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Sharqi architecture


Sharqi architecture

Sharqi architecture or Jaunpur architecture is a type of Indo-Islamic architecture.


  • Start 1
  • Architectural features 2
    • Atala Mosque 2.1
    • Jama Masjid 2.2
    • Jhanjhari Masjid 2.3
    • Lal Darwaza Masjid 2.4
  • Gallery 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5
  • Notes 6


The Sharqi kingdom of Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh was founded by Malik Sarwar, a noble of Feroz Shah Tughlaq, in 1394. In the wake of Timur's invasion and sack of Delhi, Jaunpur took over from the capital as centre for scholars and writers.

Under Sharqi rule, architecture developed under a provincial influence that resulted in an Indo-Islamic style noted for its characteristic arched pylons in the center of the facades, two storey arcades, monumental gateways and the unifying use of the depressed four-centered arch with a fringe of ornament.[1]

Jaunpur fell to Sikander Lodi of Delhi in 1479 and many of the buildings, except the mosques, were destroyed.[1]

The surviving architecture of Jaunpur consists exclusively of mosques. Moreover, all the surviving buildings produced unders the Sharqis are located in the capital city of Jaunpur.

Architectural features

AtalaMasjid, Jaunpur: an 1870s Photo byJoseph David Beglar
Jama Masjid, Jaunpur: an 1870s Photo byJoseph David Beglar

The Sharqi architecture of Jaunpur carries a distinct impact of Tughlaq style, the battering effect of its bastions and minarets and the use of arch-and-beam combination in the openings being the two most prominent features. However, the most striking feature of the Jaunpur style is the design of the facade of mosques. It is composed of lofty propylons with sloping sides raised in the centre of the sanctuary screen. The propylons consist of huge recessed arch framed by tapeing square minars, of exceptional bulk and solidity, divided into reqisters. The best examples can be seen in Atala Masjid (built in 1408) and Jama Masjid.[2]

Evidently, the propylon was the key note of this style and occurs in no other manifestaion of Indo-Islamic architecture.

Atala Mosque

The oldest and the grandest of the Sharqi mosques and a striking archetype of Sharqi design is still unrenovated and only in slight disrepair. In 1408 AD, Ibrahim Shah Sharqi built the Atala Masjid. In this mosque, beautiful galleries were built with artistic walls. Its height is more than 100 feet (30 m). There are three huge gateways for entrance. The total perimeter of the mosque is around 248 feet (76 m). Its construction was started by Firoz Shah in 1393 AD. A courtyard is surrounded on three sides by pillared walls, and on the fourth by a high-ceilinged prayer hall. At the centre of the prayer hall is a domed sanctuary, and in front of the sanctuary a tall ornate portal, almost like a gopuram. The portal hides the main dome, a unique feature of Sharqi architecture. In the Atala Masjid, the gorgeous portal rises twenty-three metres, covered with ornate botanical engravings, creepers and flowers rather than the geometric detailing or calligraphy that you thought exhausted the Islamic lexicon of motifs.[3]

Jama Masjid

The Jama Masjid, built in 1470 by the last of the Sharqis, is a proud and sombre place, presaging the fall of the dynasty in less than a decade. The mosque sits atop a six-metre plinth, and the flight of steps leading up to it is steep, underlining your increasing proximity to heaven as you ascend. The courtyard of the Jami Masjid is spacious, plain, silent, with a central fountain and a pair of rustling date-palms, a very desert oasis. The sky above it is an unbroken vault.[3] With a height of more than 200 feet (61 m) this mosque near Purani Bazar on the Shahganj road is an important monument of the Sharqi period. Its foundation has been laid at the time of Ibrahim Shah's rule and its construction was completed in various phases. It was finished during the reign of Hussain Shah. This mosque is very artistic and attractive. Its southern gateway is 20 feet (6.1 m) above ground level. The eastern gateway was destroyed by Sikandar Lodi. The outer boundary of the mosque is around 320 feet (98 m) on the east west and 307 feet (94 m) on the north-south side. The decorations, its engravings in the Egyptian style, the curves of its arches, the uniqueness of the Lotus, sunflower and rose motifs.

Jhanjhari Masjid

This mosque is in the Sipah locality of Jaunpur on the northern bank of River Gomti. This was built by Ibrahim Shah Sharqi at the time of construction of Atala and Khalis mosques. It was the place of saints and pundits. Within this mosque there are some extremely beautiful arches. This arch is around 35 feet (11 m) high and 32 feet (9.8 m) wide. Despite being relatively small, this mosque is extremely beautiful. After its demolition by Sikandar Lodi, quite a lot of stones from here have been used in the Shahi Bridge. This mosque is considered as a perfect example of early architecture.

Lal Darwaza Masjid

This mosque was built in 1455 AD. It has three gateways and a courtyard. On two of its pillars some inscriptions in Sanskrit language and Pali language are there which do not shed much light except for the names of some kings of Kannauj.



  1. ^ a b Archnet Digital Library: Jaunpur
  2. ^ Art and architecture of regional states
  3. ^ a b Outlook Jan 14, 2008

External links

  • Islamic Architecture in India in the Introduction to Islamic Architecture
  • Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 1999 By Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Jaunpur and Zafarabad Inscriptions By Major W. Vost, I.M.S.


  • Michell, George (ed). Architecture of the Islamic World: Its History and Social Meaning. London: Thames and Hudson, 272.
  • Nath, R. 1978. History of Sultanate Architecture. New Delhi, Abhinav Publications, 98-100.
  • Williams, John A. and Caroline. 1980. Architecture of Muslim India. Set 4: The Sultanate of Jaunpur about 1360-1480. Santa Barbara, California: Visual Education, Inc.
  • Burgess, Jas. 1971. The Sharqi Architecture of Jaunpur; With Notes on Zafarabad, Sahet-Mahet and Other Places in the North-Western Province and Oudh. Varanasi, India: Indological Book House, 19.
  • DK Eyewitness Travel Guides - India. 2002. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 199.
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