Part 7: Design of the Palace

The Hilltop Palace in the Fort of Daulatabad, by Carl Lindquist

The system of measurement used in the design of the hilltop palace is one that was employed frequently during Shah Jahan’s reign. Equaling about .81 of a meter, it is known as the Shah Jahani gaz, a unit of measurement which roughly approximates a meter. This unit was established by the emperor himself, a modification of an earlier measurement known as the Ilahi gaz. The use of the Shah Jahani gaz in the design of the hilltop palace is a technical similarity between this structure and other buildings constructed during Shah Jahan’s reign. Throughout the palace, the use of the Shah Jahani gaz is evident. For example, the width of pillars facing the courtyard is equal to .81 of a meter, or 1 gaz. The width of the windows in the cloister equal 2 gaz, and the central courtyard is 20 gaz in length and width.

The use of this system of measurement is further evinced by placing a grid over the reconstruction of the floor plan, as seen in the diagram above. This configuration indicates that the architect generated the design of the structure using a grid based on Shah Jahani gaz. Using squares with sides equaling 10 gaz, diagonals pass through the angled doorways of the large octagonal room, and the center of this space therefore becomes a point of intersection. Alignment can be found at the two smaller octagonal rooms, where the diagonals parallel the sides adjacent to the courtyard. Further, a square measuring 25 Shah Jahani gaz (shown by dashed lines) can be generated by using diagonals to connect the corners of the courtyard; extending these lines through the centers of the small octagonal rooms, they connect with diagonals parallel with the angled sides of the cloister.

The use of Shah Jahani gaz shows a technical relationship shared by the hilltop palace and other construction projects commissioned by Shah Jahan. The Daulat-Khana, which court histories confirm was commissioned by Shah Jahan, was designed using the same system of measure and a similar grid plan. This similarity in plan and other parallels of design demonstrate that the hilltop palace was based on this earlier Shah Jahani design, as will be discussed in the next section.