As an efflorescence of a Muslim imperial power in 16th and 17th century India, Mughal culture continues to produce diverse interpretations. Giving rise to a series of dualistic and conflicted conditions — imperial regime versus provincial locis, Turko-Persian cultures versus Hindustani traditions, and the more obvious Muslim belief and Hindu practices — it is easy to read into Mughal civilization a narrative of hegemony and repression. An investigation of its architecture provides a more mediatory and synthetic image of the Mughals. In current perception of political Islam, it is perhaps instructive to look closely at Mughal culture, especially its architecture and art, to realize how the foundation of a native modernity, secular practice and culture of cohabitation was laid out in a fractious universe.
Kazi Khaleed Ashraf is an architect and professor of architecture at University of Hawaii. He received his Masters from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and PhD from University of Pennsylvania. He co-edited the publication An Architecture of Independence: The Making of Modern South Asia (Architectural League of New York, 1997), and has curated exhibitions on modern architecture in South Asia, Louis Kahn’s Capital Complex, and architecture in Bangladesh. Co-sponsored by the University of Hawaii Center for South Asian Studies.