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BY MARIO MIRANDA

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Mario's Goa
Mario's Travels
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Indian Architechture Through the Ages Introduction to Indian Architechture Architechtural Glossary Getting Around in India
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Classification of Indian Architecture through the Ages

Before we introduce Indian architecture, let us take a look at the history of India. Although, in this book, Indian history has been broadly classified into Ancient Times, Middle Ages and Modern Age, it is not defined as clearly as is European history. With European architecture, historical terminology has been used, making it easier to conjure a mental image. The objective of this book is not to classify Indian history, but to view it from different methods of construction used over the ages.

Ancient Times

Indian civilization begins with the Indus civilization that dates back about 4000 years. Indian history takes years of study to know in-depth. If you are thinking of learning more then you'll need the concentration of a poker player at partypoker and the dedication of an Olympic athlete. Many colleges and universities run several different programs on Indian history, for it is so varied and rich. Indian art, culture, religion and law is incredibly complex. The famous cities of Harappa and Mohenjadaro are now in Pakistan, while the ruins of Lothal are in India. Aryans from the west settled in India and developed "Vedic" literature as part of the Brahman religion. These became the Holy Books of the religion, which later came to be known as Hinduism. During the 5th-6th centuries BC, Gautama Siddharta became Buddha and started Buddhism and Vardhamana became Mahavira and started Jainism. Buddhism had the support of the royal class and was adopted by the masses. As Buddhism spread across the country, so did its monasteries and temples. As Hinduism re-established itself strongly, the Buddhist presence disappeared from India in the 13th century. Cave temples typically represent the architecture of Ancient Times. Naturally there must have been castles, palaces and houses during that time, but none of those remain, because buildings constructed of wood, rotted or burned easily. Temples were built of bricks, but when Buddhism died out, these were destroyed or pulled down due to a lack of protectors. However, cave temples and monasteries still exist today because they were carved out of rock - a much stronger material. There are around 1,200 such cave temples and monasteries left and 75 per cent of them belong to Buddhism.

Middle Ages

As they were not satisfied with cave temples, entire sculpted rock temples were built during the Middle Ages. A few still exist unto the present day. In contrast to the rock temples that imitated wooden temples of ancient times, the stone temples, built by laying cut stones one on top of another, came to be the model of sculpted stone construction. But since these developed together, there is no line dividing the ages in terms of centuries. Construction of stone temples commenced in the 5th century, during the Gupta dynasty, but was standardized only during the 8th century. Many stone temples were built between the 7th and 9th centuries, but the temples carved out of rocks were constructed up till the 12th century. Hence according to the history of architecture, the transition from ancient times to the Middle Ages took many centuries. Buddhism took the lead in construction during ancient times and in contrast, Hinduism took the lead during the Middle Ages followed by Jainism. The method of stone construction improved by leaps and bounds in north and south India. The style caught on and very soon the whole of India was filled with stone structures.

The Chandella dynasty in the north and the Chola dynasty in the south showed remarkable developments in architecture, by building magnificent temples, using stone. Islam entered India during the 11th century and established power in Delhi during the 13th century. Till the 16th century, the Turkish and Afghan dynasties continued to rule Delhi during a period referred to as the "Delhi Sultanate". Western styles of architecture, including techniques like domes were brought to India during this age and had a strong influence on building styles. This period called the Middle Ages, and the advent of the Mughals who conquered most of India, signalled the beginning of the Modern Age.

Modern Age

Mughal rule spread into more than half the sub-continent and the splendid Mughal style, which is a mix of the Indo-Islamic construction style, also blossomed. At that time, the Vijayanagara kingdom, which is predominantly Hindu, flourished in south India. At the same time, the Nayaks who were also Hindus ruled over some areas in the south. Both these dynasties appreciated technical developments with the main themes being large-scale construction, complex expressions and elaborate decorations. This phase is called the Modern Age. Emperor Akbar's Hindu-Islamic fusion in north India and the lavish Dravidian style of construction in the south are remarkable styles of this age. Modern Age Indian architecture also includes the British era in India, until its Independence in 1947. British rule coincided with the decline of the Mughal era and the revival of Hinduism. The construction during this time was an adaptation of the Indian style in the colonial style brought from Europe. The direct impact of British architecture was seen from the second half of the 19th century, when research on Indian architectural history advanced and the Mughal style influenced colonial constructions. It is referred to as the Indo-Saracenic style. The Present As we plunge into the age of Modernism (post-Indian Independence), we have to say that architectural styles differed largely until then. A major influence on Indian architecture, post-Independence, was that of French architect, Le Corbusier, who designed Chandigarh and various buildings in Ahmedabad. Indian architects, educated in Europe and America also made a mark, but trying to transplant the architecture of Europe and America that was very different in history and style had its own problems. It is only right to call modern architecture "Cosmopolitan architecture".

The 600-odd buildings in the book, are grouped together according to their similarities. To enable the traveller to decide which place to visit, the buildings are given a star rating, from 0 to 3. The rating is based on the fascinating quality of the building. If a building has archaeological importance, but is in ruins, then it is given a low rating. Ratings are also given from 1 to 3, with regards to the region, the importance or number of buildings, natural scenery, etc. This is done as a subjective measure to help the traveller use this as a yardstick while planning his journey.