Understanding Indian Architectural History

Semester 4 | Humanities

Ar. Manjushree Desai
Ar. Ronak Savla

Studio Conductors

One of the most enduring achievements of Indian civilization is undoubtedly its architecture. The architecture of India is
deeply rooted in its socio-cultural and religious practices. The geographical and cultural diversity of the country has played
a pivotal role in shaping up Indian architecture. The rise and fall of various civilisations, the constant battle between
dynasties for political and external influences in India have played a significant role in moulding the architectural styles of
the country. The visual and spatial form of architecture in India thus has numerous layers of information about our
history.
For this exercise, students were divided into groups as per prominent architectural styles seen in our country from the 3rd
Century BCE to the mid 20th century ie the pre-independence period. Stage one of the exercise was primarily about
holistically understanding the allotted architectural style with regards to the time period, geographical conditions, political
situation, socio-cultural practices of the local population, etc. Stage two of the exercise was enquiry driven. Based on their
understanding of stage one, students were expected to carve out a smaller niche in the larger pool of knowledge for
further study. Following this approach, each group was free to set out their path for the study.
Elements study like domes of Indo-Saracenic architecture and Gopuram of Dravidian architecture; typology study of Art
Deco theatres in Mumbai; the landscape study of Mughal architecture, and several other studies allowed the class as a
whole to do enquiry based architectural study at various scales, various time periods and various geographical conditions.