India has always been known for its diverse culture throughout the land. The Indian sub-continent has had a comprehensive history of visitors and invaders leaving behind remnants from their culture shaping the lifestyle of locals and native architecture of their regions. Over time the architectural features and details became a  combination of two or more styles. Although most of the structures were demolished or refurbished as the reigns escalated under new rulers, debris survived in pieces to tell us the story of their evolution. Some of the historical monuments in India that stood the test of time are not being neglected and are losing their essence as a result of poor conservation methods and lack of attention. 

1. Musa Bagh

Structure Typology: Retreat Citadel
Location: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Built Year: Around 1803-1804
Style of work: Indo-European Style
Material:  Brick and Stone

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The Musa Bagh Citadel in Lucknow _©Felice Beato 1858

The Musa Bagh, also known as Baroween, is a citadel built by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan for the retreat and amusement of royal guests. The Kothi which must have been a very grand monument then is in ruins at present. The architectural features that were derived from the ruins implied a very advanced structure. Earthen conduits were running from the flat rooftop in the structure. Two drawings by DS Dodgson in 1858 and smith in 1814 documented the sumptuous gardens that surrounded the Kothi. A part of this citadel sunk completely underground, the remaining was never attempted to preserve and is losing its identity against the test of time.


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Present Day Ruins of the Musa Bagh_ ©Ar. Abhishek Kumar

2. Pathra Village

Structure Typology: Village of Ancient Temples
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
Built Year: Around 200 Years Ago
Style of work: Atchala Style
Material:  Brick and Terracotta

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One of The Temple Ruins in Pathra Village_ ©

Known as a village of nearly 100 ancient temples, Pathra is not only intensely undermined but also not conserved. These beautiful ruins could tell a story for the historical monuments of India on an international platform if preserved and acknowledged. These temples are built in the vernacular Bengal style, also known as the Atchala style of architecture. These temples have intricate detailing on their terracotta body like any other temple architecture which dates to more than 200 years ago. Most of these temples are built in complexes and still have deities inside which could tell a lot about the religious beliefs of the residents back then.

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Detailing on The Terracotta Facade in One of The Temples _©

3. Rukhmini Temple Complex

Structure Typology: Remaining Temples From Palace
Location: Nagpur, Maharashtra
Built Year: Around 1840-50
Style of work: Rajasthani and Orissan
Material:  Marble and Sandstone

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Current Condition of The Rukhmini Temple_ ©Ar. Pranjali Gandhare

Resting in the heart of the busy area of the city, this temple complex goes unnoticed to even locals of the city. Built by Raghuji III, this complex is one of the remaining structures of the palace that once stood there. The complex consists of two temples and is named after Raghuji and one of his courtesan Rukhmini Bai. The temples are called Raghurajeshwar and Rukhmini temples. Although they mark a very important era in the history of the city, they are as good as unobtrusive. These temples are covered in intricate carvings of people, culture and deities praised then. Even after being such artistry, these structures are mistreated and have residences of locals all around them in extremely close proximity. 

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Carvings on the Outer Facade of The Rukhmini Temple _©Ar. Pranjali Gandhare

4. Stone Carvings Of Unakoti

Structure Typology: Religious Carvings and Sculptures of Stone
Location: Unakoti, Tripura
Built Year: Unknown
Style of work: Unknown
Material:  Stone

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Carvings on the Outer Facade of The Rukhmini Temple _©Ks_bluechip|Flickr

These sculptures are left in the hands of nature to be preserved. All the stories revolving around the carvings are mythological and have no specific era or reign to connect to but are assumed to be somewhere around the 7th to 9th centuries. All these sculptures are said to be of Hindu gods and goddesses. In the 16th century, a Mughal emperor of that region caused major destruction to some sculptures on this site. Most of the statues on this site are still undiscovered due to the jungle cover. This place has become a pilgrim site over the years.

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Carvings on the Outer Facade of The Rukhmini Temple _©Ks_bluechip|Flickr

5. Chand Baori

Structure Typology: Step Well And Temple
Location: Abhaneri, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Built Year: 8th Century CE
Style of work: Rajasthani
Material:  Stone

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Ruins of Chand Baori, Jodhpur_ ©

The historical monuments of India are all associated with the rulers and as the rulers changed, alterations were made in the structures from previous reigns. The Chand Baori named after a ruler of Jodhpur and later refurbished by various rulers who ambushed the kingdom around the 18th century is a remarkable structure exhibiting a play of geometry and symmetry in a very grandeur scale. The Chand Baori has 3500 narrow steps leading 20 m below to the bottom of the well. Apart from the stepwell, the structure also has a temple and various ruins of other structures which are said to be demolished during the ambushes and battles. The Baori displays typical Rajasthani architectural features like Jharokas, arches, Jaali, etc.

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Chand Baori’s main well structure_ ©

6. Basgo Monastery

Structure Typology: Buddhist Monastery
Location: Leh-Ladakh
Built Year: 11th Century
Style of work: Rock-cut architecture
Material:  Stone

Image 11_Basgo Monastery From a Distance_ ©Sanjay Dhar

The Basgo Monastery will look like a mountain top to the naked eye from a distance and often goes unnoticed. Constructed in stone and rammed earth, the Basgo was a fort of great military importance to the rulers of Ladakh. Only the base of the eastern part of the structure is remaining in today’s date but even those ruins are enough to tell us the strategic importance this fort must’ve played in its time.

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Ruins of The Palace _©Sanjay Dhar

7. Maluti Temples

Structure Typology: Ancient Temples
Location: Maluti, Jharkhand
Built Year: 17th And 19th Century
Style of work: Temple architecture
Material:  Terracotta

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Carvings on One of The Maluti temple _©Biswaranjan Rout

The Maluti village was once said to be home to 108 temples of which only around 70 temples are remaining to this day. These temples are built in terracotta with convoluted carvings in the facade. These temples are running down against nature with time and are not under care. Most of the carvings are softening up and large cracks can also be seen developing in the structures.

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A Cluster of The Maluti temples _©

8. Kanch Mahal

Structure Typology: Residential Palace
Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Built Year: 1605-1619 AD
Style of work: Mughal Architecture
Material: Red Stone And Plaster

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Front View of The Kanch Mahal_ ©

The Kanch Mahal at Agra derived its name from the tile work on the red sandstone facade. One can observe the characteristics of Mughal architecture such as Islamic arches, Jaali patterns, and carvings of flowers, and patterns of other elements of nature. Like most Mughal monuments, the Kanch Mahal also has a square plan and arched openings. 

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A View of The Kanch Mahal _©

9. Chini ka Rauza Mausoleum

Structure Typology: Funeral Monument
Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Built Year: 1635
Style of work: Mughal architecture
Material:  Marble And Porcelain

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Chini Ka Rauza, Agra _©

Chini Ka Rauza may be situated in the city that we all know for our beloved and most known historical monument, The Taj Mahal, but this has barely made it to the pages. Some even believe that the design of the Taj Mahal was inspired by Chini Ka Rauza. The name ‘Chini’ is derived from the use of tiles in the mosaic pattern which were made of porcelain or ‘Chini Mitti’. This is a monument built to honor Afzal Khan Shirazi’s tomb who was the prime minister to Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The elements appear in the Indo-Persian style of architecture. Although very poorly maintained, a resemblance to certain elements of the Taj Mahal is visible, enough to refer back to Shah Jahan’s reign.

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A View of The Kanch Mahal _©

10. Bada Bagh 

Structure Typology: Reservoir And Memorial
Location: Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Built Year: 1743 AD
Style of work: Rajasthani Architecture
Material:  Sandstone

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Bada Bagh Amidst Desert_ ©

The Bada Bagh rises amid the desert in Rajasthan. Originally it was built only as a reservoir for water, but eventually, many memorials were added to it as we see it today. The Bada Bagh is a typical Rajasthani architectural style with chhatris or cenotaphs being the center of attraction to the casual eye. The design and details of these cenotaphs are way ahead of their time. Historical monuments of India like these should not only be conserved but also promoted and cherished.

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Chhatris at Bada Bagh _©

Pranjali is a fresher architect & a keen explorer. She finds tranquility in nature, traveling, reading, writing & architecture, altogether & discretely. She is fascinated by contemporary vernacular & sustainable style of architecture & hopes to promote it through her writing someday.

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