Indian Architecture

Indian architecture is that vast tapestry of production of the Indian Subcontinent that encompasses a multitude of expressions over space and time, transformed by the forces of history considered unique to the sub-continent, sometimes destroying, but most of the time absorbing new ideas. The result is an evolving range of architectural production that nonetheless retains a certain amount of continuity across history.

The earliest production in the Indus Valley Civilization was characterized by well planned cities and houses where religion did not seem to play an active role, but which demonstrated world-famous city planning.

During the reign of the Gupta and Maurya empires, several Buddhist architectural examples like caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the monumental Sanchi Stupa were built. South India contains several Hindu temples like Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura, Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur, the Sun Temple, Konark, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, and the Buddha stupa (Chinna Lanja dibba and Vikramarka kota dibba) at Bhattiprolu. Angkor Wat and other Buddhist and Hindu temples carry the evidence of Indian influence on South East Asian architecture, as they are built in styles almost identical to traditional Indian temple building.

With the advent of Islamic influence from the west, the erstwhile Indian architecture was slightly adapted to allow the traditions of the new religion. Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal, Gol Gumbaz, Qutub Minar, Red Fort of Delhi are the creations of this era, and are often used as the stereotypical symbols of India, despite the greater antiquity and originality of traditional architecture. The colonial rule of the British Indian Empire saw the development of Indo-Saracenic style, and mixing of several other styles, such as European gothic. Victoria Memorial, Victoria Terminus are notable examples. Recent creations such as Lotus Temple, and the various modern urban developments of India, are also notable.

The traditional system of Vaastu Shastra serves as India’s version of Feng Shui, influencing town planning, architecture, and ergonomics. It is unclear which system is older, but they contain many similarities. Although Feng Shui is more commonly used throughout the world.Though Vastu is conceptually similar to Feng Shui in that it also tries to harmonize the flow of energy, (also called life-force or Prana in Sanskrit and Chi/Ki in Chinese/Japanese), through the house, it differs in the details, such as the exact directions in which various objects, rooms, materials etc are to be placed.

Indian architecture has influence the world, especially eastern Asia, due to the spread of ideas with Buddhism. A number of Indian architectural features such as the temple mound or stupa, temple spire or sikhara, temple tower or pagoda and temple gate or torana, have become famous symbols of Asian culture, used extensively in East Asia and South East Asia. The central spire is also sometimes called a vimanam. The variant southern temple gate, or gopuram is noted for its intricacy and majesty. The arch, a cornerstone of world architecture, was first developed by the Indus Valley civilization and would later be a staple of Indian architecture.

Leave a Comment