Ancient India: Rich in Culture and Engineering
Rich in culture and historical background, India (previously named as Bharatvarsh) is also home to some engineering and construction marvels. In this article, we’ll be covering the ancient Indian construction sites which resemble the true architectural design with a meaning to it. You might have visited at least one in the further list and got amazed by the technicalities in design. Ancient Indian architecture dates back thousands of years ago with replicating the futuristic practical design, standing strong till date.
Starting from the eye catchy South Indian temples to the finest craftsmanship in the Northern part of the Indian Sub-continent, Indian architecture is as old as civilization itself. The earliest traces of recognizable building activity can be traced back to the settlement of the Indus valley. Every monument in India has its importance in the region, and those standing structures tell the stories of their era.
Variety of Architectural Styles
India has witnessed a variety of architectural styles emerging throughout its history. Much early Indian architecture was in the wood, which has almost always decayed or burnt, or brick, which has often been taken away for re-use. Over the course of history, it has progressed from small rock-cut cave shrines to huge temples that have extended across the Indian sub-continent and beyond, forming a style that is now seen in contemporary Hindu temples across the world.
If not so wrong in numbers, India which is also pronounced as ‘Bharatvarsh’ had been in existence for the last 5’000 years. It all starts from the Indus valley civilization and went on the journey with changes in the dynasties and rulers in place. Archeologists around the globe discovered many sites in recent times which showcased how well-planned cities, buildings, and temples were in Bharatvarsh. To keep it short, we’ll be covering some examples of architectural marvels which include Temple architecture, Dravidian architecture, Cave architecture & Rock-Cut architecture.
1. Temple Architecture
Temple architecture has deep roots in India. It has developed in almost all the regions in the country. Primarily, the Indian temple architecture varies as we cross the regions; South Indian temples are huge and are carved with many designs, as compared to the northern temples in the Himalayan ranges they are small in size and have different architectural styles.
To name a few: Southern temples to visit for their marvelous architectural design are Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu; Vittala Temple in Hampi, Karnataka. To the east, you can visit Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha.
2. Dravidian Architecture
Dravidian culture emerged in the southern part of India. The Dravidian architectural style emerged thousands of years ago. The structures built by the native Dravidian people were primarily named kovils are epic instances of Dravidian architecture. Texts from the 5th to 7th century CE is a guidebook on the Dravidian style of Vastu Shastra design, construction, sculpture, and joinery techniques.
3. Cave Architecture & Rock-Cut Architecture
In India, caves have long been regarded as sacred places. Caves that were enlarged or entirely man-made were believed to be as sacred as natural caves. The sanctuary in all Indian religious structures, even free-standing ones, was designed to have the same cave-like feeling, as it is generally small and dark, without natural light.
Indian rock-cut architecture is more varied and found in greater abundance in the country than any other form of rock-cut architecture around the world. There are more than 1, 500 known rock-cut structures in India. Many of these structures contain artwork of global importance, and most are adorned with exquisite stone carvings. These ancient and medieval structures represent significant achievements of structural engineering and craftsmanship.
Monuments worth visiting in Cave & Rock-Cut architecture are: Barbar caves, Karla caves, Ajanta caves, Pandavleni caves, Tulja caves, and the largest rock-cut Hindu temple Kialshnath Temple.
There’s a lot more to say in the context of engineering and construction marvel of Ancient Bharat/India.
– Jai Hind
– by Parag Ahire