The colours, the forms, and the attention to detail… A picture of rich culture and heritage conjures in mind when we think of Indian architecture. Captivated by the fine detailing of our ancient and royal legacy over centuries, the architecture of India reflects diversity in construction, pattern, and detail. The beautiful palaces, forts, minarets, temples, and cathedrals that make up the country bear witness to our country’s rich history and heritage. Here are ten architectural wonders in India every architect must explore that say volumes about the country’s history, culture, religion, and artistry.

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Indian Architecture_©Pinterest

1. Rajasthan

Rajasthani cities such as Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, and others are known across the world for their forts. The main features here are forts with finely carved walls and ceilings, beautiful courtyards, magnificently built entry gates, and bright murals of rulers on the palace walls. The palaces will astonish you with their historic decor, one-of-a-kind artworks, sparkling mirrors, and ornate tile work. Havelis in Rajasthan are recognized for their distinct designs and intricately carved sandstone facades, latticed balconies, and inner walls covered with mural painting. They are built in Rajput and Islamic forms of architecture. Rajasthan is best described by its colours, customs, food, forts, and magnificent details in architecture.

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Hawa Mahal, Rajasthan_©Callicles via Instagram

2. Delhi

From Islamic to modern architecture, Delhi has it all. Humayun Tomb, Red Fort, India Gate the iconic sandstone-granite arch gate, Qutub Minar- world’s highest brick minaret, Jama Masjid- built of red sandstone and white marble boasts tall minarets, arched entrances, wide staircases, and a large courtyard for prayers. The red fort has prominent characteristics like massive red sandstone walls, geometrical gardens, projecting balconies, and grand palaces. Lotus Temple, Akshardham Temple, Lodi Garden, Purana Qila, and many others are just a few examples.

Delhi monuments_ ©http://www.travellingadda.com/adventure-travel/an-awesome-trip-to-delhi/

Combine this trip with a stop at Agra, the city hosts several monumental gems like the Taj Mahal, the universally admired masterpiece, and the greatest marvels of Mughal architecture. An architectural gem in red sandstone is Fatehpur Sikri Fort. The Agra Fort declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, features exquisite artwork on marble and sandstone walls as well as a blend of architectural styles.

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Taj Mahal_©Getty images

3. Goa

Goa has a diverse architectural landscape. Buildings in Goa are a fusion of styles, innovation, and details resulting from the blending of cultures. Although Goa has a rich heritage dating back to before the arrival of the Portuguese, this meeting resulted in culture and architecture that is distinct. The Portuguese Baroque style was used to build many of the colonial Catholic churches in the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of the historic homes currently remaining were constructed in a blend of Neoclassical and Gothic Revival styles. Goa is home to several aesthetically pleasing churches, houses, and forts. 

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Goan architecture_©Shahanshah 62 – WikiCommons

4. Karnataka

Hampi, the epitome of the Vijayanagara Empire’s glorious grandeur, is made up of ruins that depict incredible architecture, sculptures, and stories from the past. It contains around 500 monuments and other attractions, including Hindu and Jain temples, an archaeological museum, the Hampi Bazaar, the Queen’s Bath, and the Lotus Mahal.

The majestic Mysore palace built in Indo-Saracenic architecture style is enriched with exceptional elements. The world’s second-largest dome, Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, is unquestionably a marvel. Belur and Halebidu are known for their Hoysala architecture. The temples and shrines are skillfully carved and etched. The temple exemplifies aesthetic, cultural, and religious ideas. Badami has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the surrounding villages of Aihole and Pattadakal. If you’re a fan of Indian cultural art, you’ll be fascinated by the splendid richness of the paintings, sculptures, architecture, and exquisite craftsmanship.

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Stone Chariot Hampi_©Karnataka Tourism

5. Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is home to some of the country’s most beautiful architectural masterpieces. It has never failed to impress with its magnificent architecture, which includes temples, fortresses, cave paintings, masjids, and stupas. With a wide range of architectural styles, the structures vary from Islamic to European, with Indo-Islamic and Rajput elements. Khajuraho is known for its magnificent Hindu and Jain temples, which are built in the style of Indian architecture. The prominent features here are the exotic rock carvings depicting passion, dance, and music. Sanchi Stupa, with its 54-foot-high dome, is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage destination. Gwalior Fort is considered one of the most invincible forts in the country. Other wonders in Madhya Pradesh include the Jahangir Mahal in Orchha, the Jai Vilas Mahal in Gwalior, and the Jahaz Mahal in Mandu.

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Pillars with carvings_©Getty images

6. Odisha

Odisha is best identified by its cultural diversity, which is reflected in its heritage. The essence of Odisha’s architectural glory, the Konark Sun Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is notable for its Orian style of architecture. It was constructed in the 13th century and is shaped like a huge chariot with stone wheels, walls, and pillars. The temples of Bhubaneswar and Jagannath Puri are among Orissa’s most notable attractions. Odisha has some of the best monuments of ancient Indian architecture, from the Jain rock-cut caves at Khandagiri and Udaygiri to Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas.

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Stone wheel_©WikiCommons

7. Gujarat

Gujarat has a wide range of things to offer, including beautiful architecture, culture, and a great balance of the history and the contemporary. The step wells are a fantastic example of how the state is known for its culture and heritage. Rani Ki Vav, also known as Queen’s Stepwell, is India’s most beautiful stepwell and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other well-known step-wells are the Adalaj Stepwell, Dada Harir Vav, and Surya Kund Modhera. From the past, various monuments such as Jama Masjid, Sarkhej Roja, Sun temple, Jhulta Minarets, Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, and others have been explored. Amdavad Ni Gufa, an underground gallery designed by a collaboration between M.F. Hussain and Balkrishna Doshi one of the best examples of modern architecture. Signature work by iconic figures such as Le Corbusier, Louis Khan, and Charles Correa can be found in Ahmedabad.

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Rani Ki Vav_©WikiCommons

8. Maharashtra

The Indian state of Maharashtra is noted for its caves and rock-cut structures. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ajanta and Ellora Caves near Aurangabad is a well-known heritage site. Ellora Caves have 34 rock-cut carvings, Buddhist monasteries, and Hindu and Jain temples created between 600 and 1000 AD, while Ajanta Caves proudly offer witness to the earliest Buddhist architecture, paintings, and sculptures. The Elephanta Caves are well-known for their sculpted Hindu and Buddhist caves. The caves here will transport you to the era of Indian civilization’s rich cultural heritage. Maharashtra’s historic and magnificent landmarks include the Gateway of India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Shaniwar Wada, Agakhan Palace, and Deekshabhoomi. The Ambernath Shivalaya Temple, Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, Raigad Fort, and Sindhudurg Sea Fort are among Maharashtra’s most prominent historical buildings.

Ajantha Caves_©Ancient Origins via Twitter

9. Tamil Nadu

The temples, which are adorned with intricate architecture, a wide range of sculptures, and a wealth of inscriptions, are the very essence of Tamil culture and heritage. The Brihadeeshwara temple in Thanjavur, which features Dravidian architecture, is one of the country’s largest temples and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram and Meenakshi Amman Temple are among the state’s most notable heritage places. The architectural genius of Pallava dynasty architects can be seen in the Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram (which houses 1,000 shrines) and the Kapaleeshwarar temple in Chennai. Temples in Tamil Nadu should be on the bucket list of everyone interested in history and ancient art.

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Shore temple_©WikiCommons

10. Varanasi

Kashi, the Land of Spirituality, welcomes you with ancient ruins, strong pillars, classic balconies, red brickwork, interconnecting busy lanes, invasive modern structures, and ancient temples. Ghats, which are step-like constructions, have been built along the Ganges’ path. The pillared balconies with beautiful jali work, small niches for windows, carefully stone carved window frames, and deserted structures with creepers crawling out from the porches show the charm of this place. Along the Ganga River, there are over 80 Ghats, each with its architectural style. Old mansions, palaces, ashrams, magnificent temples, and hastily constructed residences can all be found amid the never-ending, horizontal terrain.

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Varnasi Ghats_©Shutterstock

References:

  1. TourMyIndia.15 Must-See Architectural Sites in India [Online}
    Available at: https://www.tourmyindia.com/blog/must-see-architectural-sites-in-india/
  2. Culture trip. 10 Historic Indian Buildings Everyone Needs to See [online]
    Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/india/articles/ten-historic-indian-buildings-everyone-needs-to-see/
  3. Historical Places in India That You Need to Visit_by Nishtha Walia [Online]
    Available at: https://www.oyorooms.com/blog/famous-histo
Author

Chethana Deeksha is fascinated by all the subjects which involve art & humanism. She has a diverse set of interests doodling, dance, photography, travel, writing & collaborative activities which made her pursue architecture. She believes herself to be a people person & never misses a chance to learn & explore.

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