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One of the most enduring achievements of Indian civilization is undoubtedly its architecture. Indian architecture, which has evolved through centuries, is the result of socio-economic and geographical conditions. Different types of Indian architectural styles include a mass of expressions over space and time, transformed by the forces of history considered unique to India. As a result of diversities, a vast range of architectural specimens have evolved, retaining a certain amount of continuity across history.


  • Traced as far back as third millennium BC.
  • On the banks of the river Indus particularly at the bends that provided water, easy means of transportation of produce and other goods and also some protection by way of natural barriers of the river.
  • Consisted of walled cities which provided security to the people.
  • Rectangular grid pattern of layout with roads that cut each other at right angles. Used standardised burnt mud-bricks as building material.
  • Evidence of building of big dimensions which perhaps were public buildings, administrative or business centres, pillared halls and courtyards.
  • No evidence of temples.
  • Granaries which were used to store grains give an idea of an organised collection and distribution system.
  • ‘Great Bath’ – public bathing place shows the importance of ritualistic bathing and cleanliness in this culture. It is still functional and there is no leakage or cracks in the construction.
  • Most of the houses had private wells and bathrooms.
  • Dominant citadal – treated as evidence of some kind of Political authority ruling over the cities.
  • Evidence also of fortifications with gateways enclosing walled cities which shows that there may have been a fear of being attacked.
  • Dholavira, Rangpur, Rojdi, Lothal , Sarkotada Kuntasi, Padri (Gujarat), Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Bhagwanpura, Banawali (Haryana), Diamabad (Maharashtra), Alamgirpur (U.P.), and Mauda (Jammu) are important sites.

The Mauryan Period

  • Ashoka was the first Mauryan to “think in stone”.
  • Most of the shapes and decorative forms employed were indigenous in origin, some exotic forms show the influence of Greek, Persian and Egyptian cultures.
  • Beginning of the Buddhist School of architecture in India.
  • Monolithic Ashokan pillars are marvels of architecture and sculpture. These were lofty free standing monolithic columns erected on sacred sites. Originally there were about thirty pillars but now only ten are in existence, of which only two with lion capitals stand in situ in good condition at Kolhua and Laurya Nandangarh respectively.
  • Sarnath pillar finest pieces of sculpture of the Ashokan period.
  • Two Ashokan edicts- found at Laghman, near Jalalabad (Afghanistan).
  • Most important ones are located at Bharhut, Bodhgaya, Sanchi, Amravati and Nagarjunakonda.
  • Chinese traveller Fahien stated that “Ashoka’s palace was made by spirits” and that its carvings are so elegantly executed “which no human hands of this world could accomplish”.
  • Its existence was pointed out during the excavations at Kumrahar, near Patna, where its ashes have been found preserved for several thousand years.
  • Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador of Seleucus Nikator who visited the Mauryan court described Chandragupta Maurya’s palace as an excellent architectural achievement.


Sanchi Stupa

  • Hemispherical in shape with a low base.
  • Symbolized the cosmic mountain.
  • Inscription by the ivory carvers of Vidisha on the southern gateway throws light on the transference of building material from perishable wood and ivory to the more durable stone.

Amaravati Stupa

  • Built in 2nd or 1st century BC was probably like the one at Sanchi
  • But in later centuries it was transformed from a Hinayana shrine to a Mahayana shrine.

Gandhara Stupa

  • Further development of stupas at Sanchi and Bharhut.
  • The base, dome and the hemisphere dome are sculpted.
  • Stupas of Nagarjunakonda in Krishna valley were very large.
  • Maha Chaitya of Nagarjunakonda has a base in the form of Swastika, which is a Sun symbol.

Amravati School of Art (200 BC 200 AD)

Largest Buddhist stupa of South India, Amravati Stu was developed on the banks of the Krishna River in modern Andhra Pradesh.

Schools of Art

Gandhara School of Art (50 BC To 500 AD)

  • Region extending from Punjab to the borders of Afghanistan was an important centre of Mahayana Buddhism up to the 5th century AD.
  • Imbibed all kinds of foreign influences like Persian, Greek, Roman, Saka and Kushan.
  • Origin can be traced to the Greek rulers of Bactria and Northwest India.
  • During the reign of Kanishka, art received great patronage.
  • Also known as the Graeco- Buddhist School of Art since Greek techniques of Art were applied to Buddhist subjects.
  • Most important contribution- evolution of beautiful images of the Buddha and Bodhisattavas, which were executed in black stone and modelled on identical characters of Graeco-Roman pantheon.
  • “Gandhara artist had the hand of a Greek but the heart of an Indian”.
  • Most characteristic trait depiction of Lord Buddha in the standing or seated positions.
  • Seated Buddha is always shown cross-legged in the traditional Indian way.
  • Typical feature- rich carving, elaborate ornamentation and complex symbolism.
  • Tallest rock-cut statue of Lord Buddha- Bamiyan (Afghanistan) 3-4 century AD.

Mathura School of Art (50 BC – 500 ADD)

  • At the holy city of Mathura between 1-3 century AD Established tradition of transforming Buddhist symbols into human form.
  • Buddha’s first image can be traced to Kanishka’s reign (about 78 AD).
  • Earliest sculptures of Buddha were made keeping the yaksha prototype in mind.
  • Strongly built right hand raised in protection and left hand on the waist.
  • The figures do not have moustaches and beards as in the Gandhara Art.
  • Seated figures are in the padmasana posture.
  • Not only produced beautiful images of the Buddha but also of the Jain Tirthankaras and gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon.
  • Although of indigenous origin, but greatly influenced by the Gandhara School of Art.
  • Guptas adopted, further improvised and perf Mathura School of Art.
  • Observed at – Sarnath, Sravasti and even as Rajgir in Bihar.

Amravati School of Art (200 BC 200 AD)

  • Largest Buddhist stupa of South India, Amravar was developed on the banks of the Krishna River modern Andhra Pradesh.
  • All the railings of the Amaravati stupa are made out of marble while the dome itself is covered with slabs of the same material.
  • It shows a mastery of stone Sculpture. The monuments at Jaggayyapera, Nagarjuna-konds and Amaravati are some examples.
  • The stupas at Amaravati are predominantly made of a distinctive white marble.
  • The figures of Amaravati have slim blithe features and profound and quiet naturalism in human, animal and floral forms.
  • The Buddha is mostly represented by symbols.
  • There is emphasis on the narrative element with stories from the life of Buddha and bodhisattva dominating such episodes relating to the Birth, the miracles, Enlightenment and the victory over Mara, Sundari, Nanda, Tushita heaven and Angulimala.

Current Updates

Buddhist Site Museum at Lalitgiri Odishaa

  • One of the earliest Buddhist settlements in Odisha, Lalitgiri (Located in Cuttack district), where excava- tions have yielded ancient seals and inscriptions, has been converted into a museum.

Lalltgiri Museum

  • It will be the third site correct museum of the Bhubaneswar circle of the ASI after Ratnagiri and Udaygiri.
  • The three sites together form the Diamond Triangle of Buddhism in Odisha.

Statue of Lord Buddha

  • 70-feet tall statue of Lord Buddha was unveiled at Rajgir in Nalanda district of Bihar.
  • It is second tallest statue of Buddha in the country.
  • The statue has been installed above 16 metre radius pedestal in middle of lake Ghora Katora. Ghora Katora is a natural lake surrounded by five hills.
  • It has been made from 45,000 cubic foot pink sandstone.

Temple Architecture of India

Basic Form of Hindu Temple

The basic form of the Hindu temple comprises or the following:

  • Sanctum (garbhagriha literally ‘womb-house’) which was a small cubicle with a single entrance and grew into a larger chamber in time. The garbhagriha is made to house the main icon which is itself the focus of much ritual attention;
  • the entrance to the temple which may be a portico or colonnaded hall that incorporates space for a large number of worshippers and is known as a mandapa;
  • free-standing temples tend to have a mountain- like spire, which can take the shape of a curving shikhar in North India and a pyramidal tower, called a vimana, in South India;
  • The vahan, i.e., the mount or vehicle of the temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar or dhvaj is placed axially before the sanctum.

Two broad orders of temples in the country are-Nagara in the north and Dravida in the south. At times, the Vesar style of temples as an independent style created through the selective mixing of the Nagara and Dravida orders is mentioned by some scholars.

Nagara Style- North India

Nagara temples have following distinct features:

  • In plan, the temple is a square with a number of graduated projections in the middle of each side giving a cruciform shape with a number of reentrant angles on each side.
  • In elevation, a Shikhara, i.e. tower gradually inclines inwards in a convex curve.
  • Entire temple is built on a stone platform with steps leading up to it.
  • Unlike in South India it does not usually have elaborate boundary walls or gateways.
  • There are following subdivisions of Nagara temples depending on the shape of the Shikhara:
  • Latina or the Rekha-Prasada Shikhara: It is square at the base and walls curve or slope inward to a point on top.
  • Phamsana: It is broader and shorter than Latina and its roofs are composed of several slabs that gently rise on a straight incline to a single point over the centre of the building.
  • Valabhi: It is a rectangular building with a roof that rises into a vaulted chamber.

Prathiharas- Ujjain (8th 9 Centuries AD)

  • Mahakaleshwar temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India.
  • Kal Bhairava temple, finds a mention in the Skanda Purana.
  • Mangalnath temple, regarded as the birthplace of Mars, according to the Matsya Purana.

Palas- Bengal & Bihar (8th -13th Centuries AD)

  • Flourished in Bengal and Bihar under the Pala and the Sena rulers.
  • Nalanda was its most active centre, whose influence was spread to Nepal, Myanmar and even Indonesia

Chandelas- Bundelkhand (10th -11th Centuries AD)

  • Khajuraho temples are famous for their graceful contours and erotic sculptures.
  • These 22 temples (out of the original 85) are regarded as one of the world’s greatest artistic wonders.
  • Khajuraho Temples were built within a short period of hundred years from 950-1050 A.D.
  • Kandriya Mahadev temple is the largest and most beautiful of the Khajuraho Temples.
  • Shiva Temple at Vishwanath, Lakshmana Temple and Vishnu Temple at Chaturbhunj are other important temples at Khajuraho.
  • There are some Jain temples as well as a Chausanth Yogini temple, a temple of small, square shrines of roughly-hewn granite blocks, each dedicated to devis or goddesses associated with the rise of Tantric worship after the seventh century.

Dravidian Style South India

  • Dravidian style temples consist almost invariably of the following parts:
  • Vimana: The main temple is called the Vimana. It is always square in plan and surmounted by a pyramidal roof of one or more stories; it contains the cell where the image of the god is placed. Unlike North Indian Style, the word ‘shikhara’ is used only for the crowning element at the top of the temple which is usually shaped like a small stupika or an octagonal cupola.
  • Mandapas: The porches or Mandapas, which always cover and precede the door leading to the cell.
  • Gopurams: The dravida temple is enclosed within a compound wall. The front wall has an entrance gateway in its centre, which is known as a Gopuram.
  • Chawdies: Pillared halls or Chaultris-properly Chawadis – used for various purposes, are the invariable accompaniments of these temples.
  • Tank: It is common to find a large water reservoir, or a temple tank, enclosed within the complex.

Current Updates

UNESCO Award for Srirangam Temple

  • The Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam has bagged an award of merit from UNESCO for protect- ing and conserving cultural heritage, thus becoming the first temple from Tamil Nadu to grab the prestigious honour from the UN body.
  • The traditional method of renovating temple premises as well as reestablishment of rainwater harvesting and drainage system in preventing flooding were two key parameters that earned temple the award.
  • This temple is considered as one of the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams).
  • It is Vaishnava temple built in Dravidian style of architecture.
  • It is located on an islet formed by twin Rivers: Kollidam and Cauvery.
  • The temple and 1000 pillared hall were constructed in the Vijayanagara period (1336-1565) on the site of an older temple.
  • Its Gopuram also called as “Raja Gopuram” is the biggest gopuram in Asia.

Vesara Style Deccan

  • Vesara is a combination of Nagara and Dravidian temple styles.
  • Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebidu and Somnathpura are supreme examples of this style.

Cave Architecture Of India: 2nd Cent. BC -7th Cent. AD

Ajanta Caves (2nd Cent. BC To 7th Cent. AD)

  • Were first mentioned by Chinese pilgrim Huen Tsang who visited India between 629 -645 AD and later on accidentally “discovered” in 1819 by a colonial British officer Captain John Smith on a tiger-hunting party.
  • Thirty cave temples at Ajanta are set into the rocky sides of a crescent shaped gorge in the Sahyadri hills in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. 5 caves are Chaitya-grihas, & rest are Viharas (monasteries).
  • Caves depict a large number of incidents from the life of the Buddha (Jataka Tales).
  • The Ajanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ellora Caves(5th -13th Cen AD)

  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.
  • It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments comprising of 12 Buddhist caves(1-12), 17 Hindu Caves(13-29) and 5 Jaina Caves(30-34).
  • Features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva.
  • Lies on ancient trade route- dakshinpatha.
  • Best example of Religious Harmony.

Elephanta Caves

  • Elephanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a collection of cave temples predominantly dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. They are located on Elephanta Island (or the Island of Gharapuri) near Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • 6th century Shiva temple in the Elephanta caves is one of the most exquisitely carved temples in India.
  • Central attraction here is a twenty-foot high bust of the deity in three-headed form.
  • The Maheshamurti is built deep into a recess and looms up from the darkness to fill the full height of the cave.
  • Image symbolizes the fierce, feminine and meditative aspects of the great ascetic and the three heads represent Lord Shiva as Aghori, Ardhanarishvara and Mahayogi.
  • Aghori is the aggressive form of Shiva where he is intent on destruction.
  • Ardhanarishvara depicts Lord Shiva as half-man/half woman signifying the essential unity of the sexes.
  • Mahayogi posture symbolises the meditative aspect of the god.
  • Other sculptures in these caves depict Shivas cosmic dance of primordial creation and destruction and his marriage to Parvati.

Bhimbetka Caves

  • Located in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Discovered in 19S8 by V.S. Wakanker, it is the biggest prehistoric art depository in India.
  • Atop the hill a large number of rock-shelters have been discovered, of which more than 130 contain paintings.
  • Excavations revealed history of continuous habitation from early stone age (about 10000 years) to the end of stone age (c. 10,000 to 2,000 years).

Mahakali Caves (Kondivite Caves)

  • Rock-cut Buddhist caves built between 1t Cent. BC to 6th Cent. AD and is situated in Andheri East, Mumbai.
  • Comprises of 4 caves on the southeastern face and 15 caves on the northwestern face.
  • Cave 9 is the chief cave and is the oldest and consists of a stupa and figures of Lord Buddha.

Jogeshwar And Kanheri Caves

  • Second largest known cave after the Kailasa cave in
  • Ellora.
  • Houses a Brahmanical temple dating back to the 6 century AD.
  • Kanheri is a 109-cave complex located near Borivili National Park in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • The Kanheri caves contain illustrations from Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism and show carvings dating back to 200 BC.

Karla & Bhaja Caves

  • About 50-60 kms away from Pune.
  • These are rock-cut Buddhist caves dating back to the 1″ and 2nd centuries BC.
  • Consist of several viharas and chaityas.

Rajput Architecture

  • Rajput palaces – built as inner citadels surrounded by the city and enclosed by a fortified wall as at Chittorgarh
  • and Jaisalmer.
  • Some forts, such as those at Bharatpur and Deeg, were protected by wide ditch filled with water surrounding the fort.
  • Man Mandir, the largest palace in Gwalior, was built by Raja Man Singh Tomar (1486-1516).
  • Man Mandir has two storeys above, and two below ground level overhanging a sandstone cliff. This gigantic cliff is punctuated by five massive round towers, crowned by domed cupolas and linked by delicately carved parapets.
  • Palaces of Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota represent the maturity of the Rajput style. All of these palaces were built predominantly in the 17th and early 18h centuries.
  • City of Bikaner is encircled by along stone wall in rich pink sandstone. There are five gates and three sally ports.
  • Jodhpur Fort dominates the city, which is surrounded by a huge wall with 101 bastions, nearly 9.5 km long.
  • Meherangarh fort stands on a cliff with a sheer drop of over 36 metres.
  • Built by Jai Singh, Jaipur represents a fusion of East- ern and Western ideas of town planning. The city is enclosed by a wall and has bastions and towers at regular intervals. City Palace is at the center of the walled city and is a spectacular synthesis of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles.
  • Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, (1799) has a five- storeyed symmetrical facade composed of 953 small casements in a huge curve each with a projecting balcony and crowning arch.
  • Jantar Mantar, in Jaipur is the largest of the five obser- vatories built by Jai Singh II in the early 18th century, others being Ujjain, Mathura, Varanasi & New Delhi.

Jain Architecture

  • The only variation in these temples was in the form of frequent chamukhs or four-faced temples.
  • Four Tirthankars are placed back to back to face four cardinal points. Entry into this temple is also from four doors.
  • Chamukh temple of Adinath (1618 AD) is a character- istic example of the four-door temple.
  • Most spectacular of all Jain temples are found at Ranakpur and Mount Abu in Rajasthan.
  • Deogarh (Lalitpur, U.P.), Ellora, Badami and Aihole also have some of the important specimens of Jain Art.

Current Updates

Khirki Mosque

  • The Archacological Survey of India has discovered a hoard of 254 Copper Coins in the premises of Kh- irki Mosque during the course of conservation of the monument.
  • This mosque lies on the southern periphery of the vil- lage Khirki, South Delhi.
  • The mosque was built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, the Prime Minister of Firoz Shah Tughluq (1351-88), and is believed to be one of the seven mosques built by him.

Delhi Style of Architecture

  • The Delhi or the Imperial Style of Indo-Islamic archi- tecture flourished between 1191-1557 AD and covered
  • Muslim dynasties namely Slave (1191-1290), Khilji (1290-1320),. Tughlaq (1320-1414), Sayyid (1414 1444) and Lodi (1451-1556).
  • Earliest construction work was begun by Qutubuddin Aibak, who started erecting monumental buildings of stone on Qila Rai Pithora, the first of the seven histori- cal cities of Delhi associated with Prithviraj Chauhan.
  • The Qutub Mosque (1192 AD) is one such building, whose arcaded aisles were composed of pillars carved in the Hindu style. Named as the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, it is considered as the earliest mosque in India.
  • Qutub-ud-din Aibak also started the construction of Qutub Minar in 1192 (which was eventually completed by IItutmish in 1230). The Qutub Minar, built to com- memorate the entry of Islam, was essentially a victory tower, decorated with several calligraphic inscriptions.
  • Adhai-din-ka-Jhopra, located beyond the Ajmer dar- gah in Rajasthan. It was constructed in 1153 AD and converted into a mosque in 1198 AD.
  • Allauddin Khilji established the second city of Delhi at Siri, built the Alai Darwaza near the Qutub Minar and dug a vast reservoir at Hauz Khas around 1311AD. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq (1320-1325 AD) built Tu- ghlaqabad, the third city of Delhi. Tomb of Ghiyas- uddin Tughlaq, built of red sandstone, is an irregular pentagon in its exterior plan and its design is of the pointed or “Tartar” shape and is crowned by a finial resembling the kalasa and amlakh of a Hindu temple.
  • Delhis fourth city Jahanpanah was built by Moham- mad-bin-Tughlaq in mid-14h century AD. Firoz Shah Kotla ground is the only remnant of its past glory. He is also credited with founding the fortified cities of Jaunpur, Fathabad and Hissar.
  • Kali Masjid, Khirki Masjid and Kalan Masjid also belong to this period, the last two being raised on a tahkhana or substructure of arches.
  • The Tombs of Mubarak Sayyid (d. 1434 AD), am- mad Sayyid (d.1444 AD) and Sikander Lodi (d.1517 AD) are all of the octagonal type.
  • The square tombs are represented by such monumente as the Bara Khan Ka Gumbad, Chota Khan Ka Gtm bad, Bara Gumbad (1494 AD), Shish Gumbad, Dadi Ka Gumbad and the Poli ka Gumbad.
  • The Tomb of Isa Khan (1547 AD), the Tomb of Ad. ham Khan (1561 AD), Moth ki Masjid (c.1505 AD). Jamala Masjid (1536 AD) and the Qila-i-Kuhna Masiid (c.1550 AD) belong to the final phase of the Delhi style of architecture.

Provincial Style of Architecture


  • Under the Sharqi dynasty, Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh became a great centre of art, culture and architectural activity.
  • During the rule of Shamsuddin Ibrahim (1402-1436 AD) Atala Masjid was built in 1378.


  • Gujarat witnessed significant architectural activity for over 250 years starting from Muzaffar Shah’s declaration of independence from Delhi and the formation of the Sultanate of Gujarat in 1307 AD until the conquest of Gujarat by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1500 AD.
  • Ahmedabad is a city full of architectural masterpieces which include Sayyid Alams mosque (1412 AD), Teen Darwaza (1415 AD), Tomb of Ahmed Shah (1440 AD), Rani-ka-Hujra (1440 AD), the Jami Masjid (built by the city’s founder Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1423 AD), Qutubuddin’s mosque (1454 AD), Rani Sipri Mosque (1505 AD), Sidi Bashir’s Mosque (1510 AD), which is famous for its “shaking minarets”, Rani Rupmati Masjid at Mirzapur (built between 1430 and 1440 AD) and the Kankaria Lake, constructed in 1451 AD by Sultan Qutb-ud-Din.


  • Earliest period of architectural development started in 1347 when Allauddin Bahman Shah constructed tne Gulbarga Fort and the Jami Masjid at Gulbarga.

Current Updates

Chowmahalla Palace

  • The restoration of the Chowmahalla Palace to its age old grandeur has been completed.
  • Chowmahalla Palace is a palace of the Nizams O Hyderabad state.
  • It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad whi they ruled their state.
  • The palace was built by Nizam Salabat Jung.
  • The second phase is represented by the architecture of Bidar initiated by Ahmed Shah (1422-1436), which includes the Bidar Fort, Mahmud Gawan’s Madrassa and the Ali Barid’s Tomb.


  • Qutub Shahi and Nizam Shahi dynasties contributed greatly towards the development of the Deccan style of architecture.
  • Charminar (1591) – Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah.
  • Mecca Masjid- started in 1614 by Abdullah Qutub Shah and completed in 1687 by Aurangzeb.
  • Golconda Fort (1525)- Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, was an impregnable fort of great strategic importance to most of the rulers.
  • Falakhnuma Palace (1870) by Nawab Vikar-Ul-Ul- mara, is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture.


  • Gol Gumbaz is the mausoleum of king Mohammad Adil Shah.
  • Mohammed Adil Shah, the 7th ruler of Adil Shahi Dynasty, ordered to build this tomb before his death.
  • Its circular dome is said to be the second largest in the world after St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
  • A peculiar feature of this tomb is whispering gallery in the interior of the dome.
  • It follows the style of Indo-Islamic architecture


  • Typified by use of woodwork.
  • Log construction using deodar trees for the construction of wooden bridges called kadals or the wooden shrines called ziarats
  • Mosque of Shah Hamdan in Srinagar and the Jami Masjid at Srinagar built by Sikandar Butshikan (1400 AD) – examples of the wooden architecture.
  • Fort of Hari Parbat, the Pattar Masjid (1623) and the Akhun Mulla Shah’s mosque (1649) are illustrations of art of stone building in Kashmir.


  • Sasaram in Bihar Sher Shah’s Tomb, tomb of his father, Hasan Sur Khan built in 1535, tomb of his son Salim Shah and tomb of Alwal Khan, the chief architect of Sher Shah.
  • Completion of the sixth city of Delhi called the Shergarh or Dilli Sher Shai around the Purana Qila area in 1540s.
  • Purana Qila has three main gates the Humayun darwaza, Talaqi darwaza and Bara darwaza. Qila-i-kuhna masjid built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541 AD in the Purana Qila.

Mughal Style of Architecture


  • Mosque at Kabuli Bagh at Panipat and Jami Masjid at Sambhal near Delhi, both constructed in 1526, are the surviving monuments of Babar.


  • Persian influence – result of Humayun’s observance at the court of Shah Tahmasp during the period of his exile.
  • Humayuns Tomb at Delhi, (1564) by his widow Haji Begum as a mark of devotion, eight years after his death.


  • Construction of a huge fort at Agra.
  • Massive sandstone ramparts of the Red Fort, New Delhi.
  • Buildings at Fatehpur Sikri blended both Islamic and Hindu elements in their architectural style. Buland Darwaza, Panch Mahal and Dargah of Saleem Chisti are the most imposing of all the buildings of Fatehpur Sikri. Diwan-e-Khas in the complex was designed for private audiences.
  • Typified by the use of red sandstone.


  • Shalimar Bagh on the banks of Lake Dal in Kashmir.
  • Akbar’s Tomb at Sikandra near Agra, which was completed in 1613.
  • Jehangir’s Tomb at Shadera near Lahore, built by his wife Nur Mahal


  • Substitution of marble for the red sandstone.
  • Marblized Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas build by Akbar at Red Fort, Delhi.
  • Shah Jahan built the Jami Masjid at Agra in 1648 in honour of his daughter Jahanara Begum& Wazir Khan’s mosque in Lahore,1634.
  • Taj Mahal – a memorial to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.


  • Bibi-ki-Maqbara, tomb of Aurangzeb’s wife Begumn Rabia Durani, a poor replica of the famous Taj Mahal
  • A fine example of Mughal architecture in the Deccan region.

Post-Mughal Style of Architecture

Avadh (Oudh) Style

  • Safdar Jung’s tomb, built in the honour of Safdar Jung (1739-1753), who was the nephew of the first Nawab of Oudh.
  • Bara Imambara built by the Nawab in 1784. Absence of pillars in the main hall and simplicity of style and symmetry are its unique features.
  • Chattar Manzil – main attractions are the underground rooms and a beautiful dome surrounded by a gilt umbrella.
  • Kaiser Bagh is a quadrangular park with a baradari (pavilion) and yellow-coloured buildings on three sides.
  • Roshanwali Koti and Begum Koti at Hazratgunj Italian style is more prominent.

Punjab Style

  • Developed under the influence of the Mughal style.
  • Characterized by certain indigenous features like the multiplicity of chattris /kiosks, use of fluted dome generally covered with copper or brass-gilt and enrich- ment of arches by numerous foliations.
  • Golden Temple at Amritsar (1764 AD) built by the fourth Sikh Guru Ramdas.

Colonial Architecture


  • Portuguese adapted to India the climaticaly appropriate Tberian galleried patio house and the Baroque churches of Goa.
  • Se Cathedral and Arch of Conception of Goa were built in the typical Portuguese-Gothic style.
  • St. Francis Church at Cochin ( 1510 AD ) is believed to be the first church built by the Europeans in India.
  • Fort of Castella de Aguanda near Mumbai and added fortifications to the Bassein fort built by Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat, in 1532 AD.
  • Bassein fort is famous for the Matriz (Cathedral of St Joseph), the Corinthian pillared hall and the Porte da Mer (sea gate).


  • French gave a distinct urban design to its settlement in Pondicherry by applying the Cartesian grid plans and classical architectural patterns.
  • Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Eglise de Notre Dame de Angesand, Bglise de Notre Dame de Lourdes at Pondicherry have a distinct French influence.


  • British followed various architectural styles – Gothic, Imperial, Christian, English Renaissance and Victorian being the essentials.
  • Church of St. John at Calcutta (1787) inspired by St. Stephens Church at Walbrooks.
  • Mary’s Church in Fort St. George in Chennai.
  • Law Courts, Presidency College and Senate House of Chennai.
  • Victoria Memorial Hall-Calcutta (1921),designed by Sir William Emerson.
  • Gateway of India in Mumbai, Maharaja’s Palace at Mysore and M.S. University and Lakshmi Villas Palace at Baroda.
  • New Delhi – systematically planned city after being made the capital in 1911
  • Sir Edward Lutyens made responsible for the overall Dlan of Delhi and constructed India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhawan.
  • Herbert Baker added South Block and North Block, which flank the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
  • Robert Tor Tussell built the Connaught Place

Current Updates

Monuments of National Importance

  • Archaeological Survey of India has declared following monuments of national importance:
  • The ancient Neemrana Baori in Rajasthan’s Alwar district.
  • The Group of Temples at Ranipur Jharail in Odisha’s Bolangir district.
  • The Vishnu Temple in Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand.
  • High Court Building in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Two Mughal-era momuments in Agra- Haveli of Agha Khan and Hathi Khana.

UNESCO List of Tangible and Intangible Heritage Sites in India

Tangible Heritage Sites

  • To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.

Selection Criteria

  • To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
  • To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural1 area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
  • To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
  • To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
  • To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  • To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criteria should preferably be used in conjuction with other criteria);
  • To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance:
  • To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant Historic City of Ahmadabad (201) geomorphic or physiographic features;
  • To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
  • To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for insitu conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

How does this program help the listed Site and the country?

  • When a site is inscribed on the World Heritage List, the resulting prestige often helps raise awareness among cilizens and governments for heritage preservation.
  • Greater awareness leads to a general rise in the level of the protection and conservation given to heritage properties.
  • A country may also receive financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee to support activities for the preservation of its sites.
  • The site will also get immediate international recognition which boosts the tourism of the country.

Current Updates

Panj Tirath Declared National Heritage

  • The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial government of Pakistan has declared the ancient Hindu religious site of Panj Tirath in Peshawar of North Western Pakistan as national heritage.

List of World Heritage Sites in India

Cultural (30)

  • Agra Fort (1983)
  • Ajanta Caves (1983) Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar (2016)
  • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Ter minus) (2004)
  • Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)
  • Elephanta caves (1987)
  • Ellora Caves (1983)
  • Fatehpur sikri (1986)
  • Great living chola temples (1987, 2004)
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986)
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984)
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)
  • Hill forts of Rajasthan (2013)
  • Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993)
  • Jaipur City, Rajasthan (2019)
  • Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986)
  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002)
  • Mountain Railways of India (1999,2005,2008)
  • Qutb-Minar and its monuments, Delhi (1993)
  • Rani ki Vav (the queen’s stepwell) at patna, Gujarat (2014)
  • Red Fort Complex (2007)
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)
  • Sum Temple, Konarak (1984)
  • Taj Mahal (1983)
  • The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016)
  • The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010)
  • Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai (2018)

Natural (7)

  • Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (2014)
  • Kaziranga National Park (1985)
  • Keoladeo National Park (1985)
  • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985)
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988,2005)
  • Sundarbans National Park (1987)
  • Western Ghats (2012)

Mixed (1)

  • Khangchendzonga Nationa Park (2016)

Intangible Heritage Sites in India

  • This coveted list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
  • The list was established in 2008 when Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect
  • It has two parts viz. Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
  • From India the Intangible Cultural Heritages added into this list include:
  • Tradition of Vedic chanting
  • Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana
  • Kutiyattanm, Sanskrit theatre
  • Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas.
  • Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala
  • Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan
  • Chhau dance
  • Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Sankirtana, rituai singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
  • Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil mak ing among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab
  • Yoga
  • Nawrouz
  • Kumbh Mela
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