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Take a glimpse into Indian Art and Architecture that formed the foundation

Architecture in India holds great historical, cultural and religious meaning. Among the vast heritage of traditional and religious architecture, the most well-known architecture include variations of Hindu temple architecture, Indo-Islamic architecture - Mughal architecture, Rajput architecture and Indo-Saracenic architecture. A huge chunk of the earliest Indian secular art and architecture did not survive the test of time as it was made out of perishable materials like wood, however, the art and architecture that did survive were the ones that used stone as their medium. Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture use a lot of symbolism in their work. Buddhist art and architecture showcase different hand positions (mudras) that convey different religious states. Hindu sculptures and buildings represent their deities with many hands to denote the omnipotence of these Gods and each of these hands are significant with different characteristic attributes. Hindu architecture is primarily split into the Dravidian style (South India) and the Nagara style (North India).

Starting from the Neolithic period, Indian architecture has played a huge role in Indian culture ever since. The oldest evidence of Indian art and architecture belongs to this period. The Megalithic burial sites and Neolithic settlements display the interaction between regional and outside influences through their art, architecture, customs, rituals and dialect. Then came the Indus Valley civilization. This era exhibited an advancement in terms of the architecture built. Taking on a utilitarian perspective, these sites flaunted exemplary town planning and engineering expertise with granaries, drains, water-courses, tanks and wells. The architectural decoration was kept to a minimum and the art was found to be made out of terracotta in miniature forms. There were also larger sculptures of figurines. 

After the decline of the Indus Valley civilization, art and architecture in India did not make a significant mark in history. They were mostly made of recycled wood or bricks, thus making them more susceptible to damage, this was until the Mauryan Empire came into being. During this period, Indian rock-cut architecture was a predominant occurrence. This mainly included Buddhist monastic buildings. A primary example of this were the Buddhist stupas. Then came the Gupta Era, with the first surviving free-standing structures in India. These architectural wonders laid the foundation for Hindu temple architecture. 

In more recent years, we have the Vesara architectural form that brings together the architectural style of both South India as well as North India. Jain architecture resembles much of Buddhist and Hindu architecture with rock-cut architecture, the garbhagriha and large mantapa halls. Indo-Islamic architecture was reflective of native/regional Indic, Persian, central Asian, Arabic and Ottoman Turkish architecture. The Mughal Empire also made a significant impact on Indian architecture with architectural wonders such as the Taj Mahal, the Qutub Minar, etc. 


Q1. How is the Dravidian style of architecture different from the Nagara style of architecture? 

The main difference between these two styles of architecture is the structure. The Nagara style showcases multiple towers with higher pedestals, while the Dravidian style always displays a single tower that is usually shaped like a pyramid.

Q2. What are India’s contributions to world architecture? 

For ages, India has been an inspiration for many forms of architecture. From the Rajput marvels to the beautiful Taj Mahal, Indian architecture has reinstated the beauty of opulence and intricacy in details.