During earlier times, solid surfaces like caves, rocks, cliff faces, rock pillars etc., were used to write inscriptions. Inscriptions were also graved in metals through the years.
i.e. Coins and Copper plates.
Information like the king's royal decrees, dedications, donations, including gifted lands, wars and victories, can be retrieved from monuments, tombs (built-in memory of deceased warriors), and inscriptions on rocks, stones, temple partitions and metals.
Evidence was found that engraved copper plates were used as legal documents during Cholas period. Due to the higher value of Copper metal, inscriptions were written on palm leaf and paper from the 13th century onwards.
The lands gifted to various communities and for varied purposes by the Chola were known by the Inscriptions and copper plates. The gifted lands are as follows:
- Vellanvagai: Land of non-Brahmin peasant owners
- Brahmadeya: Land gifted to Brahmin
- Shalabhoga: Land donated to school
- Devadana, Tirunamattukkani: Land gifted to temples
- Pallichchandam: Land donated to Jaina Institutions
The grants given by the rulers were inscribed on the copper plates portraying the details of the donor and the beneficiary. Whereas the rock inscription portrays only the information about the donor.
The inscription obtained from Uttiramerur village in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu explains how the administrations of villages were conducted.
Monument is a structure which is created to keep the memory of a person or an event. It is a collective term which includes temples, palaces, mosques, tombs, forts, minars and minarets. A new type of architecture was introduced by Delhi Sultanate, which had arches, domes and minarets. This information retrieved from such monuments is used to recreate the history.
Some examples of monuments are given below.
The monuments and temples constructed in northern India during the medieval period helps us to gain knowledge on religion-centered cultural evolution. As far as South India is concerned Thanjavur (Brihadeshwara), Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram, Vitala and Virupaksha temples at (Hampi) speak about the South Indian rulers.
Dilwara Jain Temple
Gangaikondacholapuram Brihadishvar Temple
Following are the important mosques constructed during the medieval period: Quwwat-ul Islam Masjid, Moth-ki-Masjid, Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri Dargah and Charminar (Hyderabad).
Forts & Palaces
The forts of importance during the medieval period are: Agra Fort, Chittor Fort, Gwalior Fort, Delhi Red Fort, Firoz Shah Kotla (Delhi), and forts of Daulatabad (Aurangabad). Palaces in Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur showcase the greatness of the Rajput dynasty.
Information about the medieval period is also obtained from important structures like Qutb Minar, Alai-Darwaza, the tombs of Iltutmish, Balban and from many other Mughal rulers’ prominent structures.
The ruined cities of Hampi in South India, Firozabad and Tughlaqabad in North India reveal the history of medieval India.
Coins of medieval India have a lot of historical significance. Pictures and Symbols imprinted on the coins convey amazing facts about various important kingdoms, and the king's achievements like military conquests, territorial expansion, trade links and religious faith.
The Lakshmi coin was issued by the early Turkish invader Muhammad Ghori (known as Muhammad-bin Sam on his coinage). It tells us that during his reign, there became a likelihood of religious harmony.
The other coin which gives us the information about the king and various important events are as follows:
Copper Jitals of Delhi Sultans. Silver Tanka of Iltutmish, Gold Coin of Ala-ud-din Khalji’s, and copper token currency of Muhammad-bin-Tughluq.