As we all know India is a country full of diversified cultures, which emphasises a unique soul and language to the place. Listing down a few cities of India based on their cultural characters and discussing the factors that had made the cities culturally important will give a better idea on knowing and preserving them. A city which is culturally rich must include the characteristics of how the architectural monuments in the city are designed, a material used and how it satisfies the growing social needs both functionally and form-wise. Each city, depending on the materials and climate of the place, possess a unique architectural style which can be witnessed evidently. Although there is ‘n’ number of well recognized culturally important cities, these are few which are hardly outspoken.

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The culturally important cities of India to be discussed are as follows:

Kolkata, West Bengal

Kolkata is a city full history and heritage, and well known for its beautiful colonial architecture. Kolkata, which served as a second capital for British India since 1911, was a hub of magnificently designed structures which were built under the British rule. Some of the best examples of colonial architecture are-

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Name of the buildings      |     Style of architecture
RAJ BHAVAN – NEO CLASSICAL + BAROQUE OVERTONES
HIGH COURT – NEO GOTHIC
ST.PAUL’S CATHEDRAL – GOTHIC – REVIVAL
WRITERS BUILDING – CLASSICAL EUROPEAN
SHAHID MINAR – EGYPTIAN + SYRIAN + TURKISH
VICTORIA MEMORIAL – MIX OF EGYPTIAN, VENETIAN, MUGHAL AND      DECCANI
KOLKATA TOWN HALL – ROMAN DORIC STYLE

Not only the specified buildings possess an architectural style but also the residential units of the city also has some characters such as the semi-circular balconies, stairwell with long vertical glass planes, windows built in the shape of a porthole, even the designs of grill gates has a specific character. In the current scenario, the natives of Kolkata in order to rebuild their homes are ruining the historical character of Art deco style of the residential buildings into modern structures.

HIGHLIGHTING CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURALLY IMPORTANT CITIES- IMAGE 1 streets of Kolkata
Streets of Kolkata Source: https://www.behance.net/AshrafulArefin

Jaipur, Rajasthan

One of the beautiful cities in India, which is rich in its cultural aspects. It is well known for its city planning and the architectural elements used in every building. The colour of the city emphasises that the ruler wanted to paint the whole city ‘pink’ because it was believed to be the colour of hospitality and also to cut down the glare because of the scorching temperature of the city.

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The city holds the dictionary of various architectural elements which are perfectly designed for the specific climate and the function. The city as a whole is designed in a grid pattern based on the courtyard planning with a common gathering space at the centre and it is known as ‘chaupar’.

The style of architecture followed in the city is Rajputana style, which is a combination of The Mughals and The Hindu. Even in the present most of the heritage buildings such as palaces, havelies and ornamented temple are being preserved with the same ancient style.

The seven gates which guard the heart of the city and the walls of the bazaars is still preserved and maintained with the pink colour and it is mentioned as ‘old Jaipur’.

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HIGHLIGHTING CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURALLY IMPORTANT CITIES- IMAGE 2 hawa mahal
Architectural element Jaali used in Hawa Mahal

Puri, Orissa

Thinking about this city, the first thing which comes to the mind is the rich artistic legacy which the city possesses and the colourful beach festivals celebrated because it is situated in the coastline of Bay of Bengal. It is always visited as a trio combination along with Konark and Bhubaneshwar. All these three cities are commonly visited for experiencing the cultural aspects as well as to witness the extraordinary temple architecture.

The style of architecture followed in the temples is the Kalinga architecture, which is known for its stone-built structures.

HIGHLIGHTING CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURALLY IMPORTANT CITIES- IMAGE 3 Jagannath Temple Puri
Skyline of Jagannath Temple, Puri Source:https://imvoyager.com/jagannath-temple-puri-travel/

Madurai, Tamilnadu

Madurai is known as ‘temple city’, which is planned in a very rigid square pattern at the centre of which sits The Meenakshi Amman temple. It is one of the culturally important cities of India. The city was planned in such a way that during any occasions the deity will come around the four streets surrounding the temple. And the city gradually developed later. The style of architecture in the city depends on the time period it was ruled. The Meenakshi temple follows a typical Dravidian style of architecture whereas the Thirumalai Nayak mahal is a culmination of Islamic and Dravidian style with a pinch of European resemblance.

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The city is also well known for its annual and occasional festivals celebrated in and around. Especially the chithirai festival, Theppakulam Mariamman festival which is celebrated in the water tank, located opposite the temple and lastly jallikattu during Pongal festival. Adding on to these, the city also has various important landmarks such as The Vilakuthoon (Lamppost) which is located in the junction of south Masi Street and east Masi Street, in remembrance of John Blackburn, the collector of Madurai who wanted to develop the city. It was then renovated and being used to date. Pudhumandapam, which was a later addition to the Meenakshi Amman temple, which was built as a shelter for the royals who visited and then later changed to a shopping complex which still remains the same in the present.

HIGHLIGHTING CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURALLY IMPORTANT CITIES- IMAGE 4 Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal
View of Courtyard of the Thirumalai Nayakkar palace source:https://web.500px.com/photo/83283581/From-the-other-side-by-Jimbos-Padr%C3%B3s/

Fort Kochi, Kerala

The city has a mix of architectural influence since it is a trade hub. Majorly witnessed styles in the streets of Fort Kochi are Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Few important landmarks clearly show the style of Architecture followed.

Mattancherry Palace – Portuguese and then extended by The Dutch.
Santa Cruz Basilica – Mostly Gothic with the stained glass windows.
Old Harbour House – Blend of Dutch and Portuguese.

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Saint Cruz  Basilica Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ezee123/3961470106/in/photostream/
Author

Amodini an amateur enthusiast, who is an Architect by day and an observer as a whole pushes her limits to explore herself as an artist and relating her works with Architecture. She truly believes that studying Architecture has laid her a basic platform to try every possible things to exhibit her works.

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