India, the land of wonders never ceases to amaze even the seasoned visitor. The beauty of the country and its geographical proximity has attracted people from time immemorial. While they all plundered, looted, and ruled this land, most of them left behind an indelible mark on the country’s bosom.
Whichever part of the country you visit, you can see traces of a past era or kingdom, and the architectural wonder in these buildings often surpasses modern, technological brilliance and mystifies even the scientific world.
Let’s take a ride through the wonder that’s India and travel through some of the architectural marvels.
1. Kanakakkunnu Palace, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
Kanakakunnu Palace was built by the famous Travancore king: Sree MoolamThirunnal Maharaja (1885-1924). The aura the temple exudes speaks volumes about the architectural knowledge of the king during that time.
The palace structure in itself is breathtakingly beautiful, and presently this historical monument of Kerala is under the state government. You should never miss visiting this architectural essence of Kerala.
2. Nalanda Ruins, Nalanda, Bihar
Founded in the 5th century, Nalanda is also famous for housing the world’s earliest university. The architectural components, which are spread over an area of 150,000 square meters, revealed a treasure trove scientists after excavation, including the kind of education that was imparted during the said time period.
Just opposite the ruins lie another small building: the Nalanda Archaeological Museum. It presents a stunning collection of Hindu and Buddhist bronze statues of Buddha and terracotta jars.
3. Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
Sun Temple, resembling a large chariot with 12 pairs of wheels, is a picture of immeasurable beauty dedicated to the Sun God Surya. The engineering dexterity is such that you can see king Narasimhadeva’s vision of this chariot being pulled by its seven horses. It’s believe he had it built in commemoration of the victory of Muslim invaders in the 13th century.
The images of the Sun God catch the rays of the sun three times a day: at dawn, noon, and sunset. The two majestic lions that stand guard at the temple accentuate the architectural grandeur of the temple.
4. Ajanta & Ellora Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Ajanta and Ellora Caves are nestled in the magical charm of Sahyadri Mountains. The magnificent carvings on the hillside rocks were done some 2,500 years ago.
When you see the sculptures and paintings in these caves, you’ll be transported to a different era because the architectural skills and artistic talents aren’t something to be mimicked.
Ellora is thought to be the largest rock-cut, monastery-temple cave in the world. The magnificent paintings of Ajanta make it one of the best caves of tremendous historical value. It’ll take you directly to the period between the 2nd century BC and 6th century AD, when Buddhist monks made the carvings.
5. Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Taj Mahal, the ivory-white mausoleum, portrays a different architectural legacy for India and is a must-visit monument on an itinerary through India.
The magic and architectural charm of the Taj Mahal is always a mystery, and perhaps these are the reasons why the government of India is in a continual process of preserving the land and its surrounding areas.
The most beautiful feature of this incredible monument is that it’s an epitome of love, built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
It’s said that this lovely structure changes color when the sun falls on it during different times of the day. At the break of dawn, Taj Mahal radiates a lovely golden light, while in the moonlight it is cloaked in a mesmerizing blue. During the day, it’s perfectly white, standing proud in the brilliance of the sun.
6. Hampi, Karnataka
The fame of Hampi is spread across the globe. Hampi had its heyday during the Vijayanagara Empire in medieval India. If you’re visiting Karnataka at any time soon, there’s no way you can leave without paying your respects to this marvelous UNESCO World Heritage site. Hampi and the architectural splendor known as Vittala Temple charms visitors even when in ruins.
7. Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is a town in the Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu. The town welcomes you to a beautiful world of arts and exhibits that showcase Tamil culture. There’s also well-established sea port built during the Pallava Period in the 7th dynasty.
There are nine monolithic temples in Mahabalipuram and Pancha Rathas, which were named after the five Pandavas of Mahabharata who lived during the Dwaraka Period. The beauty and charm of the ruins set your imagination ablaze, especially during sunset. The temples themselves are also listed as World Heritage temples.
Shore Temple, Vedagirishvara Temple, Mahishasura mardhini Mandapam and Varaha Mandapam are very much worth visiting.
8. Statue of Gomateshwara, Karnataka
The Statue of Gomateshwara is the world’s highest monolith statue. Standing proudly at a height of about 17.6 meters, this architectural feat is located in the town of Shravanabelagola, in Karnataka. The stunning fact about of this statue is that it was carved out of single slab of granite and has inscriptions in three languages around its base.
9. Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
The mysticism of Padmanabhaswamy Temple is encased in antiquity. The exact knowledge about the construction and consecrator of the mesmerizing Lord Vishnu idol is also shrouded in mystery. However, if you’re to rely on what the epics and Puranas say, the temple commanded attention right from ancient times.
It’s said that Lord Balaram, the incarnation of Vasuki on which Lord Vishnu resides in Vaikunta, visited the temple during the DwaparaYug (the time of Mahabharata). The idol portrays the Lord in a reclining position and is a sight to behold.
10. Lotus Temple Delhi
The beautiful Lotus Temple, also known as the Bahai House of Worship, is shaped like a lotus and is open to anyone who wishes to visit it or come to meditate. Though a recent addition to Delhi, the temple is one of the most noted structures in the world.
The temple deserves mention here as its architecture and construction style is one of a kind. Built in 1986 by a Persian architect Fairborn Sahba, the shape of the temple signifies purity and immortality, which are both symbols of the lotus.
These ancient structures of India aren’t just mere architectural treasures, but a reflection of the rich spirituality and culture of the country. Each structure above has something magical and mystical about it, and the fine detailing in them will take your breath away. They stand proudly, even though most of them are in ruins, and speak volumes of bygone eras.
Author’s bio: Sunu Philip is the Inbound Marketing and Creative Head for Kerala-based tour operator Paradise Holidays, Cochin. She loves reading, exploring new places, and trying out different cuisines.