Ancient Indian Architecture Part I

Ancient Indian Architecture
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.
Ancient architecture of India:
Ajanta caves
AJANTA Caves are one of the world’s greatest historical monument recognized by UNESCO.
Ajanta was discovered in 1819 A.D and were built as early as 2nd century BCE to about 480 CE.
The village of Ajanta is in the Sahayadri hills, about 99 kms from Aurangabad a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe-formed rock, there are 30 caves overlooking a gorge,each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms.
Vijayanagara Empire
Its ruins are located at present day Hampi in Karnataka. Four dynasties – Sangama, Saluva, Tuluva and Aravidu – ruled Vijayanagara from 1336 C.E. to 1646 C.E. It reached its climax in the end of 14th century.
The Vitthala Temple amongst these is the finest example of ornate architecture with gopurams (temple entrance), halls, sanctum sanctorum and sabha mandapas. The temple also has a market street right in the middle and a richly carved step well (Pushkarni).
Mahabodhi Temple
In the sanctified town of Gaya, a holy structure that marks the path that the great ascetic took to gain divine enlightenment and became A Buddha. The temple was first constructed by the great emperor Ashoka, in 232 BCE and subsequent work was carried out by the rulers of Gupta dynasty.
Konark Temple
On the sparkling coasts of Bay of Bengal rests this edifice that honors the work of the masters of ancient times. The temple has an elaborate and intricate mammoth structure that depicts the chariot of the Sun God replete with 24 carved wheels, each of them 3 m in diameter, pulled by seven horses and guarded by two lions at the entrance that bravely crush elephants.
Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal was built in 1632 AD by over twenty thousand artisans who worked over 22 years! The white marble was bought in from Makrana in Rajasthan and was transported by elephants. In its days of glory the Taj Mahal was adorned with no less than 28 types of precious stones, brought in from as far as Tibet and Persia.

Bhimbetka Shelters
The site spread over 10 km in length and about 3 km in width has more than 700 rock shelters, of which over 400 have paintings. The earliest human activities are known from the numerous stone tools including handaxes, cleavers and also the pebble tools.
The landscape and the fauna surrounding the rock shelters is called Ratapani wildlife sanctuary in which the evidence of the trees and animals depicted in the paintings inside the shelter can still be found.
Ellora Caves
There are over 100 caves at the site, all excavated from the basalt cliff in Charanandri Hills, but only 34 are open to public
34 monasteries and temples are splendors where art and religion combines. each group represents deities and mythologies that were prevalent in the 1st millennium CE.
The twelve caves of the Buddhist group speaks about the teachings of Buddhism.
The ‘Cavern of the Ten Avatars’ is a majestic art piece constructed under the reign of Krishna I.
The ethnicity of Jain group is well reflected by the sanctuaries carved by the Digambara sect of this religion.
Chola temples
The entire temple carved in granite is believed to be inspired by the Pallava architecture.
The beautifully adorned 108 poses of the Bharata- Natyam on the walls reflects the rich culture during the chola dynasty. The beautiful series of carvings depicting the legend ruler Rajaraja conversing with his guru, is stunningly sculpted in rich colors which rewinds you to the time of king and queens.
The temple is most famous for its depictions of the chariots of the warriors of the Mahbharata, called Rathas all of which are in a specifically designated form, some rising to as high as two or three storeys. There is another remarkable sculpture that adorns the temple walls which is called the Descent of the Ganges. The intricacy and ingenuity of the carvings are an example of the skill of the craftsman who constructed these temples way back in the 7th Century!
Rani Ki Vav
Situated in Patan, Gujarat, Rani Ki Vav is an ancient step-well, that was built by Rani Udaymati in 11th Century AD, to worship hallowed waters of Saraswati River.
An exquisite example of subterranean architecture, Rani ki Vav is 64 meters long, 20 meters wide and 27 meters deep.
It runs downwards upto a length of seven storeys. All of these storeys are carved with more 500 sculptures which represent humans, nymphs, gods and the kings in varying forms of skill and intricacy, with the central theme being the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.


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