Indian Architecture

Indian Architecture

Indian Architecture:

India has a rich culture and history of Art and Architecture. The Indian architecture is a marvellous piece of art which has evolved through different centuries. The different ages like the Mesolithic, Palaeolithic, Chalcolithic and Neolithic age along with Indus Valley civilisation has made a huge impact on Indian architecture. It was a very well planned city during Harappan period. The towns were built with proper walls, roads, public bath and sanitation

Even though the towns that were built during Indus Valley Civilisation give us extensive town planning still the beginning of Indian architecture can be traced during the Buddhism period. Much of the buildings that were built earlier were in wood but most of it has not survived.

The architectural monuments are one of the most important tourist’s attractions in India. Some of the magnificent architectural caves, temples and many other came up during the Buddhists period include Ajanta and Ellora caves, stupas, Viharas, Rock cut cave temples and many more.

The influence of the rulers of different dynasties along with regional influence further improved the Indian architecture. The southern part of India mostly developed the Hindu temple architecture under the dynasties of Chola, Chalukya's Hoysala’s, Vijayanagara Empire, Chera’s and Pandya’s while the north India developed mostly Indo Islamic architecture under Delhi Sultanate and Mughal rule. In central part of India the magnificent Khajuraho temple was built during the Chandela period.

Later with the invasion of French, Dutch, British and Portuguese the architecture was further improved and thus a new architecture of European style known as Indo Saracenic style of architecture. The Indo Saracenic was a blend of Hindu, Islam along with Western style. Here are some of the details of the different architecture at different stages

Harappan Architecture

Harappan civilisation is one of the most interesting and oldest civilisations in the world. The Indus Valley Civilisation covered a large part of area near Indus River. The discoveries made at these architectural sights give us a clear idea of the beautiful town planning done during that period. They used baked bricks, a much planned drainage and water system and properly built residential buildings. The major cities like Mohenjo Daro and Harappa had close to 60,000 individuals staying.

The town was built in rectilinear shape. The houses were usually built on manmade hills. 

Ancient Indian Architecture:

It is the important phase of architecture which was from Indian Bronze age to around 800 CE. During this period there was a slight decline in Buddhism and Hinduism was more predominant. The urbanisation around the Gangetic Plains around 1200 BC emerged with more of fortified cities. The Mahajanpada period was an important phase in the ancient Indian architecture. The Nagara and the Dravidian architectural style which developed in medieval period gave rise to Hindu temple architecture. For further on Ancient Indian architecture click here.

Buddhist Architecture

Buddhists Architecture:

Buddhists architecture can be traced back to the Mauryan Period when King Ashoka made Buddhism as the religion of the state and started following the principles of the religion. There are three types of structure that are associated with early religious Buddhists architecture that are the monasteries, the stupas and the shrines. One of the earliest stupa that is present is in Sanchi stupa. King Ashoka is said to have built around 84,000 stupas.

Some of the best examples of Buddhist stupa include Amaravati, Sanchi, Barhut and Gaya. With the change in time the stupa were slowly incorporated into the prayer Halls. The stupa architecture was adopted even in the South East Asia. As the years passed there were many changes even in the Buddhist architecture.

Rock cut Architecture

Cave Architecture:

It is believed that cave architecture would have started around 3rd century in India. Most of these caves were used by Buddhists and Jain monks for doing prayers and even for residing. Caves were considered to be a sacred place in India as it was associated with different religions Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Some of the earliest caves include Bhaja Caves, Karla Caves and Bedse Caves. Cave temples are found in many parts of India. Some of the other major UNSECO world Heritage caves are Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Rock Cut Architecture:

Rock cut architecture is one of the most important architecture that was present since very ancient period. Rock cut architecture is the creation of the structure of carving into the natural rocks. Rock cut architecture is present since the Mauryan period and Buddhism. In India caves are considered as sacred and the man made caves also have the same sanctity as that of natural caves.

Some of the prominent rock cut structures includes chaityas, Viharas and temples. Earlier the caves used were natural caves. One of the oldest surviving rock cut caves include Barbara caves which is situated in Jehanabad district of Bihar. Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves has both natural and artificial caves which were built near Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India. Both the caves are adjacent to each other. Udayagiri has 18 caves and Khandagiri has around 15 caves.

Gupta Architecture:

Gupta Empire is a very important Empire which came into existence from mid third century. Gupta Empire is considered as Golden age of India. It ruled most part of the Indian subcontinent. Some of the important rulers include Chandragupta I, Samudragupta and Chandragupta II. This period was very famous for art and architecture. The Hindu temple architecture was at the beginning stage during Gupta period. Some of the famous temple includes Dashavatara temple, Mahabodhi temple and Udayagiri Caves.

Temple architecture

Hindu temple Architecture:

Most of the temple architecture has similar pattern and style with Garbha griha and Gopua and the entrance. Most of the ancient temples are very big with the whole temple being decorated with carvings of various Gods and Goddess. The Hindu temple architecture showed the ideas of Dharma, beliefs, values of Hindu Philosophy and also the life under Hinduism. The architecture is designed in such a way that there is a link between man and God which shows him the spiritual path and attain moksha.

Indo Islamic Architecture:

With the coming of Muslims to India many changes took place in the art and architecture of India. The Indo Islamic architecture is a combination of Islamic and Indian architecture. The mosques and the tombs which were different from Indian architecture became common in the Indian Architecture. The architecture during the medieval period can  broadly be divided into two categories namely architecture of Delhi Sultanate and Mughal architecture. Some of the monuments built during this period include Qutb Minar, Taj Mahal, Humayun’s tomb and many more which are world famous even to this date.

Colonial Architecture

Colonial Architecture:

Colonization of India had a huge impact on the architecture of India. Some of the major powers that colonized India include French, Portuguese, Dutch and British. This led to the development of Indo Sarcenic architecture which was a blend of Indian architecture with European styles. The Indo Sarcenic architecture combined the Hindu, Islam and western elements. One of the classical examples is the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.

Further after India got independence in the year 1947 much new architecture has evolved and new buildings have come up.

Jain architecture:

Jain architecture bears resemblance with Hindu and Buddhists architecture. It was usually the same carvers who worked for most of all the religions. One of the main objectives of the Jain architecture was to preserve the religions sentiments, feelings and culture extensively. Some of the earlier Jain architecture is the Indian rock cut architecture. Some of the excellent rock cut architecture is found in Mathura and Bundelkand. Jain architecture and temples also share along with other religions in places like Badami, Aihole, Ellora and Udayagiri. Jain temples are usually built in marble with ornamentation.

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