INDIA, ah! This country. A country which full of different arts, cultures, traditions and always open to adapt much more cannot wrap in just 10 places which are a must to see if you are an architecture student. It is not about just seeing the famous places but it is more about soaking in all the soul fulfilling experience, which of course will affect your work in future (in a good way *wink*).
KARLA CAVES, MAHARASHTRA
There are more than 1500 rock-cut temples in India and Karla caves are one of the ancient as well as the largest caves in India (Lonavala, Maharashtra), these follow the mixture of Hindu and Buddhists style of rock-cut caves architecture. These caves consist of 16 rock cut excavations, of which the cave 8 is the chaityagriha which was carved during Satavahanas dynasty (271 BCE to 30 BCE). It is undoubtedly the largest and most complete chaitya cave known in the country.
You know, Cave 19 at Ajanta caves was also modeled after the Karla Great Chaitya, built in the 5th century CE. And if you happen to be in Andhra Pradesh, do visit Undavalli Caves too.
RANI KI VAV, GUJARAT
It is an intricate step well on the banks of Saraswati River and was built as a memorial to an 11th-century king Bhima I. It was added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Built in the complex Maru-Gurjara architectural style with an inverted temple and seven levels of stairs and holds more than 500 principal sculptures. Sounds so cool! Isn’t it. It actually is.
Plus if you are in Gujarat for this, then Ahmedabad is a must too. From design colleges to architecture colleges, building by Le Corbusier to B. V. Doshi everything is there.
KULLU, HIMACHAL PRADESH
This is basically vernacular architecture, where buildings are made by common builders in informal ways, using design methodology. In this village, you will particularly find Kath khuni architecture style, where local wood (deodar and kail) and stones are used for making insulating walls for bearing shit cold climate in this region. Stone plinth is filled up to one meter from ground level and more in the case to tower temples.
P.S. Do you guys know for what else this place is famous for! Ever heard about Kasol? Of course, you have*wink*.
MEENAKSHI TEMPLE, TAMIL NADU
The temple occupies a huge area in the heart of Madurai as it spreads over 14 acres. The entire structure, when viewed from above, represents a mandala. This specific temple represents the Dravidian architecture style, more profoundly present in South India. As you might have figured out by now, it’s all about grandeur. This temple has four main towering gopurams which look identical to each other. Although, the temple complex has total of 14 towering gateways. Each one of them is a multi-story structure and displays thousands of mythological stories and several other sculptures.
Hampi was the imperial capital of Vijayanagar, a 14th-century empire. The ruins are spread out over an area of 26km², which is actually huge. It is often described as the forgotten empire of Vijayanagar. You will be in awe as millions of boulders are surrounding the area. If you want a good look, walk abit and get to higher elevated place there. Within this arid landscape lies a little oasis with lush palm, banana, and mango trees nestled near the river. The architecture here can be broadly classified into religious, courtly and civic architecture.
SANCHI STUPA, MADHYA PRADESH
Okay. I swear I tried to find offbeat Buddhist Stupas in India which would blow your mind. But look at Sanchi Stupa, just LOOK. Being oldest stone structure in the country, the sculptures on the torans consist of decorative illustrations of events encompassing the life of Lord Buddha as elucidated in the tales of Jataka. Sanchi pillar here is very similar to Ashoka pillar at important Buddhist site of Sarnath (U.P.).
By the way, Khajuraho temples are nearby too, do visit. You might actually understand why section 377 wasn’t for us from the beginning itself *facepalm*.
Pondicherry has many colonial buildings and statues which combined with the systematic town planning and are of Colonial French and Franco-Tamil architecture. The French-styled architecture is suited for this town because of the wholesome weather with its long and huge windows with vertical cast iron bars as grills, ornate balconies, large courtyards, circularly arched gates, columns, engaged columns, and stucco designs.
Apart from architecture, Pondicherry is also known for its rich lifestyle, food, and beaches.
Delhi is a haven for an architecture student. From Jama Masjid to Indian Habitat Centre, it has everything which represents different architecture styles from Islamic to modern one. Here I would love to be a douche and like to list out all the places directly you must visit once you are in Delhi. Humayun Tomb, Red Fort, India Gate, Qutub Minar, Lotus Temple, Akshardham temple, Connaught Place, Lodi garden, Purana Qila, Triveni Kala Sangam, Palika Kendra, State Trading Corporation, Jeevan Bharati Building and many more.
Pro tip: There is a HOHO bus service in the city, which takes people to all these specific attractions only, on the very low fare. Do explore this option too.
I personally have a thing for Rajasthan. Colors, traditions, food, forts and Haveli architecture (btw it is a mixture of Mughal and Hindu structural design) all these words explains Rajasthan better than anything else. The state of Rajasthan was the major regional capital of Indus Valley Civilization. Cities of Rajasthan like Jaipur (Pink City), Jodhpur (Blue City), Ajmer, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and many more are known for their forts in the whole world. Long story short, Rajasthan is the next state you are traveling to if you have the slightest interest in archeology.
AUROVILLE, TAMIL NADU
Last but not the least it’s Auroville. I saved it for the last because *drum roll* it is an experimental township. The Mother (Mirra Alfassa), quotes this place as “A universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.”
Sounds like a place straight out from the movies and it actually is. The township was originally intended to house 50,000 residents. In the initial 20 years, only about 400 individuals from 20 countries resided in the township and now it is increasing, which means architecture from almost EVERYWHERE in the world.
So, this is it. 10 places you MUST visit in India, but I am going to cheat a bit and list out few more places *typical Indian thing, of not getting satisfied and try to adjust more*.
Rann of kutch, Gujrat; Majuli, Assam;Leh Ladakh, JnK;Varanasi, UP;Taj Mahal, UP;Golden Temple, Punjab
Comment below your favorite destination in India.