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Indian Art And Architecture's Major Contribution.

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

Indian art and architecture's major contribution
Indian art and architecture's major contribution © Wikipedia, PORAS CHAUDHARY, THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

The three-letter word art encompasses a diverse range of expression and evolution of human beings. With this fact, it is not terrible to say that our great ancestors were outlandish artists. You might be amazed to know that even clicking good pictures from your mobile phones makes you one among them. Come on, boast yourself for the title. We chose to feature this article, considering Indian art and architecture's major contribution.

On Forthcoming to history, art has different periods and eras. But before moving on further, it is crucial to know about their inspiration? As we all know that inspiration is anything that enables us to complete or at least start something. Behind art, there were objects and things made by humans. Their meaning fetches spiritual, narrative, philosophical, symbolic, and conceptual aspects. Some of the sub-divisions and general categories might have been familiar to you. They cluster according to Prehistory, Antiquity, Middle Eastern, Americas, Asian, and European types. Although the chapters of art provide an interesting read, they have a tremendous syllabus, which means analyzing and appreciating them can take a lot of time. Inclusive to human creativity, art can be paintings, sculptures, architecture, handicrafts, theatres, and photography. The question turns into a sub-division that why art? Prevalently, we form art because we are interested to dive into new things. It is also an indication of our social and emotional happenings. You might have seen the posters and banners for even educating society. Sounds fascinating right? To know that we are surrounded by it everywhere. Nature has also crafted art by cutting the rocks forming waterfalls when rivers flow from heights. So it is clearly understood that art is not just confined to places and things but holds a significant position in our world. It is shocking to learn that it can also cure psychological issues such as depression, Alzheimer and anxiety.

Lakeside Elephant Painting
Lakeside Elephant Painting

Stories in India are miraculous and divine and so is the old Indian architecture. Besides being charming, it also takes pride in its heritage. For example, from the ancient Indus valley civilization to the emergence and decay of different empires, invasion of foreign rulers, and colonial era, it reflected the confluence and styles of its pulchritudinous art forms.

On the subject of its different periods, it is primarily divided into Early Indian Art, Middle Kingdoms, Late Medieval Period, Early Modern, and Colonial Era. Furthermore, they are bifurcated into other civilizations and dynasties. It is undeniable that India has a rich history of culture and art, which includes vibrant architecture, sculpture, paintings, puppetry, theatre, and literature. We all know that the ancient Indian subcontinent geographically included parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The influence of its presence has also spread to areas like Iran and Central Asia, which further expands its importance. It is possible to gain a deeper understanding of the world by reading through the eyes of foreigners, like Fa-Hein, Al-Biruni, Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta, and so on. If it is so crucial, then give a moment to think what would have happened if Indians did not contribute to art? The consequences are diminishing because what we gave to the world is the reason it senses art today.

Now it is time to get along with our intellectual mind to understand its lucid forms. This article continues to carry the pot of knowledge forward by focusing on Indian art and architecture's major contribution. Having them all in your life will be completely awe-inspiring, and I promise you that you will not hold back and say, Wow!

The Journey Of Old India Architecture.

Architecture derives from the Latin word tekton, which means builder. Its modest meaning behind the early man was to find shelters. It appears that modern architecture is currently resting on the shoulders of its predecessors.

Indian Architecture has three periods- Ancient India, Medieval India, and Modern India. Historically, we know the origins of Ancient Indian architecture, also referred to as Old Indian Architecture, which ranges from the Harrapan period to South Indian art. The early civilization used burnt mud bricks joined together by Gypsum Mortar to form buildings. One splendid example of this kind is the Great Bathe from the excavated remains of Mohenjodaro. Numerous scholars believe that the early people used this for religious purposes and religious public bathing. In addition, there were granaries for storing food, and what makes them even more fascinating is the strategic air ducts inside, protecting them from pests, which is an example of a monument with utility.

Great Bath Mohenjo Daro
Great Bath Mohenjo Daro ©

Granary Harappa
Granary Harappa ©

The Stupas & Pillars.

Moving forward in the Ancient Period of Indian Monuments, the Stupas and Pillars from Mauryan art showed a clear demarcation of art for different communities. Here at Kumrahar, Ashoka's Palace is a fine early example of such a massive structure decorated with carvings. Excavations have enabled us to learn about the Assembly Hall with 80 pillars, Arogya Vihar, Anand Bihar, and Durakhi Devi Temple. One more example of this kind is the famous Ashokan Pillar which has inscriptions to commemorate battle victories. Further, the prominent Sanchi Stupa has been embellished with Medhi and Toran decorations.

Ruins of Arogya Vihar, Kumhrar
Ruins of Arogya Vihar, Kumhrar © Wikipedia

Ashoka pillar at Vaishali, Bihar, India
Ashoka pillar at Vaishali, Bihar, India © Wikipedia

East Gateway - Stupa  - Sanchi Hill
East Gateway - Stupa - Sanchi Hill © Wikipedia

The Cave Architecture.

As the cave architecture progressed from the Buddhists, the highly polished finish of the interior walls and decorative gateways signaled a crucial development. Among the most impressive cave structures were those in Ajanta and Ellora. Furthermore, paintings in Ajanta Caves of Aurangabad, which used fresco painting techniques, displayed natural elements. As we have seen, different periods of Indian architecture symbolized different meanings. There has been a tremendous evolution of religious places in India thanks to one dominant form of Indian architecture. The Indian art and architecture's major contribution was always for ordinary as well as religious purposes.

Cave 19, Ajanta, Deccan
Cave 19, Ajanta, Deccan © Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay

Ajanta and Ellora monuments
Ajanta and Ellora monuments ©

The sculpture of the reclining Buddha in cave number 29
The sculpture of the reclining Buddha in cave number 29 ©

Ajanta Cave 02 painting
Ajanta Cave 02 painting ©

The Temple Architecture.

Contributing to temple architecture is not uncommon for most people. Among the earliest temple architecture designs are Nagara Style, Dravidian Style, and Nayaka Style. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Pallava has marvelous architecture in terms of this. There were also several temple architecture schools regulated during this period. For example, the Nayaka School that flourished under Nayaka rulers was architecturally similar to the Dravidian Style but more swayed by Islamic architecture. Meenakshi Temple of Madurai was noted to be developed under this. The Vesara School that was conceptualized under Chalukya rulers combined with features of Nagara School and Dravidian School emphasized vimana and mandapa. Ladhkan temple at Aihole is one such example of this kind. Similarly, there were other schools of temple architecture like Vijayanagara school, Hoysala Art, etc.

Meenakshi Amman Temple India
Meenakshi Amman Temple India © Wikipedia

Meenakshi Temple Madurai
Meenakshi Temple Madurai © Wikipedia

Meenakshi Temple Painting Madurai
Meenakshi Temple Painting Madurai © Wikipedia

Lad Khan temple Aihole
Lad Khan temple Aihole © Journey Across Karnataka

Lad Khan Temple Karnataka
Lad Khan Temple Karnataka ©

Mughal Architecture.

Mughal architecture is top of the list when we talk about Medieval Indian Architecture. It introduced the Charbagh style of gardening, calligraphy for decoration, geometric vegetal ornamentation, a broader sense of symmetry in the structures, and many more. In the Delhi Sultanate Period, there were two kinds of style - Imperial and Provincial, which were promoted by Delhi rulers and local rulers, respectively. The use of red sandstone and mortar as cementing agents was prominent here. Some of the constructions under them are- Moti Masjid, Sheesh Mahal, Rohtas Fort, Taj Mahal, etc.

Fuerte Rojo Delhi
Fuerte Rojo Delhi © Wikipedia

Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Taj Mahal, Agra, India © Wikipedia

Rohtas Fort Pakistan
Rohtas Fort Pakistan © Pakiholic

Modern Architecture.

The Modern Architecture that is the final phase included the arrival of the European colonists and the decline of Mughal influence in India. Like the Portuguese bought Iberian style with them, similarly French bought the urban planning with them, and the Britishers bought Gothic style of architecture with them. The best examples of their kind are the Se Cathedral of Goa, the Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus of Puducherry, and the St Paul's Cathedral of Kolkata. The result of even the minute changes has been to make the whole of Indian art and Architecture's major contribution a wholesome and inspiring one.

St Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata, India
St Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata, India © Wikipedia

Se’ Cathedral, Goa, India
Se’ Cathedral, Goa, India © Wikipedia

Contribution On Paintings.

From the perspective of time, the journey of painting was similar to the journey of architecture. Unlike Indian architecture, the first paintings were created on cave walls as representations. However, it was only from the Gupta era that art truly began.

The Gupta Period Of India
The Gupta Period Of India ©

Gupta Art
Gupta Art © Wikipedia

The principles of paintings are still studied even before forming them. In the 3rd century AD book, Kamasutra enumerated its six principles. They are: Rupabheda, Pramanam, Bhava, Lavanya Yojanam, Sadrisyam and Varnibhanga.

From the beginning of prehistoric art, rock engravings were particularly prominent, and these rock carvings are known as petroglyphs.

Furthermore, the paintings can be split into three periods: Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Chalcolithic Period. It is imperative to understand the color formation before analyzing their forms.

Upon careful inspection, we discovered that each of the colors: red, green, and yellow, were created using different minerals. The origin of these colors should be evident by now.

While speaking of the classification of Indian paintings, there are two types - Mural and Miniature.

Mural Paintings.

Work on walls is known as a mural painting. The Ajanta Caves, Bagh Caves, and Kailasha temple in Ellora are some places where you can observe the beauty and exquisiteness of these carvings. Among the oldest murals in the Ajanta, where pigments are of Tempera style. They portray human values and social fabrics. Graceful postures of humans and animals are shown that is the sense of divinity. Likewise, each cave painting showed glimpses of different eras. For example, the Lepakshi temple paintings witnessed a complete absence of primary colors, especially blue. The Bagh Cave Paintings are exquisite due to tight models, strong outlines, and more earthly and humanistic elements.

Shadhanta Jataka Ajanta Cave no 17
Shadhanta Jataka Ajanta Cave no 17 ©

Jataka Tales, Cave 1, Ajanta frescos
Jataka Tales, Cave 1, Ajanta frescos ©

A prince bringing offerings to Vajrapani, the Bearer of Thunderbolt, in Cave 1
A prince bringing offerings to Vajrapani, the Bearer of Thunderbolt, in Cave 1 ©

Bagh Caves Artwork, Ajanta
Bagh Caves Artwork, Ajanta © Live History India

Lepakshi Painting
Lepakshi Painting © Andhra Cultural Portal


The second part features miniatures of India. It requires a few conditions to make them, such as a size that is no larger than 25 square inches and that the subject of the painting is no bigger than a sixth of its actual size. These types usually have bulging eyes, pointed noses, and slim waistlines, among other characteristics. It is common for Rajasthani miniatures to have brownish skin, while Mughal miniatures tend to have a more even complexion. There were two prominent schools of this type: the Pala School of Art and the Apabhramsa School of Art. However, both Rajasthani & Mughal miniatures were protruding forms on their own. They had several differences making them exc1eptional and different from each other. But their beauty remained in no comparison.

Couple Goals, Limestone Miniature Art
Couple Goals, Limestone Miniature Art

Rajasthan Indian Miniature Rajput Painting
Rajasthan Indian Miniature Rajput Painting ©

Lady with peacock, Limestone Miniature Art
Lady with peacock, Limestone Miniature Art

Miniature Art during Delhi Sultanate.

Paintings like these are the result of combining Persian elements with traditional Indian designs. The Persians favored illustrated manuscripts over other art forms. One fine example of this kind is Nimatnama. In addition to this, there was another style called Lodi Khuladar. Later, three main types emerged- Mughal, Deccan, and Rajput. One can see the difference between the Rajput style & the Mughal Style in terms of the themes, peculiarity, and time. Apart, there were various schools of painting like Pahari School & Rajasthani School that carried differently.