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Ancient Indian Architecture, Indus Valley Civilization

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Ancient Indian Architecture

Indian architecture has been inspired from various facets of human life. It has come a long way since its inception and transcends all geographical barriers, cultures and religions. The rich architectural beauty of India lies in its unique characteristics which have been shaped either from caves or rocks. The Indus Valley Civilization formed the basis of ancient architecture and structures. Excavations carried out in ancient cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa has shown that despite the absence of technology, the inhabitants planned out a community with simple tools and raw materials. Some of the greatest features of their planning are the houses, drainage system and the Great Bath. The houses were rectangular or square shaped and consisted of several rooms around a central courtyard. The entrance was small with no windows on the main floor in order to avoid heat and ensure privacy. The drainage systems of the houses were connected to the main sewer in the street which was covered with bricks and stones. With the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, the Aryan invaders settled further into the Gangetic plain by clearing the forests and green cover. They formed villages with simple, thatched roof huts of bamboos, wood and other forest materials. Another key feature was the fencing of the huts in order to protect themselves from wild animals. The Vedic Age gave rise to other offshoots of Hindu religion like Buddhism and later Jainism. The Stupas, pillars, cave and rock-cut temples were the highlighht during the Mauryan period. These same structures are famous for the inscriptions and symbols carved on it. Eventually different forms of Stupas came into being and the carvings on temples, pillars became more intricate. Temples down south consisted of altars and pillared halls carved out of rocks. Later with improvisation in the building techniques, structural temples with elaborate decorations and carvings came into existence. With the coming of Mughal era, there was an exchange in the architectural style. There were several forms of monuments, mosques and forts built during their time which gained worldwide popularity. The exquisite stone work, huge domes and the grandeur are prominent in all these structures. Another key feature of these monuments was the sprawling lawn which surrounded them. Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Humayun’s Tomb, Old Fort etc. are examples of the excellent skills possessed by the workers during that time. When India came under colonial British rule a little could be anticipated about the influence it would make on the country’s architectural trends. Initially trading centers were established in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. The administrative units like Government Houses and Town Halls came later. Fort William and the Madras Government Hall were built keeping the European counterparts in mind. With the spread of Christianity, it introduced Churches as the centre of worship for Christians. The structure resembled greatly to the Greco-Roman school of architecture. The military barracks and cantonments were given shape during this period. As India inched towards freedom andindependence, the architectural history of the country remained with it.The central administrative unit, which was decided to be based in Delhi,gave unique characteristics. Rajpath, India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhawan etc.are the highlights of architectural beauty during Independence. One can’tdeny that several factors have played crucial roles in shaping Indianarchitecture that we see today. Each culture, religion, custom and aestheticsensibility has influenced and given rise to this vast, rich heritagethat we possess. This same heritage needs to be preserved and cherishedfor the years to come.

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