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Constructing Gardens, Tombs and Forts

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Constructing Gardens, Tombs and Forts - Lesson Summary

As mentioned in Baburnama, Babur’s autobiography, Babur enjoyed planning the layout of gardens called as chahar baghs, which means four gardens, as they were symmetrically divided into four smaller parts. Mughal kings like Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan built beautiful chahar baghs in Kashmir, Delhi and Agra.

Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, built during Akbar’s reign, was placed between huge formal chahar baghs. Humayun’s tomb was built in the tradition known as the “eight paradises” or Hasht Bihisht, meaning a central hall surrounded by eight rooms. A central dome and a tall gateway called Pishtaq, a Persian influence became a part of Mughal Architecture.

The reign of Shah Jahan is considered to be the golden age of Mughal architecture. The river-front garden in the layout of the Taj Mahal in Agra is recognized as the grandest masterpiece of Shah Jahan’s reign. The nobles in Agra constructed their garden palaces on the river banks of the Yamuna.

Shah Jahan also built the ‘walled’ city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi, with the Red Fort as its centre. The audience halls resembled a mosque, and were placed within a large courtyard, known as Chihil Sutun, or forty-pillared halls.

The pedestal on which Shah Jahan’s throne was placed was referred to as the qiblah, the direction that the Muslims face at the time of prayer. This was an architectural reminder to indicate that the king was a representative of God on earth. Behind the emperor’s throne, there are a series of pietra dura inlays in the audience hall. Pietra dura is an art of coloured hardstone which are exquisitely cut to create beautiful, ornate patterns.

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