Indian Architecture: architectural styles of India

indian architecture
Written by Dhrubajyoti Roy


India is a versatile country with wider religions, culture, and traditions spread across the country, with more than a hundred languages being spoken, India is a country of mysteries and magic to be looked at, India is famous for its spicy foods and holy spirituality all over the country, but it is also a country of architecture which roots back to the first day of civilization, we can witness architecture in India go back to thousands and thousands of year back, From Buddhism to Islam India have various religions and each of it has their own architectural style, by using woods a thousand years back to modern cement used to construct, architecture in India witnessed revolutions in art in various forms at various time, let’s get mesmerized by the architectures of the Indian subcontinent.

  • Ancient architecture
  • Cave architecture
  • Temple architecture
  • Indo-Islamic architecture
  • Indo Saracenic architecture
  • Conclusion

Ancient Architecture:

India is widely known for many things but architecture is also one among them, it is one of the earliest countries of the world with the earliest form of culture and many such things, the ancient Indian architecture is one thing to consider, Mauryan empire created the first imprint of grand architecture in India in the way of temples, as you can see temples in every five kilometers at least.

Temple architecture is one of the hardest things to do rather than modern architecture or traditional architecture as it involves a lot of decorations and cravings, even the temple architecture varies according to places if you look deeper India’s different styles according to the states.

Woods were used as the primary architectural material in India from temples to forts until the 8th to 9th century, stones are rarely used but at the end of 9th century India had more of architecture like forts, palaces, and temples are of stones.

India saw its earliest architecture made of stones in the Mauryan empire, buildings like stupas, viharas, and chaityas are the earliest architectures in India, played a very important role in ancient India by making wider stupas which can be even found today but in a collapsed state.

Ancient stais

indian architecture

Mauryan Architecture:

Mauryan empire is widely recognized for their love towards the art and nature, we all studied Ashoka the great did great arts all over the country, Ashoka made a lot of stupas for his love towards Gautama Buddha, he made it grand as possible so that people can get amazed by the work, unfortunately, lot of greatest work of Mauryan empire are exist only in papers today.

Cave Architectures:

India is famous for its cave architecture too it is also called as rock-cut architecture as rocks cut to make it as a construction, cave architecture is made out of the single rock by caving it with decorations and rooms, Buddhist and Jains played important role in making the cave architectures possible one, it is one of specialized architecture concept which can mostly found in India and it is a rare architecture concept in the entire world too.

Ajanta caves are one of famous cave architecture found in India and it is believed to be built in the 2nd century and 4th century again, Ajanta caves are made out of the single large cave, it served for monastery purposes in the early days, now it is a tourist place in Maharashtra.

Ajanta Cave, Aurangabad, Maharastra

indian architecture

Shore temple in Mahabalipuram is another fantastic ancient architecture found in India and it is believed that the temple is planned and built for about 200 years, it is made out of single caves and more than seven similar architecture found in Mahabalipuram, lord Vishnu and Shiva worshipped as main gods in the shrine.

Ellora caves are another amazing cave architecture in India, with 12 rock-cut viharas it is a gigantic rock-cut architecture which is related to Buddhist, Jains, and Hindus at various time, with cut off made from rock plateaus are constructed from 800th century and is amazing even today but a bit old but still it is gold.

Temple Architecture:

Temple architecture is the most popular and widely recognized architecture in India, the core philosophy of temple revolves around the womb chamber and making it the core part of the architecture, every Hindu temple follows the same patterns and decorations, the craving of peacocks, dancing women are considered as the traditional decoration in temples.

indian architecture

Some temples are built only In hills alone and some are even built before thousand and some two thousand years old too, the temple architecture used more of the kingdom’s official buildings along with being a shrine to peoples.

North and south Indian Temple architecture:

India can be divided into north and south India as the core part, both have its separate architectural style, even temples are also unique in the north and south India, north focus only on the womb chamber, meanwhile, south India focuses on the towers and womb chamber too, most of the south Indian temples have at least four towers and a central womb chamber where the idol of god is placed and worshipped.

Rocks and stones are mostly used to build temples but today even bricks and cement are being used to construct as time pass by it too adapted to the growing technology.

Tanjore big temple:

Tanjore big temple is one of the iconic temples in India and even in the entire world, it is unlike other south Indian architecture focus on only one tower and one womb chamber which is also considered as a tower, with 66-meter height 44 acres wide it stands as a witness of mighty Dravidian architecture style and holds its pride for over 1000 years.

The temple constructed entirely with stones with the help of elephants and horses along with about 10000 soldiers and peoples.

Every Hindu temple architecture have some of the core characteristics like Mandaba where people rest and pray, Kalasa which placed at the top of the temple’s tower, Garbhagriya where the idol of god is placed, temples are either made of stones, bricks with a limestone

Kandariya Mahadev temple is another amazing temple in the Madhya Pradesh state which is familiar for its flat step like architecture concept.

Indo Islamic Architecture:

 With the Mughal invasion in India, the Islamic architecture too invaded India, as the people and Mughal empires grow large the Islamic architecture too spread along with it, from Taj mahal to Qutb Minar India have more Islamic architecture to be amused at.

The usage of arches, domes and vaults are core characteristic of Islamic architecture and it influenced in the Indo Islamic architecture too, bricks, limestones and tiles or mosaic are used as the major materials in Indo Islamic architecture.

Taj Mahal, Agra, Delhi

Taj mahal is one of beautiful architecture in India for its astonish white marble color and peaceful structure, with more than twenty thousand workers and imported decoration from turkey, Persia and ottoman it is hell of an art, it is also considered as the most beautiful architecture of the nation and mostly popular for its romantic story, though it is influenced from Persian, Turkish architecture it is whole of a Indo Islamic architecture, the entire construction used red sandstone and white marble as its core material .

Jama masjid, Charminar are other fine works of Indo Islamic architecture and stand as a proof to enjoy the ancient Indian architecture.

Indo Saracenic Architecture:

We all have heard of the British invasion in India, British made a lot of changes in India, it includes architecture too, British created a lot of architectures more of official buildings, if we look deeper into the British made architectures in India it followed a pattern, it is called as Indo Saracenic architecture which is a revival architecture influenced by the gothic architecture style.

Usage of more than one domes and larger halls with the high structure of architecture made it look different from other Indian architecture at the time, the British had a royal taste and it is reflected in their architecture.

The influence of Arabic architectural style is seen largely in the Indo Saracenic architecture, the British used even European, Victorian styles mixed with the Indo Saracenic architecture style, madras high court, Victoria memorial in Kolkata, and Sivaji terminus in Mumbai are some of Indo Saracenic architecture buildings.

Victoria memorial:

In the beautiful coastal city of West Bengal(Kolkata) we can witness magic colored in white with Victorian, Indo Saracenic, and Mughal architectural philosophies, in memory of queen Victoria the mighty magical construction build.


India is a colloidal mixture of various colored people, different religions and languages in each state, it is a magical nation with magics hidden across the country, architecture is also a major thing in the Indian subcontinent, from creating their own architectural style to influencing foreign architecture concepts and styles, from ancient Indian architecture to the Indo Saracenic architecture style it has a wide variety of architecture spread across, from woods to advanced cement India witnessed many architectural materials, like the nation the architecture in the country also follows unity in diversity with various design, style, form, and materials being used, Indian architecture is a larger book to read in one lifetime and wider magic to witness one at a time

About the author

Dhrubajyoti Roy

I am a 5th-year student pursuing a bachelor's course in Architecture. I partake in freelancing work in the field of Architecture range from buildings in Autocad to 3D Rendering and work through in Lumion.

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