Glorious timeline of Indian Architecture: 6 major landmarks

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Evolution of Indian Architecture from early Indus valley civilization to the pre-modern era. The timeline shows an overview and brief facts about the various Architecture styles. Indian Architecture has had a rich tradition spanning almost four millennia. The basic foundation for the development of Indian architecture was laid dur­ing the ancient period.

1. Indus Valley Civilization: 2600 BCE – 1900 BCE

Mohenjo-daro- facts on Indian Architecture
Mohenjo-daro Source: Surnin / Shutterstock.com

The Indus Valley Civilization was an ancient civilization. In today’s context located in Pakistan and northwest India, on the fertile flood plain of Indus River. Most relevant examples are Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa civilizations.

Construction materials –  Stone and Brick.

Harappa site remains revealed constructed complex multi-storied buildings with private bathrooms, drainage systems, sanitary sewer systems and reservoirs.

2. Vedic Era Architecture: 1500 BCE – 500 BCE

Vedic architecture or Vastu Shastra, which means physical environment and Shastra meaning knowledge or principles, is one of the traditional Hindu canons of town planning and architecture.

Above all Vastu Shatra, in essence, unifies many subjects together like science, art, astronomy and astrology.

The architecture of Vedic period encompasses huts of round and square shape, and also some tower-like structures.

4. Buddhist 3rd Century BCE

Sanchi Stupa- Indian Architecture
Great Stupa at Sanchi Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Buddhist religious architecture developed in the Indian Subcontinent in the third century BCE. The three types of structures typically associated with the religious architecture of early Buddhism: Stupa, Chaityas, and Viharas. However, Under Mauryan rule, several pillars were also constructed to commemorate Buddha.

4. Indian Rock-Cut: 100 BCE – 170 CE

Ellora caves- Indian Architecture
Ellora Caves Source: Atlas Obscura

The rock-cut structures is an art of creating a structure through carving it out of one single, solid and natural rock. Rock-cut structures in India are related to various different religious communities.

4. Hindu Temple Architecture

Hindu Temple Architecture has a huge impact on Indian architecture. Temple architecture in India developed in almost all the regions during ancient India. In other words, across the country distinct architectural styles in temple construction can be seen, this differentiation is mainly due to the geographical, climatic, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and historical diversities.

Primarily, the Indian temple architecture has been classified into three broad types, namely; Nagara or the northern style, Vesara or mixed style, and the Dravida which is the southern style. All these styles carry their unique regional influences and lineages.

When was the first Hindu Temple Built?

400 BCE

The people started to worship these deities in the cave temples. The earliest example of cave temple was estimated to built in 400 B.C.E. at Bhaje containing images of learned Parasurama with Indra and Surya. After this came the turn of stone temples, as brick and wood were perishable materials.

4a. Nagara: 6th to 10th Century- late Kushana Era, early Gupta: Rudimentary Archaic

Galaganatha temple-Pattadakal- Architecture
Galaganatha temple-Pattadakal- Karnataka Source: Wikimedia

Nagara is the style of temple architecture which became popular in Northern India. It is common here to build an entire temple on a stone platform with steps leading up to it.

4b. Dravidian: 6th to 10th Century- late Gupta Era: Rudimentary

Meenakshi temple- Indian Architecture
Meenakshi temple: Madurai, Tamil Nadu Source: Remote Traveler

Tamil architecture or the South Indian temple style is an architectural idiom in Hindu temple architecture that emerged in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent or South India.

It consists primarily of Hindu temples where the dominating feature is the high Gopura or gatehouse; large temples have several

4c. Vesara: Medieval Era

Medieval Era: Early– 6th to 13th Century, Late -13th to 16th Century
Chennakesava Temple- Architecture style
Chennakesava Temple- Somanathapura Source: Wikipedia

The Vesara Style is a hybrid temple Architecture. It has features of both the Nagara and Dravidian Style of temple Architecture. As we know that the Nagara Style is prevalent in North and Central India Dravidian Style is prevalent in South India.

4d. Kalinga -6th Century AD to 16th Century CE

Lingaraja temple- Indian Architecture evolution
Lingaraja temple- Bhubanshwar Source: Pinterest

The Kalinga architecture flourished in the ancient region of Kalinga. This architectural style can still be seen in the eastern Indian state of Odisha and the northern parts of Andhra Pradesh.

Most prominently, the Kalinga architectural style consists of three different types of temples, i.e., Rekha Deula, Khakhara Deula, and Pidha Deula. The diverse characteristics of the famous Kalinga architecture are; architectural stipulations, historical connotations, and iconography, which honours the custom, traditions, and legends which are associated with the structures.

Kaitabheshwara Temple- Indian architecture
Kaitabheshwara Temple- Kubaturu Source: Wikipedia

Western Chalukyan political influence was at its peak in the Deccan Plateau during this period. The centre of cultural and temple-building activity lay in the Tungabhadra region, where large medieval workshops built numerous monuments.

5. Mughal – 1526 to 1857

Mughal Architecture facts
Humayun Tomb Source: LLB
Taj Mahal- Indian Architecture
Tajmahal Source : Encyclopedia Britannica

The Mughal architectural style has emerged out of a unique blend of Islamic, Persian and Indian architectural styles.

During this era, India was ruled by the Mughal’s and different rulers built some of the finest structures in the country. Humayun’s Tomb, Akbar’s Tomb, Fatehpur Sikri, Red Fort at Delhi, Jami Masjid Delhi and the Taj Mahal at Agra are few examples of such structures which need to further introduction.

6. Indo-Saracenic: 1857 to Early 20th Century

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Vectoria Memorial- Kolkata Source: Structure

Indo-Saracenic Revival architectural style is a beautiful fusion of Indian architecture and Indo-Islamic architecture. In addition, it is also famous as the Indo-Gothic, Mughal-Gothic, Hindu-Gothic, and Neo-Mughal architectural style. This style of architecture inherits exotic elements of the Indian architecture and the Islamic architecture and blends it with the neo-classical and Gothic revival styles from the British Victorian era.

Modern Indian architecture still upholds the traditions of India. However, Modern Indian structures didn’t even start coming around until after India after independence from the British empire in 1947.

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