At a Glance...

 

CULTURE

ARCHITECTURE

Vastushastra

Ajanta

Buddhist Architecture

Mahabalipuram

Kanchipuram

South Indian Architecture

Khajuraho

Orissan Architecture

Mughal Architecture

Fatehpur Sikri

Taj Mahal

Fort Architecture

Stepwells

 

 

Fort at Gwalior

The Mughal emperors of India, most particularly Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan, were heavily invested in monumental architecture and spent lavishly on the construction of mosques, mausoleums, forts, palaces, and other buildings. The principal sites of Mughal architecture are Lahore, Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri, though dazzling specimens of Mughal architecture are to be found elsewhere. Shah Jahan constructed a new capital, then to be known as Shahjahanabad, and now a part of Old Delhi. Its most famous buildings include the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in the world, and the Red Fort (Lal Qila), which over the last four hundred years has become uniquely emblematic of state power. Akbar likewise built a new capital at Fatehpur Sikri, a few miles outside Agra, but it was abandoned on account of insuperable difficulties in obtaining a water supply. Some have described the complex of buildings at Fatehpur Sikri, which include the majestic Buland Darwaza and Salim Chisti's tomb, as the most splendrous accomplishment of Mughal architecture. Among the most exquisite of the Mughal works of architecture are various mausoleums, including Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, Akbar's Tomb in Sikander on the outskirts of Agra, and the Taj Mahal, an edifice of such ravishing beauty that it has now become iconic of India itself. Mughal emperors also laid down elaborate gardens, the finest of which are to be found in Srinagar, and built elaborate forts, principally at Agra (1564-), Ajmer (1570-), Lahore (1580), and Allahabad.

Unlike the Mughals, the British contributed little to India's architectural history. Their rule is associated mainly with monumental civic buildings, such as the Victoria Terminus in Bombay, or commemorative exercises typified by the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta. There are some notable specimens of church architecture, such as St. James's Church in Delhi, but the principal regal contribution of the British appears to be the construction of a new capital in Delhi. Meanwhile, indigenous styles of architecture did not entirely suffer a demise, and step-wells continued to be built in Gujarat throughout the nineteenth century. In Rajasthan rich merchants constructed large havelis or residences in which the window work defies description. The most striking of these havelis are to be found in Jaisalmer, also notable for Rajasthan's finest, certainly most romantic, fort. (See also fort architecture.) Though few people associate India with modern architecture, the work of many Indian architects, such as Charles Correa and Balkrishna Doshi, is renowned internationally. Other prominent architects include Satish Gujral, also known as a painter, and Laurie Baker, an Englishman settled in India who first became known for designing low-cost housing and using only local materials. It is also noteworthy that the city of Chandigarh was designed by Le Corbusier.

Architecture: main page

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