Early Islam in India
and the
Dehli Sultanates

12th cent - 15th cent AD

Kondungallur-Muziris Roman Settlement

1st cent – 625 AD

Long before Islam arrived in Northern India there existed Roman-Jewish-Christian communites on the Malabar Coast in Southern Idia. In fact, these were some of the earliest communities of these faiths outside the Near East. They were joined during the Prophets life-time in 625 AD by the first mosque a few kilometers from the synagogue and the Syrian Christian church in Kondungallur.

Kondungallur has a history (see Wikipedia for a poorly written article) It was known as Muziris to Pliny the Elder (23 -79 AD) who describes it as primum emporium Indiae.
The Greek explorer, Hippalus (1st cent BC), the discoverer of the monsoon trade winds, described this port. Roman coins have been found here in 2000
With the Romans came the first Jews and the first Christians, who became the spice traders on the Malabar Coast. So it comes as no surprise that one of the first Christian communities (52 AD !) and later the earliest mosque (625 AD) are actually found at Kondungallur.

Kochin-Mattancherry Paradesi Synagogue
1568 AD

Interior of the second synagogue in Kochin, Photo Wikipedia

The Malabari Jews formed a prosperous trading community in Kerala, who controlled a major part the spice trade. In 1568, the Jews of Kerala constructed the Paradesi Synagogue adjacent to Mattancherry Palace on land given to them by Paraja, the Raja of Kochi. The original synagogue was built in the 4th century in Muziri-Kondungallur (Cranganore). It was later moved to Kochi from Kondungallur.
The first synagogue of the Malabari Jews in Cochin was destroyed in the Portuguese persecution of the Malabari Jews and Christian Nasrani sect of Kerala in the 1500s. The second synagogue, built under the protection of the Raja of Cochin along with Dutch patronage, is the present synagogue. It is called
Paradesi because it was built with Dutch patronage at a time when Kochi was a Dutch p[rotectorate, thus the name paradesi synagogue or "foreign synagogue".

Mar Thomas Syrian Christian Church
52 AD

Mar Thomas was rescently enlarged and dressed up, the origanl church exists no longer
Photo angelmatrimony.com

Syriac (Aramean) biblical text
For more information see Wikipedia

Cheraman Perumal Juma Masjid

625 AD

Kondungallur, Kerala, Cheraman Perumal Juma Masjid,
Originally built by Malik Ibn Dinar 625 AD

The oldest Islamic community in India was founded in 625 in this tiny village on the Malabar Coast very close to Mar Thomas, the oldest Christian church (52) and the archeological site of Muziris, a Greek-Roman settlement. Neither the church nor the mosque are of architectural interest. Photo meriyatra.com

The Dehli Sultanates
1206 -1526 AD

GE Maps: Delhi Sultanates

During the last quarter of the 12th century, Muhammad of Ghor invaded the Indo-Gangetic plain, conquering in succession Ghazni, Multan, Sindh, Lahore, and Delhi. Qutb-ud-din Aybak, one of his generals proclaimed himself Sultan of Delhi. In the 13th century, Shams ud din Iltumish (1211 - 1236), a former slave-warrior, established a Turkic kingdom in Delhi, which enabled future sultans to push in every direction.
Within the next 100 years, the Delhi Sultanate extended its sway east to Bengal and south to the Deccan, while the sultanate itself experienced repeated threats from the northwest and internal revolts from diisillusioned, independent-minded nobles. Power in Delhi was often gained by violence -- nineteen of the thirty-five sultans were assassinated.
The sultanate was in constant flux as five dynasties rose and fell: the Slave dynasty (1206-90), Khalji dynasty (1290-1320), Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1413), Sayyid dynasty (1414-51), and Lodi dynasty (1451-1526). The Khilji dynasty, under Ala ud Din (1296 - 1316) succeeded in bringing most of South India under its control.
Zafar Khan, a former provincial governor under the Tughluqs, revolted against his Turkic overlord and proclaimed himself sultan, taking the title Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah in 1347. The Bahmani Sultanate, located in the northern Deccan, lasted for almost two centuries. In 1527 it fragmented into five smaller states, known as the Deccan sultanates (Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmednagar, Berar, and Bidar).

Mosque of Qutb al-Din Aybak

1197 - 1199, 1305

Ruins of Qutb Mosque and the Minar.
Photo Panoramio

Quwwatu'l Islam, or 'the might of Islam' also known as Qutb Mosque, was the first mosque in Muslim Delhi, built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, its first Turkic Sultan. The mosque and its complex of associated buildings, including extensions, the Qutb Minar, several tombs, a gate, and other monuments, were built in the heart of the occupied Rajput citadel, on the ruin of twenty seven Hindu and Jain temples. The enclosure was subsequently enlarged northwards by Qutb-ud-din's successor, Shams-ud-Din Ilutmish (r. 1211-36) and Ala-ud-Din Khalji (r. 1296-1316).

The original mosque was built using the spolia of the Hindu temples it replaced.
Columns intricately carved with Hindu motifs were used intact. Photo Panoramio

Champaner-Pavagadh, Gujarat
8th - 16th cent

Champaner-Pavagadh, Gujarat, Hindu and early Islamic Monuments, 8th - 14th cent, Islamic additions 16th cent. The Archaeological Park Champaner-Pavagadh - with its Hindu architecture, temples and special facilities for water retention, as well as its religious, military and agricultural buildings from the regional Muslim capital wre built by Mehmud Begdaand in the 16th century.
The structures are a perfect blend of Hindu-Muslim architecture, including the Great Mosque (Jami Masjid), which subsequently served as a model for the architecture of mosques in India. This particular style comes from the period of regional sultanates.

Hindu sculptural ornaments on the Islamic temple.
Photos and text(!) UNESCO

Chisht-i-Sharif, Gumbad Mausolea

The two free-standing domed structures are located on a plateau outside of Chisht-e-Sharif, a 12th-century religious center that gave its name to the Chishtiyya order of Sufism. Inscriptions on both structures name Ghurid Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad ibn Sam (1163-1203) as their patron. Their original function is uncertain, the attribution of mausolea is an assumption. Architecturally the two gumbats are excellent examples how Khorasan masters handled the problem of a circular dome on a square base with ease. Text and photo Archnet.org

Ajmer Ardhai-din-ka Jhompra Masjid
1200 - 1206

Photo Panoramio

Ajmer, Rajastan Ardhai-din-ka Jhompra Masjid, 1200-1206. The construction of the mosque is attributed to Qutb al-Din Aibak (1206-1210) The original mosque is thought to have been of modest proportions. The current form of the mosque is the result of the additions made between 1220 and 1229 by Shams al-Din Iltutmish (1211-1236). The mosque is made of yellow sandstone and many of the building materials are spoilia of razed Hindu and Jain temples.

Pandua Adina Masjid

Pandua, Bengal, Adina Masjid, 1375 Tughluqid

In 1353 AD, Haji Shamsuddin Ilyas, the first independent nawab of Bengal, transferred his capital from the nearby (and now ruined) town of Gaur (32 km from Pandua) to Pandua. However, Pandua's glory was shortlived. In 1453 AD, the capital was transferred back to Gaur. Pandua's only celebrated building is the Adina Mosque.
Built by Sikandar Shah, the second sultan of the Ilyas dynasty, the Adina mosque is the only hypostyle mosque in Bengal. Similar in plan to the Great Mosque of Damascus, it is a rectangular, hypostyle structure, with an open central courtyard.
A series of secondary mihrabs runs along the whole western wall. In total, the 39 mihrabs, the minbar and other ornamentations are rigorously Islamic in their general conception but Hindu in almost all the details: small scalloped columns and plinths in the shape of lotus flowers, corbels, trilobate arches each with its sharp end cuspidated with a vase of flowers, volutes representing leaves, rhomboid lozenges and friezes of lotus petals. Along with the Hindu motifs, the interior of the mihrab niche is divided into panels containing the Islamic motif of the 'hanging lamp' commonly used in Bengal and is thought to be the visual representation of the Surah "Al-Nur", the light.
This and the following photos archnet.org

Interior and suspended women gallery

Central nave and main mihrab. The barrel vault has collapsed
Text and Photos from Archnet.org

Shah Rukn-i-'Alam Tomb

1320 - 1324

Also known as the Rukn-i-Alam or the “Pillar of the Sky”
is the most prominent feature on the Multani skyline

Multan, Pakistan Shah Rukn-i-'Alam Mausoleum 1320-1324, Tughluqid in style is still subject to historical debate. The Mausoleum of the Suhrawardi saint Shaykh Rukn al-Din Abdul Fath is said to have been first built by Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq (1320-1325) for himself, yet it was later dedicated to the saint by Firuz Shah Tughlaq (reg. 1351-1388) at the request of Shaykh Sadr al-Din Muhammad, his adopted son and spiritual successor.
Text and photo from Archnet.org

Srinagar, Kashmir
Shah-e-Hamadan Mosque

1395, 1731

View from the Jelum River
Photo indoarch.org

Srinagar, Kashmir , Shah-e-Hamadan Mosque, 1395, present state1731. This mosque is an excellent example of indigenous wood architecture that draws inspiration from Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic architecture. Constructed by Sultan Sikandar and dedicated to the memory of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani, a Muslim saint from Hamadan, Persia, this mosque also serves as a khankah. Ravaged by fire in 1480, it was reconstructed and expanded by Sultan Hassan Shah. In 1493 it was demolished and rebuilt as a two-story structure. Again in 1731 fire destroyed the mosque; Abul Barkat Khan reconstructed it.

Interior of the many columned prayer hall. The columns are single Himalayan cedar trees.

Main entrance to Mosque
Text and photos Archnet.org

Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Jami Masjid

Ahmedabad's Jamii Masjid was built in 1424 by Bhamani ruler Ahmad Shah I (1411-1442), the Jami Masjid of Ahmedabad was probably the largest mosque constructed on the Indian subcontinent at the time. Conceived as part of the emperor's grandiose urban vision, the mosque lies to the south of a royal processional way that travels eastward from the Maidan-i Shah and the triple gateway known as Teen Darwaza.

Interior view of the prayer hall the from gallery level

The central nave rises up to three stories in height and is overlooked by balconies from the central gallery enclosed by perforated screens. Text and photos Archnet.org

Tomb of Khwaja Mu'inuddin Chisti

1230, 16th cent

Photo anthroarcheart.com

Ajmer, Darhhar, Tomb of Sufi Khwaja Mu'inuddin Chisti. The tomb of India's most venerated Sufi. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. He was born in Sajistan, Khorasan in 1141 and died in 1230 AD. Also known as Gharib Nawaz, he was a most influential Sufi saint and the founder of the Chishti Order of South Asia.

Dera Gazi Khan
Tomb of Ghazi Khan


Photo Archnet.org

Dera Gazi Khan, Pakistan, Tomb of Ghazi Khan, 1494, Timurid(!). The tomb, obviously an imitation of the Multan tomb, houses the relics of a Sufi ghazi, a warrior of the Holy War. Recently restored (without the dome).