The architecture of India is rooted in its history, culture and religion. Along with that there are many ancient stories that influence our cultures. Here are examples of places where architecture reflects ancient stories.
1. VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE, KARNATAKA
Located in Hampi, Karnataka, and part of grouped monuments, designated as UNESCO world heritage site. This temple was dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, a form of Shiva. The temple is the main center of Hampi and built by Vijayanagara Empire situated near the Tungabhadra River. If we talk about its architecture, you will find a shrine hall with a number of pillars, and three anti-chambers. There are pillared monasteries, courtyards, a few small shrines, and entrances that surround the temple. This temple has found several engraved inscriptions of Lord Shiva and considered a holistic sacred retreat.
2. MYSORE PALACE, MYSORE
This palace is regarded as one of the largest and magnificent palaces in India, located in Southern Mysore. It was the official residence that belonged to the Wodeyar Dynasty, the ruler of Mysore (1399-1950). This palace has an extensive history of its construction. Originally, it was constructed as a wooden structure that was once stuck by lighting and reconstructed by Kantirava Narasa Raja Wodeyar. Once again, in 1793, Tipu Sultan demolished it and built a new one. And after his death, Krishanaraja Wodeyar III redesigned it in the Hindu architectural style. In 1897 this palace was destroyed by fire again and built under British rule by Henry Irwin in Indo-Saracenic style and completed in 1912. It also consists of a touch of Hindu, Mughal, Rajput, and Gothic Architectural style. The palace is a 3-storied building with 145 feet, 5-storied tower. The material used in the construction is beautiful grey granite on the exterior with 2-halls, arches, canopies, columns, and bay windows. Mysore palace is popularly known as Amba Vilas Palace.
3. MEHRANGARH FORT, JODHPUR
This fort is the most massive fort in India spreading over an area of around 500 yards. It also is known as ‘fort of sun’ built by fifteen Rathore Ruler Rao Jodha in the year 1459 and has various types of architectural style because it was made from the 15th century to the 20th century. Mehrangarh fort was built in citadel form encircled by walls with seven gates for the entrance. You will find different galleries constructed to display the collection of artifacts and decorative arts.
4. LAKSHMI VILLAS PALACE, VADODARA
This palace was built in 1890 as the private residence of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. It was designed by Robert Fellows Chisolm who took 12 years to build it. Constructed in Indo-Saracenic style with a hybrid of elements from Hindu, Mughal and Gothic architectural forms. You will find domes, minarets, and arches with interiors, highly intricate with mosaics, chandeliers, and artworks. It is believed that this palace is four times the size of Buckingham Palace over the area of 700 acres. Lakshmi palace is a beautiful palace with a mixture of different architectural styles that one can find.
5. AMBER FORT, RAJASTHAN
The town Amer and Amber fort initially built by the Meenas and later ruled by Raja Man Singh. It was built in the year 1592 and currently under the UNESCO world heritage site. It represents the fascinating blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture, which was made using red sandstone and white marble. Earlier, the Amber fort was the residence of Rajput Maharajas which was divided into four sections, each having its gate and courtyard. The entrance of this fort is through the Dil-e-Aaram garden which was designed in Mughal architectural style. Amber fort also consists of two beautiful forts inside it, the Jai Mandir and Sheesh Mahal, which is another attraction for the tourists.
6. RANI KI VAV (THE QUEEN’S STEPWELL), PATAN
Rani Ki Vav is situated in the small area Patan, Gujarat on the banks of Saraswati River, initially built as a memorial for a king in 11th century AD. This step well was built in Maru-Gurjara architectural style, which was used as a storage tank for rainwater. It is highly detailed, proportionate, and made in its distinctive form. More than 500 sculptures and over 1000 minor sculptures are found in this stepwell. This stepwell has seven levels of stairs with 4th level leading to the most bottomless rectangular tank.
7. TAWANG MONASTERY, ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Also known as Galden Namgey Lhatse, in Tibetan. This monastery is also called ‘celestial paradise in a clear night’ considered as the largest monastery in India and the second largest in the world. It was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1680-1681 and built according to the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. Tawang monastery is situated at the altitude of 3000m above the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh. It is considered the most important Buddhist site in the world. Currently, it consists of big monasteries with living quarters, a museum, institutions, and libraries. You will find a hut-like structure, interiors with carvings, and painted with Buddhist symbols and roof featuring mandalas.
8. BRIHADESHWARA TEMPLE, THANJAVUR
This temple is situated in southeast India of the city Thanjavur. It is a massive temple constructed by Rajaraja Chola I and designed by Kunjara Mallan Raja Ram Perunthachan. You will find stone deities and pictures of dancing Shiva. The temple is built on the level of 5m above the ground with two entrances. You will see the statue of Nandi Bull in front of the temple. There are two halls inside the temple; one is pillared while other is an assembly hall. The deity of Lord Shiva is established in the inner sanctum of the temple. This temple is built in the Dravidian Architectural style. Many cultural and car festivals are organized in this temple complex.
9. SANCHI STUPA, MADHYA PRADESH
Located in Central India, Sanchi Stupa is considered as the greatest and earliest stupa which served as an architectural prototype. Ashoka built it in the 3rd century BCE. Sanchi Stupa is dedicated to Buddhism, and you will find many inscriptions on the walls of it. It is designed in a hemispherical brick structure over the relics of Buddha. You will see several other stupas and pillars in the Sanchi Stupa complex built under the Mauryan period.
10. KEY MONASTERY, SPITI VALLEY
This monastery is 1000 years old and considered as a training center for llamas. It is located in Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh on the height of 13,668 feet above mean sea level. The architecture of the monastery is based on Pasada style founded by Dromton, who was a student of teacher Atisha. This monastery has three floors with narrow corridors. You will find murals and paintings on the walls. The key monastery has survived through many attacks in history and now considered a place of peace and tranquillity.