Indo Islamic Architecture in Medieval India

Indo Islamic / Indo Saracenic Style

With the advent of Islam in the Indian subcontinent around the 7th century, Indo-Islamic architecture a mixture of Indian, Persian, Arab and Turkish also made roots in India.

  • The early buildings of the Slave dynasty consisted of false domes and false arches
  • Introduction of true arches and true domes started to appear with construction of Alai Darwaza by the side of Qutub Minar (By Allaudin Khilji)

Islamic architecture

Distinguishing features of Indo-Islamic architecture

  • kiosks (chhatris)
  • Tall towers (minars)
  • Half-domed structure
  • Jali work, calligraphy, Pietra dura
Islamic style incorporated many elements from the traditional Indian style viz.

  • Decorative brackets
  • Balconies
  • Pendentive decorations

Indo Islamic Designs

  • As human worship and its representation is not allowed in Islam, the buildings and other edifices are generally decorated richly in geometrical and arabesque designs
  • These designs were carved on stone in low relief, cut on plaster, painted or inlaid. The use of lime as mortar was also a major element distinct from the traditional building style.
  • The tomb architecture is another striking feature of the Islamic architecture Practice of the burial of the dead


Tomb Architecture

  • The general pattern of the tomb architecture is consisted of
  • a domed chamber (hujra)
  • a cenotaph in its centre with a mehrab on the western wall
  • the real grave in the underground chamber
  • To this general tomb architecture, the Mughals added a new dimension by introducing gardens all around the tomb.
  • The Mughal tombs are generally placed at the centre of a huge garden complex, the latter being sub-divided into square compartments, known as char-bagh style
  • Scholars trace the evolution of the char-bagh pattern of gardening to the original land of the Mughals, the Kabul Valley
  • The Mughals are also credited to have introduced the double dome system of dome architecture and the pietra-dura style of inlay decorations.

Indian architecture vs islamic architecture

Arabesque Designs

    • Arabesque means geometricized vegetal ornament.
    • It is characterized by continuous stem which splits regularly producing a series of counter poised, leafy secondary stems

Arabesque Designs

  • Secondary stems split again into tertiary stems to be reintegrated into the main stem.


Prominent Indo-Islamic architectural styles

  1. The Imperial Style (Delhi sultanate)
  2. The Provincial styles (Malwa, Bengal, Jaunpur)
  3. The Mughal Style (Delhi, Agra and Lahore)
  4. The Deccani style (Bijapur and Hyderabad)
India Yearbook English India Yearbook Hindi Economic Survey 2017


  1. Sir/Mam pls add practise question sets mostly from art and culture and environment. you are doing great job. notes are perfect. thanku so much

  2. I think islamic and indian architecture were interchanged in the table showing differences between them.

    • Thank you Murali! Correction has been made.

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