Indian Architecture through the Ages
Early Indian Architecture
The Indus civilization or the Harappan civilization, which flourished during the Bronze Age i.e. 2500-2000 BC is ranked among the four widely known civilizations of the old world. Extensive excavation work that has been done since Independence has so far identified more than 100 sites belonging to this The Indus civilization or the Harappan civilization, which flourished during the Bronze Age i.e. 2500-2000 BC is ranked among the four widely known civilizations of the old world. Extensive excavation work that has been done since Independence has so far identified more than 100 sites belonging to this civilization. A few prominent among them are Dholavira (Gujarat), Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Lothal (Gujarat), Sarkotada (Gujarat), Diamabad (Maharashtra), Alamgirpur (U.P.), Bhagwanpura (Haryana), Banawali (Haryana), Kuntasi, Padri (Gujarat) and Mauda (Jammu).

Extensive town planning was the characteristic of this civilization, which is evident from the gridiron pattern for the layout of cities, some with fortifications and the elaborateLothal relic drainage and water management systems. The houses were built of baked bricks, which is rare in contemporary civilizations at Mesopotamia and Egypt. Bricks of fixed sizes, as well as stone and wood were also used for building. Buildings in the lower area are rather monotonous, being mainly functional rather than decorative. But many houses are two storeyed. The most imposing of the buildings is the Great Bath of Mohenjodaro. It is 54.86 metres long and 32.91 metres wide and with 2.43 metres thick outer walls. The Bath had galleries and rooms on all sides. Another important structure was the Granary complex comprising of blocks with an overall area of 55 x 43 metres. The granaries were intelligently constructed, with strategic air ducts and platforms divided into units.

Mauryan Architecture
If the remnants of the Indus culture are excluded, the earliest surviving architectural heritage in India is that of the Mauryans. The Mauryan period was a great landmark in the history of Indian art. Some of the monuments and pillars belonging to this period are considered as the finest specimens of Indian art. The Mauryan architecture was embalmed in timber, for rocks and stones were not as freely in use then. The art of polishing of wood reached so much perfection during the Mauryan period that master craftsmen used to make wood glisten like a mirror. Chandra Gupta Maurya had built many buildings, palaces and monuments with wood, most of which perished with time. In 300 B.C., Chandragupta Maurya constructed a wooden fort 14.48 km long and 2.41km wide, along the Ganges in Bihar. However, only a couple of teak beams have survived from this fort.  
Temple Architecture
Different Temple Styles
As temples form the backbone of Indian medieval architectural heritage, it would be appropriate to discuss their basic architectural features before we move on to different styles of Indian architecture. Despite the vastness of the land, Indian temple architecture is remarkably uniform. It is, however, often distinguished into two chief styles, each having numerous sub-styles. The Northern or Indo-Aryan style is marked by a tower with rounded top and curvilinear outline while the Southern or Dravidian style has the tower usually in the shape of a rectangular truncated pyramid.

The standard type of the Hindu temple has remained fundamentally same from the 6th century AD to the present day. The construction of temples – whether in the north in the south – essentially followed a similar pattern. There is the sanctuary or the vimana of which the upper and outer pyramidal and tapering portion is called the shikhara, or pinnacle. The vimana is a rather dark place that houses the divine deity. This small area is called garbha griha, literally meaning 'womb house'. The entrance is through a doorway, normally from the eastern side. The doorway is reached through a mandapa or pillared hall, where devotees congregate for prayers. However, earlier temples may have had the mandapa at a little distance from the main temple (the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram near Chennai, circa 700 A.D.), although this practise was done away with in later constructions. Later it became necessary to unite both buildings, making way for the antarala or intermediate vestibule. A porch or a smaller room called ardha mandapa leads up to a hall (mandapa), which in turn goes into a maha mandapa. A tower generally surmounted the shrine-room while smaller towers rose from other parts of the building. The whole conception was set in a rectangular courtyard, which sometimes contained lesser shrines and was often placed on a raised platform. The most perfect examples of temples on this structure are the Khajuraho temples. Here, each chamber has its own separate pyramidal roof rising in gradual steps so that the final sanctum’s roof towers up, surrounded by smaller spires, finally forming a graceful, rising stepped pyramid.


In some parts of India, the ascending pyramid roof format was not followed. The roof in such temples was still pyramidal, but was formed of layers that gradually became narrower as they rose. A courtyard was built around the temple, and sometimes a wall would be constructed to ensure seclusion. The outer walls were treated by carving in an orderly group of repetitive miniatures. The shikhara or tapering roof was specifically based on this design, which may have originated from the domed huts of central and eastern India.

Indo-Islamic Architecture
Delhi, Provincial & Mughal Styles
Indian architecture took new shape with the advent of Islamic rule in India towards the end of the 12th century A.D. New elements were introduced into the Indian architecture that include: use of shapes (instead of natural forms); inscriptional art using decorative lettering or calligraphy; inlay decoration and use of coloured marble, painted plaster and brilliantly glazed tiles. In contrast to the indigenous Indian architecture which was of the trabeate order i.e. all spaces were spanned by means of horizontal beams, the Islamic architecture was arcuate i.e. an arch or dome was adopted as a method of bridging a space. The concept of arch or dome was not invented by the Muslims but was, in fact, borrowed and was further perfected by them from the architectural styles of the post-Roman period. The Muslims used the cementing agent in the form of mortar for the first time in the construction of buildings in India. They further put to use certain scientific and mechanical formulae, which were derived by experience of other civilizations, in their constructions in India. Such use of scientific principles helped not only in obtaining greater strength and stability of the construction materials but also provided greater flexibility to the architects and builders. This amalgamation of the Indian and the Islamic elements led to the emergence of a new style of architecture called the Indo-Islamic Architecture.

Modern Architecture
The Revivalists and Modernists
After the British left India in 1947, Indian architecture dropped into an abyss. Indian architects, who were relegated to the role of being assistants to the British architects under the British Raj, took their own time to express their ingenuity. Perhaps, there was an identity crisis, a dilemma whether to bask in the glory of the past or move forward with times using new ideas, images and techniques. While in other fields like art, music and culture, the distinct Indian imprint was more enhanced in the post-Independence period, no such thing was discernible in the case of architecture. It is no doubt that the Indian architects were unable to achieve a transformative architecture despite the existence of great potential at the time of Independence.
World Heritage Sites of India
World Heritage Day in India
After the British left India in 1947, Indian architecture dropped into an abyss. Indian architects, who were relegated to the role of being assistants to the British architects under the British Raj, took their own time to express their ingenuity. Perhaps, there was an identity crisis, a dilemma whether to bask in the glory of the past or move forward with times using new ideas, images and techniques. While in other fields like art, music and culture, the distinct Indian imprint was more enhanced in the post-Independence period, no such thing was discernible in the case of architecture. It is no doubt that the Indian architects were unable to achieve a transformative architecture despite the existence of great potential at the time of Independence.
Colonial Architecture
Architecture under the British
European colonists brought with them to India concepts of their "world view" and a whole baggage of the history of European architecture - Neo-Classical, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. The initial structures were utilitarian warehouses and walled trading posts, giving way to fortified towns along the coastline. The Portuguese adapted to India the climatically appropriate Iberian galleried patio house and the Baroque churches of Goa. Se Cathedral and Arch of Conception of Goa were built in the typical Portuguese-Gothic style. The St. Francis Church at Cochin, built by the Portuguese in 1510, is believed to be the first church built by the Europeans in India. The Portuguese also built the fort of Castella de Aguanda near Mumbai and added fortifications to the Bassein fort built by Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat, in 1532 A.D. The Bassein fort is famous for the Matriz (Cathedral of St Joseph), the Corinthian pillared hall and the Porte da Mer (sea gate). The Danish influence is evident in Nagapatnam, which was laid out in squares and canals and also in Tranquebar and Serampore. The French gave a distinct urban design to its settlement in Pondicherry by applying the Cartesian grid plans and classical architectural patterns. The Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus (Eglise De Sacre Coeur De Jesus), the Eglise de Notre Dame de Anges and the Eglise de Notre Dame de Lourdes at Pondicherry have a distinct French influence.


Sculpture in India
Mohendojaro to Cholas
As far as the origin of sculpture is concerned, it goes back to the Stone Age. The Megalithic people buried their dead and constructed monumental stones over them and worshipped them. The change Mohenjodaro Dancing girl over from worshipping the ancestral spirits to a personal God is reflected in making icons of the God with his specific attributes. Tiny terra-cotta seals discovered from the Indus Valley reveal carvings of peepal leaves, deities and animals. The famous figurine of the dancing girl of Mohenjodaro bears witness to the fact that the tradition of sculpture and bronze casting goes back to the Indus Valley Civilisation and shows tremendous sophistication and artistry.

Famous Architects of India
Charles Correa
Charles Correa was born in Hyderabad, India in 1930. He studied at the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology after which he established a private practice in Bombay in 1958. Correa's work in India shows a careful development, understanding and adaptation of Modernism to a non-western culture. Correa's early works attempt to explore a local vernacular within a modern environment. Correa's land-use planning and community projects continually try to go beyond typical solutions to third world problems. An international lecturer and traveller, Correa was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1984, the Aalto Medal and the UIA Gold Medal in 1990.

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