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Indian History of Architecture

The architecture of any country is evolving throughout centuries due to changing trends that are taking place. Indian architecture had several major periods of transformation and change. It is necessary to note that Indian civilization is one of the most ancient in the world and the earliest examples of architecture are very distinctive. Later architectural works are characterized by numerous influences of other cultures (Ricoeur 44). As in many other cases, the Indian history of architecture reflects the history of Indian society.

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The earliest examples of Indian architecture date back to the so-called Indus Valley Civilization (2600-1700 BC). Notably, people who lived in that period had cities and quite advanced handicraft technologies (Guha-Thakurta 180). The period is characterized by the use of brick, seal carvings, and the construction of multistoried buildings (with quite sophisticated drainage systems). As far as sanctuaries are concerned, there were rock-cut temples as well as sanctuaries in the open air. The following stage of the Indian architecture development was Buddhist architecture. The stupa (which is a dome-shaped structure) was aimed at keeping sacred relics.

King Asoka who lived in the third century BC contributed greatly to the development of this style of architectural tradition (Tillotson 33). Notably, stupas were often inside a city with numerous multistoried buildings. Rock-cut temples also became more decorated with sculptures and carvings. The architecture of that period is characterized by the use of brick and timber. Buildings were highly functional as the focus was made on functionality rather than grandness or esthetics.

The early modern era is the next stage in the history of Indian architecture. Cave temples became even more sophisticated and such grand rock-cut temples as Mahabalipuram and the temples of Kanchipuram were created (“Architecture” par. 2). Apart from this, temples also became more splendid with intricate ornamentation. Numerous sculptures and carvings were used to decorate temples. It is noteworthy that it was the period of kingdoms where rulers tried to reveal their might and power creating grand temples (“Architecture” par. 3). Besides, rulers tried to perpetuate national traditions and distinct features of the Indian nation as a way to resist Muslim invasion.

The period between the early sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries was marked by the influence of Muslim culture and traditions. Muslim invaders tried to show the might of Islam and their rule. They created numerous mosques and fortresses built following the Islamic architectural tradition. Taj Mahal is one of the most famous touristic attractions and an example of the combination of Islamic and Indian architecture (Tillotson Taj Mahal 50).

Later years were marked by western influences as the colonization of India by European countries began. Thus, Christian churches were built and cities were also constructed by western traditions. Contemporary architects tend to combine styles and incorporate culture into their designs. At present, Indian cities and historic sites bear signs of different periods of Indian architecture and history.

To sum up, it is necessary to note that Indian architecture had several periods of development. There were periods when rulers tried to construct grand edifices to reveal their power. There were also times when different styles and traditions were mixed. The 21st century is one of such periods as architects try to combine old and new. It is also possible to add that one can easily trace the history of India through an analysis of Indian architecture.

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Works Cited

Architecture. Web.

Guha-Thakurta, Tapati. Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Post-Colonial India. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2013. Print.

Ricoeur, Paul. “Universal Civilization and National Cultures.” Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity, and Tradition. Ed. Vincent B. Canizaro. New York, NY: Chronicle Books, 2012. 43-56. Print.

Tillotson, Giles. Paradigms of Indian Architecture: Space and Time in representation and Design. New York, NY: Routledge, 2014. Print.

Tillotson, Giles. Taj Mahal. London: Harvard University Press, 2012. Print.

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