in Conversations between Multiculturalism and Cosmopolitanism in Urban Indian landscapeDownload

Amna Sunmbul

Islamic architecture in India shows the earliest signs of cultural assimilation rather than cultural assertiveness- this is the main thrust of the paper. In its forms, texture, designs and symbolisms it is not only Islamic but also embeds indigenous specifics. To this extent, Islamic architecture is an embodiment of multiculturalism, manifest in the most exotic framework. The city of Delhi has been studied as a significant case in this regard, where Islamic monuments, gardens and town planning are replete with blending cultures, thus making Indo-Islamic art forms unique by themselves. This uniqueness is put to test in the contemporary times for two reasons: first, increased cultural and religious intolerance in the Indian society and second, the struggle of historic sites against enhanced urbanisation. Through the arguments proposed both these problems will be addressed. Islamic architecture is a historic reply to the former and stands out even in an era of increasing urbanisation. It therefore, becomes the epitome of diversity and shows that Islamic architecture was rather conversant with time and cultures than being antagonistic towards regional preferences.

What does the architectural landscape of the cities of India suggest? Do they represent a clash of cultures? How can one understand the diversity in architecture in contemporary Indian cities, given the rising immigration and resultant decline in urban spaces? These questions are often subsumed within the larger problems of the Indian cities, those relating to immigration, inflation, health and hygiene issues. The growth of the cities, however, is neither sudden nor surprising. The development of the cities, which are now metropolitans, have unique histories and by looking at monuments and buildings the growth could be deciphered. According to Hosagrahar (2012: 283-84):
Urbanism in India today is a medley of contrasting forms. On the one hand are glass and steel skyscrapers of financial centres, the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) for multinational corporations, exuberant shopping malls and vast gated communities, all signs of a global modernity.

Amna Sunmbul, Research Scholar, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru, University, New Delhi.
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On the other hand are countless historic towns with their palaces, mosques and temples, their lively bazaars, traditional neighbourhoods and living heritage.
The significance of the historical monuments and structures, especially in historic cities remain intact, and these architectural marvels have eventually become the hallmark of the places. This is true for the metropolitan cities as well, which flourished and expanded before the European colonisation. In the Northern parts of India, monuments built during the Sultanate and Mughal periods have upheld the legacy of the cities. To put differently, Islamic architectural edifices have remained unchallenged hitherto as emblems of several cities in India— not only because of their inherent uniqueness but also because of their multicultural tinge, which puts Islamic architecture within contemporary socio-political perspective that views certain cultures as ‘alien’ and therefore, unacceptable.
Islamic architecture has a unique place in the Indian society. These monuments are symbols of power, victory and grandeur, while at the same time representing emotions and imagination. There is a distinctness of Islamic architecture which is visibly present in some Indian cities. However, there is a subtle, albeit significant, observation: the Islamic texture of the architecture assimilates and is assimilated by other indigenous architectural traditions. This, along with the changing patterns of urban planning, shows two trends. The first one is an assimilation of distinct cultures under a singular banner of developmental architecture. The second is the starkness that is present between the medieval monuments, and the modern structures. These trends appear to be antithetical to each other since there is a hint of competition between them. However, on a closer scrutiny there is a conversation that exists between the two trends and the bridge is provided by Islamic architecture which is not only a representative of multiculturalism but is also conversant with cosmopolitanism, thus becoming the needed linkage.
While  speaking  of  multiculturalism  what  indeed  comes  to  our  mind  is  a  picture of  peaceful  coexistence  between  the  various  cultural,  religious  and  ethnic  sects  and  irrespective  of  their  numerical strength  the  representation  of  all groups  within  a  state.  Though  it  emerged  as  a project  of  and  a  concept  embedded  in  the  western  liberal  democracies,  it  is  also  relevant  for  the  post-colonial  states  because  of  the  presence  of  different  cultural  and  religious  groups.  India  is  one  such  land—  being  a  multi-lingual,  multi-religious,  and  multi-ethnic  land,  it  has  to  accommodate  many  categories  of  people.  In  the  urban  areas  of  India  a  good  mix  of  many  cultural  groups  have  been  witnessed.  The  intermingling  of  diverse  cultural  groups  is  also  seen  in  art, aesthetics,  music,  dance,  and  literature.  But  the  most  grandeur  expressions  of  multiculturalism  is  indeed  reflected  in  the  architectural  landscape  of  India.  Historically  speaking  also  the  architectural  monuments  themselves  speak  for  the  assimilation  of  the  indigenous  and  external  cultures  and,  in  the  present  times,  the  presence  of  these  along  with  the  emergence  of  strong  urban  cosmopolitan  buildings  bear  testimony  to  the  emerging  diversity  in  the  architectural  scene  of  the  cities  of  India.
The  challenge  for  the  big  cities  of  India  today  is  to  accommodate  the  religious  structures  with  the  demands  of  the  cosmopolitan  on  the  one  hand,  and  to  accommodate  different  religious  monuments  considering  the  shrinking  urban  space,  on  the  other.  If  cosmopolitanism   is  seen  as  an  emerging  culture  in  India,  then  how  is  this  to  be  accommodated  with  the  traditional  and  religious  culture  which  is  indeed  multiple  in  India?  Does  the  cosmopolitan  upsurge  necessitate  a  compromise  on  religious  constructions?
In this context, the city of Delhi has been studied. Though the thrust is upon medieval architecture, it’s development through the ages is albeit significant and would be discussed in at least some quarters. The most significant aspect, however, is the transition of the city from a walled city to a large sub-urban, the transformation attributable to colonisation and British rule. In some sense, 1857 was indeed a watershed year for the survival of Delhi, wherein the demography as well as local relations altered. As Gupta (1981: 20) points out: The exigencies of the Rising of 1857 jeopardized good relations,………between those who supported the rebels,……….and those who sat on the fence or helped the British troops………the cleavage cannot be simplistically stated as between a declining Muslim aristocracy and a nascent Hindu bourgeoisie, but between those who sided with the Emperor and  those who were far sighted enough to back the British and thus set up a store of security and rewards for the future.
This reiterates the significance of the year 1857 in the creation of new areas, immigration away from the walled city and the subsequent growth and expansion of the city. The paper does not concern so much with this aspect of Delhi. It is more focused on the prominence and significance of Islamic architecture and the reason for considering it an epitome of multiculturalism.
At the outset, the meaning of Islamic architecture in general and its usage in this article needs to be clarified. Islamic architecture, very simply put, is the form of designing buildings, monuments and other structures in a way as has been indicated in the religious books and discourses of Islam. In a way, Islamic monuments enshrine within them the physical representation of the message of Islam (Omer 2008). In other words, it is the practical translation of the message of Islam by the Muslims (Omer 2008). In this article, the meaning of Islamic architecture is a combination of the theoretical and the practical: those structures which bear distinct Islamic architectural features along with their historical origination which mostly happened in the medieval era. To this extent, those structures have been mentioned which were built by Muslim rulers in India and displays Islamic characteristics.
The paper proceeds in four sections. In the first section, there is a discussion of multiculturalism and its meanings and implications for the Indian society. In the second section, there is a focus on the city of Delhi and the various ways in which the city’s Islamic architecture represents multiculturalism. In the third section, there is a discussion in which multiculturalism traverses with cosmopolitan and modern architecture and the way in which Islamic monuments strike a balance between the two. In the final section, the idea of the dangers of multiculturalism has been critiqued; there is an emphasis on understanding it in the Indian society through architecture.
Multiculturalism:  Meaning and Implications for India
The literature on multiculturalism is vast— both in terms of the manner in which it is understood as well as different dimensions it brings into the study. The roots of the concept could be found in  the  western  liberal  democracies  which  emphasized  on  the  cultural  pluralism  of  the  states (Ali 2000). Multiculturalism is a way of viewing human life (Parekh 1999). In this regard, culture is dynamic and not static and there are ways in which people get acculturated and maintain it: therefore, multiculturalism is not merely about pluralism but also about accommodation of other’s value (Wax 1993).  In the context of the American society, it is argued that multiculturalism could be seen as a move along the spectrum of ‘political correctness’ which flows from the process of ‘construction and reconstruction of identity’ (Spencer 1994). In other words, multiculturalism is a form of performing the politics of identity. According to the Chicago Cultural Studies Group (1992), multiculturalism stands for rethinking ‘cannons’ in humanities and also to find  cultural  and  political  norms  appropriate  to  be  operative  in  a  heterogenous  society.  They  also  point  out  that  the  phrase  ‘critical  multiculturalism’  intrinsically challenges  existing  norms  and  links  together  common  rhetoric  of  difference  and  resistance (Chicago Cultural Studies Group 1992).
It has,  however,  been  argued  by Hartmann  and   Gerteiss (2005) that  the  definitional  concern  for  the  term  “multiculturalism”  is  that  it  has  largely  been  a  negative  one,  and  has  become  a  heuristic  tool  to  highlight  the  distinction  between  the  core  type—  multiculturalism  ought  to  emphasize  on  homogeneity  in  the  society  rather  than  its  heterogeneous  characteristic (Hartmann and Gerteiss 2005): multiculturalism  is  best  understood as a critical-theoretical project, an exercise in cultivating new conceptions of solidarity  in the context of dealing with the realities of pervasive and increasing diversity in  contemporary societies.
The concept of multiculturalism is further subdivided into four categories (Hartmann and Gerteiss 2005). First, assimilationism which emphasizes upon importance of substantive moral bonds and this is the basis for moral cohesion and shared core values. Second, cosmopolitanism  which  defends  diversity  only  in  so  far  as  it  allows  and  expands  individual  rights  and  freedoms.  Third,  fragmented  pluralism  which  argues  that  the  social  whole  is  dissolved  into  its  component  collective  units  and  reiterates  that  value  systems  could  be  divergent  or  even  opposed.  Fourth,  interactive  pluralism  which  realizes  the  existence  of  distinct  groups  and  cultures  and  posits  the  need  to  cultivate  mutual  understanding  across these  differences.  Within  these  sub-categories  the  case  of  India  could  at  best  be  understood  by  a  combination  of  cosmopolitanism and  interactive  pluralism. This  is  because  there  is  a mutual  understanding  of  co-existence  of  different  groups  of  people,  yet  each  group  emphasizes  on  its  own  identity.  ‘Genuine multiculturalism’ argues for the acceptance of the limits of one’s own culture and recognition of that of the others (Zimmerman 2003). At  the  same  time,  in  India  the  Constitution  binds  people  in  spite  of  their  differences,  thus,  in  principle,  giving  equal  rights  to  all  the  citizens,  and  guarantees  freedom  to  profess  and  practice  any  religion  of  their  own  choice.
For  Parekh (1999),  a  multicultural  society  cannot  be  stable  and  long  lasting  without  developing  a  common  sense  of  belonging  among  its  citizens  and  this  must  be based  on  a  shared  commitment  to  the  political  community.  This  forms the basis  for  the  Indian  state  where  diversity  is  vast  in  terms  of  it  being  multi-lingual,  multi-religious,  and  multi-ethnic. Rajan (1998)  raises  the  question  whether  group  rights  erode  or  enhance  the  idea  of  rationality  and  universality.  Arguing  within  the ‘left liberal’  framework,  she  says  that  they  do  not  erode  such  concepts.  She  argues  that  the  reality  of  multiculturalism  in  India  raises  problems  for  the  concept  of  majoritarian  rule  by  putting  forth  the  question  of  group-differentiated  rights  on  the  political  agenda.  Ali (2000) also  argues  that  in  the  Indian  context  recognising,  protecting,  and  promoting  the  cultural  differences  is  important and  thereby  the  project  of  multiculturalism could  be  used  to  counter  the  arguments  posed  by  the   right  wing  about  the  cultural  homogeneity  of  the  Indian  state.  In  the  context  of  India,  therefore,  there is an  emphasis upon  cultural  pluralism  and,  what  Hartmann  and  Gerteiss (2005) have  called  a  ‘negative’  meaning  of  multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism  in  India  can  also  be  understood  as  a  historical  process  in  the  sense  that  it  has  seen  rehabilitation  of  different   religious  and  lingual  groups  over  a  long  period  of   time.  According to Jupp (1986), there are several levels at which multiculturalism could be understood. For instance, at the ‘descriptive level’ it could be understood as communities having variegated culture because of the difference in the source of origin. It could also be understood at the ‘public policy level’ where multiculturalism helps to resolve the problems arising out of cultural differences with the minority sections. In the case of India, both these levels are important to consider: regional and religious histories lead to differences in acculturation whereas at the administrative level it is important to reconcile differences not necessarily by universalising cultural practices but by providing space and representation to the diverse cultural factions.
The  assimilation  has  been  largely  natural  and  prolonged  as   is  evident  by  historical  accounts.  Leaving  aside  the  debates  of  categorization,  it  is  also  pertinent  to  view  how  multiculturalism  has  emerged  and  the  manner  in  which  it  is  manifested  in  India.  By  studying  the  architectural  patterns  of  the  historic  cities,  which  are  incidentally  enough  the  first  ones  to  become  metropolitan  cities  of  India,  one  could  decipher  both  the  legacy  as  well as  challenges  posed  to  multiculturalism  of  India.  Architecture  is  the  most  vivid  and  magnificent  expression  of  cultural  assertions.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  a  study  of  the  architectural  landscape  would    enable  to  appreciate  the  diversity  in  India  and  the  manner   in  which  all the  groups  are  accommodated.  The aura of Islamic architecture does not lie in its oft-cited distinctiveness but in its under-narrated rapprochement between the previous and the contemporary and between the local and the foreign.
The  main  purpose  of  the  paper  is  to  study  the  state  of  multiculturalism  in  India  as  is  suggested  by  the  architectural  picture  of  the  big  metropolitan  cities  of  the  country  and  understand  the  manner  in  which  this  has  taken  place. Over here, the emphasis is upon the assimilative and representative nature of Islamic architecture. To demonstrate the point of Islamic architecture as symbolic of multiculturalism, the city  of  Delhi is studied as a specific case.  This city is,  at  once,  historic  and  contemporary,  traditional  and  modern,  urban  and  urbane,  and  all  these  characteristic  features  are  reflected  in  the  buildings ,  constructions,  and  planning  of  the  past  and  the  present.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  Delhi  becomes  an  intriguing  city  to  study  for  describing  the  state  of  multiculturalism  in  India.  Every  place  is  unique  in  itself,  but  being  the  capital  city  as  well  as  one  of  the  oldest  in  India,  it  is  indeed  pertinent  to  observe  for   understanding  the  trend towards  which  India  is  moving.  The  rich  historical  legacy  of the city is  all  the  more  compelling  to  see  how  the  rich  traditional  legacies  are  mixed  and  assimilated  within  the  increasing  urbanisation  and  cosmopolitanisation  of  Delhi.
Islamic Architecture in Delhi: A Cultural Dialogue
Delhi,  the  national  capital  territory  of  India,  is  also  one  of  the  oldest  cities  of  the  country. It  is  said  that  the  city  was  built  seven  times  and  the   remains  of  the  first  few  cities  are  still  not  found.  The  most  favourable  description  of  Delhi  is  given  by Spear (1937) in  his book  Delhi:  A  Historical  Sketch:
(Delhi)  was  a  famous  capital  before  the  days  of  Alexander,  and  has  survived  all  the  vicissitudes  of  time  and  fortune  to  become  one  of  the  youngest  and  certainly  the  most  magnificent  of  recent  imperial  cities………………….(I)f  it  has  frequently  changed  its  site,  its  character  and  even  its  name,  it  has  preserved  through  all  a  continuous  thread  of  existence.
There are local accounts and narratives that suggest the growth and expansion of Delhi in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries out of the walled cities. There is ‘an unrecorded growth of the Muslim presence mainly southwards and eastwards beyond Dehli by the settling of immigrant groups’, which is the area around Sufi shrine of Shaikh Naizam-ud-din Auliya (Digby 2004). Therefore, not only the role of monarchy but also that of Sufism was significant in the expansion of Delhi. The  historical  significance  of  Delhi  has  been  assessed  by  many  historians.  For  Krafft  and  Ehlers (1995), Delhi  symbolizes  India’s  historical  heritage  between  Hinduism  and  Islam,  not  just  in  its  religious  aspect  but  also  in  representing  cultural  diversity  and  political  leadership.
The  significance  of  Delhi  could  also  be  understood   as  the  advantage  that  a  strategically  located  capital  has  for  the  empire.  Hence,  Krafft  and  Ehlers  (1995) say  that   capitals  mirror  the  political  culture  of  states  and  governments,  and  their  location,  lay-out,  architectural  designs,  and  iconography  are  expressions  of  ideologies  that  the  ruling  empires  have. Similarly,  for Blake (1986),  a  capital  for  the  rulers  in  the  pre-modern  times  stood  as  a  symbol  of  the  ruler’s  power  and  wealth   and  also  an  example  of  his  ability  to  build  a  beautiful  and  harmonious  city  around  himself. For  Sir  Herbert  Baker  any  capital  city  has  to  be  an  embodiment  of  the  spirit  of  the  British  empire;  hence  political  expressiveness  of   the  British  empire  was  found  to  be  more  fitting  with  European  classicism though the  impression  of  creating  a  grand  capital  city  had  come  from  the  Mughal  empire  as  is  evident  by  the  use  of  red  sandstone  as  building  material,  decoration  of  turrets,  chattris  and  porticoes  as  well  as  the  placement  of  the  new  city  adjacent to  Shahjahanabad (Metcalfe 1986).
Modernity  and  its  spatial  expressions  in  Delhi  preceded  the  bold,  authoritarian,  and elegant  designs  of  modern  New  Delhi (Hosagrahar 2001).   The  difference  of  opinion  with  regard   to  what  the  architecture  of   India  should  be  like  is  clearly  reflected  by  the  following (Irving 1982):
Lutyens swiftly rejected the proposal to use Indian  draughtsmen for “orientalising” the New Delhi designs. Such a tactic, he argued, contradicted “the essence of fine  architecture”, in which plans, elevations, and sections composed a single, integral organism. Emblematic ornament was acceptable if discreetly subsumed within the  controlling geometric system. Universal classical principles  were quite capable of comprehending within their framework the exoticism of Indian ornament. But such decoration could not be allowed to seize command and actually determine the architectural outline and profile, as in the popular Indo-Saracenic style Lutyens had scorned in Bombay. Rather, in the manner of the Palladians, decoration had to be “within reason”.
However, Dickie (1985) argues that the gardens of Lutyen’s palace in Delhi also bore resemblances to the Mughal garden architecture:
The attempt to introduce the lush gardens of Central Asia into the dusty plains of Hindustan produced a hybrid, or mutation; and this mutation, the Indo-Islamic garden, is still a living art form, as evidenced by the garden Lutyens’s coadjutor, W. R. Mustoe, of the Horticultural Department, designed for the Viceroy’s House in New Delhi, as well as by the new garden in the Lawrence Gardens (Jinnah Bagh) at Lahore.
This reveals the acknowledgement of the British colonialists of the contributions that were made by Mughals to garden architecture, which were ultimately reflected in the choices they made for designing their bungalows and architectural designs. It is for this reason, that in spite of British colonialism, the architectural landscape of Delhi is known for the Indo-Islamic and not European art forms.
The  differences  between  the  old  and  new  parts  of  Delhi  is  often  developed  very  starkly.  According  to  Hosagrahar (2001),  transformation  of  Delhi’s  landscape  from  picturesque  to  dysfunctional  occurred  through  a  disarray  of  synchronic  activities—  all  engaged  in  building  the  city.  For Sharan (2006),  modern  Delhi  is  ‘unaesthetic’. This is said especially in comparison with the Mughal Islamic architecture which was rich and grand and was reflective of authority and power, while at the same time, utilising local patterns and designs. Though the Islamic architectural characteristics were peculiar, such as domes and minarets, the jali works, serpentine patterns and use of jewels and studs for decoration and ornamentation were indigenous. Hence, there was a willingness to incorporate the local nuances for a finesse in architecture.
In the early colonial period also, there was appreciation of Mughal architecture as is evident by some of the private houses built during early and mid-nineteenth century. The house of Sir Thomas Metcalfe is one such example. The following passage marks the acceptability of the contemporary Indian architecture (Spear 1951: 160-61).
Sir Thomas was a great builder. He built first, about 1830, his mansion of Metcalfe House on the banks of the Jumna. The grounds extended to Alipore Road over the site now occupied by the temporary Secretariat……he adapted a Muslim tomb close to the Qutub Minar as a country retreat……
However, there was  scepticism  with  regard  to  the  building  of  British  monuments  using  the  Indian  tactics  of  architecture during the later colonial period.  As  Irving (1982) points  out,  Lutyens  did  not  much  respect  either  the  Mughal  or  Hindu  ‘contraptions’  and  defended  Classic  architecture  as  the  ideal  for  the  British  empire  in  India.  The Muslim rulers, to this extent, were willing to adopt regional preferences in their mannerisms, culture as well as aesthetics. On the aesthetic front, this was both plausible as well as harmonious. Although the ruler-ruled dichotomy existed, there was a growing interest in local culture as manifested in forms of art and also in architectural patterns. This, however, was not the case with British colonisers, who emphasised heavily upon Classical European architecture. At the same time, it needs to be argued that the dismissal of Mughal style was more of a political rhetoric and less of cultural glorification since the former was itself a combination of Islamic (or Timurid), indigenous and European ‘sources’ (Asher 1995:1-2). Therefore, the European patterns were very much incorporated within Mughal architecture, contrary to the belief of it being averse to European styles altogether.
The  changing  patterns  of  town  planning  and  monuments  document  the  hybridity  and  variety  that  Delhi  epitomizes. The   overemphasis  on  the  differences  between  ‘Old’  and  ‘New’  Delhi  does  not  deter  from  thinking  of  Delhi  as  a  whole  city  which  has  developed  into  different  phases  during  different  time  periods. Therefore, the  cultural  picture of  Delhi is  composite  and  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  particular  groups  are  strong  in  some  areas,  the  aspect  of  cultural  hybridity  cannot  be  understated. This  evidence lies in  the  religious  monuments  and cultural  centres  spread  across the  city.
Another   aspect   related  to  the  architectural  landscape  is  the  regular  presence  of  urban,  official  and  commercial  buildings  which  is  becoming  a  common  scene  in  Delhi. It has  become  an  important  commercial  hub  and  at  the  same  time  its  historic  significance  remains intact.  Limiting the ‘size of the city’ is, according to Ewing (1969), dangerous because it might limit overall economic growth of the city as well as ‘discouraging rural-urban migration’ through authoritarian means— and this is definitely not a feasible option for a democratic country. The  challenge  then  is  to  preserve  its  historic  legacy  and  at  the  same  time  make  it  an  urban  upgraded  city  with  all  the  facilities  and  privileges  of  a  developed  region.
Once again, Islamic architecture comes to the rescue of the city. Some examples could be cited to explain this point. Old  Delhi, which was developed during the Mughal period,  is  a  pertinent  example.  In  this  area,  one comes  across  historical  monuments  and  different  religious  places—  mosques,  gurudwaras,  Hindu  and  Jain  temples.  Some of these places date back to the medieval times. This  is  regularly  interspersed  by  public  offices,  gardens,  new  roads  and  markets,  and  also  has railway  networks  around  the  area.  Symbolically, the area represents a compatibility between different cultures and also a compromise between the historic and the contemporary. The Mehrauli  area in  New  Delhi   is  yet  another  example  of  such  a  diverse  representation. This, again, was a place that was first inhabited by the early Islamic dynasties and witnessed the first signs of Islamic architecture in India. But the most significant example is that of the erstwhile capital of the Tughlaq dynasty: Tughlaqabad. This city was not inhabited for a very long time, though it was built as a symbol of the new royal authority of the Tughlaqs (Shokoohy and Shokoohy 1994). It has been argued that the remains of the city are also rapidly deteriorating with the growing urbanisation (Shokoohy and Shokoohy 1994). However, even in this decline the most significant aspect is the growth of housing locality around the Jami mosque of the Tughlaq period (Shokoohy and Shokoohy 1994), which shows the relevance of Islamic architecture even in the growing urban spaces in Delhi. Therefore, by  studying  the  architecture  of  Delhi  one  could  infer  the  state  and  significance  of  multiculturalism  in  India,  and   see  how  it  is  accommodated  with  the  emerging  needs  of  the  urban  population.
Multiculturalism and Cosmopolitanism in Conversation
To study the architectural  patterns,  it  is  pertinent  to  have  an  understanding  of  the  synchronisation  of  the  indigenous  with  the  foreign.  Vellinga (2006) speaks  for  the  uniqueness  of  vernacular  architecture  and  argues  for  its  significance  by  the   use  of  human  agency,  change  and  adaptation  to  the  cultural  and  environmental  circumstances;  therefore  interaction  of  the  new  styles  with  the  old  ought  to  take  place  along  with  the  historical  discourse.  This  seems  to  be  an  appropriate  method  to  study  multicultural  architecture  as well  as  a  useful  approach  in  understanding  the  amalgamation  of  the  new or  modern  with  the  old  or  traditional.  In  the  case  of  Delhi,  as  well  as  other  medieval  and  ancient  cities  of  India,  it  is  indeed  interesting  to  see  how  the  mutual  accommodation  between  cultures  take  place. Islamic architecture, though, has its own place and reminiscences.
The Islamic  monuments  of  Delhi  are  themselves  a  product  of   assimilation  of  different  traditions.  For  instance,  the  plan  of  the city of Shahjahanabad  appears  to  have  been  based  on  a  design  from  the  ancient  Hindu  texts  on  architecture (Blake 1986).  At  the  same  time,  like  most  other  Mughal  cities,  this  was  also  a  garden  city,  and  the  significance  of  the  garden  lies  in  the  Quranic  depiction  of  paradise  as  a  garden (Blake 1986). In this sense, there is a sensibility that is evident in amalgamating two different religious and cultural traditions. Another  such example,  is  the  iron  pillar  that  stands  in  the  Qutub  Minar  complex,  which  is  a  Buddhist relic  and  is   believed  to  have  been  brought  from  somewhere  else.  The use of pillars was indeed a bridge between the ancient rulers of India and the Delhi Sultans because it indicated a continuity from the past, rather than a break from the same. As Flood (2003) argues:
Essentialist notions of Islamic cultural practices have combined with traditional disciplinary divisions to obscure the transcultural nature of these pillars, which were central to the self-conscious articulation of an imagined relationship between the sultans of Delhi and the Indian past.
This is an epitome of the acceptance of diversity and representing it symbolically through architectural planning. Flood (2003) argues that rather than being ‘trophies’ of authority, the pillars were ‘transculturation’ on part of Delhi Sultans to establish acceptance in the newly built empire. This sensitivity was more than mere political correctness— it was an attempt to continue with the indigenous cultural and ritualistic traditions to portray the Sultanate’s intentions of co-habitation with the local population. Also,  the  later  repair  of  the  Qutub  Minar  balconies  brought  in  a  touch   of  the  Gothic  style  with  the  construction  of  the  balustrade (Liddle 2011). Hence, there is an authentic Indian stylisation which is seen in Islamic monuments through the accommodation and reliance on indigenous techniques.
Another architectural feature which bears resemblance to Eastern Indian styles is the baluster columns that were introduced during Shah Jahan’s reign in mid-seventeenth century. According to Koch (1982), Closer proto-types for the Mughal baluster column are found, however, in eastern India, where balusters and baluster columns occur in Buddhist and Hindu architecture and sculpture…..
This became a characteristic feature of Indian, and not merely Mughal architecture, the resemblances for which could be seen in eastern and central Indian architecture.
Yet  another  manner  in  which  assimilation  is  seen  is  the  development  of  the  erstwhile  imperial  cities  into  developed  industrialized  areas.  The  Qutub  institutional  area  where  a  number  of  private  colleges (FORE  management  school,  Indian  Institute of  Foreign  Trade,  International  Management  Institute,  etc.),  and  organisations  (Guild  of  service,  working  women’s  hostel, etc.)  exists  at  a  short  distance  from  the  Qutub  complex  is  a  good  example  because  it  marks  the  culmination  of  the  modern  and  the  historic.
Walking  through  Old  Delhi  one  would  sense  the  presence  of  various  religious  sects.  As  a  part  of  the  city built  by  Shahjahan,  there  are  many  mosques  of  historic  significance,  and  some  of  them  are  still functional.  A  look  at  the  city  map  would  exhibit  a  layout  with  an  interspersed  pattern  including  madrassas,  mausoleums,  monasteries,  mosques,  temples,  serais,  and  bazaar (Naqvi 1986). Jama  Masjid, one  of  the  oldest  and  biggest  mosques  in  India,  is  located  around  the  Chawri  Bazaar.  A madrasah  and  hospital  was  also  built  along  with  the  mosque.  Fatehpuri  Masjid,  located  at  Chandni  Chowk,  and  Sunehri  Masjid  are  two  other  mosques  built  during  the  same  period. Another  significant  mosque  is  the  Fakhrul  Masjid  or  the  Lal  mosque  located  near  the  Kashmiri  Gate.  Krafft  and  Ehlers (1995) have  observed  that  a  number  of  small  mosques  in  the  mahalla  or  neighbourhood  existed  and  this  system  reflected  the  sectarian,  cultural,  regional,  and  social  heterogeneity  of  the  Muslim  population,  and,  at  the  same  time,  it  also  served  as  spiritual  centre  for  the  mahalla  residents,  providing  the  essential  group  identity.
Presently,  in  the  very  same  area  one  would  find  the presence  of  other  places  of  worship  also .  Gurudwara  Sisganj  Sahib,  a  holy  place  for  the Sikhs,  is  located  very  close  to  the  Fatehpuri  mosque.  First  established  in  1783,  its  present  structure  came into  existence  in  1930.  At  less  than  half  a  kilometre, the  Gauri  Shankar  temple  stands  which  is  an  important  Shiv  temple  in  India.  On  the  same  road,  one  would  find  the  Digambara  Jain Temple  (Lal  Mandir),  and  also  a  Jain  Bird  hospital.  The  hospital  combines  the  qualities  of  being  a  representation  of  the  cultural  ethos  of  the  Jains,  i.e.  the  protection  of  bird  life  as  a daily  ritual,  as  well  as  a  veterinary  hospital.  Another  temple  in  Kinari  Bazaar,  represents  the  Swetambara  sect  of  the  Jain  religion. Also  many  churches  were  built  during  the  British  rule  in  India.  St.  James  Church  is  one  of  these  and  is located  at  the  erstwhile  imperial  capital  city  of  the  Mughals,  very  close  to  the  Fakrul  mosque. The  case  of  Old  Delhi  is  very  interesting  by  itself  because  it  is  one  of  the  older  parts  of  the  present  city,  and  has  witnessed  the  rise  and  fall  of  Mughal   imperialism.
By   no means, however, is it an exception. The Qutub institutional area also presents a similar picture.  There  were  many  mosques  built  after  the  invasion from  West  Asia  and  Central  Asia.  However,  at  present  there  are  many  temples-  both  Hindu  and  Jain-  as  well  as  religious  centres  in  the  same  area.  Even  in  parts  of  New  Delhi  the  religious  constructions  are  in  sync  with  each  other. Hence  religious  sects  have  their  own  establishments  and  the  presence  of  diverse  religious  holy  places  also  bears  testimony  to  the  cultural  and  religious  sensitivity  in  India.   Not  only  this  Delhi  has  also  been  the  hub  of  many  cults  including  Sufism.  The  Dargah  of  Shaikh  Nizamuddin  Auliya  dates  back  to  13th  century.  In  some  ways  the  dargah  shows  the  process  of  evolution  of  Sufism  in  distinct  Indo-Islamic  terms (Lawrence 1986).  Even  today  this  dargah,  which  is  located  in  New  Delhi  is  visited  daily  by  followers  of  all  religious  communities.
Besides   being  religiously  heterogenous, Delhi  also  shows  a  combination  of  the  traditional  and  the  cosmopolitan.  Cosmopolitanism presupposes  a  positive  attitude  towards difference (Rebeiro 2001).  The  process  relates  largely  to  the  European  Modernity  and  the  same  could  be  extended  to  India.  According  to  Rebeiro (2001),Market places and urban centers emerged with citizens that experienced new forms of individuality, etiquette and public space aspiring to new secular ideologies and modes of  Republican, democratic governments.
The scope of cosmopolitan obligations is in principle universal; it covers relations between all human beings (Dobson 2006).  According to Appiah (2006),  cosmopolitanism  has  two  important  qualities.  One,  people  have  obligations  towards  each  other  because  of  the  ties  of   kith  and  kin  and  who  are  bound together  by  the  ties  of  citizenship.  Second,  people  take  an  interest  in  the  beliefs  of  others  so  as  to  understand  what  makes  their  lives  meaningful  and  significant.  That  is  to  accept  that  there  are  differences  between  human  societies  and they  could  not  converge  into  a  monolith. Pogge (1992) emphasizes  on  moral  cosmopolitanism  and  says   that  all  persons  stand  in  moral  relation  to  one  another  and  therefore  one  another’s  status  must  be  respected  as  a  moral  concern.  This  is  the  essence  of  cosmopolitanism  in  general  and  could  be  applied  to the  Indian  scene,  for  the  acceptance  of  the  existence  of  diverse  communities  requires  such  respect. The  very  existence  of  myriad  religious    places of  worship reflects  cosmopolitanism  in  some  quarters.  The  other  dimension  of  this  phenomenon  could  also  be  found  in  the  co-existence  of  the  religious  and  the  secular  buildings.  So  what  is  traditional  or  cultural  is  interspersed  by  the  modern,  the  urban,  and  the  commercial. Here again, the significance of Islamic architecture lies in the manner in which it stands out amongst other monumentations in spite of the assimilative tendencies.
The  Old  Fort  in  New  Delhi  is  located  near  the  Mathura  Road.  Built  by  Sher Shah  and  later  modified  by  Humayun,  this  is  now  a  historical  site  with  the  Sher  Mandal,  Qila-e-Kuhna  mosque,  and  Lal  Darwaza  being  the  main  attractions. This  site  is  also  thought  to be  the  site  of  the  ancient  kingdom  of  Indraprastha. The  mound  of  Purana  qila  suggests  both  a  favourable  site  for  settlement  as  well  as  the  possible  accumulation  of  the  debris  of  centuries (Spear 1937). Though  not  much remains  exist,  its  references  could  be  found  in  ancient  texts. Spear (1937)  argues that  the  mound  is  probably  reminiscent  of  the  epic  days  of  Mahabharata  and  was  the  capital  city  of  the  Pandavas,  Indraprastha.  Though  there’s  no  direct  evidence  to  connect  Indraprastha  with  Delhi,  it  could  be  one  of  the  five  ‘pats’  or  places  around  which  the  Kuru  war  was  fought  as  all the  other  four  sites  are  found  even  today  around  the  same  region .  Adjoining  the  Qila  is  the  National  Zoological  Park  which  was  established  in  1956  by  the  Indian  Board  for  Wildlife.  Pragati  Maidan  owned  by  the  Indian  Trade  Promotion  Organisation  and  meant  for  big  exhibitions  in  India,  is  located  very close  to  the  Old  Fort.  The  area  is  a  commercial hub  and  the  historic  has  merged  with  the  contemporary,  thus  relegating  the  medieval  Islamic  components  to  the  background.
Another  way  in  which  assimilation  of  the  old  and  the  new  takes  place  is  with  the  conversion  of  pre-modern  monuments  into  a  public  place. Here again, Islamic architecture is the cynosure of the city. The  gardens  of  Delhi  designed  during  the  Sultanate  and the  Mughal  periods  are  the  best  example  of  these. The gardens were conceived in a similar form by the garden architects as the description given in the religious Islamic texts. During Shah Jahan’s reign, the garden was included inside the palace premises, thus becoming ‘a metaphor of paradise on Earth’ (Koch 1997). This was also in contrast to the earlier Mughal rulers as Babar who built the gardens out of the city walls in order to symbolise a new centre of power and authority (Koch 1997).
The  process  of  modernizing  and  renaming  of  the  gardens  dates  back  to  the  colonial  period.  After  independence  some  of  these  have  been  transformed  into  public  parks.  The British treatment of garden sites was definitely not an isolated act of intervention in a culture vastly different from their own, but was governed by the rules of colonialism (Sharma 2007). The  gardens  were  well managed  by  the  British.  The  difference  lay  in  the  fact  that  for  the  Mughals  the  gardens  were  also  symbolic  of  paradise,  whereas  for  the  British  it  was  meant for  attracting  European  tourists  as  well  as   to  fulfil  the  recreational  needs  of  the  British  colonizers (Sharma 2007). In  the  aftermath  of  the  1857  Mutiny,  some  gardens  such  as  the  Qudsiya  Bagh  were  remodelled  into  a  war  memorial  by  the British (Sharma 2007).  At  present,  the  Qudsiya  Bagh  forms  a  modern  public  park  north  of  the  Kashmir  Gate  of  Delhi,  in  which  only  a  few  remains  exist  such  as  an  entrance  gateway  and  the  exterior  wall  of  the  northern  baradari  which  could  testify  to  its  past  glory  but  even  these  are  now  disfigured  by enlargements (Goetz 2001).
When  the city  of  New  Delhi  was  being  built  the  gardens  of  the  southern hinterland  had  to  be  observed  and  renovated (Sharma 2007).  One  such  site  was  the  complex  of  Nawab  Safdar  Jung’s  tomb.   To enhance the visual experience of the tomb, the plan focused on the site’s horticultural management (Sharma 2007).  The  horticultural   interventions  with  the  Charbagh  patterns of  the  Mughal  style  was  altered  by  the  laying  out  of  the  grounds  as grassy lawns and planting trees along formal lines, transformed the nature of the garden (Sharma 2007).  At  present  also  it   is  opened  for  public  viewing.  Similarly, the Lodhi Garden  was  renamed  Lady  Willingdon  Park.  But  after  independence,  it  was  once  again  named  the  Lodhi  Garden.  Another  example  of  partial  or  complete  transformation  of  historic  monuments  is  the  Siri fort.  This  is  the  earliest  evidence  of  a  city  which  was  built  by  Ala-ud-din  Khilji.  Very  close  to  the  ruins  of  the  city  is  the  Siri  Fort  Sports complex  which  was  developed  for  the  1982  Asian  Games and  also  renovated  for  the 2010  Commonwealth  Games  hosted  in  Delhi.  Siri  Fort  auditorium  is  located  in  the  same  complex  where  cultural  and  literary  programmes  and  festivals   take  place  regularly.  Siri  is  also  an  important  institutional  area  in  Delhi.  Some  archaeological  surveys  are  still  taking  place  in  order  to  rediscover  some  of  the  older   walls  of  the  fort.
Yet  another  way  in  which  cultural  assimilation  or  pluralism  is  reflected  is  in  the  design,  patterns  and  lay-outs  of  the  monuments  themselves.  One  could  begin  with  the  Qutub  complex. Page (2001) observes  that  besides  being  constructed  on  the  site  of  a  demolished  Hindu  temple,  the  Quwwat-ul-Islam  mosque  embodied  in  itself  a  definite  portion  of  that  structure  up  to  the  plinth  level.  Also  Page  (2001) points  out  the  Hindu  artisans  used  materials  from  Hindu  shrines  to  build  the  mosque  but  the  sculptured  figures  were  hidden  from  view  because  they  were  considered  profane  by  the  new  Islamic  masters  and  Quranic  verses  were inscribed  on  the  back  of  these  slabs. Mujeeb (2001) says  that  the  main  gateway  of  the  original   mosque  lay  on  the  east  as  the  doorway  to  the  temple,  hence  reflecting  the  discretion  used  by  the  indigenous  stone  masons. Compared  to  the  mosque,  Page (2001) argues,  the  Qutub  Minar  is  consistently  Saracenic  in  character,  and  features  of  typically  Hindu  origin  are  non-existent.  But  Mujeeb (2001) says  that  they  were  the  Hindu  masons  who  insisted  that  in  order  to  ensure  stability,  horizontal  pressures  must  be  eliminated  and  therefore  the  pronounced  taper  of  the  minar.  Also,  the  ornamentation and  decorative  mouldings  below   the  balconies  seems  to  be  reminiscent  of  the decorative  treatment  of  the  temple  walls.  He  goes  on to  say  that  the  Minar  was  meant  to  be  a symbol  of  power  for  the  Muslim  rulers; beautification  of  the  monument  was  probably  the  idea  of  the  indigenous  stone  masons  involved  in the  making  of  these  monuments.
Another  example  comes  from  early  Mughal  architecture.  In  the  Humayun’s  tomb  one  would  find  six-pointed  stars  at  all  major  gates  and  arches of  the  tomb  which  is  argued  by Nath (1976)  to  be  representing  the  union  of  Shiva  and  Shakti,  though  there  are  others  who  do  not  agree  with  this. For instance. Lowry (1987) argues that the six-pointed star was a symbol of the relation of Mughal Emperor Akbar with his father Humayun and represents more than one architectural traditions:
Just as the tomb is both a private resting place for a single person and a dynastic site, the six-pointed stars serve to symbolize both Humayun and his descendants. Akbar’s need to associate himself with his father may have been a reflection of his belief that through Humayun he possessed a divine light that distinguished him from all of his rivals, including his brothers. This light, according to Abu’l Fazl, originated with the semi-mythical Mongol queen Alanquva, who, after having been widowed, “was reposing on her bed [one night] when a glorious light cast a ray into the tent and entered the mouth and throat of that fount of spiritual knowledge and glory. The cupola of chastity became pregnant by that light in the same way as did Her Majesty… Miryam [the Virgin Mary]”. This light initiated a line of noble rulers that included Chinghiz Khan and Timur as well as the Mughals and “was the beginning of the manifestation of his Majesty, the king of kings (Akbar), who after passing through divers stages was revealed to the world from the holy womb of her Majesty Miryam-makani for the accomplishment of things visible and invisible.
By Lowry’s interpretation (1987), there is a clear resonance between the genesis of the Mongols and Timurids with the Christian beliefs of the birth of Christ. This is a diversification of the representation of symbols in the Humayun’s tomb which could be seen as Islamic but also as Sanskritic as well as Christian, thus, unravelling the interpenetrations between different religious symbolisms. Additionally, as Dickie (1985) argues, the Mughal gardens borrowed, relied and remained faithful to the Roman idea of garden, namely, ‘hortus’, which is also responsible for bringing horticulture to the Indian plains. The beauty of Islamic architecture in India lies in the utilisation of the techniques that was known to the architects of the period which mixed with other indigenous conditions to reproduce new forms of architecture.
Delhi  is  hence  representative  of  different  cultures,  and  shows  sometimes  an  amicable  and  sometimes  a  tacit  relationship.  This  aspect  is  by  no  means  Delhi  centric.  This  is  replete  in  almost  all  the  historic  cities  of  India, especially those which witnessed Muslim rule at some point.  The  idea  to  study  Delhi  and  observe  the  multicultural  facets  of  the  city  stems  from  the  need  to  understand  the  state  of multiculturalism  in  cities  of India  today,  where,  what  is  essential  is  the  peaceful  accommodation  of  the  various  cultural  and  religious  pluralism  that  the  country  is  known  to  uphold,  while  at  the  same  time  envisaging  a  plan  which  would  include  the  urban  features.    What  is  important  is  to  understand   that  the  urban  spaces  are  indeed  limited,  and  the  cosmopolitan  and  the  cultural  would  have  to  reconciled  with  within  a  given  space.  This  is  the  most  crucial  challenge  that  has  to  be  coped  up with  in  order  to  study  multiculturalism  in  India.
The main intention of the purpose is to argue for a society which is multicultural and cosmopolitan at the same time. For some observers, the historical and exotic structures of the medieval period have given way to homogenising tendencies of the present era: yet the historical masterpieces are unmatched hitherto and continue to be symbolic in aspects of culture, tradition and people (Hosagrahar 2012: 283-84). The reason for studying multiculturalism through Islamic architecture is two-fold: firstly, it brings to the fore the interactions between cultures and traditions several centuries back and its representation through monuments and structures; secondly, in the contemporary Indian scenario, it puts Islamic architecture, its relevance, symbolism and resilience through the ages. Rather than being antithetical to the indigenous cultures, it was rather assimilative and bore the earliest signs of diversity. This also contradicts the anti-multicultural narrative, which reiterates the differences and divergences between cultures rather than their strength and capability to accommodate.
Eller (1997), in this context,  argues  that  the  dangers  of  multiculturalism  has  been  overstated.  The  worries  of  multiculturalists,  argues  Eller (1997),  is  that  the  centre  of  intellectuals  and  cultural  attention  on  the  European  or  European-derived  elements  of  America  while  the  rest  are  pushed  to  the  category  of  the  ‘other’.  He  also  cites  emotional  danger  which  excluded  groups  develop  transform  into  ‘low  self-esteem’  and,  therefore,  have  dangers  of   low  occupation.  Another  danger  is  an  intellectual  one.  Knowledge  would  be  incomplete  because  it  includes  only  a  part  of  the  total  knowledge.  He  points  out  that  knowledge,  value,  and  culture  could  be  renegotiated  and  recontested,  and  this  multiculturalists  argue  must  be  restructured  to  reflect  the  nation’s  ethnic  and  cultural  diversity.
Anti-multiculturalists  claim  that  multiculturalist  argument  denies  common  identity.  They  argue  that  multicultural  concepts  would  fragment  the  society  and  result  in  its  collapse.  In the context of American society, Takaki (1993) argues that the ‘campaign against multiculturalism’ reflects anxiety on part of the dominant sections of the society, who attempt to understand themselves through the lens of others. Diversity,  argues  Eller (1997),  is  a  reality  which  could  not  be  done  away  with;  therefore  the  need  to  debate  upon  it  and engage  with  it.
It  is  also  a  heated  debate  today  whether  or  not  multiculturalism  is  a  relevant  concept  in  the  age  of  globalization.  The  main  aim  of  multiculturalism  is  to  give  the  diverse  groups  due  representation  irrespective  of  their  numerical  strength,  rather  than  giving  privilege  to  any  one  of  them.   There  are  several  ways  of  deducing  whether  or  not  a  society  or  people  follow  multiculturalism—  education  systems,  curriculums,  religious  festivities  and  so  on. To  observe  whether  there  has  been  any  historical  exegesis  of  cultural  assimilation  which  could  make  society  stable  in  spite  of  different  cultural  facets  is  to  look  back  to  the  development  of  the  particular  society.  This  impedes  a  case  by  case  study  and  looking  into  historical  records  to  argue  if  this  is  reminiscent  of  past  experiences  of  a  society. Although  the  concept  appears  to  have  a  western  ethnocentric  bias,  it  could  nevertheless  be  used  to  study  social  patterns  in  other  parts  of  the  world.  India  is  one  example  where  assimilation  of  the  indigenous  and  the  outsider   is  a  historical  process.  Delhi,  being  at  a  commercial  and  strategic  location,  was  both  more  vulnerable  to  invasion  as  well  as  more  susceptible  to  outside  people.  Therefore  over  a  period  of  time  it  became  home  to  various  civilizations  and  architecture  is  indeed  the  most  magnificent  manifestation  of  these.
The  key  purpose  of  the  essay  has  been  to  outline  some of  the  non-political  aspects  of  multiculturalism.  By  studying  art,  literature,  epigraphs,  and  monuments  one  could  sense  the  manner  in  which  the  society  has  thought  about  ‘other’s’  culture.  Though  history  is  replete  with  examples  of  ethnic  and  cultural  clashes,  it  is  also  important  to  enquire  into  the  process  of  inclusion  or  exclusion.  At  the  same  time,  it  is  important  to  not  just  look  into  the  present  situation  but  also  to  analyse  the  differences  with  the  past.  In  spite  of  the  oft  proclaimed  diversity  what  comes  into  conflict  is  the  ‘communal’  element  of  the  Indian  society  which  has  often  culminated  into  riots  and  bloodshed.  However,  the  hybridity  of  the  Indian  society  has  not  been  compromised  upon.  Multiculturalism  holds  promise  for  stability  of  the  Indian  society,  and  for  that  reason  studying  the  patterns  of  development  of  different  regions  could  bring  results.  Islamic architecture and monuments  could  be  helpful  in  discerning  these  patterns of compromise and assimilation. With growing cultural assertiveness in contemporary times, medieval architecture could be crucial in breathing rationality and balance in the society.
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This  categorization  has  been  taken  from  Hartmann and  Gerteiss  . (2005),  “Dealing  with  Diversity:  Mapping  Multiculturalism  in  Sociological  terms”,  Sociological  Theory,  23 (2), pp. 218-240.

Map  references  are  taken  from  Gaynor Barton  and  Laurraine  Malone’s  Old  Delhi:  10  Historic  Walks  (1988,  3rd  Impression  2010),  Pub  by  Rupa  Publications  Pvt. Ltd.:  New  Delhi.

Panipat, Sonepat, Baghpat and Tilpat are known  other  four  sites  which  are  also  around  the  same  region. Percival Spear  makes a note of this in his book  Delhi: A  Historical  Sketch  (1937).

Koch (1997) points out that Babar’s gardens had very little to do with the concept of paradise for which the later Mughal gardens became famous.

Amna Sunmbul, Research Scholar, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru, University, New Delhi.
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