What is a structural marvel? Can a structure which is neither the highest, nor the largest, nor the first, still be a marvel? Iconic ancient Indian buildings like the Taj Mahal and the Dravidian Temples showcase mysterious links between form and function. Many of these ancient buildings are puzzles that still need to be solved. Engineering wonders cloaked in abundant layers of artistic characteristics of ancient India. 

Indian architecture has evolved with each cultural addition and has adopted numerous styles throughout history. Most of India’s ancient buildings stand magnificent several centuries on, making it a huge challenge for today’s architects to build on a par with it. Although images of gigantic ornate domes and intricate latticework are the first images that come to mind when one thinks of Indian architecture, modern Indian architecture has unfolded diverse forms, very distinct from its traditional lineage. 

Here is a list of fifteen marvels from India’s ever-growing list of structural marvels.

1.Taj Mahal

This exquisite white marble mausoleum in Agra is amongst the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the world. It is a demonstration of the astounding artistic and scientific accomplishments of the glorious Mughal dynasty. Its marble domes are framed by four minarets each with a slight outward tilt, presumably, to protect the main mausoleum in case one of them collapses.

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Taj Mahal ©www.allhdwallpapers.com

2.Bahai Lotus Temple

Shaped like the sacred lotus flower, this extraordinary temple has twenty-seven immaculate white-marble petals. Around the blooming petals, there are nine pools of water, which light up in natural light- a spectacular site at dusk.

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Lotus Temple ©www.autarmota.blogspot.com
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Lotus Temple ©www.autarmota.blogspot.com
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Lotus Temple ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Lotus Temple ©www.flickr.com

3.Rani ki Vav

The Rani ki Vav is one of the most famous legacies of the ancient capital city of Patan. This amazing stepwell(Vav)was commissioned by Queen Udayamati, of the Solanki dynasty in memory of her husband King Bhimdev I. The steps of the Vav begin at ground level, leading down through several elegantly pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below.

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Rani ki Vav ©www.nroer.gov.in
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Rani ki Vav ©www.sahapedia.org
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Rani ki Vav ©www.famousplacesinindia.in

4.Pir Panjal Rail Tunnel

Lying within the Pir Panjal Range of the impassable Himalayas, the Pir Panjal Rail Tunnel is India’s longest tunnel. It begins at Banihal and stretches seven miles up to Hillar Shahabad.

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Pir Panjal Rail Tunnel ©www.mistay.in
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Pir Panjal Rail Tunnel ©www.pinterest.cl
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Pir Panjal Rail Tunnel ©www.railway-technology.com

5.Pamban Bridge

India’s first Cantilever bridge connecting Rameshwaram Island to mainland India- a bridge that people watch in awe as its two leaves open up to let ships pass through. With 143 piers, spanning 2 km, it is the second-longest and the oldest sea bridge in India. Built on an extremely corrosive and challenging environment, the Pamban Bridge is nothing short of incredible.

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Pamban Bridge ©www.tripoto.com
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Pamban Bridge ©www.tripoto.com
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Pamban Bridge ©www.tripoto.com
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Pamban Bridge ©twitter.com

6. Kailash Cave

The monolithic rock-cut chariot shaped Kailash Temple at Ellora is one of the biggest structural mysteries in the world. Leave aside scooping an entire temple out of a massive rock, what is more, mind-boggling is that the pillars of the temple corridors have just the perfect load-bearing weight!

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Kailash Cave ©www.sidsphotologue.wordpress.com
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Kailash Cave ©www.sidsphotologue.wordpress.com
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Kailash Cave ©www.upload.wikimedia.org

7.Bandra-Worli Sea Link

One of a kind in India, also known as the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, the eight-lane Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a cable-stayed bridge. It connects Bandra in the western suburbs of Mumbai to Worli in the south of the city, saving about Rs 100 crore per day in terms of fuel and time.

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Bandra-Worli Sea Link ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Bandra-Worli Sea Link ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Bandra-Worli Sea Link ©www.commons.wikimedia.org

8.Meenakshi Amman Temple

The Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the largest and most magnificent temples in India. It has twelve giant Gopurams (gates), with its highest gates on the outer side. The temple complex houses the well-known Hall of Thousand Pillars- a paradise on earth, with such extraordinary sculpting, impossible to recreate. An overwhelming fact about this classic construction is that one just needs to climb up the south tower of this temple to get a bird’s eye view of the entire city of Madurai.

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Meenakshi Amman Temple ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Meenakshi Amman Temple ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Meenakshi Amman Temple ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Meenakshi Amman Temple ©www.commons.wikimedia.org

9.I-Flex Solutions

This strange structure is located in the Bagmane Tech Park, of C.V.Raman Nagar in Bengaluru. Isn’t this building just too cool to be someone’s daily office?

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I-Flex Solutions ©www.hamra.net
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I-Flex Solutions ©www.worldarchitecture.org
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I-Flex Solutions ©www.worldarchitecture.org

10.Cybertecture Egg

Cybertecture egg is an example of evolutionary engineering, combining virtual architecture with ingenious control systems, as if straight out of a sci-fi movie. With the advanced environmental design, Cybertecture Egg, Mumbai, represents the future of architecture.

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Cybertecture Egg ©www.luxhome-ge.blogspot.com
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Cybertecture Egg ©www.luxhome-ge.blogspot.com
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Cybertecture Egg ©www.luxhome-ge.blogspot.com

11.Auroville Dome

Formally known as Matrimandir, this stunning structure is situated at Auroville, Puducherry. Inside the central dome, lies a meditation hall (inner chamber). It is this inner chamber that holds the world’s largest optically-perfect glass globe.

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Auroville Dome ©www.cntraveller.in
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Auroville Dome ©www.pondicherryarun.com
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Auroville Dome ©www.civilianglobal.com

12.Infosys Pune

With its egg-like shape and sustainable systems, this iconic Infosys building in Pune depicts exceptional prowess of both engineering design and technology. It is a fact that people tend to hate their jobs but the question is, would you rather hate it sitting in a dashing egg-shaped office or an ordinary one?

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Infosys Pune ©www.hgunified.com
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Infosys Pune ©www.jobs.cybertecz.in
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Infosys Pune ©www.i.pinimg.com

13.Victoria Memorial 

The Victoria Memorial is amongst the most notable structural reminders of the British rule in India. This Indo-Saracenic building, built with shining white marble and dedicated in memory of Queen Victoria, functions as a museum-a major tourist destination today. The building’s central dome, which houses the marble statue of Queen Victoria, is 184 feet high. The striking resemblance between the gorgeous white facades of the Victoria Memorial and those of the Taj Mahal is because they were both built using marble from the same quarries in Rajasthan!

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Victoria Memorial ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Victoria Memorial ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Victoria Memorial ©www.deviantart.com

14.Golden Temple 

Touted as the world’s holiest Gurdwara (place of worship for Sikhs) and exceptionally graceful in appearance, the Golden Temple is one of the most celebrated buildings of India. Its gleaming white structures line the edge of the sacred Amrit Sarovar (Pool of Nectar). A narrow walkway, called the Guru’s Bridge, carries the temple’s visitors to the sanctum across the water.

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Golden Temple ©www.cntraveller.in
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Golden Temple ©commons.wikimedia.org
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Golden Temple ©commons.wikimedia.org

15.Mahatma Gandhi Setu

Stretching gracefully across the river Ganges, this mighty marvel connects Patna in the south of Bihar to Hajipur in the north of the state. It is the third-longest river bridge in the country and a brilliant example of improved life through structural engineering.

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Mahatma Gandhi Setu ©www.flickr.com
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Mahatma Gandhi Setu ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Mahatma Gandhi Setu ©www.commons.wikimedia.org

Sowmya is an architectural journalist and writer. In this column, Sowmya takes you through stories on eco-architecture, biophilic design, and green buildings from across the globe.