By Santhi Kavuri-Bauer

Built within the 16th and 17th centuries, India’s Mughal monuments—including majestic forts, mosques, palaces, and tombs, comparable to the Taj Mahal—are international popular for his or her grandeur and organization with the Mughals, the strong Islamic empire that when governed many of the subcontinent. In Monumental Matters, Santhi Kavuri-Bauer specializes in the favourite function of Mughal structure within the building and contestation of the Indian nationwide panorama. She examines the illustration and eventual upkeep of the monuments, from their disrepair within the colonial previous to their current prestige as safe background sites.

Drawing on theories of strength, subjectivity, and area, Kavuri-Bauer’s interdisciplinary research encompasses Urdu poetry, British panorama portray, imperial archaeological surveys, Indian Muslim identification, and British tourism, in addition to postcolonial kingdom construction, international history designations, and conservation mandates. considering Independence, the country has tried to build a story of Mughal monuments as symbols of a unified, secular state. but modern day sectarian violence at those websites keeps to signify that India’s Mughal monuments stay the transformative spaces—of social ordering, id formation, and nationwide reinvention—that they've been for centuries.

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Extra info for Monumental Matters: The Power, Subjectivity, and Space of India’s Mughal Architecture

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At the Taj Mahal the spatial practices of prayer, veneration, and monument pres- Breathing New Life into Old Stones | 39 Fig 3: J. Brown after William Hodges, A View of the Gate of the Tomb of the Emperor Akbar at Secundrii, 1786. Engraving © British Museum ervation put in place by Shah Jahan continued. 40 The efficient custodians, working fountains, well-maintained gardens, and the architectural masterpiece of the tomb itself produced a tableau of sublime beauty that resisted Hodges’s symbolic order of Mughal decline and decay more than any other monument he encountered.

Like the Mughal city and its architecture presented in the shahrashob, the shrines of Sufi leaders were also rendered critical spaces whose symbolization helped the Muslim community survive the tumult of the times and reorient itself. Subject and Subjection: Hodges’s Encounter with the Mughal Monument As the eighteenth century wore on, the poets of the shahrashob began to share the spaces of Mughal architecture with British artists. 17 Emerging from the gap between the two points of identity, the monument simultaneously represented the colonial Real—with its terror, unrestrained expansion, and unethical actions —and the colonial imaginary based on the natural progress of civilization, divine providence, and moral duty.

This spatial operation, whereby the multiplicity of Agra is submerged under the sign of ruin, is demonstrated in Hodges’s visit to and subsequent representation of Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra. His visit begins with his entering the garden through the main gateway, a monumental structure decorated with multicolored marble and two stories of arched windows. He descends into the garden and sees Akbar’s tomb through the trees lining the pathway leading to it. ”37 The tomb is then described in great detail, lending credibility to his representation.

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