You are on page 1of 7

Morphology of Spaces

Volumes & Proportions

Spatial Patterns
Hierarchy of Spaces

Architectural Elements
Ornaments & Symbols

Landscape Elements
Water bodies and Land Water Interfaces

Types of Mosques
At the prayer at noon every Friday, young male members of community get together at the
"Friday Mosque" (Jami Mosque, it is called Jama Masjid in India) and in principal they pray
collectively with a leader of prayer (imam).
When Islam established its political power in a new place, a Friday Mosque is built at first.
With an increase of the number of Muslims, construction of mosques has become more
active, and major cities came to have plural Friday mosques and numerous other mosques.
These include, apart from Friday Mosques, block mosques (hara, mahale), private prayer
buildings and mosques completed with tombs, prayer open spaces (idgah or Amusallah) for
major festivals (id) in the suburb, etc.
There are many cases in which one room of a complex is set aside to be used as a public
mosque. As seen, there exist various types of mosques in different locations and size,
wherever Muslims exist.( Chimi & Sonam Tobgay, Archimony)

Facilities of mosques
The only element essential to a mosque is a hollow space (mihrab) on qibla wall, showing
the direction of Mecca. This is only a mark for prayer and it is never a sacred sanctuary like a
chappel in Buddhist temple.
In some cases, a lump, symbolizing a light, considered to be one of the predicaments of God,
is drawn inside the mihrab, or a few mihrabs are provided on the qibla wall of a single
In a Friday Mosque Minbar, a platform in the form of stair, next to the mihrab, may be
provided for the preacher (imam), who leads prayer. Muslims, who are considered to be
equal in the eyes of God, pray collectively, lining up parallel to the qibla wall, being led by
the imam.
A facility for purification (udu), which is conducted before prayer, is important as well.
Water flowing from fountains (hauz) in the courtyard (sahan) is not only important for ritual
purposes but it effectively creates a pure and clean atmosphere.
A tower (minaret, minar), from which a call for prayer can be announced, is not necessarily
essential, however, it is a facility often seen in mosques.
( Chimi & Sonam Tobgay, Archimony)

In other words, not only the Arabic type but also Persian-type and Turkishtype are also 'Membranous architecture' or 'Enclosing architecture,' laying
emphasis on 'enclosing' a courtyard or interior space, not on an exterior
On the other hand, Indians who prefer the extrovert sculptural effects to

the introvert courtyard have developed a different form of mosque

architecture from them.
The Friday Mosque in Delhi started the construction in 1650 and completed
it in Shah Jahan's lifetime in 1656.
India is in the subtropical climate area as Arabia and Persia, there are no
boundaries between Sahn (courtyard) and Haram (worship hall) in a
mosque. However, transformed from the Arabic type of hypostyle hall
surrounding a courtyard, the worship hall on the side of Makka protruded
from cloisters into a vast courtyard as if it were an independent building,
looking completely detached from cloisters.
Erecting imposing minarets on both sides and three symbolic domes on the
worship hall, it became a piece of 'Sculptural architecture' imposing in a
large square, which coincided with the sense of beauty of Indians who
loved sculpture among the fine arts.

Looking down Courtyard of Friday Mosque

The return to Persia, which Shah Jahan desired, was surely implemented
too, seeming to adopt the Four-Iwan-type formation. Nevertheless, all
three Iwans except for one for the worship hall actually are gates, and not
confront one another across the courtyard but mainly open outward.
And the courtyard is not thoroughly surrounded by buildings but by
porticoes without walls, letting to see outer scenery. In short, it was
transfigured from 'introvert' architecture in Arabia and Persia to 'extrovert'
architecture in which everything faces the outside.

Though its architectural vocabularies are almost Persian, there can be seen
Chatris characteristic of India on the roof and minarets. 'Chatri' is a word
deriving from Sanskrit 'chatra' (umbrella): an architectural component that
four or eight columns sustain an apparently heavy dome. Although a dome
is primarily to be sustained by walls, it became to be a light structure of
post and beam system. It can be seen only in India, which had been
erecting stone buildings in a framework construction method like wooden
Moreover, it provides stone eaves to protect walls against the Indian
climate that has a long rainy season. In existence of these chatris, one can
discern Indian Islamic architecture at a glance, however much Persian in
style a mosque may be.

Interior of Worship Hall of Friday Mosque

The plan of the worship hall is quite Arabic on the stream of the Umayyad
Mosque in Damascus, being extremely oblong in proportion. Since in
Hinduism there is no practice of congregational worship, and no grandiose
space in a temple, there might have been no reason to object to such a
worship space. It is the difference from Ottoman mosques in Turkey.

The Jami Masjid at Delhi started the construction in 1650 and completed it in Shah
Jahan's lifetime in 1656.
It is one of the largest mosques in the country.
The mosque follows the conventional plan form with a central courtyard surrounded
by cloisters on 3 sides and the sanctuary on the western side.
The sanctuary faade consists of a large rectangular fronton in the centre containing
a spacious alcove, with a pillared arcade on each side to form the wings.
Above and behind this central feature rises a large dome over the central nave and
smaller domes over the wings.
A range of pillared kiosks all along the entire parapet breaks the skyline.
The nave is a square hall entered through three doorways in the alcoved fronton
which contains the principal mihrab on its western wall and is covered by the main
The aisles are accessed through archways from the nave and correspond to the
arcaded wings of the faade. In the centre of each of the aisles is a small chapel,
covered by one of the two smaller domes.
There is an admirable combination of beams and arches, the two structural systems
in a well maintained balance.

Characteristics of Indo-Islamic architecture

The Islamic rule in India saw the introduction of many new elements in the building style
also. This was very much distinct from the already prevailing building style adopted in the
construction of temples and other secular architecture. The main elements in the Islamic
architecture is the introduction of arches and beams, and it is the arcuate style of
construction while the traditional Indian building style is trabeate, using pillars and beams
and lintels. The early buildings of the Slave dynasty did not employ true Islamic building
styles and consisted of false domes and false arches. Later, the introduction of true arches
and true domes start to appear, the earliest example is the Alai Darwaza by the side of Qutb
The different religious beliefs are also reflected in the mode of construction and
architectural styles. The Islamic style also incorporated many elements from the traditional
Indian style and a compound style emanated. The introduction of decorative brackets,
balconies, pendentive decorations, etc in the architecture is an example in this regard. The
other distinguishing features of Indo-Islamic architecture are the utilisation of kiosks
(chhatris), tall towers (minars) and half-domed double portals. As human worship and its
representation are 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
The tomb architecture is also another feature of the Islamic architecture as the practice of
the burial of the dead is adopted. The general pattern of the tomb architecture is consisted
of a domed chamber (hujra), a cenotaph in its centre with a mihrab on the western wall and
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, the style is known as char-bagh. The Mughals also built large gardens
in various levels and terraces on the char-bagh pattern. Scholars trace the evolution of the
char-bagh pattern of gardening to the original land of the Mughals, the Kabul Valley, where
depending upon the landscape and terrain, gardens and residential complexes were laid
out. The Mughals inherited this garden type and superbly transformed it according to the
new terrains in India. Thus, evolved a transformed style of char-bagh pattern of gardening.
The Mughals are also credited to have introduced the double dome system of dome
architecture and the pietra-dura style of inlay decorations.

The Roof Element

The Structural Elements
The Fenestrations
The Ornamentation
Special Elements