Madura, the tomb of Sultan ʿAlā al-Dīn Udaujī (c. 1334–1339) and
Shams al-Dīn ʿĀdil Shāh (c. 1356–1373), view from the
east. The dome is carved out of a single piece of rock. The tomb
of Sayyid Ḥusain Quddus’ullāh, said to have been ʿAlā al-Dīn’s
vizier, is in the foreground and the minaret of the mosque of the
site can be seen on the right.
Kayalpatnam, Jamiʿ al-Ṣaqīr mosque or the
Khuṭba Śirupaḷḷi (c. 13th–early 14th century),
interior looking west. The antiquated form of
the monolithic columns and their capital brackets
supporting the lintels of the roof structure can
Kayalpatnam, the tomb of Shaykh
Sulaymān (d. 1079/1668–9), a stone
building with its roof imitating a timber
structure, and featuring three finials
adopted from Hindu and Buddhist
architecture, but also common in
South Indian Muslim buildings.
The Muslim architecture of Maʿbar is manifested in its major cities, particularly Kayalpatnam and Madura. The tomb of ʿAlā al-Dīn Udaujī is said to have been constructed by Shams al-Dīn ʿĀdil Shāh, who was buried beside him, but other mosques and tombs are not directly related to the sultanate and some in Kayalpatnam are probably earlier. Unlike in North India, the mosques of Maʿbar are free-standing covered halls without a defined courtyard, and many have a colonnaded portico in front. Their stone construction with ornamentation based on the Hindu repertoire, displays a synthesis of artistic styles. Nevertheless, Ibn Baṭṭūṭa also speaks of grand wooden structures near Madura and in Kayalpatnam three stone tomb-chambers remain, with roofs which imitate the form of wooden hipped roofs.
The mosque and tomb of Sikandar Shāh
(r. c.774–9/1373–7), Tirupurangundram.
Above: view from the rocks of the battlefield
where the sultan perished. Below: the front
colonnade, the monolithic columns incorporate
motifs common to South Indian Hindu and Muslim
The artistic achievement and traditional planning of the Muslim architecture of Maʿbar is displayed in the mosque attached to the tomb of Sikandar Shāh, set on the summit of a hill near the town of Tirupurangundram. The shrine is believed to be on the site of his death and burial in a grave with a simple tombstone beneath a great rock jutting diagonally out from the ground. The present edifice consists of two parts, a mosque at the eastern side and a square tomb chamber incorporating the rock at the west. The finely-ornamented mosque consists of a front porch opening to an ante-chamber which leads to the prayer hall. The highly decorated columns of the porch support the lintels, the soffits of which are embellished with foliage patterns. These decorative features are shared with the Hindu ornamentation of the early Vijayanagar period, but of course exclude figurative elements. Similar columns are found in other Muslim buildings of Madura but none as refined or elaborate as those in this building.
* Bayana: the Sources of Mughal Architecture, Edinburgh University Press,
Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, pp. 768 with 352 colour photographs
and 255 monochrome photographs, maps and diagrams; appendices;
ISBN 978 1 4744 6072 9 (Hardback), ISBN 978 1 4744 6075 0 (Webready PDF),
ISBN 978 1 4744 6074 3 (EPUB). In print, publication date 31 March 2020.
Bayana, were it not for its shortage of water, might have been the capital of India. Agra and Fathpur Sikri, the capitals of the mighty Mughals were once mere villages of Bayana. Situated in south-eastern Rajasthan, Bayana held a strategic position on the ancient route from Delhi to Gwalior and the Deccan, combined with an impregnable fort and natural and agricultural resources. The Moroccan traveller, Ibn Battuta, who had seen fine mosques and great cities from Cordoba to Cairo, Delhi and Khanbaliq (Beijing) visited Bayana in 1342 and found it so impressive that he called it a “great city” and its congregational mosque “one of the finest”. The mosque still stands, along with many other monuments.
The Fort, called Tahangar, also preserves the layout of its own walled town with gates, markets, palatial dwellings, and even ordinary houses dating from the fifteenth century. To deal with the aridity of this desert region, water was harnessed for utility in reservoirs and stepwells, embellished to also provide private and public places of resort.
Between Timur’s (Tamerlane’s) invasion of Delhi in 1398 terminating the empire of the Delhi sultanate, and the rise of the Mughal empire in the mid-sixteenth century, India had fragmented into small independent sultanate states or autonomous principalities.
A corner of the impregnable fortifications of the
citadel (A in map), within the much larger Tahangar
Fort. The origin of the site is pre-Islamic, but it was
almost entirely rebuilt by the Muslims with massive
ramparts and circular towers.
In architecture, the Delhi style, which had dominated most of the northern regions was transformed during this period, and in many areas regional styles developed, some of which – such as those of the Deccan, Malwa and Gujarat – have been studied in some detail in the past, but not Bayana.
The `Idgah of Bayana, the prayer ground
for Muslim festive days, built by Baha al-din
Tughrul in the last days of the twelfth century.
It is the oldest standing structure of its kind
in India and probably the world.
Bayana, controlled in the fifteenth century by the Auhadi family, was a key player among these states, with its formidable fort as the Auhadi’s power base. They bore the title of Khan and while not claiming to be sultans, ruled independently from Delhi and occasionally took sides with the Sharqi sultans of Jaunpur.
The Chaurasi Khamba Mosque, built at the end of the
twelfth or the first years of the thirteenth century out
of temple spoil in the northern borderland between
the territory of Bayana and Delhi. The inscription of
the mosque declares Baha al-din Tughrul as sultan.
The mosque itself has preserved most of its original
features, including its mihrab (the prayer niche marking
the direction of Mecca), the royal gallery at the right
(north) side of the prayer hall and the stone minbar or
pulpit, the oldest surviving specimen of its kind in India.
The Ukha Masjid, an extension to Baha al-din’s congregational mosque, added in 1320-21
during the reign of the Delhi Sultan Mubarak Shah Khalji. Left: the entrance seen from the
courtyard. Right: the elegant central mihrab in the prayer hall. Constructed entirely of local
red sandstone, which later was to become the hallmark of the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s
buildings, the mosque has many details which were later adopted by Mughal architects. The
subtle, well-balanced and impressive design of the mosque left a life-long impression on Ibn
Battuta who visited it only twenty-one years after its construction and remarked: “It is one
of the finest mosques, with walls and ceilings all of stone”.
The ground plan of a house, originally in two storeys,
built in the Fort in the fifteenth century and partially
collapsed in the earthquake of 1505, when Bayana
town as well as the town in the fort were devastated
and people gradually abandoned the Fort, many
migrating to Agra, the newly developed capital of
Sikandar Lodi. This was well before the appearance
of the Mughals on the political scene of India. The
house consists of an open-fronted hall and a number
of rooms arranged around a courtyard entered via a
corridor from a single entrance. The stairs to the
collapsed upper floor are preserved at ground level.
The Auhadi’s rule came to an end after the rise of the Delhi Sultan Sikandar Lodi, who eventually took over Bayana, made it his capital and began to build a new town called Sikandra in the valley next to the fort, but abandoned it, unfinished, in favour of Agra, which, set by the River Jumna had an ample water supply. Sikandar Lodi attempted to introduce the architectural traditions of Delhi to Bayana, building a new congregational mosque in the Delhi style, but the characteristics of the local trabeate stone architecture prevailed and other Lodi monuments of Bayana are all in the local style.
A peculiarity of historic sites in India is that whole towns with outstanding remains can, through political change or climatic events, be either built over by modern developments or fall into obscurity. The latter is the case with Bayana. In spite of the many historical references to the region, epigraphic records and numerous archaeological and architectural remains, some on a grand scale, the territory and its history lack serious study.
The tomb of Auhad Khan, the powerful autonomous ruler of the
Auhadi dynasty who died on Saturday 13th September 1421.
The tomb’s form, a twelve-columned chatri, or colonnaded domed
pavilion, is a common type for North Indian tombs from at least the
fourteenth century, but in Bayana chatris developed a repertoire
of their own and numerous types appear, many of which are
The inscriptions on the minaret of Dawud Khan Auhadi built in 1457. The upper inscription is Quranic, but the one below gives the genealogy of the Auhadi family. The numerous inscriptions in Bayana town, the fort and the entire region, all studied in this book, provide new insights into the history of the region, and its interactions with the sultanate of Delhi, otherwise hardly mentioned in histories.
The book investigates Bayana’s history, and explores the mediaeval urban planning as well as the archaeological and architectural remains of Bayana and its environs from the time of the Muslim conquest at the end of the twelfth century, up to the early Mughal period. A detailed epigraphic study considers the entire repertoire of the inscriptions in the region, with photographs and ink impressions along with fresh readings of the Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit texts and their translations. As for the historical sources, originals are given, often with fresh translations, as earlier translations tend to summarise or omit pertinent detail.
A new form of mosque plan, developed in fifteenth century Bayana, with the prayer hall
extruding into the courtyard and flanked by it. This layout had a strong influence on the
planning of Mughal mosques. Left: plan of the `Idgah Masjid, built in the fifteenth or early
sixteenth century in the village of Barambad near Bayana town, and right: plan of the
seventeenth century congregational mosque of Delhi. Bayana’s influence on Mughal
architecture goes beyond structural systems, decorative motifs and stone carving, the
whole repertoire was transplanted to the new imperial cities
The larger picture that emerges sheds light on the social affairs and even the domestic life of the period, as Bayana is exceptional in that it preserves a large number of fifteenth and early sixteenth-century domestic buildings. The analysis of the development of its built environment also demonstrates both in terms of planning and in decorative forms the extent to which early Mughal architecture was rooted in the traditions of Bayana.
Madurai, history, art and architecture, EI3, Part 2, 2019, pp. 138-146, illustrations 1-6.
Madurai a Hindu pilgrimage centre on the bank of River Vaigai, fell under Muslim rule following raids by the armies of the Khalji sultans of Delhi, `Ala al-din and Mubarak Shah followed by a short period of an independent sultanate (c. 1333 to 1378). The Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta who visited Madurai records:
"Mathura is a large city, with broad streets. Sultan al-Sharif Jalal al-din Aḥsan Shāh… built the city to resemble Delhi… When I went to the city there was an outbreak of cholera ... The sultan … found his mother, his wife and child ill. He remained in the city for three days and then moved to the bank of the river situated one parasang from the town. At this place, there is a temple of the infidels."