Mysteries and Marvels of Mughal Architecture

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Item Code: IHJ057
Author: R. Nath
Publisher: Shubhi Publications
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 9788182901025
Pages: 224 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W & Colour)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.2 inch X 8.5 inch
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Book Description
From the Jacket

Entitled as its is, it deals with the mysteries and marvels of mughal Architecture which the author came across during his study ofthis subject, for nearly half a century.

The various aspects of Mughal architecture are uncommon and unique, and are not present in any other architecture. They are simply wonderful. They evoke innocent curiosity and make their history more interesting than fiction. In all, 155 plates (including digital images), 84 figures (drawing of plans, sections and elevations) and 5 Persian inscriptions and texts have been used to illustrate these mysteries and marvels.

The monuments discussed in this book are veritable temples of Indian history, Culture, Art and Architecture, and their preservation, in pristine originality, is important as a subject of historical and archaeological study of national Heritage.

Prof. R. Nath did his doctoral (Ph. D.) and Post-Doctoral Degree (D. Lit.) in History and has worked as a lecturer, reader and professor at Agra College and Rajasthan University.

He has an experience of 45 years in research with specialization in subjects like Mughal Architecture, Ancient and medieval Indian architecture and Aesthetics. As a part of the research he has covered more than 50 historical sites of western India and Pakistan.

He already has 65 books including 2 in Hindi, 13 Monographs, 190 research papers, over 300 popular articles in Hindi and English and 107 cultural notice boards (CNBs) (White Marble Plaques) placed on the monuments of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, describing their history, architecture, art, aesthetics and archaeology to his credit.


Entitled as it is, it deals with the mysteries and marvels of Mughal Architecture which I came across during my study of this subject, for nearly half a century. There is a vast basement complex in the Fort of Agra which contains a ‘Phansighar’ (Execution- House) and strong vaults for concealing treasures, with interconnecting corridors, tunnels and stairway. It has been studied, in full detail, in Chapter- 1 with 12 drawings. Akbar built it anew with red sandstone. His fort has been illustrated elaborately by 36 digital images, to give a complete idea of its wonderful architecture. It may be noted that this fort stands on ancient foundations, and at least a millennium’s history of this region, and of the civilizations which flourished here, is lying buried in it. Fact, it is a virgin subject of Medieval archaeology.

The six storeyed, stone-masonry, underground well-house of the Akbari-Mahal, with large halls, interconnecting stairways leading down to water, long air-shafts for ventilation, and a 78 feet deep baoli (step-well) with an attached storage well, is another facet of the wonderful architecture of this fort, which is as mysterious as it is ingenious. It is also integrally connected with the basement complex. It has been studied in Chapter-2 with the help of 11 drawings of plans and sections. Chapter-3 deals with the mysterious paintings of Fatehpur Sikri which depict amputated human limbs, torsos and corpses on palace walls. They are as enigmatic as was the personality of Akbar.

Akbar built a large mosque in the Dargah at Ajmer (1570-76 A.D.). Chapter- 6 examines the mystery why it was discarded and abandoned. The wonderful Tomb of I’timad khan Khwajasara at Itmadpur (Agra), situated on an island- platform in the middle of a lake, connected with the land by a masonry bridge, has been studied in Chapter- 7. Chapter- 8 studies Shah Jehan’s wife marble Torana (Jhula or Hindola), a marvel of his age, which is, at present, standing in front of the Gopal- Bhawan at Dig (Bharatpur, Rajasthan), in the heart of the Jat- land. It is accompanied by Shah Jehan’s Persian inscription dated in 1631 A.D. How did it reach there, and what does it denote- is an extremely interesting mystery.

Another marvelous architecture of Shah Jehan, viz. the Muthamman- Chowk. (Octagonal market square), which originally connected the Delhi- Gate of Agra Fort and the Jami’ Masjid and which no longer exists, has been reconstructed in Chapter-9. Contemporary Persian sources of the history of the wonderful architectural projects of Shah Jehan, the greatest builder of medieval India, have been summarily scrutinized in Chapter- 10.

Is there a third set of real graves in the basement of the Taj Mahal? This has been studied, with the help of drawings, in Chapter- 11 and the mystery has been resolved. How marvelous is the foundation of the Taj Mahal, has been examined, again with the help of my own drawings, in Chapter- 12 Chapter- 13 is on Agah Khan, the police officer (Faujdar) of the river Jamuna and the Taj Mahal, a post newly created for its security. It was hitherto unknown. The two imperial canals which were built by Ali Mardan Khan to supply water to Lahore and Shahjehanabad (Delhi) have been studied in Chapter-14, and Shah Jehan’s curious inscription of the Shah- Burj, Red Fort Delhi, related to the Mughal instution of Jharokha- Darshan, is high-lighted in Chapter- 15.

Chapter-16 is on the two extinct mosques of Delhi, of Shah Jehan’s reign, viz. the Akbarabadi and the Sirhindi. What happened to them and when did they disappear, mysteriously, and so completely that no trace of their existence has remained on the ground? This is an enlightening lesson of history. The question where did the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan live, in Agra Fort, during his captivity, from 1658 to 1666 A.D., has been answered in Chapter- 17 and this mystery has been resolved conclusively.

The last Chapter-18 studies, with the help of its own Persian inscription, the house of Rajah Ratan Nainsukh Faujdar, built in Agra fort in 1768 A.D. though, obviously, a Jat relic (built during their occupation of the fort from 1761 AD to 1774 AD), it is an enigmatic building. Situated in the close nighbourhood of the eastern Khizri- Gate (River- Gate or Water- Gate), it is also connected mysteriously with the basement complex of the fort and with the Khazana- Chowk (the treasury square). Was it a sarai, a residential place, a temple, or just an administrative building?

These aspects of Mughal architecture are uncommon and unique, and are not present in any other architecture. They are simply wonderful. They evoke innocent curiosity and make their history more interesting than fiction. In all, 155 plates (including digital images), 84 figures (drawing of plans, sections and elevations) and 5 Persian inscriptions and texts have been used to illustrate these mysteries and marvels.

At the existing monuments are protected and conserved by the Archaeological survey of India (A.S.I.), the official agency of the Government of India for the protection and conservation of national monuments, under the ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains act, 1958, and the ‘Rules- 1959’ made there under. This study is also a commentary on the functioning of the A.S.I. which, as shown respectively, has been wayward, cynical, eccentric and dismal, which is why numerous court where a major petition related to the conservation of the red fort Delhi has been filed. Though conservation estimates are exceeding seen figures, monuments are being kept in an utterly miserable and wretched condition and are disintegrating. Later Mughals seem to have taken over it, in right earnest.

It is a pity that, nor only basements, all upper storey’s are permanently closed against, and in violation of, the provision of the act (section-18) that the public has a right of access to any protected monument, subject to certain rules; they are closed not only to the public and the tourists, but also to the historians, research-scholars and photographers; by rain-water, dust-storms, vegetation and other natural elements, is doing to these protected monouments which are permanently closed by the A.S.I., for no other reason than its sheer incompetene and the inability to conserve them.

If national monuments are thus permanently closed, why are they being protected, what for, and to serve what purpose? The A.S.I. has yet to learn that when a monument is closed to the public, it is also closed to conservation.

The two primary functions of the A.S.I. are ‘Protection’ and ‘Conservation’ of the national monuments. But, instead of doing either of these, the A.S.I. is doing reckless academic adventurism. Chapter-4 and Chapter-5 specifically examine the recent A.S.I. attempts to identify, historically and archaeologically, Akbar’s ‘Ibadat-Khanah at Fatehpur Sikri, and his Gung-Mahal at Churiyari, absolutely arbitrarily. These are critical and corrective studies. What the A.S.I. did at Fatehpur Sikri in the name of ‘Ibadat-Khanah and at Chruiyari in the name of Gung-Mahal, was neither ‘protection’ nor ‘conservation’. And these were not the exceptions; similar magical feats were performed by the A.S.I. in Agra Fort.

It raises some pertinent questions, e.g. were these two tombs, as they originally were in fact, at Fatehpur Sikri and Churiyari, protected national monuments, at all?

Is it the function to the A.S.I. to create new historical monuments, and to create new history? How could the private research of the presiding officer of a circle be converted into a Government of India project, in each case, and enormous public funds were spent of these fiascos?

Is not altering the original form and fabric of a protected monument vandalism and an offence under section 30 (1) (i) of the Act?

If this is the way the A.S.I. is functioning, is our invaluable cultural heritage in safe hands? The 147- years-old A.S.I. has become too decrepit and senile to move its limbs. Immediate cossective legislative measures must be adopted to revive, rejuvenate and resuscitate it to begin its journey again with new energy, new vision, new ideas and new aspirations, in the larger interests of our heritage.

These questions have to be faced squarely.

I have been working in these monuments practically for half a century and mine has been an affectionate choli-daman relationship with them. I see this deterioration with dismay and disappointment, and I feel concerned. These monuments are veritable temples of Indian History, Culture, art and architecture, and their preservation, in pristine originality, is as important to posterity as it is to me as a subject of historical and archaeological study of National heritage. I am concerned and I warn, lest it is too late.


List of Illustrations7
Preface 14
Unknown Basement complex of Agra Fort (c. 1080-1580 A.D.) 17
Six-Storeyed underground well- House (Kupagara) of Akbar in Agra Fort (1565-68 A.D.) 41
Mysterious mural paintings of Fatehpur Sikri (152-75 A.D.) 53
On Identification of Akbar’s ‘Ibadat- Khanah at Faterhpur Sikri (1576-82 A.D.) 65
Is it Akbar’s or ASI’s Gung Mahal? 85
Enigma of Akbar’s Mosque in the Dargah at Ajmer (1570-76 A.D.) 97
Tomb of I’timad- Khan Khwajasara, Itmadpur Agra (c.1570 A.D.) 109
Shah Jehan’s Torana at Dig (Bharatpur, Rajasthan) (1631 A.D.): A landmark of Jat Sovereignty 121
The extinct muthamman chowk (Octagonal market square) and the Tripoliya in front of the Delhi Gate of Agra Fort 133
Contemporary Persian sources of the History of the Taj Mahal and other architectural projects of Shah Jehan (1628-58 A.D.)143
The third set of (real) graves in the basement of the Taj Mahal (c. 1632-38 A.D.) 151
Foundation of the Taj Mahal Agra (1632-33 A.D.) 163
Agah Khan: Police officer of the river Jamuna and the Taj Mahal (c. 1634-56 A.D.)173
Canals of Iranian Yar- Vafadar (The faithful friend) of Mughal emperor Shah Jehan 181
A curious inscription of Shah Jehan’s Jharokha, Shjah Burj, Red Fort Delhi (1639-48 A.D.) 189
Two extinct mosques of Delhi (Akborabadi and Sirhindi) (c.1650 A.D.)199
Where did the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan live during his captivity (from 1658 to 1666 A.D.) 213
Enigma of the house of Rajah Ratan Nainsukh Faujdar in Agra Fort (A.H. 1182/ 1768 A.D.) 229
Appendix- A & B 241
Appendix- C 242
Bibliographical abbreviations 243
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