloured marble, painted plaster and brilliantly glazed tiles.  In contrast to the indigenous Indian architecture which was of the trabeate order i.e. all spaces were spanned by means of horizontal beams, the Islamic architecture was arcuate i.e. an arch or dome was adopted as a method of bridging a space. The Muslims used the cementing agent in the form of mortar for the first time in the construction of buildings in India. They further put to use certain scientific and mechanical formulae, which were derived by experience of other civilizations, in their constructions in India. This amalgamation of the Indian and the Islamic elements led to the emergence of a new style of architecture called the Indo-Islamic Architecture.

 This website has separate entries for Bijapur, Gulbarga, Bidar and a more detailed description of their architectural glory is available there.  However a brief introduction is provided here.

The architectural facets of Gulbarga represented by the tombs of Fairoze Shah built during the early stage Bahmani architecture occupy a pride of place among the tombs of Karnataka. The ancient structures in Bidar represent a more developed second stratum of Bahmani architecture. These are greatly influenced by the Persian style. Solah Kambha Mosque, Jami Mosque and the Madrasaa built by Mehmud Gawan constitute the high points of this style. Baridshahi structures in Bidar are small but more decorative. Colored tablets, wood carvings and pearl shell work which are the hall marks of this style can be seen in Rangeen Mahal and the tomb of Al BarIdi. Bijapur is known for the achievements of the Adilshahi dynasty. This style is characterised by domes that are mostly circular, arches that are unique, thick rectangular walls instead of pillars etc. Jami Mosque, Ibrahim Roza, Gol Gumbaz, Mihrath building which gives an entry in to a mosque are the more important achievements of Bijapur.  Srirangapattana the capital of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sulatan contains a few architectural highlights. Lal Mahal which is said to be a palace of Tipu Sultan is totally destroyed. Jumma Mosque has two minars, Gumbaz which contains the tombs of Hyder Ali, Fakrunnisa Begum, and Tipu Sultan is known for its black pillars and its wood work. Dariadaulath a summer palace built by Tipu Sultan is better known for its mural paintings. It has semi-spherical arches and pillars in the shape of lotuses.

The influence of Islamic Architecture may be discerned in HIndu temples built at a later date and vice versa. 



Further Reading and Links:

1.      Indian Islamic Architecture: Forms and Typologies, Sites and Monuments by John Burton-Page, (Ed. George Michell) (Handbook of Oriental Studies) 2008, Leiden and Boston, Brill.

2.  (Gulbarga Fort)

3. (Bijapur)S


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