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The Fascinating History of Architecture in India

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

India has a rich and diverse history of architecture, with roots that stretch back thousands of years. From ancient temples and fortresses to modern skyscrapers and sustainable designs, Indian architecture has evolved and adapted to the changing needs and tastes of the people over the centuries. In this essay, we'll explore the fascinating history of architecture in India and take a closer look at some of the most important and influential buildings and architectural styles.

 

Hindu Architecture

Hindu architecture is a term that refers to the architectural styles and designs that have been used in the construction of Hindu temples and other religious buildings in India. Hindu architecture has a long and rich history, with roots that stretch back thousands of years. Over time, Hindu architecture has evolved and adapted to the changing needs and tastes of the people, but it has always been characterized by its distinctive features and motifs.


Elaborate and intricate carvings on temple

One of the most important and distinctive features of Hindu architecture is the shikhara, which is a tall, curving tower that sits atop the main temple building. The shikhara is often decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures, and it is a defining feature of Hindu temple architecture. Another important feature of Hindu architecture is the mandapa, which is a large, open pillared hall that is often used as a gathering place for worshipers.

Hindu temples are also known for their elaborate and intricate carvings and sculptures. These carvings and sculptures are often religious in nature, and they are used to depict various gods, goddesses, and other religious figures. Hindu temples are also known for their beautiful and ornate stone and metal work, which is often used to adorn the walls, pillars, and gates of the temple. In addition to temples, Hindu architecture also includes a number of other types of buildings, such as palaces, tombs, and fortresses. These buildings are often decorated with the same features and motifs as temples, and they often incorporate advanced engineering techniques and sophisticated design elements.

One of the most famous examples of Hindu architecture in India is the Brihadeswara Temple in Thanjavur, which was built in the 11th century CE. This temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is notable for its massive size – the shikhara tower alone is over 60 meters tall – and its intricate carvings and sculptures. The temple is also known for its advanced engineering – the main dome of the temple is made of a single block of granite that weighs over 80 tons, and it is said to have been lifted into place by a team of elephants.

Brihadeswara Temple in Thanjavur

In conclusion, Hindu architecture is an important and distinctive part of India's cultural heritage. From ancient temples to modern buildings, Hindu architecture has evolved and adapted over the centuries, but it has always been characterized by its distinctive features and motifs. Today, Hindu architecture continues to play a vital role in the religious and cultural life of India, and it remains an important part of the country's cultural identity.

 

Mughal Architecture

Mughal architecture is a term that refers to the architectural styles and designs that were used in India during the Mughal Empire, which lasted from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Mughal architecture was influenced by a number of different styles and traditions, including Persian, Indian, and Islamic architecture. As a result, Mughal architecture is characterized by its fusion of different styles and its use of elaborate and ornate design elements.



Red Fort in new Delhi

One of the most distinctive features of Mughal architecture is its use of domes. The Mughals were skilled at building domes, and they used them extensively in the construction of their buildings. Mughal domes are often large and impressive, and they are often adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures. Another important feature of Mughal architecture is its use of arches. Mughal arches are often tall and pointed, and they are often used to create grand and imposing entrances to buildings. In addition to domes and arches, Mughal architecture is also characterized by its use of intricate and elaborate carvings and decorations. Mughal buildings are often decorated with beautiful and intricate carvings, which are often religious in nature. Mughal buildings are also known for their use of beautiful and ornate stone and metal work, which is often used to adorn the walls, pillars, and gates of the building.


Taj Mahal - Image courtesy - De Ferranti

One of the most famous examples of Mughal architecture in India is the Taj Mahal, which was built in the 17th century. This stunning building, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its intricate carvings, beautiful gardens, and the stunning marble dome that sits atop the main building. The Red Fort in Delhi, which was built in the 17th century, is another famous example of Mughal architecture. This massive complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the main residence of the Mughal emperors, and it is known for its beautiful gardens, intricate carvings, and imposing walls and gates.

In conclusion, Mughal architecture is an important and distinctive part of India's cultural heritage. The Mughals brought with them a love of elaborate and ornate design, and this is reflected in the many beautiful buildings that were built during this period. Today, Mughal architecture continues to be an important part of India's cultural identity, and it is a major tourist attraction for visitors to the country.


 

British colonial architecture


British colonial architecture is a term that refers to the architectural styles and designs that were used in India during the period of British rule, which lasted from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. British colonial architecture was influenced by a number of different styles and traditions, including Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian architecture. As a result, British colonial architecture in India is characterized by its fusion of different styles and its use of classical motifs, symmetrical designs, and grand proportions.


One of the most distinctive features of British colonial architecture in India is its use of classical motifs. British colonial buildings in India often incorporate classical elements, such as columns, arches, and pediments, into their design. These elements are often used to create a sense of grandeur and elegance, and they are often combined with other design elements, such as intricate carvings and decorations, to create a truly impressive and imposing appearance. Another important feature of British colonial architecture in India is its use of symmetrical designs. British colonial buildings in India are often designed to be symmetrical, with matching wings, facades, and other features on either side of the building. This symmetry helps to create a sense of balance and harmony, and it is often used to create a sense of formality and dignity.


In addition to its use of classical motifs and symmetrical designs, British colonial architecture in India is also known for its grand proportions. British colonial buildings in India are often large and imposing, with high ceilings, large rooms, and grand staircases. This grandeur is often enhanced by the use of large windows, which let in plenty of natural light, and by the use of ornate decorations and embellishments, which add to the overall sense of grandeur and opulence.

One of the most famous examples of British colonial architecture in India is the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. This stunning building, which was built in the early 20th century, is a testament to the grandeur and elegance of British colonial architecture in India. The Victoria Memorial is a large and imposing building, with a grand entrance, large windows, and intricate carvings and decorations. It is also surrounded by beautiful gardens, which add to its overall beauty and charm.

In conclusion, British colonial architecture is an important and distinctive part of India's cultural heritage. British colonial buildings in India are known for their fusion of different architectural styles, their use of classical motifs and symmetrical designs, and their grand proportions. Today, British colonial architecture continues to be an important part of India's cultural identity, and it is a major tourist attraction for visitors to the country.


 

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