Ever had a look at the rich and glorious architecture of our country, India, and wondered how can there be such great diversity in a country’s architecture? Our country has been through numerous changes in its culture, as there have been several dynasties prevailing back then in the nation who later on gave birth to numerous civilizations and simultaneously to varied cultures.
Our ancestors decided to adapt to a specific culture and thus developed kingdoms with a distinct culture with its peculiar character. It is no doubt that these cultures later gave birth to architecture which distinctively adapted to the prevailing conditions of the culture. Thus, if specifically seen there’s not much diversity in a region but if you see the nation as a whole, which indeed is, you can observe a significant change in architecture from place to place due to the varied culture prevailing in the nation. Few such cultures which have impacted the Architecture of India throughout history are enlisted below.
The Portuguese came into India for business but later ruled the nation for plenty of years. During the Portuguese rule, some fine structures which perfectly define architecture were constructed. One can find an exemplary and significant impact of Portugal in the region so Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Kerala, and even the eastern state of West Bengal of India. An example of the same is The Cities of Goa where one can easily detect the culture of Portuguese being reflected through the architecture.
Tibet, a state residing on the boundary of India also has its impact on the architecture here. One of the largest Tibetan civilizations Bylakuppe homes the best-suited example Namdroling Monastery Golden Temple which is typically built in Tibetan style with some distinctive Indian features.
British ruled over India for 47 long years, so it’s bound to find the influence of British culture over the architecture of India. The All India War Memorial Arch, also known as the India Gate is built by the British which distinctively characterizes its features.
Although Baroque architecture was invented in Italy, it developed in India in the first decade of the seventeenth century and was bought by the Portuguese. Immaculate Conception Church is a fine example of the same.
A group of Iranian Zoroastrians entered India from Persia to escape religious persecution by the Muslim majority after the Arab conquest and thus the influence of the culture over India. Udvada atash Behram in Gujarat is the best-suited example for the same.
Like the British, the French entered India with the purpose of trade and established their colonies and practiced trade over the years. Thus, it is quite obvious to find the influence and resemblance of French culture over regions of India. One can find French colonies in Pondicherry, Karaikal in Tamil Nadu, and Yangon in Andhra Pradesh on the Coromandel Coast, Mahe in Kerala on the Malabar Coast, and Chandernagore in West Bengal. Pondicherry was the capital back then and its architecture says all about it.
The Islamic culture has its mark in India. Some beautiful and enormous structure is the proof of how beautiful and hefty a structure can look both at the same time. The city of Fatehpur Sikri which is the best example of the richness and abundance of the art of architecture during ancient times and fort kohna Qasim garden fort kohna Qasim garden also shows the beauty of Islamic architecture.
These were the cultures of specific territories; history is the evidence that before the rise of the nation India as a whole, there existed cultures that have their influence on the architecture of our nation. Those are enlisted below.
Mughals ruled over the region for decades. The part-by part-whole country was taken into control by the Mughals. Thus, the resemblance and Mughal architecture are found all over the country. Taj Mahal, a UNESCO world heritage site is a perfect example of architecture built in the Mughal style of architecture.
Gautam Buddha spread his word for peace and the path of peace and non- violence which led to a revolution. People followed his path and discovered a new culture, Buddhist culture. The Stupas in Sanchi depicts the calmness and beauty of Buddhist architecture.
As and when Buddha was spreading the word for peace and non-violence as the principles to lead a fruitful life, Mahaveer also led people on the same path. People influenced by his teaching started following him and a new culture, Jainism, came into existence. The richness and abundance of this culture can be seen in the Dilwara temple at Mt. Abu.
These were just a few handful examples of the cultures which have deeply influenced the architecture of India. If you look deeply, India is not just a huge, gigantic nation but a cluster of thoughts, people, lives; Cultures united together. It is rightly said about India, “Unity in diversity”. Although there are plenty of cultures prevailing here we stand all united together as a nation as a whole!