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Indian architecture is that  vast tapestry of production of  the Indian Subcontinent that encompasses a multitude of expressions over space and time, transformed by the forces of history considered unique to the sub-continent, sometimes destroying, but most of the time absorbing. The result is an evolving range of architectural production that none the less retains a certain form of continuity.  


Indian architecture as it stands today, is a body of production that cannot easily be exemplified by the approaches, buildings and architects cited above. It has evolved over the centuries and has been affected by numerous invaders who have brought different styles from their motherlands. But it is an unavoidable fact that certain expressions tend to get magnified and others reduced when set against the vast canvas of the world. A more representative selection can occur only at a deeper level of study.

Indian architecture in Indus Civilisation And The Vedic Village

The earliest production in the Indus Valley Civilization was characterised by well planned cities and houses. The presence of drainage systems and public baths showed advanced standards of hygiene and sanitation and ingenious planning. The Vedic village had certain distinct characteristics that influenced subsequent architectural production. The Vedic grama could have a pur, or a fort-like structure within it. The Vedic hymns speak of “purs” made of stone and metal. The Rig-Veda speaks once of a palace with 1000 doors, and twice of a palace with 1000 columns.

Buddhist And Jaina Architecture

Buddhism gained promi-nence during the reign of the  emperor Ashoka. It is primarily represented by three important building types- the Chaitya Hall (place of worship), the Vihara (monastery) and the Stupa (hemispherical mound for worship/ memory)- exemplified by the magnificent caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the monumental Sanchi Stupa. The Greek influence led the Indian architecture of the time, especially the rock-cut art, to fall under one of the two categories: the Mathura school of art which was strictly Indian in spirit and did not adopt from the Greek styles, and the Gandharva  school of art which incorporated influences of the Greek art. The Jaina temples are characterised by a richness of detail that can be seen in the Dilwara Temples in Mt. Abu.

Architecture under the colonial rule

With colonisation, a new chapter began. Though the Dutch, Portuguese and the French made substantial forays, it was the English who had a lasting impact. The architecture of the colonial period varied from the beginning attempts at creating authority through classical prototypes to the later approach of producing a supposedly more responsive image through what is now termed Indo-Saracenic architecture- a mixture of Hindu, Islamic and Western elements. Institutional, civic and utilitarian buildings such as post offices,railway stations, etc., began to be built in large numbers over the whole empire. Perhaps the most famous example is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus(CST) in Mumbai, originally named in honor of Queen Victoria. The creation of New Delhi in early 20th century with its broad tree lined roads and majestic buildings generated lots of debate on what should be an appropriate architecture for India


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