From language to dressing-style, India has been hailed as one of the most complex amalgamation of various cultural identities. With cultural diversities come various diversifications in their habitats and all the architecture associated with their lifestyle. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujrat to Assam, there are numerous types of communities and each of them have a different kind of lifestyle. This lifestyle is dependent on various factors like the climate, geography, religion, cultures and traditions. All of these factors also shape the architecture of the place.
The Taj Mahal in Agra, the most iconic structure of India was built by a Mughal ruler Shahjahan who belongs to a community which celebrates the mausoleum typology of architecture. Golden Temple of Amritsar, Lady of Immaculate church in Glamor the Jain temples of Mount Abu are all places of worship but have a such a vast difference in their architectural styles because of the way of worshiping by the communities which have built them.
The most basic house of a resident of a smallest town in Tamil Nadu will be very different than that of West Bengal as their requirements are very different. Houses in Kerala have a sloping roof as solution for heavy rainfall and the same time houses elsewhere have a flat roof where there is not much rainfall. So the most varied architecture can be found in the simplest to most complex habitats of all these communities spread across the country.
Then there are communities which are not much extrovert and primitive like the tribals.The tribal communities of India are so distinct and beautiful and so is their architecture! Their houses are the perfect examples of vernacular architecture one can look for.TheBhils, Gonds,Banjaras and all the rest of them spread all across the country have explored so much about the materials , construction techniques and aesthetics without the role of technology which is truely commendable.
The communities have different occupations which also shapes their architecture. The house of a potter,weaver,goldsmith or a cow breeder will have different spatial requirements to accommodate their equipment’s or their working spaces which shape their habitats. These are just to name a few but there are so many occupations and so many different needs which have given us architecture to ponder upon.
The Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and so on have a similar typology but are distinct from each other because of the slightest change in communities and also the geography of the place.
Cave architecture is the earliest form of architecture that can be seen. However, there are variations in caves built by different communities across India like the Ajanta Ellora of Maharashtra,Bhimbhetka of Madhya Pradesh, Badami caves in Karnataka or the Udaigiri caves of Orissa. All of them are built in different times and places and by different set of communities which give us such a wide spectrum of cave architecture to behold at.
Even the forts built in different parts of India display a great variety in architecture. The forts in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh or Andhra Pradesh exhibit features very discrete from each other because of the all the communities that are associated with them. All the forts also required different things to focus on like the topography in which they are built, the kind of ruler belonging to a specific community or the different functions though mainly the function of protection, which have generated all these different types of forts across India.
Step wells of Gujrat, Rajasthan or elsewhere are manifested very beautifully with great aesthetics. Though having a similar function of water storage, they still have a lot of difference in their architecture and design because of the communities involved in their execution and design.
And when talking about the varied communities and their architecture, one of the most celebrated places amongst them are the bazaars of these communities and its architecture. Crawford Market in Mumbai , Chandni chowk of Delhi and Johri Bazaar of Jaipur are just to name a few and the vibrancy of all these markets spread in our country is unmatchingly colourful!
With changing times and advanced technology coming up the communities have also evolved their places of habitat and recreation. The rural and urban areas have different needs and users to cater to. The communities that have shifted in the urban areas have created spaces which are far more different from that in the rural areas. These have given rise to many community spaces and social architecture which draws its basics from the rural ones.
The architecture of communities is an ever-evolving process and will produce new typologies in the near future as well but what connects them together is the unity in diversity of the communities. There is too much to discover, learn and adapt from all the multifarious communities of India.