Ancient Indian Architecture: The Architecture of India finds its roots in its history, culture, and religion. The earliest remains of recognizable building activity in India dates back to the Indus Valley cities. Among India’s ancient architectural remains, the most characteristic is the temples, Chaityas, Viharas, Stupas, and other religious structures.
In ancient India, temple architecture of high standard developed in almost all regions. Indian architecture has not only progressed with time but has also assimilated the various influences which came as a consequence of India’s global interaction with other regions of the world.
The architectural methods practiced in India are a result of examination and implementation of its established building traditions and outside cultural interactions. Hence, in the light of all these factors, the architecture in ancient India can be categorized as under:
Indus Valley Civilization: From all the archaeological evidence which have been so collected during archeological excavations in Mehrgarh, construction of mud-brick houses and granaries can be inferred.
Irrigation was well developed in the Indus Valley Civilization around 4500 BCE. The vast expansions in the size, as well as the prosperity of the Indus civilization, resulted in such innovation in which use of drainage and sewers became all the more imperative.
By 2800 BCE, private bathrooms, located on the ground floor, came to be found in almost all the houses of the Indus Valley Civilization. The pottery pipes in walls allowed drainage of water and there was also a provision of a crib for sitting at some places.
Indian Architecture Styles
The Indus Valley Civilization had some of the most advanced private lavatories in the world. “Western-style” toilets were made from bricks using toilet seats made of coal on top. Sophisticated irrigation and storage systems were developed by the Indus Valley Civilization. These included the artificial reservoirs at Girnar in 3000 BCE and also a canal irrigation system around 2600 BCE.
Large-scale sanitary sewer systems were also in place in the Indus Valley by 2700 BCE. The drains were 7-10 feet wide and 2 feet (0.61 m) below ground level. The sewage was then led into cesspools. The cesspools were built at the intersection of two drains and had stairs leading to them for periodic cleaning. Plumbing using earthenware plumbing pipes with broad flanges for easy joining with asphalt to stop leaks came to be used by 2700 BCE.
Post Maha Janapadas Period
The Buddhist Stupa which was a dome-shaped monument was used in India as a commemorative monument. This was associated with storing sacred relics. The Stupa architecture was adopted in Southeast and East Asia. It was here that it became prominent as a Buddhist monument used for enshrining sacred relics.
Fortified cities with Stupas, Viharas, and temples came to be constructed during the Maurya Empire from 321 to185 BCE. The wooden architecture was popular and rock-cut architecture became coagulated. Guardrails which consisted of posts, crossbars, and a coping became a popular feature of safety surrounding a Stupa. Temples were built on elliptical, circular, quadrilateral, or apsidal plans.
Ancient Indian Architecture Facts
These were constructed using brick and timber. The Indian gateway arches reached East Asia with the spread of Buddhism. Rock-cut step wells in India dated from 200 to400 BCE. Subsequently, the construction of wells at Dhank and stepped ponds at Bhinmal also came to be constructed.
Almost700 wells came to be constructed by 3rd millennium BCE. These have been discovered in just one section of the city of Mohenjodaro. Additionally, leading scholars believed that cylindrical brick lined wells were invented by the people of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Cave temples also gained prominence throughout western India. This incorporated various unique features to give rise to cave architecture in places such as Ajanta and Ellora. Gradually, cities with huge walls and large gates and multi-storied buildings consistently using arched windows and doors became important features of the architecture during the Mauryan period.