The City of Gods and Fortune: An Architectural and Urban History of Daulatabad, ca. 13th–15th Centuries

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


History of Art

First Advisor

Kaligotla, Subhashini


The fortified city of Daulatabad in Deccan India was of comparable size and prestige to Delhi between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. Daulatabad was situated on important pilgrimage and mercantile routes and attracted immigrants from various parts of the world. Due to its significance and strategic location, political powers from northern and southern India—practicing both Hinduism and Islam—fought fierce battles over the city. Several of them made it their capital. Despite its importance, Daulatabad is often treated as a footnote to Delhi, and its rich architecture and urban layout have not been art historically examined. The City of Gods and Fortune places Daulatabad at the heart of medieval South Asia. By analyzing an important but neglected corpus of architectural and urban spaces from the region, the dissertation demonstrates that Daulatabad is essential to writing an integrated history of medieval South Asia that crosses political, religious, and linguistic lines. The dissertation reveals that Daulatabad was a political center built in a sacred landscape, one that linked the histories of northern and southern India. In five chapters, I trace the material facts of this linked history through a close analysis of architectural works, which are primarily of a religious nature—temples, mosques, shrines, minarets. I examine these architectural sources in a broader sociopolitical context through primary texts in multiple languages: Sanskrit, Marathi, Persian, Arabic, and Urdu. Equally, I compare the Daulatabad buildings with others in South Asia and the greater Islamic world, shedding light on how historical actors constructed and utilized works of architecture in Daulatabad. The comparative methodology connects the history of Daulatabad with other urban centers at the time. Among the themes that emerge from this art historical and textual analysis is the issue of race—a subject with which scholars have seldom engaged in the premodern South Asian context. Organized chronologically, the dissertation takes a multifaceted approach to studying Daulatabad’s built environment and includes new photographs, plans, maps, drawings, and translations of epigraphs from the region. Several architectural works included in the dissertation have been art historically examined for the first time; these include, for example, the Old Mosque of Daulatabad (1307), the Chini Mahal (mid-fourteenth century), the Burhan al-Din Tomb (1343–44), and the Chand Minar (1446). I examine these and other works by focusing on four broad themes: the study of sacred landscapes (chapter 1), the role of religion in shaping architectural spaces (chapters 2 and 4), the effects of cross-cultural encounters in shaping a city (chapter 3), and the function of race and ethnicity in architectural design (chapter 5). The City of Gods and Fortune thus contributes to the study of South Asian and Islamic architecture and urbanism by critically engaging with ongoing debates in landscape studies, religious studies, cross-cultural studies, and race and ethnicity studies, and their relationship with the arts.

This document is currently not available here.