The History of
With thousands of
years of history, India’s architectural structures
continually evolved to suit the needs of the culture.
The first known physical proof of architectural
structures dates back around 6,000 years. Archeological
evidence discovered near Chotta Nagpur and in Brahmgiri
indicates that the people first used stones for building
shelters during the Mesolithic period. Primitive
Neolithic structures dating possibly as far back as 4000
BC were uncovered close to the Narmada River.
By 2500 to 1500 BC, construction materials evolved from
stone to brick. The ancient Indus Valley civilization
constructed complex buildings, and evidence of community
structures emerged. Excavating the Harappa site in
Punjab revealed multi-storied buildings with private
bathrooms, drainage systems, sanitary sewer systems and
reservoirs. Archeologists found similar architectural
features at the Banwali, Chanhudaro and Dholavira sites.
Around 1000 BC, the sacred Hindu
text known as Adharvana Veda makes mention of using iron
in construction. The culture incorporated Hellenistic
and Roman styles into their designs during the third
century BC. Dome shaped structures similar in appearance
to the Sanchi stube served as commemorative monuments
that held sacred artifacts. Remnants of rock cut wells,
stepped ponds and unusual cave temples also came into
existence during this time.
During this era, King Ashoka, emperor of India, also
commissioned the construction of hospitals.
Multi-storied buildings featured large doors, arched
windows and high walls. During his reign, Ashoka also
constructed a series of pillars throughout the northern
region. Each structure stood between 40 and 50 feet
tall, weighted up to 50 tons and each had carved edicts.
Today, 19 survive bearing the carvings.
The Golden Age of Indian architecture spanned from 230
CE to 1200 CE. The southern regions adopted the complex
structures found in the northern regions. Additionally,
the various empires began constructing temples. The
Chola king, Rajaraja Cholan, constructed the
Bragatheeswarar Temple complex. The main temples
features five divisions that included the Aradhana
Mandapam. Along the dark corridors of this portion of
the temple, archeologists discovered floor to ceiling
frescoes. The Pala empire constructed the Buddhist
Odantpuri Vihar and the Jagaddal Vihar. Impressed with
the structural features, architects from China, Japan
and Tibet adopted the building styles of the Pala.
The Classical Age followed and lasted until 1526 CE. The
Hoysala Empire built various large and small temples
that included the Chennakesava temple, the Hoysaleswara
temple and the Kesava temple. The Vijayanagara empire
constructed the Vijayanagar Raya Gopura during this
time. From 1526 CE to 1857 CE, the Mughal Era began.
Through this era Islamic and Persian influences merged
with traditional architectural styles. Examples of
multi-influenced structures include the Fateh pur
sikiri, the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal that rulers
commissioned during this time. The holy Sikh shrine
known as the Golden Temple was constructed in 1604.
The Colonial Era lasted until 1947 and introduced
British and European architectural styles that included
extended roof overhangs and free standing pavilions.
Government buildings, railway systems and roadways
predominantly featured the combination of styles.
Rastrapathi Bhavan located in New Delhi represents an
example of the merged designs.
The Modern Era, or Post Independence phase saw
architectural changes based on the needs of the
population after 1947. Small villages evolved into urban
and industrial regions. Economic increase along with
modern globalization, immigration and tourism sparked
the introduction of secure government buildings and
public structures that allowed the country to compete
with developed world countries. One of the most modern
architectural structures in recent decades includes the
Chennai, Tamilnadu government building. While the county
continues advancing in their architectural structures,
historical buildings remain well-maintained and
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