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Visual Arts : Architecture of India

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Visual Arts : Architecture of India

Architecture is indeed the form of visual art which depicts the progress of human civilizations in India since the Stone Age. Indian architecture has developed to a huge extent from the most primitive types of human habitation to splendid temples, monuments and palaces. Indian architecture is accepted as one of the most enduring achievement at an international by critics and historians alike.
It can be clearly presumed that, Indian culture is reflected through splendid archaeological styles. The beautiful palaces, Churches, temples, mosques and memorials built in India was long before Christ and since then it has been continuing. Indus Valley Civilization is one of the oldest examples for the remarkable architecture form in India.

There are different architectural styles and forms that were employed for the construction of temples in ancient India.

Architecture Origin in India- Ancient India:


Indian architecture and styles were evolved some 5000 years back with the earliest art form emerging during Indus valley civilization. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were the earliest planned city flourished in India.

Given below are the main features which show the urban civilization of the sites, monuments and buildings of Indus valley civilization.The three main types of the buildings that existed during that period were dwelling- houses, pillared buildings and public bath. Buildings in the Harappan times were utilitarian in nature. They were well-developed and progressed. Brunt mud bricks were used as building materials. It is a noted fact that the raw materials used during this period were indeed very unique yet very strong, so strong that they have lasted for ages and stand strong even today. The Great bath is still considered as the best construction of Indus valley civilization.

The Vedic Period:

The Aryans arrived in India around 1500 BC. The main features of the Vedic period architecture are as follows-
The materials used for the construction of the houses during this period were wood, bamboo, reeds, buildings brick and stones primarily. Wood was mainly used for the construction of royal palaces. Fire altars which came into existence in Vedic period played a very important role in the social life of people.

Buddhism and Jainism Period:

With the emergence of Buddhism and Jainism in India (563 BC -483 BC), monasteries, temples and stupas came into existence. With the spread of Buddhism culture, usage of wood for the construction of houses gradually declined.


The most spectacular example of ancient art is Rock cut structures, related to the major religious communities of India. In some sites of Karle, wood was used as a main construction material. The architectural structure of rock cut temples was different from other temples existed at that time. Inside the temple, pictures of monks were carved out of the window, and balconies with huge arch shape opening. This is totally different from Cave architecture, which was another important aspect of 3rd century BC caves. Chaitya and Vihars are some of the best example for this type of architecture. Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra is another classic example of this kind of architecture.

In ancient India, different architecture styles were used for the construction of temples like the Nagara, Dravida and the Vesara. Temples in the Northern and southern part were distinguished on the basis of Sikhara and gateways. Some of the best examples of the northern or the Nagara style of temple architecture are- Sun temple at Konark,  and Sun temple at Modhera. The Dravidian style of temple is famous in southern part of India like, Tanjore, Mahabalipuram, Badami and Kanchipuram which were enclosure around the temples with the huge gateway.

Medieval India Art and Architecture:

Medieval India saw certain more developments in the field of art and architecture. Arrival of the Turks in India saw some major changes in the architectural style of the buildings, mosques and temples. As inspired by Islamic art, this period is also known as Indo- Islamic. There are two types of architecture styles prevalent under the rule of Mughal rule of India
Imperial style of architecture were introduced by the Sultans of Delhi which are the Quwwatul Islam Mosque and Qutub Minar in Delhi. Islamic style, which was the best art form of the Mughals can be witnessed in the architecture of Taj Mahal in Agra.

North- Indian Temples Architecture:

The engineering features of the buildings, palaces and mosques were blended with the features of indigenous architecture in the medieval period in the northern part of India. Domes, arches and minarets became the main style of architecture. Islamic mosques were pre dominant in the northern part of India. These monuments are Jama Masjid, Gol Gumbaz ( largest dome in the world), Hauz Khas in Delhi, the tomb of Mohammad Tughlaq, Firoz Tughlaq were hydraulic in nature, which includes

South- Indian Temple Architecture:

 In Southern India, both the styles of architecture - Imperial and Islamic were adopted. Halebid temple, Konark temple were some of the new ideas developed under that period.

Mughal Style of Art:

Marbles reflects the Mughal style of architecture during Medieval India. The buildings were strongly influenced by the ancient style of architecture, which had courtyard and pillars. Marbles were used extensively. Design in inlay work, beautiful arches and minarets were the main structures of the buildings and the palaces constructed by them during this period.

Colonial India Architecture:

The architecture in India has progressed with each passing era and was influenced by India's global discourse with the rest of the world throughout its ancient years. Indian Architecture in this particular age mainly depicts the social, religious and cultural way of life in that very period of time. Colonial period saw a final impact on the architecture of India. Different design styles had been adopted by British India, which culminated with Hindu, Muslim and English elements.

Colonial period showed a major development in the architectural style in the second half of 19th century. Various buildings of government offices, post offices and Churches were foremost influence of this period.
The architectural style of these structures includes-
Greek and Roman influence in Indian architecture were observed in colonnades and pillared buildings. Greco- roman, Scottish, Gothic styles were combined with the Indian style to give it a different design. Brick was the prime material used by Britishers.

The classical and Baroque were another attractive styles used for the innovation in architecture of India. Walter Carnville’s in Calcutta and General post Office were created to enhance this flair of art.
Gothic style become the British expression, as it was cheaper to build, and had the commendation of the best authorities. Design features like canopies and jaali are for the construction of the buildings. The British started having changes in the Mughal art in palaces, dining and drawing rooms were introduced and statues and marble painting and other painting were displayed at the entrance.
Bamboo , cow dung and mud bricks were mainly used for the construction of houses. But later on material of good quality were in demand, which is clearly reflected in the flat roofs made from woods, and the terracotta used for the rooms. Moreover, they import good kind of materials from other countries to reflect their art in the buildings.

Law courts, Presidency College and Senate house of Chennai, Muir College at Allahabad, the maharaja palace at Mysore, St Martin’s Garrison church, Victoria Memorial in Calcutta are outstanding examples of such type of architecture in India.

Modern India Architecture:

India saw a high level of planning in the architectural style by the end of 20th century. This new phase saw many architectural changes in India. The best example of modern architecture in India is Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab. The change in style of architecture, the vaulted structure and concrete dome and the use of concrete cubes were the basic feature of this architecture. The major design of the railway station at Alwar, Rajasthan reflects Indian modern architecture. Buildings in Chennai and Tamil Nadu are the other major developments in India.

The materials used for the construction of temples and buildings during this period were mud and clay, Rock, thatch, Brush, wood, brick and block, glass, metal, fabric and foam. However, all of these are the new ingredients used for the building structure, which are different from ancient and medieval India.
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