India boasts diversity!
Diversity in religions, cultures, traditions, and of course, Architecture!
India is one of the most vivid countries, so full of colors and vivaciousness.
Architecture in India began with the Indus valley civilization and the evolution of Rock-cut architecture like caves for worship, which slowly evolved into Temple architecture. Major accountability for diversity in the architecture of the country goes to the fact that a lot of foreigners invaded, ruled, and set up a trade in the country for a long time. From Portuguese to French, and from Mughals to the Britishers, the country had diverse influences that were reflected in its architecture.
The architectural styles that evolved in the country were mainly the results of socio-economic, cultural, linguistic, geographical, and climatic diversities that the land was blessed with
You can see a whole new style of architecture, even when you move from one state to another! So here is a brief history of architecture in few of the prominent states of India-
When Vasco da Gama landed in India in 1498, The Portuguese first landed in Calicut (now known as Kerala), which is why there is a slight hint of Portugal architecture in Kerala, that blends with their authentic style. However, the Domestic Style of architecture in this state was greatly affected by the climatic conditions. Kerala has a humid climate with heavy rainfall, which is why most of the houses and other structures have Sloping Roofs. The walls of the houses are enveloped by ‘Verandahs’ on all sides, that protect the walls from water seepage.
2. Tamil Nadu
Known for its rich culture and Dravidian Temples, Tamil Nadu is one of the most aesthetic states of India. Stone-cut temples flourished during the 7th and 8th centuries, under the rule of the Pallava kings. These temples and other structures can still be observed in the regions of Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram, which are counted under the UNESCO World heritage sites. They portray the rich culture and art of that time.
Even though this state is near the state of Kerala, The Domestic architecture here is very different. Mainly because of the hot climate of Tamil Nadu, the traditional houses are designed using the concept of a central courtyard, enclosed by rooms. The walls are usually made of Mud or bricks, and the arched entrances made of timber are beautifully ornate. These Passive ventilation techniques are still being incorporated in modern residences.
This state is known for its extremely lively vibe! From beaches and shacks to magnificent cathedrals, Goa has it all. The Portuguese set up their trading post in Goa in the 15th century and governed the state for more than four decades. Portugal’s colonization is still reflected in the architecture of the state. Several famous Portugal style cathedrals like The Basilica of Bom Jesus, The Church of our lady of the immaculate conception, etc. attract a large chunk of tourists throughout the year!
4. Uttar Pradesh
The Mughal style of architecture prevails in this state, which is a blend of Indian, Islamic, and Persian styles. This style of architecture evolved when the Mughals took over the country after Babur’s victory in 1526. The Mughals ruled for almost three centuries and created several architectural marvels in the northern and central regions of the country. Uttar Pradesh consists of three UNESCO world heritage sites namely, The Taj Mahal, The Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri. This Indo-Islamic architectural style had a great impact on the country, because of its contrast to the continued Hindu Temple architecture. Other examples of Mughal Architecture include The Red Fort in Delhi, Shalimar garden in Lahore, Khusro bagh in Allahabad, etc.
During the Mughal reign, the Rajput Rulers had power over many of the regions of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The extremely rich and authentic culture of Rajasthan had an impact on their architectural style as well. In the Rajput culture of Rajasthan, women were not physically or visually allowed to be a part of the gatherings, because of which the Jali pattern on the walls became prevalent. This allowed the women to see everything from inside, without being visible to the outside world.
The Rajputs were very particular about their honor and culture and therefore, most of the forts built by the kings were located on hilltops. The Mughal architecture, which was at its peak then, also had an impact on the Rajput forts!
Such elements like Jali patterns, Jharokhas, Chattri, etc. blended to form a new and unprecedented style known as the Rajput style of architecture. It symbolizes the traditions and culture of the local people while being authentic to its roots and creating a unique identity for the state. It is prevalent in several regions of Rajasthan like Chittorgarh, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, etc.
6. West Bengal
The architecture of Bengal(Present-day Bangladesh, West Bengal, and Tripura) is a blend of various styles of architecture! When the Britishers began to rule India, They set up their posts at mainly the western coasts of Bombay, Gujarat and Madras, and the Eastern coast of Bengal. They colonized Calcutta which led to the evolution of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. It was a blend of Neo-Gothic or Victorian style and the Mughal style of architecture. One of the finest examples of this style is The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. The domestic architecture in Bengal yielded the concept of ‘Bungalows’, which is a term used globally now!
7. Madhya Pradesh
This state possesses examples of Ancient architecture like the Khajuraho complex, which consists of several Nagara style temples built by the Chandelas in the 10th and 11th centuries. Other famous monuments in the region consist of The Sanchi Stupas, Chaityas, Viharas, etc. which date back to the 3rd century BCE.
The architecture of this vast state consists of Forts, caves, Colonial structures, etc. During the reign of the Gupta dynasty (4th to mid-8th century), The Ajanta-Ellora caves, Karla caves, and Elephanta caves were built. These are some phenomenal examples of Rock-cut Architecture.
The Marathas then used the natural topography of the region to build various forts on the hilltops like Sindhudurg fort, Raigad fort, Sinhagad fort, etc. The Britishers used Bombay as one of their major trading ports and developed the region accordingly, which is why there is a hint of colonial-style architecture in Mumbai.
The French invaded various regions of the country, one of which was the union territory of Pondicherry along the Coromandel Coast. They reigned over the regions from the 17th century to the mid-20th century. They developed the city of Pondicherry in a grid pattern, following the French model, which is preserved and the French architecture of the place attracts a lot of tourists from around the country!