India through its prosperous cultural heritage and rich history has witnessed the rise and fall of several great dynasties which is conspicuous through the greatness of ancient Indian architecture, the magnificence of these buildings, monuments, bridges, forts, halls, mosques, temples, and churches makes one fully comprehend the glorious periods through which India has passed. Out of an abundant list of the most brilliant structures in India, we bring you our compilation of 10 such exceptionally stunning engineering marvels of Indian Architecture. Have a look.

1. Kailasa Temple at Ellora Caves

A Structural engineering wonder reminiscent of the prowess of the architects of 8th century India, the Kailasa Temple is part of the rock-hewn monastic cave temple complex, the world-famous, Ellora Caves. This massive Temple structure is believed to have been carved out of a single rock! The Kailasa Temple is an ideal example of Reverse Engineering and was chiseled using the top-down approach in construction. It is believed that three giant trenches were bored into a rock face and almost 2,00,000tonnes of rock would have been excavated to make the temple. It is the Kailasa Temple that houses the world’s largest cantilevered rock ceiling! The temple’s intricate sculptural design adds another flavor to its astounding complexity making it nothing short of an engineering marvel of ancient Indian Architecture.

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Kailasa Temple, Ellora_By ©Pratheepps/commons.wikimedia.org

2. Auroville Dome or Matrimandir

Matrimandir, the Golden Globe in Auroville, is another fascinating example of engineering marvels of Indian Architecture. The Auroville Dome located in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu is also known as the Temple of the Mother and is an edifice of spiritual significance to yoga and meditation enthusiasts. Matrimandir is a gigantic spherical structure built with twelve giant petals and shining golden discs that reflect the sunlight and enhance the dome’s brilliant radiance. It is said that it took thirty-seven whole years to construct (1971-2008) this spectacle before it was finally made open to the public.

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The Matrimandir in Auroville ©Matthew T Rader/commons.wikimedia.org

3. Mahatma Gandhi Setu, Bihar

Mahatma Gandhi Setu is an excellent example of cantilever-segmental construction in Indian Architecture. This bridge connects Patna to Hajipur in Bihar across the river Ganga. Spanning over a length of more than five kilometers, it is the country’s third-longest bridge. The Mahatma Gandhi Setu was opened for public use in the year 1982. The bridge has two lanes, one upstream and another downstream. On 17th August 2007, the Indian postal department issued a commemorative postage stamp, “Landmark Bridges of India”, featuring the Mahatma Gandhi Setu. 

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Gandhi Setu Bridge in Patna, India ©Aksveer/www.flickr.com

4. Taj Mahal

It comes as no surprise that the Taj Mahal is listed here. Well, you cannot talk about Indian Architecture and not mention it. But what makes it an engineering marvel is that it stood the test of time for 400 whole years. This stunning 17th Century white marble structure was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his late wife Mumtaz Mahal, He spent over 30 million rupees and employed more than 20,000 people to build what is today a world wonder, a “paradise on earth”.

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The Taj Mahal  ©Joel Godwin/commons.wikimedia.org

5. Meenakshi Amman Temple

The stupendous richness of Indian Architecture is showcased by the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. This beautiful shrine is a heritage site and an important landmark of the region. The Meenakshi Temple is amongst the list of the most gigantic temples in India and has twelve enormous gates, with the largest gates placed on the outer walls. These gates are also known as Gopurams. The temple complex has a tank, besides the famous Hall of Thousand Pillars, an extraordinary spectacle. The temple halls are lavishly adorned with beautiful sculptures, designs, and carvings and are unique from each other. The Meenakshi Amman Temple complex spreads over 45 acres of space and is a popular tourist destination.

Meenakshi Temple’s colorful Gopuras

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©KennyOMG/commons.wikimedia.org

6. I-Flex Solutions, Bangalore

Designed by DSP Design, I-Flex Solutions, Corporate Office, Bangalore, is easily the most peculiar looking building at the Bagmane Tech Park, C.V.Raman Nagar, Bangalore. Being way too cool for a regular office that people go to work at every day, this engineering marvel of Indian Architecture never fails to turn heads. To accommodate over a thousand employees and design a building that does complete justice to the client requirement for an iconic building that would reflect the values of the company and at the same time set a benchmark for the entire city, the team took things one step further by putting together a structure that looks as though straight out of a Sci-Fi movie. Spreading across two hundred and thousand square feet, the blend between the built and landscape reflect the architect’s holistic approach.

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I-Flex Solutions©worldarchitecture.org

7. Sindhudurg Fort, Maharashtra – Salt Water Fort

At first glance, you might wonder why this regular old fort is on the list of engineering wonders. Well, this fort has been standing on seawater for the last 400 years! The fact that saltwater erodes buildings seems to elude this engineering marvel of Indian Architecture, the Sindhudurg fort, as the building’s foundation seems to remain as strong as it would have been when it was first built! The scientific reason this fort has managed to resist the wrath of corrosion is because of the thousands of tons of lead that was used in the structure’s foundations. It is truly a wonder how architects of those times transported molten lead to the middle of the sea to build the foundation of Sindhudurg Fort. The fort also has a hidden entrance which adds to the fascination. Looks like our forefathers found some humor in war as well, this gate was designed to mislead the enemy, and keep them running around in circles in search of the main gate!

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Sindhudurg Fort©sindhudurg.nic.in

8. Lepakshi Temple, Andhra Pradesh

Carved stone pillars and immersive narrative art are characteristic of Indian Architecture. You are sure to find beautifully sculpted pillars in almost every ancient Indian building. However, did you know that a pillar could hang from the ceiling? Sounds impossible, because pillars are normally built to support the ceiling. Well, the architects of this hanging-pillar temple, the Lepakshi Temple have achieved this impossible. Another Indian Temple building that features such pillars is the Thousand Pillar Temple at Moodbidri in Karnataka.

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Hanging Pillars of Lepakshi Temple©amazingindiablog.in

9. Vitthal Temple, Karnataka – The Singing Pillars

One of the touristic cities in India, Hampispeaks volumes about India’s history, culture, ambitions, and aspirations through its architecture, In this architectural hub stands the Vitthal Temple with its mesmerizing musical pillars! These pillars make soft and delightful musical sounds when gently tapped! CalledSaReGaMa Pillars, 56 pillars within the temple blend Indian Architecture with Indian classical music. It is said that the rock structure was engineered in such a way that the music produced by the pillars can be heard clearly.

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Vitthal Temple©www.karnataka.com

10. Gol Gumbaz, Karnataka – The Whispering Gallery

The Gol Gumbaz encompasses two engineering wonders- a free-floating dome structure and a whispering gallery. This striking free-standing dome structure is the largest of its kind in India, and within the building is a whispering gallery, which means whatever you say here can be easily heard across the entire dome, even if you say it in your lowest volume. The guides at the Temple will excitedly show this magic to you, and almost everyone there will be busy trying it out a thousand times.

10 Examples of Engineering marvels in Indian Architecture - Sheet10Gol Gumbaz©Ashwatham/commons.wikimedia.org

Sowmya Putran
Author

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.

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