Culturally medieval period marks the beginning of new stage in the growth of India's composite culture. It saw the introduction of new features in art and architecture of India and their diffusion to all parts of the country. The architecture that developed during this period was the result of the synthesis of the traditions of Central Asia and Persia with the pre-existing Indian styles. During the 15th and 16th centauries distinctive styles of art and architecture also developed in the regional kingdoms which had emerged with the disintegration of the Sultanate.
During this time notable advances were made in the development of languages and literature. Two new languages-Arabic and Persian became a part of India's linguistic heritage. Historical writings for the first time became an important component of Indian literature. Under the influence of Persian, new forms of literature such as the ghazal were introduced. The period saw two great religious movements. The Bhakti movement spread throughout the country.
It disapproved religious narrow-mindedness, superstitions and observance of formal rituals. The Bhakti saints condemned caste inequalities and laid stress on human brotherhood. The other was Sufi movement. The Sufis or the Muslim mystics preached the message of love and human brotherhood. These two movements played a leading role in combating religious exclusiveness and narrow -mindedness and in bringing the people of all communities together. Sikhism began to emerge as a new religion based on the teachings of Guru Nanak and other saints. The growth of a composite culture reached its highest point under the Great Mughals in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Mughals built an empire which once again brought about the political unification of a large part of the country.
Akbar the greatest Mughal Emperor followed the policy of Sulhkul (peace with all). Some of the finest specimen of Indian architecture and literature belong to this period. A new significant art form was painting which flourished under the patronage of the Mughal court. Influenced by the Persian traditions the Mughal painting developed into a distinct Indian style. It later spread to other parts of the country in various regional styles. Another significant development was the emergence of a new language Urdu which became the lingua franca of the people of the towns in many parts of the country.