Introduction to Indian cities:
“Successful, vibrant, happy cities arise out of the visions of many, not the powerful few.” Personifying this quote by Jane Jacobs, the architecture of Indian cities evolves and guides the way through a unique and crucial framework. This physical and visual framework encompasses its residents to establish their identity. Hence, along with infrastructure and symbolism, local flavor governs the architecture of Indian cities. For architects, architectural graduates and architecture students, each city is worth exploration. Besides design, culture, history, context, building materials, technology, colors and, spatial configuration needs observation. Additionally, informal surveys, sketching, interactions and drawings will help you understand the city better and revolve its learning in your design. Here’s our list of the top 10 Indian cities that every architect must visit.
Architecture of Indian cities : Chandigarh
Art by the master architect Le Corbusier, Chandigarh features 56 sectors, all well connected with a broad network. Each of these sectors has a neighborhood with amenities like shops, schools and entertainment with its grid plan. Additionally, parks and tree-lined avenues line up the voluminous concrete buildings. Hence, the grasp for a modern vision by Le Corbusier is what contrasts the orderly Chandigarh from its foundation.
The master plan of Chandigarh is a clear exemplification of the human body. Besides having capital buildings at the head, Chandigarh has a business zone as the heart and industry and education zones as its arms to effectively zone out the architecture of Indian cities. In addition to the Capital complex, the government museum and Art gallery, Le Corbusier center, and the open hand monument are attractive. Besides these, Pinjore gardens, Rock gardens, the Mohali cricket stadium, and the tower of shadows are worth a visit.
Also Read: Planning of Chandigarh by Le Corbusier
Bhopal embraces various traditions of the Nawabs and royalty to give birth to the wonders of ancient and modern times, heritage structures and, institutional architecture amongst the architecture of Indian cities. Bharat Bhawan, a cultural hub by Correa, features an art gallery and open-air theater facing the lake. Besides the Bharat Bhawan, the city hosts Indo Saracenic structures like the Shahjahanabad of Bhopal that compliments a cricket stadium, the Benazir palace, the Taj-ul-Masjid library, and the Alexandria middle school. Additionally, the Gohar Mahal, Shaukat Mahal and the Moti masjid are learning candles for architects. Furthermore, Bhopal portrays striking similarities to foreign architecture. The Bhimbhetka caves are one such example that runs parallel to the caves of Australia.
The golden city of India represents a fine blend of the Haveli culture in the architecture of Indian cities. Similarly, equally decorated are the forts and shrines with latticework not only on the pillars, walls and ceilings but on the forts, palaces and worship places. Besides the most important icon, the Jaisalmer Fort, the city has many more architectural offerings. The Salim Singh ki Haveli, Fort Khaba, Nathmal ki Haveli, Vyas Chattri are some of them. In addition to this, the five-storeyed Maharaja palace portrays designed stone balconies, jharokhas, and window arches for an architect to study.
With unity in diversity, the city fuses the cultures of Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal to establish its own identity. Vernacular architecture of bamboo, cane, cane leaves, mud, and lime responds to the cold climate. Besides sloping roofs and architecture focusing on mass housing, Gangtok essays facade symmetry, an organic design and detailed, yet articulated doors and windows for an architect to study. Though Rumtek monastery is the key attraction of Gangtok, the Tsuklakhang palace, Ganesh Tok and, the Do-drul Chortens are noteworthy.
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Evolving from distant settlements, Kolkata represents a fine blend of colonial and post-colonial architecture. Thus, the ‘city of joy’ embraces the confluence of the Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture or the Indo-Gothic architecture with British, Mughal, and Egyptian influences. The Victoria Memorial, a 1921 white marble wonder, and the corresponding St.Paul’s Cathedral are on the bucket list of every architect. Besides these, the Metcalfe Hall, Royal Insurance Building, the Shaheed Minar, the Kolkata high court, and the Treasury building find a place in every architect’s sketchbook to study the architecture of Indian cities.
Architecture of Indian cities : Auroville
Auroville is an experimental society, free space and, an architect’s delight. It helps reside about 2500 visitors in its ecozones that are powered by solar panels all year round. Besides these, organic and sustainable construction with vernacular thatched clusters is what attracts architects to this place. The Matri Mandir by Roger Anger is one such architectural wonder that sits at the center of a galaxy plan. Renowned architects like Suhasini Iyer-Guigan, Anupama Kundoo, and Mona Doctor-Pingel showcase a variety of sustainable projects here to boost the architecture of Indian cities.
Amritsar uses Rajasthani jharokhas and motifs and dives into domical architecture with the Mughals. Though It culminates in a colonial British architecture era, the grid-planned city played with construction and craft to besiege its uniqueness. Hence, this massing of voids in a facade is what every architect should learn. Besides the Golden temple, the Wagah border, Jallianwala Baug, Hall Bazaar, and the Gobindgarh fort mark their presence architecturally, similar to the architecture of Indian cities.
Architecture of Indian cities : Ahmedabad
Flourishing along the banks of the River Sabarmati, Ahmedabad portrays a sumptuous treat of architectural delight from ancient to modern. Mosques blend traditional Hindu crafts with Persian architecture. Mughal architecture is visible in Jama Masjid, Julia Minara, Sarkhej Roza mosque, etc., for an architect to study. Apart from this, the Adalaj stepwell, IIM-A by Louis Khan, the Shodhan and Sarabhai residence by LeCorbusier, the Sanskar Kendra are worth visiting. Moreover, the Sabarmati riverfront is the learner’s valley for urban designers.
Also Read: From Motera to the Narendra Modi Stadium.
The oldest colonized city in the world, Varanasi fuses its cultural landscapes with a blend of tangible and intangible heritage. Prime learning for urban development architects can be the ghats of Varanasi, along the Ganges, some public while some for boats. Along with the tilted temple and Kashi Vishwanath, the old Benaras has 15 mosques of historical value. Apart from the Dasaswamedh and Assi ghats, architects should note the Dhamek stupa, the Banaras Hindu University, Ramnagar Fort etc.
Architecture of Indian cities : Nashik
The vibrant city of Nashik has numerous ghats constructed by the Chalukyas and the Peshwas, along with the Yadavas for an urban planner to absorb. Besides these, many small and large shrines with Dharamshala and eateries mark the skyline. Apart from this, Nashik has 11 forts to boost its military architecture and be stiff and sturdy. The Kalaram temple, Muktidham, Sundarnarayan temple, Naroshankar temple, and the Sita gufaa are all a treat to the architect’s eyes.