About Indian Architecture

Architecture of India comprises of a wide range of geographically and historically spread structures. It kept on evolving throughout the history of Indian subcontinent. Resultantly an evolving range of architectural panorama is before us. It's so much diversified that it's very difficult to identify a single representative style. It has retained a certain amount of continuity throughout the history. Indian architecture represents the diversity of Indian culture and comprises of a mix of ancient and varied native traditions, with building types, forms and techniques from West, Central Asia, and Europe. Here follows a brief introduction of some prominent styles of Indian Architecture.

Harappan Civilization

Harappan civilization is believed to be the oldest in India. It comprised of many urban settlements, along with the large cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. It was characterized by numerous house types, many of them had private baths connected to public drainage systems. One main citadel in the city was raised above residential and production districts where streets were laid out in a grid plan and lined by drains. Granaries and trading depots and the Great Bath are some noted evidences of Harappan Civilization.

Buddhist and Jain Architecture

Viharas (Buddhist monasteries) were built after the demise of Lord Buddha, specifically during the Mauryan Empire (321 - 232 B.C). This style is generally characterized by Stupa monuments and Chaityas (meditation halls housing a stupa). The period also witnessed the beginning of stone architecture. Palace remains at Pataliputra and Ashoka Stambha (monolithic free-standing columns) were inscribed with edicts put up by the Emperor Ashoka. The period is also marked for the introduction of brilliant rock-cut architecture.

Hindu Temple Architecture

The texts by Panini (520 BC - 460 BC) and Patanjali have described the reference to Hindu temples in literature goes back to 5th century BC. Later on, these architectural styles specified into southern Dravida and northern Nagara styles that emerged as the dominant modes of temple architecture. These differed mainly in the shape of roofing structure. The former one resembles with a stepped pyramid while the latter one has a curved profile, which has epitomized in some architectural wonders including Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur, and Sun Temple of Konark. Jain temples of medieval period are noted for the richness of sculptural detail and material, specially in Solanki temple style of Gujarat. It can easily be seen in Dilwara Temples in Mt. Abu and Ananthanatha Swami Temple at Puliyarmala, outside Kalpetta.

Islamic Architecture

With the advent if Islam in India, architecture of India got influenced by external elements up to a very large extent. Delhi Sultanate witnessed and rather propelled the evolution of a new style of Indian architecture. Qutub Minar in Delhi is the most glittering star of the galaxy of Delhi Sultanate monuments. Later onwards, Mughal emperors proved to be a great admirers or proponents of art and architecture. The monuments of this period are noted world wide for their mind-blowing beauty and perfection. Mughal architecture absorbed Hindu architecture and Persian styles with equal ease. Some of the examples of Mughal architecture include Taj Mahal, Red Fort, monuments of Fatehpur Sikri, Gol Gumbad and Agra Fort.

Some World Heritage Sites in India

  • Agra Fort
  • Ajanta Caves
  • Chola Temples
  • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi
  • Churches and Convents of Goa
  • Elephanta Caves
  • Ellora Caves
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
  • Khajuraho Group of Monuments
  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
  • Qutub Minar and its Monuments, Delhi

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