“So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.” – Mark Twain
A country with a rich and diverse culture, India is also home to an incredible variety of architectural designs. In the course of a history that spans back over 4,500 years, India has seen the emergence and assimilation of numerous architectural styles. The extant architectural masterpieces of old are a tangible proof of the creative genius of this ancient land.
The ancient Harappan civilization boasted some of the most remarkable evidence of Indian architecture in its unique town planning, while the post-Harappan period saw the transition of its architectural style through a blend of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist depictions. The country’s architectural heritage was further embellished with the emergence of indigenous architecture having distinctive Persian features.
Indian Architecture is a massive accommodation of external influences and cultural inclinations that come together to create its unique architectural identity. The architectural evolution over the centuries has led to a profusion of traditions and styles that borrow liberally from Hindu temple architecture, Indo-Islamic architecture, Mughal Architecture, Rajput Architecture and many more.
Some of the architectural wonders of India that continue to amaze and captivate visitors are:
Taj-Mahal: One of the most impressive and photographed architecture, not only in India but around the entire world has to be the Taj Mahal. Built in 1653 by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a resting abode for his adored Queen Mumtaj, the Taj Mahal is often considered the ultimate ‘Symbol of love’. Built with the extensive use of white marble, along with a central structure topped by a huge dome, this edifice of love is one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves: A remarkable example of rock-cut architecture built between the 2nd to 6th century BCE, these caves are hewed out of volcanic ballistic formations that existed in a linear pattern. Originally the caves were built for monks to practice meditation. The walls of these caves are decorated with engravings of the life of Buddha.
Victoria Memorial: The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata is an iconic landmark that depicts the country’s colonial architectural heritage. The memorial was built by the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, to commemorate the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. The building, which now serves as a museum, was officially opened to the public in 1921 and revives the history of British rule in India through its vast collections. The marvelous architecture comprises of a huge dome as its centerpiece, along with octagonal-domed chhatris, domed corner towers, high portals and terrace
Thikse Monastery: Located in Ladakh, the monastery depicts a 15th century architectural structure. The architecture of the monastery strongly resembles the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, the former official seat of the Dalai LamasThe building nestled on a hill is arranged in an ascending order and based on the importance of the building, it is subdivided so the residents can live in the lower parts while the shrines are located at the top.
Some of the remarkable architectural features include vernacular techniques on its walls, columns and roofs. The rare and magnificent stupas, statues and wall painting add to the architectural creativity of the monastery.