Ancient Indian Architecture

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This is the brief overview of ancient Indian architecture.This is just my personal thing and not any textbook.

Text of Ancient Indian Architecture

  • Ancient Indian Architecture - Paradigm of Art

    Architecture of India is the most tangible and awe-inspiring projection of Indias art, culture and global

    discourse across thousands of years

  • Chronological Order

    Indus Valley and early sramana architecture (2600 - 100 BC)

    Buddhist and Jain rock-cut and structural architecture (300 BC - 900 AD)

    Changes in Hinduism (600 BC - 400 AD)

    Gupta and Gupta-inspired architecture (400 - 800 AD)

    Post-Gupta regional architecture (800 - 1000 AD)

    Monumental Hindu temples starting with the Cholas (1000 - 1200 AD)

    Kakatiya and Hoysala (1100 - 1400 AD)

    Monumental temples of Orissa (1000 - 1300 AD)

    Chandella and other central Indian temples (900 - 1100 AD)

    Dilwara and other western Indian temples (1000 - 1300 AD)

    Prambanan, Majapahit, and Khmer (900 - 1300 AD)

  • Indus Valley and early sramana architecture (2600 - 100 BC)

  • The most ancient architectural remains in the subcontinent are the 4500 year-old (2600-1900 BC) ruins of the mature Indus Valley civilization: their planned cities and monumental buildings (such as the Great Bath at Mohenjodaro). This was followed by a period of reduced architectural activity during the Vedic age, possibly because people worshipped in open-air altars, and lived in semi-permanent settlements. The remarkable, reactionary sramana (wandering ascetic) movements that became significant around the 6th century BC, (the most successful sramanas were the Buddha and Mahavira) eventually produced a very rich architectural legacy. Some of the examples of this architecture are Jain caves in the eastern Ghats at Udayagiri and Khandagiri in Orissa.

  • Buddhist and Jain rock-cut and structural architecture

    (300 BC - 900 AD)

  • The earliest structural sramana monuments were Buddhist stupas, built in about the 3rd century BC but then enlarged and elaborated over centuries to magnificent complexes, such as at Sanchi, Amaravati, Sarnath, and Bharhut. This concept of extending and adding to a core religious site over time is a common theme across regions and religions in India. Both rock-cut and structural Buddhist and Jaina monuments continued to be built till about the 9th c AD in India and till much later outside India. Some examples of later sramana architecture are the vast maha-viharas at Nalanda and Paharpur built in eastern India during the Pala era, the extensive rock-cut complexes at Ellora and Ajanta, and the huge stupas built outside India, such as at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, Pagan in Burma, and Borobudur in Java

  • Changes in Hinduism (600 BC - 400 AD)

  • Sramana movements and other influences also caused changes in the Hindu religion from the 6th c BC onwards. By the 4th century AD, the main Vedic rituals and deities (such as Agni and Varuna) were relegated and two minor deities, Vishnu and Siva were gaining popularity. The process of social assimilation was complemented by religious assimilation through claims that tribal deities were manifestations or avatars of Vishnu or Siva. Worship of these new deities focused on the concept of darsana or viewing an image of the deity placed within the confines of a sanctuary. This need, in turn, led to the first Hindu temples. While some concepts of architecture and sculpture were taken from Buddhist and Jain examples, Hindu temple architecture evolved along completely different lines.

  • Gupta and Gupta-inspired architecture

    (400 - 800 AD)

  • The initial Hindu sanctuaries are from the Gupta period such as the Vishnu temple at Deogarh, Parvati temple at Nachna.

    The Gupta style was adopted and transformed by several regional empires. Perhaps the finest examples are of the Western Chalukyas at Badami, Pattadakal,and Alampur, where there are rock-cut and structural Hindu temples from the 7th c AD.

    The Pallava dynasty also built several rock-cut and structural shrines in and around their capital at Kanchipuram, the finest examples being temples and rock-cut sanctuaries at Mamallapuram and the 8th c Kailasnatha temple at Kanchipuram.

    Several Gupta-inspired structural temples were built in Bhubaneswara, one of the earliest and finest.

  • Post-Gupta regional architecture (800 - 1000 AD)

  • In Bengal, the most remarkable legacy of the post-Gupta period was the Hindu and Buddhist sculpture in polished black basalt produced during the Pala and Sena rule (8th - 11th c). Most of the sculpture was probably intended for private worship rather than for installation in temple complexes.

    In addition to the vast numbers of Pala-Sena sculpture in museums in Bengal and abroad, sculpture figures are preserved in modern shrines in villages across Bengal.

    Around Mumbai, there are some fascinating rock-cut Hindu shrines from the Kalachuri and Rashtrakuta periods, the most famous of which are the rock-cut Siva temple (possibly of the Pasupata sect) at Elephanta island (6th c) and the greatest rock-cut temple, the Kailasa Temple at Ellora (8th c).

  • Monumental Hindu temples starting with the Cholas (1000 - 1200 AD)

  • This initial period of temple building (5th - 9th c) was characterised by small to mid-sized but intricate temples. In the next period (10th - 13th c) monumental temple complexes were built by powerful and wealthy Hindu dynasties. In the Tamil zone, Rajaraja Chola built the Brihadisvara temple in Tanjore in the late 10th c, the greatest architectural project in south India of the time. His son Rajendra, built a similarly massive complex at Gangaikondacholapuram, to celebrate his successful north India campaign. Building activity continued throughout the rest of Chola rule with temples being constructed at almost every village in the Kaveri delta, but the most celebrated examples of later-Chola architecture are the intricately sculpted temple complexes at Darasuram and Tribhuvanam.

  • Kakatiya and Hoysala (1100 - 1400 AD)

  • In the Deccan, Hindu temple architecture went through fascinating transformations. The Western Chalukya style was adopted and greatly modified by the Kalyani Chalukyas (10th-12th c) who built primarily in the Gadag region of northern Karnataka. Their style, exemplified in the Trikutesvara temple complex

    This style evolved further under the Kakatiya dynasty (11th - 13th c) in the north Deccan, who built several temples in and around their capital at Warangal, the largest and most famous of which is the Ramappa temple at Palampet.

    In southern Karnataka, the Hoysala dynasty (12th - 14th c) developed a unique variant of the Kalyani Chalukya, thelargest and finest examples of this style are the royal temples at Belur and Halebid.

  • Monumental temples of Orissa (1000 - 1300 AD)

  • In Orissa, Gupta-inspired temples evolved into a unique and confident architectural style, with a series of structures (mandapas) preceding the main sanctuary. The 10th c Muktesvara temple is remarkable for its intricate sculpture but it is still a small temple, probably intended for royal use.

    Within a century of building the Muktesvara, Orissan architects constructed the Ananta Vasudeva temple with the full complement of three adjoining halls and eventually built the immense Lingaraja temple complex in the late 11th c.

    Architectural scale continued to increase and the most massive temples, built in the Ganga period were the Jagannatha temple at Puri (12th c) and the Sun temple at Konark (13th c).

  • Chandella and other central Indian temples (900 - 1100 AD)

  • The most impressive and well-preserved temples in central India were built by the Chandella dynasty at Khajuraho and surrounding towns in the 10th-12th c. The central group of monuments at Khajuraho are an impressive ensemble, with the monumental Lakshmana and Kandariya Mahadeva temples the finest examples of the Chandella style. Other temples from this period include the early 11th c Udayesvara temple of the Paramara dynasty near Vidisha.

  • Dilwara and other western Indian temples (1000 - 1300 AD)

  • In western India, a series of magnificently carved marble Jain temples were built at Dilwara (in modern Rajasthan) in the 11th-13th c by royal patrons of the Chalukya dynasty. Of the series, the Vimal Vasahi and the Luna Vasahi temples are outstaning in their sculptural decoration.

    In Gujarat, the Sun Temple at Modhera built in the 11th century by a Solanki ruler is the most remarkable structure of this period.

    The examples in Gujarat from this period are particularly striking, outstanding ones are the Mata Bhavani's vav at Ahmedabad and the Rani vav at Patan.

  • Prambanan, Majapahit, and Khmer (900 - 1300 AD)

  • Massive Hindu temple complexes were built around this time outside India as well. The triple-shrined temple complex at Prambanan and smaller temples around it, all built in the 9th century by the Sanjaya dynasty are the finest examples in Indonesia.

    Soon after, these Hindu dynasties moved east and established themselves as the Majapahit empire in eastern Java, where they built a series of smaller high-spired temples around the 13th century AD.

  • Early Islamic architecture in Delhi (1200 - 1500 AD)

    Regional early Islamic architecture (1300 - 1500 AD)

    Deccan Sultanates (1400 - 1700 AD)

    Vijayanagara and Nayaka (1350 - 1700 AD)

    Mughal imperial architecture (1600 - 1800 AD)

    Regional Mughal architecture (1600 - 1800 AD)

    Rajputs and Marathas (1500 - 1800 AD)

    Terracotta temples of Bengal (1700-1900 AD)

  • Conclusion

    Indian architecture as it stands t