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Hindu architecture evolved over the centuries from simple rock-cut cave shrines to massive and ornate temples which spread across the Indian sub-continent and beyond, forming a canonical style which is still adhered to today in modern Hindu temples across the globe.
Essential elements of Hindu architecture are precise and harmonious geometry when viewed from all four sides and above, the square form and grid ground plans, soaring towers, and elaborate decorate sculpture which includes gods, worshippers, erotic scenes, animals, and floral and geometric patterns.
Beginnings & Purpose
From the 1st century CE a new type of worship known as Bhakti or devotional Hinduism spread across the Indian sub-continent, and the old Vedic gods were replaced in importance by deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Brahma, and Devi. These gods would become the central figures of Hinduism and their worship required temples where the devoted could offer their thanks and reveal their hopes for a better life.
Buildings were constructed which could house a sacred symbol of a particular god, which could be decorated with sculptural figures of them so recalling episodes from their mythological adventures, and which provided a space for worshippers to leave offerings and perform rituals such as bathing and dancing by professional female dancers (devadasi). The temple was considered the dwelling place of a particular god (devalaya). It was, therefore, a sacred place (tirtha) where heaven and earth meet and, as a god's home, it must be a suitably splendid palace (prasada). The needs of the god would, additionally, be supervised by a dedicated body of priests (pujaris) who attended the temple.
Temples were built to house a sacred symbol of a particular god and were decorated with sculptural figures recalling episodes from mythology.
Hindus need not attend regular services, but an occasional walk around the temple interior (circumambulation), known as pradaksina and done in a clockwise direction, was considered auspicious. Further, they could say prayers, look at the god's representation – a specific act of piety known as darsan – and leave offerings of food and flowers (puja). Temples, inevitably, became the very centre of a community and, accordingly, their upkeep was guaranteed by land grants and endowments from the ruling class, as indicated by inscriptions on many temples.
Influenced by early Buddhist structures such as the stupa, the first Hindu temples were built from rock-cut caves and repeated the idea of relief panels and the decorative gavaska window form. Then, with the arrival of Gupta architecture in the 4th to 5th century CE, the first free-standing Hindu temples were constructed with features such as towers and projecting niches.
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The first materials used were wood and terracotta, but architects gradually moved on to brick and stone, especially sandstone, granite, schist, and marble. No mortar was used in the older temples and so precise cutting of dressed stones was required. Outstanding examples of influential cave temples include those at Udaigiri in Malwa and date to the 5th century CE. Early free-standing temples survive at Deogarh and include the 6th century CE Dasavatara temple dedicated to Vishnu.
Hindu Temple Features
The Hindu temple (mandir) is laid out according to the eight cardinal directions, and a god representing each one (dikpala) may sometimes be represented in sculpture on the temple's exterior. Built on an elaborately carved platform (adhisthana), the temple is often referred to in ancient Hindu texts on architecture (the Vastu Shastras) as the sacred mountain Meru or Kailasa, the dwelling of Shiva in the Himalayas. Indeed, seen from afar, and especially from above, many Hindu temples, with their multiple towers, appear very much like a mountain mass. The 11th century CE Kandariya Mahadeva temple at Khajuraho and 12th century CE Rajarani temple at Bhubaneswar are outstanding examples of this effect.
The most important part of a Hindu temple is the garbhagriha (translated as 'womb-chamber'), which is a small window-less shrine room located at the very heart of the temple. Within, a symbol or representation of a specific god was placed, for example, the linga (phallus) for Shiva. Worshippers consider that energy flows out in all directions from the garbhagriha, and this is reflected in the architecture of the surrounding parts of the temple. For example, on three sides temples have blind doors which symbolically allow the deity's energy to leave the inner garbhagriha. These portals (ghana dvara) may also act as secondary niche shrines for the deity too.
Early temples consisted of only a garbhagriha, but over time additions were built and copied across temple sites to create, by the 10th century CE, a canonical architectural style. The most obvious of these features were a portico entrance (ardhamandapa) and pillared hall (mandapa) which led to the garbhagriha – features which developed in the Deccan from the 8th century CE. Even more impressive, above the garbhagriha a huge corbelled tower was constructed, the sikhara. One of the earliest examples incorporating these features can be found in Aiholi and the 8th century Durga temple, whilst one of the most ornate is the 12th century CE Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram in the Tamil Nadu.
Nagara & Dravida Temples
Architecture evolved slightly differently in different regions, such as the distinct features of Orissa, Kashmir and Bengal temples, but two general types are identified as the Nagara (North) and Dravida (South) styles. The sikhara tower in Nagara temples have a sloping curve as they rise, have decorative arches known as gavakshas, and are topped by an amalaka – a large fluted stone disk – and also a small pot and finial. The walls of Nagara temples present a complex exterior of projections (known as ratha and ultimately there would be seven on each side) which create many recesses. In contrast, Dravida towers (known separately as vimana) are more dome-like with cornices, and they are topped by another smaller dome. The exterior walls of Dravida temples have regular entablatures which often contain sculpture. Southern Indian temples can also have a ritual bathing tank or pool (nandi mandapa), may have a barrel-vaulted (shala) roof, and are typically enclosed within a walled courtyard with a gate (gopura) which over time would become even more massive and ornate than the temple itself. The 11th century CE Brihadishvara Temple complex at Tanjavur is a wonderful example which incorporates all of these features.
Beginning with humble caves and squat flat-roofed temples, Hindu architecture, then, evolved over the centuries and, despite some regional variation, arrived at a standard arrangement which involved a huge walled complex with massive decorative gateways giving entrance to a sacred space of lesser shrines dominated by the main temple and its monumental series of towers. The design has become so standard that it is copied even today in temples across the world from New Delhi to Malibu, California.
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Gopura, also spelled gopuram, in south Indian architecture, the entrance gateway to a Hindu temple enclosure. Relatively small at first, the gopuras grew in size from the mid-12th century until the colossal gateways came to dominate the temple complex, quite surpassing the main sanctum in both size and architectural elaboration. Often a series of gopuras are to be found at a shrine, each providing entry through a new enclosure wall.
The gopura is generally constructed with a stone base and a superstructure of brick and pilaster. It is rectangular in plan and topped by a barrel-vault roof. The exterior walls are covered with sculpture. Among outstanding examples of gopuras are the Sundara Pandya gopura of the Jambukeshvara temple at Tiruchchirappalli, Tamil Nadu state, and the successive gopuras of the Shiva temple at Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu state (12th–13th century).
This article was most recently revised and updated by Matt Stefon, Assistant Editor.
Architecture of the Qutub Minar
It was ordered that this monument be constructed as a sign of victory and establishment of Muslim rule. So it was to be a grand work of Indo-Islamic architecture and design.
The exterior walls of Qutub Minar reveal its history of construction, with chiseled Parso-Arabic and Nagari character carvings. The inscriptions clearly describe the motive, way, the time taken and every minute detail about this monument.
From the intricate carvings, you’ll note an aura of Afghanistan pattern, blended with local artistic conventions having garlands and lotus borders. Fortunately, renovations of the minaret throughout time have maintained the original charm of the building.
Each of the five different storeys has a projected balcony that circles the Minar (backed by stone brackets). The first three storeys are made with red sandstone while the remaining were constructed using marble and sandstone. If you look closely the cylindrical shaft has inscriptions of the Quran.
Mediterranean Coast Architecture
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The Changing Culture of Architecture in Modern India
The changing culture of architecture in modern India, both as a lifestyle and as a profession, has been eye-opening. In terms of lifestyle, we never predicted the extent to which architecture and design could affect us as well as the society and culture we live in, nor did we predict how deeply symbolic of our beliefs and attitudes they’d become. As a profession, the huge wave of development and technology that caused us to try and ape everything that didn’t belong to us, has made us question and search for our own identity and provoked us to revisit the solid traditional roots and foundation of Indian architecture.
The 'Architect' in Architecture
The ‘architect’ has evidently lost the authorship and exclusivity s/he once possessed—an observation that might be visible not only in India but in the profession worldwide. Today, the collaborative role of architecture instead rests on developers, clients, various consultants, and foreign firms, somewhere subduing the voice of the architect.
Speaking for the profession in India, it is imperative that the role of the architect be acknowledged more strongly, especially in the planning of cities. The Indian government’s massive Smart Cities Mission, which aims to develop 100 sustainable and citizen-friendly cities all over the country, has done very little to include architectural voices into the conversation. Same goes for our heritage structures that are being replaced by modern structures despite resistance shown by architects.
As a result, architects are making efforts and are regularly creating platforms that can give way to solutions to better architecture. Practitioners such as Karan Grover, Rahul Mehrotra and Naresh Narasimhan have begun to assume the role of activist. In addition to certain professional bodies like the Council of Architecture, Indian Institute of Architects and Indian Institute of Interior Designers, a lot of cities have very active architects’ groups who meet, interact, disseminate, and share their views on the profession and issues surrounding it. Numerous international architecture conventions are also creating opportunities of increased visibility. Here, major discussions on burning topics such as sustainability and the green movement, integration of urban planning and architecture, and the role of architects in the planning of cities, are being explored. These conversations about how architecture professionals can better society are also beginning to include conversations with planners, governmental bodies, environmentalists, citizens and psychologists.
Women’s participation in the field is definitely growing worldwide, but particularly so in India, where they are contributing to architecture and planning in a myriad of ways and are holding authoritative positions. This is a far cry from the gender-biased profession architecture was in India even a decade back. Needless to say, on many forums, it is the women who are initiating changes.
Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies, India by Christopher Charles Benniger Architects. Photo by Ramprasad Akkisetti and Deepak Kaw.
Goa Institute of Management in Sanquelim, Goa by Somaya & Kalappa Consultants.
The Need to Look at 'Cities,' Rather than just 'Buildings'
Many of India’s major cities are experiencing issues of infrastructure, basic planning, and sanitation, though they receive little attention. While smaller cities are proving to be great examples, there is still a need to look at urban planning from scratch. India does have a few architects such as Christopher Charles Benninger, whose focus has been to integrate architecture and urban planning. Numerous architects in the country have realized that working in silos and for their own buildings alone might not work. Many are beginning to look at the larger picture within their cities, and rather than focusing solely on individual projects, are seeing the need for architecture to engage with cities.
Considering how architecture can affect the socio-cultural imprint of a city, the social responsibility of an architect is being profoundly displayed by a handful of architects in the country such as Brinda Somaya, Pratima Joshi, PK Das and Abha Narain Lambah, who are working on community architecture and are passionately involved with restoring or conserving heritage structures. Then there are architects like Nimish Patel and Parul Zaveri, Bijoy Jain and Girish Dariyav Karnawat whose works have not only brought forth the immense resource of ’craftspeople’ that we have in the country, but has also helped in uplifting these ‘treasures.’
Architects are joining in social movements and demanding public dialogues to curb the disconnect between what people want and what is being offered to them. In terms of safety and security, architects like Neera Adarkar are bringing into focus the ‘gendering of spaces’ and concepts such as ‘eyes on the street.’ There has also been a surge of non-profit organizations in the country, who are not only voicing their opinions on the degradation of design and cities, but are physically working on solutions. Through this, citizens are able to participate in building their cities like never before. Now, there are even opportunities for citizens to participate in and provide feedback for master-planning, a recent example being Bengaluru.
Yellow Train School by Biome Environmental Solutions. Photo by Vivek Muthuramalingam.
Volontariat by Anupama Kundoo Architects. © Deepshikha Jain
Wall House by Anupama Kundoo Architects. © Javier Callejas
The Shift in Design Sensibilities
The growing economy and population has led to enormous housing needs, driving the extent of architectural work and creating massive opportunities in the country. It is also one of the reasons why the number of foreign architectural firms working in India has increased. In the aftermath of cities burdened by the lack of infrastructure, the opportunity to design and make a difference in India has become immense. This has also led to the increasing number of Indian architects, who, after receiving their architectural education overseas, have returned to India to practice and be a part of the shift the country is going through.
An influence from the West, glass and designer-shaped buildings began as design statements some years back, but are now shunned by responsible architects for their out-of-context implementation. Indian architecture is seeing many explorations. Though globalization is widely influencing the architecture being built in India today, the need and anxiety to localize is also fiercely felt by many.
Glass, steel and aluminium might remain as ‘fashionable’ materials, but there has been a shift in sensibilities with the revival of Indian crafts and the use of natural and alternative materials such as brick, mud, clay, bamboo, wood, stone, etc. Significantly, many architects such as Krishnarao Jaisim, Neelam Manjunath, Sathya Prakash Varanashi, Chitra Vishwanath, Anupama Kundoo, Yatin Pandya, Dean D’Cruz and Samira Rathod are innovatively bringing forward these materials to create statements. India can also take pride in its legends like Didi Contractor, an 88-year old woman, whose training in architecture has not been formal but come from Didi's empirical knowledge attributed to her wide reading and exposure to the field. Even at this age today, her work with mud and clay have revealed how we all should turn to nature for our answers.
Shadow House by Samira Rathod Design Associates © Edmund Sumner
House on Pali Hill by Bijoy Jain's Studio Mumbai. © Helene Binet
The concepts of sustainability and ‘going green’ have become commonplace though some architects and real estate builders use these terms more so as marketing gimmicks rather than as a mandate for responsible design. Discussions around the two have taken center stage at architectural forums, conveying the urgency felt by architects and planners in India to correctly interpret and use them.
The importance of context, sustainability, nature, and creating an architecture that is true to our culture and cultivates an ‘Indian identity’ has gained much credence. The works of legends such as Charles Correa, BV Doshi, Raj Rewal, Laurie Baker, CN Raghavendran, Shiv Datt Sharma, among others, have long represented Indian architecture on international platforms. Today, a lot of younger contemporary practices in India have joined them, such as Sanjay Puri Architects, Mathew & Ghosh Architects and Morphogenesis who are making waves overseas for their futuristic thinking that rests on a traditional ethos and the core tenets of a contextual, responsible and resourceful architecture. Apart from globally positioning themselves at expos, biennials and award competitions, Indian architects are doing a fair amount of work overseas too.
The Institute for Integrated Learning in Management by Morphogenesis.
The Street by Sanjay Puri Architects. © Dinesh Mehta
The adaptation to technology has also been appreciable with advancements being successfully integrated in design aspects. India’s emerging architects have exemplified a lot of fresh work that could be grouped under ‘contemporary Indian sensibility'—a sensibility that takes the roots and ethos of Indian architecture and integrates them into contemporary vocabulary. The step towards bold and experimental architecture has already been taken, for example, in the work done by Malik Architects and Planet 3 Studios. Many are involved in a critical reinterpretation of how buildings and spaces should be.
The re-conceptualisation of spaces has been a revelation too. There are several architects such as Sanjay Mohe and Sandeep Khosla who have focused on the spatial experiences of the built environment. For them, as for many others, it’s about designing buildings as spaces, and not merely ‘objects.’ Even once forgotten spaces like kitchens and bathrooms are now seeing makeovers as they become spaces of immense significance. For many architects in the country, architecture is not merely about the ‘aesthetics,’ it is about functionality, about a ‘way of living’, about how the profession can affect us.
Bamboo Symphony by Manasaram Architects.
MPavilion 2016 by Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai. Photo Credit: John Gollings.
What the Profession Also Needs
Changing lifestyles have transformed the meaning of architecture for many. The perils of technological exploitation, excessive virtual networking leading to failures in proper communication, the dependence on patrons and well-travelled clients, and the diminishing importance given to culture and heritage are the challenges facing architecture in India today. There is lots of information available, but is it being converted into knowledge? While changing lifestyles have impacted architecture, it is important for the profession to ruminate on how it can in turn make a lasting impact on transforming lifestyles.
The profession’s woes also have a lot to do with architectural education in India, which has been deteriorating over the decades and could use an overhaul. Though the field has a lot of well-acclaimed academics in India, the unexpected proliferation of architecture schools and the easy path to licensure have been huge sources of consternation in India, as has the curriculum and faculty. So much so that a small number of firms have even taken upon themselves to hold smaller academic programs, and train students themselves.
The role of Indian media in architecture and design, has also remained very limited. There are very few people in the country who have taken it upon themselves to make a difference to architecture and cities through writing. Though the subject of writing on architecture has seen much growth in the past few years with people expressing their interest towards it, one would like to see the Indian media getting into more participatory roles and becoming an analytical weapon in making everyone realize how architecture and planning can affect cities.
To conclude, Indian architecture is in a state of flux where we have everything—explorations, opportunities, experiments and evolved sensibilities—and a step in the right direction could yield great results and maybe help in re-discovering what we have lost. The need of the hour is to not be carried away with what is happening around us, but to understand our needs, our expectations, our roots and work towards an architecture that adapts to changing lifestyles but stays true to its values and identity that communicates to people and shapes our society that helps in building memories and gives us buildings and spaces that can sustain till posterity.
Rani ki Vav
India truly has some architectural wonders that you can find nowhere else on earth. Rani ki Vav is a one of a kind architecture that you see in Gujarat. Located on the banks of river Saraswati, Rani ki vav is an inverted temple dedicated to the river. It is built in the form of a stepwell that queen Udaymati built in honour of her husband King Bhima I in the 11th century. The seven storeyed stepwells has more than 500 sculptures of humans, gods and nymphs all over its body.
India's Forgotten Stepwells
It’s hard to imagine an entire category of architecture slipping off history’s grid, and yet that seems to be the case with India’s incomparable stepwells. Never heard of ‘em? Don’t fret, you’re not alone: millions of tourists – and any number of locals - lured to the subcontinent’s palaces, forts, tombs, and temples are oblivious to these centuries-old water-structures that can even be found hiding-in-plain-sight close to thronged destinations like Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi or Agra’s Taj Mahal.
But now, India’s burgeoning water crisis might lead to redemption for at least some of these subterranean edifices, which are being re-evaluated for their ability to collect and store water. With any luck, tourist itineraries will also start incorporating what are otherwise an “endangered species” of the architecture world.
Learn more about these stepwells' curious histories, after the break.
Rudimentary stepwells first appeared in India between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D., born of necessity in a capricious climate zone bone-dry for much of the year followed by torrential monsoon rains for many weeks. It was essential to guarantee a year-round water-supply for drinking, bathing, irrigation and washing, particularly in the arid states of Gujarat (where they’re called vavs) and Rajasthan (where they’re baoli, baori, or bawdi) where the water table could be inconveniently buried ten-stories or more underground. Over the centuries, stepwell construction evolved so that by the 11th century they were astoundingly complex feats of engineering, architecture, and art.
Construction of stepwells involved not just the sinking of a typical deep cylinder from which water could be hauled, but the careful placement of an adjacent, stone-lined “trench” that, once a long staircase and side ledges were embedded, allowed access to the ever-fluctuating water level which flowed through an opening in the well cylinder. In dry seasons, every step – which could number over a hundred - had to be negotiated to reach the bottom story. But during rainy seasons, a parallel function kicked in and the trench transformed into a large cistern, filling to capacity and submerging the steps sometimes to the surface. This ingenious system for water preservation continued for a millennium.
In many wells – particularly those in Gujarat – covered “pavilions” punctuated each successive level, accessed by narrow ledges as the water level rose, and providing vital shade while also buttressing walls against the intense pressure. For this same reason, most stepwells gradually narrow from the surface to the lowest tier underground, where the temperature is refreshingly cool. By building down into the earth rather than the expected “up”, a sort of reverse architecture was created and, since many stepwells have little presence above the surface other than a low masonry wall, a sudden encounter with one of these vertiginous, man-made chasms generates both a sense of utter surprise and total dislocation. Once inside, the telescoping views, towering pavilions, and the powerful play of light and shadow are equally disorienting, while also making them devilishly difficult to photograph.
By the 19th-century, several thousand stepwells in varying degrees of grandeur are estimated to have been built throughout India, in cities, villages, and eventually also in private gardens where they’re known as “retreat wells”. But stepwells also proliferated along crucial, remote trade routes where travelers and pilgrims could park their animals and take shelter in covered arcades. They were the ultimate public monuments, available to both genders, every religion, seemingly anyone at all but for the lowest-caste Hindu. It was considered extremely meritorious to commission a stepwell, an earthbound bastion against Eternity, and it’s believed that a quarter of these wealthy or powerful philanthropists were female. Considering that fetching water was (and is still) assigned to women, the stepwells would have provided a reprieve in otherwise regimented lives, and gathering down in the village vav was surely an important social activity.
Stepwells fall into similar categories based on their scale, layout, materials, and shape: they can be rectangular, circular, or even L-shaped, can be built from masonry, rubble or brick, and have as many as four separate entrances. But no two are identical and - whether simple and utilitarian, or complex and ornamented - each has a unique character. Much depends on where, when, and by whom they were commissioned, with Hindu structures functioning as bona-fide subterranean temples, replete with carved images of the male and female deities to whom the stepwells were dedicated. These sculptures formed a spiritual backdrop for ritual bathing, prayers and offerings that played an important role in many Hindu stepwells and despite a lack of accessible ground water, a number continue today as active temples, for instance the 11th-century Mata Bhavani vav in Ahmedabad.
Nowhere was a more elaborate backdrop for worship planned than at India’s best-known stepwell, the Rani ki vav (Queen’s Well) two hours away in Patan. Commissioned by Queen Udayamati around 1060 A.D. to commemorate her deceased spouse, the enormous scale – 210 feet long by 65 wide – probably contributed to disastrous flooding that buried the vav for nearly a thousand years under sand and mud close to its completion. The builders realized they were attempting something risky, adding extra buttressing and massive support walls, but to no avail. In the 1980’s, the excavation and restoration of Rani ki vav (which is hoped to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status soon) were completed but by then, long-exposed columns on the first tier had been hauled off to build the nearby 18th-century Bahadur Singh ki vav, now completely encroached by homes.
Once Muslim rulers began to dominate in India (dates differ depending on the area) stepwells shifted in their design both structurally and decoratively. Hindu builders used trabeate (or post and lintel) construction with corbel domes, Muslims introduced the arch and “true” dome. Hindu artists carved sculptures and friezes packed with deities, humans, and animals while Islam forbade depictions of any creatures at all. But when, for a brief period in Gujarat, the two traditions collided around 1500 A.D. a pair of brilliant offspring resulted close to the new capital of Ahmedabad, and worth a detour for anyone visiting the modernist masterworks of Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, or B.V. Doshi.
Both the Rudabai and Dada Harir vavs are five stories deep with octagonal subterranean pools, each commissioned by a female patroness and, although Rudabai boasts three separate entrances (a rarity), it and Dada Harir vav are conceptual cousins, built at virtually the same moment just twelve miles from one another, commissioned under Islamic authority using Hindu artisans. Each is elaborately decorated, but with a notable absence of deities and human figures, but compared to other, more somber Islamic-commissioned stepwells, these two are positively flamboyant.
As for the current state of stepwells, a hand-full are in relatively decent condition, particularly those few where tourists might materialize. But for most, the prevailing condition is simply deplorable due to a host of reasons. For one, under the British Raj, stepwells were deemed unhygienic breeding grounds for disease and parasites and were consequently barricaded, filled in, or otherwise destroyed. “Modern” substitutes like village taps, plumbing, and water tanks also eliminated the physical need for stepwells, if not the social and spiritual aspects. As obsolescence set in, stepwells were ignored by their communities, became garbage dumps and latrines, while others were repurposed as storage areas, mined for their stone, or just left to decay.
How Did Indian History Become Myth?
Like all good Anglophiles, I went to one of India’s best schools in Bombay. Among the many things they taught me was that the epics—the Ramayana and the Mahabharata—were mythologies. And I believed this till, one day, I decided to read Valmiki’s Ramayana in Sanskrit. And there I read that, as the trio are about to enter Dandakaranya, Sage Bharadwaja warned them to beware of lions and tigers. Lions and tigers don’t share forest space had also been taught to us so that was yet another myth in the epic. Till I went to Bhimbetka and saw a 10,000-year-old painting of a lion and tiger sitting together. If one fact was so wrongly presented by my good teachers, could the others be equally wrong?
What is a myth? The online dictionary has two meanings: a) a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events and b) a widely held but false belief or idea. Thus, the Ramayana was damned for all time as a myth.
The epics are known to us as itihasa—thus it happened. And to Hindus, there is no doubt that the events of the epic did happen.
The actual story of the Ramayana is very simple. It starts with Valmiki, the ascetic, asking Narada, the chief of hermits (and a generic name), as to who was the greatest man who ever lived. Narada narrates the story of Rama, King of Ayodhya, a man of virtue, knowledge, prowess, righteousness, truthful, resolute, of right conduct, friendly to all, powerful, handsome, who subdued his self, conquered anger, and many more virtues—but all human. Valmiki was a contemporary of Rama, as confirmed by Narada himself.
Narada’s story is short and important: King Dasharatha wanted to make his beloved son Rama regent. But Queen Kaikeyi, who had been granted a boon by the king on an earlier occasion, wanted the exile of Rama and the installation of her son Bharata as king. As an obedient son, Rama left for the forest with his brother Lakshmana, son of Sumitra, and his wife Sita. Meeting his friend Guha, chief of the Nishadas, Rama crosses the Ganga at Sringaverapura and goes from forest to forest till they reach Chitrakoot. Here Bharata meets them and begs Rama to return. On Rama’s refusal, Bharata returns to Ayodhya and settles at Nandigrama.
Rama then enters the Dandaka forest where he kills several rakshasas—including Khara, Trishira, Dooshana—and disfigures Shoorpanakha. Hearing of the mass killings of 14,000 of his kinsmen, Ravana, using Maricha to distract the two brothers, steals Rama’s spouse, killing the vulture Jatayu. On the advice of Kabandha, Rama meets Sabari, described as a pious hermitess, and befriends the Vanara chief Hanuman on the banks of the Pampa, and later Sugriva, killing the latter’s brother Vali. Then, as advised by Sampati, king of the vulture people, Hanuman crosses the brackish sea, and reaches Lanka where Sita is imprisoned in a grove of Ashoka trees. He lets himself be bound and taken before Ravana. He sets all Lanka—except Sita—on fire and returns to tell Rama that he actually met Sita. Rama then makes Nala construct a bridge and crosses over to Lanka, killing Ravana in combat. But, ashamed to take back Sita, Rama speaks harshly to her in public. She enters the fire, after which Rama accepts her. Having installed Vibhishana on the throne, Rama flies with family and friends (including Sugriva and Hanuman) to Ayodhya in the pushpaka, and regains his kingdom.
This is the original story of Rama, a historical biography, as narrated by Narada, which Valmiki uses as a prologue to his epic. Narada is very clear that Rama is a man, descended in the line of Ikshvaku. The pushpaka is the only extraordinary part of it.
Janaka of Mithila, Sita’s swayamvara, Rama’s mother Kaushalya, Rama’s brother Shatrughna, the golden deer, the lakshman rekha, Rama’s ring, Sita’s choodaman, Kumbhakarna, Indrajit, Mandodari and so many other people and events are missing in Narada’s tale. Even Sita and Lakshmana are minor characters. Interestingly, only the rakshasas he meets in Dandaka are mentioned: not those in Lanka. The events of the Uttara Ramayana are totally missing.
Creativity distinguishes Valmiki’s poetic epic from Narada’s factual report. Rama is not a god, either to Narada or to Valmiki. But Valmiki is a poet. He goes on to elaborate the story in poetry, partially deifying Rama and creating the Ramayana. We have contemporary examples of people deified in their lifetime, such as the Shirdi and Sathya Sai Babas. Valmiki’s epic is filled with supernatural beings and events—flying monkeys, a ten-headed demon and so on. But why not? After all, his work had to be readable.
The Ramayana is linear, with perfect geography. Every site on Rama’s route is still identifiable, with continuing traditions or temples to commemorate Rama’s visit. Around 1,000 BCE, no writer had the means to travel around the country, listing local plants and animals, inventing a story and fitting it into local folklore, least of all building a temple to commemorate Rama’s visit.
When I saw the painted lion and tiger in Bhimbetka, I deputed two of my botanists to study the plants and animals in the four forests of Chitrakuta, Dandaka, Panchavati and Kishkinda. Amazingly, the same plants and animals described by Valmiki still exist in these places. Nothing was fictitious. They went on to publish a book on Plant and Animal Diversity in Valmiki’s Ramayana (By M Amirthalingam and P Sudhakar), which I believe is a confirmation of the epic.
Rama, Lakshmana and Sita first went to Sringaverapura (in Uttar Pradesh) where they met Guha the Nishada. The Nishadas were hunters and fishermen. Thereafter, the three wandered through Dandakaranya in central India, described as a land of rakshasas, obviously tribes inimical to the encroachment of their land. Munda tribes are still found in these forests. Rama meets Sabari (of the Sabara/Saora/Saura/Savara/Sora tribe), a Munda ethnic tribe found in southern Odisha, north coastal Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Even Megasthenes mentions the Saoras in his Indica. Among the Saoras, a female shaman is the intermediary between the worlds of the living and the dead. Hence, possibly, the importance of the female Sabari in Narada’s narration. The Nishadas and Saoras still maintain that Rama visited them.
Several places maintain memories of Valmiki’s description of Rama’s visit. The trio reached Nasik on the River Godavari, where Rama and Sita used to bathe at Ramkund, Lakshmana at Lakshmankund, and several caves in the area are associated with their forest life. Rama then moved to Panchavati, where five banyan (vat) trees are maintained in memory of Rama’s sojourn. Ravana abducted Sita from Panchavati. The brothers go towards Kishkinda on River Pampa, near modern Hampi, where Rama first met Sugriva and Hanuman. It is a major Ramayana site, where every rock and river is associated with the epic. Anjanadri, near Hospet, was the birthplace of Hanuman (Anjaneya) Sugriva lived in Rishyamukha on the banks of the Pampa (Tungabhadra) Sabari probably also lived in a hermitage nearby.
Rama and the Vanara army left Kishkinda to reach Rameshwaram, where the Vanaras headed by Nala built a bridge to Lanka from Dhanushkodi on Rameshwaram Island to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. Parts of the bridge—the Nala sethu, as named by Rama—are still visible: NASA’s satellite has photographed an underwater bridge in the Palk Straits connecting Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar. The Mahabharata says it was protected out of respect for Rama, while several Chola and other rulers mention it. Several scientific bodies, including the National Remote Sensing Agency, have suggested that it was man-made. It lasted as a footbridge between India and Sri Lanka till 1480 CE when a major storm washed away parts of the bridge (according to CD Maclean, Manual of Madras Presidency, 1902).
On his return from Sri Lanka, Rama worshiped Shiva at Rameshwaram, where Sita prepared a linga out of sand. It is still one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism. Sri Lanka also has relics of the Ramayana. There are several caves, such as Ravana Ella Falls, where Ravana is believed to have hidden Sita to prevent Rama from finding her. The Sitai Amman Temple at Nuwara Eliya is situated near the Ashoka Vana where Ravana once kept her prisoner.
Valmiki’s flying monkey Hanuman has made the authenticity of the epic suspect. But Narada does not describe the vanaras as monkeys (kapi). They were the vana naras (forest people) or vanar vansh (monkey lineage), people of the forest as described by the Jain Ramayana, written by Acharya Ravisen in the book Padam Puran. The Jaina Ramayana mentions that Hanuman was a vana nara, and the banner of the vanaras was the vanara dhvaja (monkey flag), thereby reinforcing the totemic theory. Similarly, Jatayu would have been the king of the vulture-totem tribe and Jambavan of the bear-totem tribe. Kishkinda, where Hanuman was born and Jambavan (the bear) lived, still has the peculiar combination of two primary animals—langurs and bears. The bear and the monkey people were totemic tribes—after all, the whole story is about tribal India. However, Valmiki, the poet, preferred the exotic to the mundane. He made them into flying monkeys, talking bears and fighting vultures—much more interesting than the vanara dhvajas!
The Ramayana belongs to a period when most of India was jungle with tribal forest dwellers. India still contains several tribes with animal totems. An early issue of the Bellary District (now in Karnataka) Gazetteer gives us the interesting information that the place was inhabited by the Vanara tribe.
Was Lanka the modern Sri Lanka? One school of thought places Lanka on the Godavari in central India, citing the limited descriptions of the south in the latter half of the epic. Narada does not mention Panchavati or Rameshwaram, but jumps directly from the Pampa river bank (Kishkinda) to Lanka. Living in the north, it is unlikely that Valmiki knew the south well enough to write about it. But Lanka, say both Narada and Valmiki, was across the brackish sea, 800 koshas broad. It could not be a river.
“Sri Lankan folklore and religious scholars have identified more than 30 places on the island which are associated with the Ramayana. And interestingly enough, people in these places have a strong sense of history and lore, and a strong sense of possession. They are proud of their association with the Hindu epic,” explains S Kalaiselvan, director general, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, although 90 per cent of the people in the Ramayana-related areas are Sinhalese Buddhists. Sita is the heroine of Sri Lanka.
All the places visited by Rama still retain memories of Rama’s visit, as if it happened yesterday. Time, in India, is relative. Some places have commemorative temples others commemorate the visit in local folklore. But all agree that Rama was going from or to Ayodhya. Why doubt connections when literature, archaeology and local tradition meet? Why doubt the connection between Nala-setu and Rama, when nobody else in Indian history or tradition has claimed its construction? Why doubt that Rama travelled through Dandakaranya or Kishkinda, where local non-Vedic tribes still narrate tales of Rama? Why doubt that he was born in and ruled over Ayodhya?
Major settlements, including temples, were renovated several times: restoration is a 20th century development. When the main image was made of perishable materials, it was replaced by stone. For example, we know that the wooden image of Varadaraja Perumal of Kanchipuram was replaced by a stone image, for the earlier image is still preserved in a water tank. The present architecture belongs to the sixteenth century Vijayanagara style. Yet, the temple was known to have existed before the Pallava period (seventh century). This is the story of many sacred sites in India. This happened to several Rama temples too.
So how did Indian history become myth? Early officers of the East India Company (EIC), such as Warren Hastings, were deeply influenced by Indian culture. While Hastings captured India for the Company, he was also captured by what he learned of Hinduism, and the change was described as the ‘Brahminisation of the Englishmen’ by the Board of Directors of the EIC. Between 1806 and 1808, the Company organised a debate among the officers returning from India on the high morality of the Hindus. Thirty papers of over 100 pages each were submitted. Shocked, they decided to control the situation by demeaning Indian history, culture, knowledge and spiritual influence. So, in 1813, JS Mill and Charles Grant were appointed to write the History of British India, where almost all Sanskrit literature was described as mythical. This book formed the syllabus for English administrators who had to pass through East India College (later, Haileybury and Imperial Service College) before leaving England. It also became a part of the educational syllabi of Indian schools and colleges, teaching Indians to despise their history as mythology. Further, the Reverend James Ussher, Archbishop of Ireland, had fixed October 23rd, 4004 BCE as the date of the creation of the earth. So anything that claimed to be earlier had to be a figment of imagination.
Tamil Sangam literature (200 BCE-200 CE)—Aganaanuru, Puranaanuru and Silappadikaaram—refer to Rama frequently, comparing various situations to Rama’s life. Various inscriptions by Tamil rulers, such as those of the Cholas, refer to Rama and the Nala setu with pride. Al-Beruni, who visited India in the 11th century, also says that Rama built the dyke (setu) to Lanka. Only a mortal could have done that.
Did Rama exist? Yes, I am quite sure he did. Rama’s life was a fact. His divinity is a matter of faith.
To doubt the existence of Rama is to doubt all literature. There is no archaeological or epigraphic evidence for either Jesus Christ or Prophet Muhammad, who are known only from the Bible and Quran, respectively. Does it mean they did not exist? If Rama performs miracles, such as liberating Ahalya, the Biblical story of Jesus walking on water or the Quranic tale of Muhammad flying to heaven on a horse are equally miraculous. Such stories reinforce divinity, not fact.
Rama’s memory lives on because of his extraordinary life and persona, and his reign, which was obviously a period of great peace and prosperity, making ‘Rama Rajya’ a reference point. People only remember the very good or the very bad. And they only deify the best. It is appropriate that a temple to commemorate the life of this extraordinary king of ancient India will come up soon.
Hindu Architecture - History
Study material for indian culture art, architecture and. Lesson 21 spread of indian culture abroad (102 kb) free ebook on indian art ias study material indian art and culture indian art architecture literature ancient medieval modern indian art culture soft copy download study material for indian art and culture upsc upsc upsc mains new pattern books upsc mains study material upsc study material. History of indian architecture notes image results. More history of indian architecture notes images. Hindu architecture ancient history encyclopedia. Definition. Hindu architecture evolved over the centuries from simple rockcut cave shrines to massive and ornate temples which spread across the indian subcontinent and beyond, forming a canonical style which is still adhered to today in modern hindu temples across the globe. Essential elements of the style are precise. Temple architecture and sculpture hindu, buddhist and jain. The dravida or south indian temple architecture. But in the dravida style of temple architecture, instead of these sculptures, we can see the sculptures of fierce dvarapalas or door keepers guarding the temple. A large water reservoir or a temple tank enclosed in the complex is general in south indian temples. History of india, history of ancient india, medieval history. History tution is for students of history who are looking for guidance in the subject of indian history and are looking for notes on history of india. We start here with notes on ancient indian history and will keep adding new material. However the history of india is incomplete without the study of history of some major events of the world, so.
[pdf] indian history handwritten notes for competitive exams. Download indian history handwritten notes for competitive exams hello, ereaders! In this post, we are sharing indian history handwritt. Futurist architecture is an early20th century form of architecture born in italy, characterized by strong chromaticism, long dynamic lines, suggesting speed, motion, urgency and lyricism it was a part of futurism, an artistic movement founded by en.Wikipedia. History of india wikipedia. The early modern period of indian history is dated from 1526 ce to 1858 ce, corresponding to the rise and fall of the mughal empire, during which india's economy expanded, relative peace was maintained and arts were patronized. Ncert notes history of ancient india notes for upsc 2019. Indian history for upsc is a very vast subject covering the following areas ancient indian history medieval indian history modern indian history the upsc syllabus covers history in both prelims and mains. The history topics are closely related to heritage and culture, particularly when studying history for ias. 10 stunning images of futuristic architecture listverse. More futuristic architecture images.
Temple architecture in india ncert notes pdf download. Temple architecture in india ncert notes pdf download. Temple architecture in india ncert notes most of the art and architectural remains that survive from ancient and medieval india are religious in nature.Temple architecture in india ncert notes pdf download that does not mean that people did not have art in their homes at those times, Short notes on the art, architecture & culture under the mughals. Architecture. The history of mughal architecture begins with babur, who is said to have undertaken many building projects at agra, dholpur, gwalior and other places. He, however, did not usher in any new style or movement and left hardly any impression on indian architecture. Futurist architecture wikipedia. Amazing futuristic architecture that can inspire you 51 there are lots of great architects and designers in the world, and some of their floor plans and architectural creations or artist renderings are nothing short of amazing. “history of ancient india” a complete study material. This comprehensive general knowledge study material on “history of ancient india” is designed with the reference of ncert books and some more books like r.S sharma’s (india’s ancient past. 30+ amazing futuristic architecture that can inspire you. Amazing futuristic architecture that can inspire you 51 there are lots of great architects and designers in the world, and some of their floor plans and architectural creations or artist renderings are nothing short of amazing. Find a local architect architectstoday. This avantgarde movement is a futuristic rethinking of the aesthetic and functionality of rapidly growing cities. The industrialization that began worldwide following the end of the second world war gave wind to new streams of thought in life, art and architecture, leading to postmodernism, neomodernism and then neofuturism. 10 awesome futuristic architecture projects you should know!. 10 futuristic architecture projects that will blow your mind! #1. Aequorea, the floating city. #2. Biopyramid. #3. Ecorium, south korea. #4. Cobra towers, kuwait. #5. Underwater hotel. #6. Dragonfly skyscraper, new york. #7. Nomad skyscrapers on mars. #8. Cloud capture. #9. Dawang.
Ancient india ancient history encyclopedia. Prehistory of india. The beginnings of the vedic tradition in india, still practiced today, can now be dated, at least in part, to the indigenous people of ancient sites such as balathal rather than, as often claimed, wholly to the aryan invasion of c. 1500 bce. Futurist architecture. Futurist architecture is an early20th century form of architecture born in italy, characterized by strong chromaticism, long dynamic lines, suggesting speed, motion, urgency and lyricism it was a part of futurism, an artistic movement founded by the poet filippo tommaso marinetti, who produced its first manifesto, the manifesto of futurism, in 1909. Futurist architecture. Indian architecture architecture styles of india. Indian architecture is as old as the history of the civilization. The earliest remains of recognizable building activity in the india dates back to the indus valley cities. Among india's ancient architectural remains, the most characteristic are the temples, chaityas, viharas, stupas and other religious structures. A history of dl4a. The middle of the nineteenth century history itself was generally treated as a subordinate branch of other ﬁ elds of learning, of literature, rhetoric, law, philosophy or religion. Futurist architecture design & characteristics study. The nexus media center is another concept design for the united arab emirates continually at the forefront of advanced futuristic architecture. It will be essentially a data storage building but it will also contain a media center, exhibition spaces, offices, apartments and gardens. Futuristic architecture on pinterest explore 50+ ideas. From the basics to advanced, you'll find everything futuristic architecture here. Futuristic architecture on pinterest has 87.9k followers and thousands of ideas and images to try. Most important topics to study ancient indian architecture notes. Ancient indian architecture notes various form of architecture is asked in every exam from upsc to ssc. In this post we have included most important features of ancient indian architecture that are must study for exams. We have previously posted about different officers in indian history. Later on more post will be coming soon. Ancient .
European Traditions and the Modern Period
Buildings imitating contemporary styles of European architecture were constructed in India from at least the 16th century. In these structures, European styles were often given a strong local Indian flavor. Some of this work was of considerable merit, particularly the Baroque architecture of the Portuguese colony of Goa, India. Splendid structures were built there in the second half of the 16th century. Among the most famous of these buildings to survive is the church of Bom Jesus, which was completed in 1605.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, several buildings deeply indebted to Western Neoclassic styles were constructed in India. Neoclassic architecture was inspired by the building styles of ancient Greece and Rome. In India, European Neoclassic buildings were imitated by Indian patrons, particularly in areas under European rule or influence. Later, the British tried, with varying degrees of success, to combine Western and Indian architectural traditions in styles known as Gothic revival and Indo-Saracenic (which includes both Islamic and Indian elements). A notable example of a British Gothic revival building in India is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), a railway station in Mumbai. Buildings in the major Indian cities came under increasing European influence. The resulting mixed styles gradually found their way into cities in the interior.
In recent years, an attempt has been made to grapple with the problems of climate and function, particularly in connection with urban development in India. The Swiss architect Le Corbusier directed the construction of a new capital, Chandigarh, for India’s Punjab state in the early 1950s. His influence and that of other American and European masters helped bring about a modern architectural movement in India of great vitality. This movement is in the process of adapting itself to local requirements and traditions—for example, in the work of Indian architect Charles Correa.