“In writing of Indian culture, I am highly conscious of my subjectivity; arguably, there is more than one Indian culture, and certainly more than one view of Indian culture.”

-Shashi Tharoor

Culture is the culmination of arts, beliefs, customs, and various other manifestations with regards to a particular sect. Indian culture has been renowned across the World and India is considered to be one of the most diverse and oldest cultural lands. The most special thing about Indian culture is that it is the amalgamation of several vast cultures, traditions, and history that spans across the country. Just as the diversified cultures spanning across the country, the architecture of various regions is equally varied. 

Cultural expression of Architecture in the Indian subcontinent. - Sheet1
Taj Mahal, Source:©www.britannica.com

It is an undeniable fact that a designer’s thought process and approach while designing a structure is somehow related to its culture. Culture is in fact, one of the most dominating features reflected in the buildings of a particular region. This culture-dependent peculiarity in design is the result of a particular abstraction about the preferred function and the beliefs of the users. Hence, the role of culture is somewhere essential to the architectural distinction. 

Cultural expression of Architecture in the Indian subcontinent. - Sheet2
Badami Cave Temple, Source: ©www.indusscrolls.com
Cultural expression of Architecture in the Indian subcontinent. - Sheet3
Badami Cave Temple Sculpture, Source:© www.hisour.com

One of the oldest examples of the cultural influence on architecture can be seen in the marvelous rock-cut cave temples of Badami in Karnataka. These cave temples were built by the Chalukyan Dynasty rulers, back in the 6th to 8th century AD. The carvings and sculptures of these cave temples are not less than a traditional tale of those times. They very well depict their mighty ruler’s manifestations of religious and cultural beliefs.  

Cultural expression of Architecture in the Indian subcontinent. - Sheet4
Nalanda Buddhist Monastery, Source: ©www.wikipedia.com

The Buddhist Monastery of Nalanda is known to be the oldest learning center. Pilgrims from various countries in the world, especially Chinese pilgrims visited this place for education. These pilgrims, who visited this place, have left their views and descriptions of the visit to this famous university. This university was built on the belief of Jnana Yoga, which emphasizes the path of knowledge. 

Cultural expression of Architecture in the Indian subcontinent. - Sheet5
Brahmapur Settlements of Jodhpur, Source:© www.ronyue.com
Cultural expression of Architecture in the Indian subcontinent. - Sheet6
Brahmapur Settlements of Jodhpur, Source© www.kiplingandclark.com

These similar ornamented and closely packed blue houses of Jodhpur have evolved over the concept of unity. This concept of unity can be seen in the cultural and architectural aspects of the region. Another perspective of building such structures can be the fact that the region is earthquake-prone and hence, unity plays an important role to mitigate the adverse effects of earthquake tremors as well. The blue color of the walls is to prevent the heat gain and keep the interiors cool during the summers and also it prevents the mosquitoes. Hence, the cultural belief of unity can also be applied to several other attributes of architecture, geography as well as the climatic conditions. 

The culture of every region or place is believed to be the key determinant of the architectural form and analysis in the field of culture is related to the study of cultural manifestations. The architecture of a place would be no longer praised without the essence and touch of its culture. The adaptations and acceptance of foreign beliefs and cultures in India could adversely affect its architecture. The acceptance of our historic architecture and traditional beliefs during the current times seems essential to not lose our identity.

Ayesha Nathani
Author

Ayesha Nathani, is an ‘extra’ fanatic and ambitious Architecture student, who has enough room for creativity with a touch of rationality. She believes writing an architectural content would enhance the world of drawings and sketches.

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