Early Indian and Buddhist Styles-
Most of the Indian buildings were made of brick or wood. But eventually, stone also crept into the picture. The areas that Indian architecture remains covers an area of all of present-day India, and some of the surrounding countries.
Around 2500-1750 B.C., the earliest Indian buildings were built in the Buddhist styles. They built them that way because the Buddhist religion was the most common. The oldest remains of this time period are buildings of burnt brick at Johenjo-daro and Harappa. (Both are now in Pakistan.) These buildings were usually burial mounds. A common Buddhist building was the tope, or Stupa, a memorial mound encased in masonry. It usually had corridors running around the base and four entrances marked with big tall "gates". The best example is the Great Stupa in Sanchi.
Another Buddhist building is the dagoba, a relic shrine. Some people think that that it was the beginning form of the Pagoda. Details on some of these dagoba's shows interaction and influence with other civilization such as the Greeks and Middle Eastern countries.
Jain and Hindu Styles-
Buddhism sort of disappeared after the 5th century as Hinduism and Jainism became the dominant religions. The Jains often built in a very large scale. A notable Jain characteristic are the pointed domes of level courses of corbeled stones. Many of these "temples" have been found in great numbers on hilltops all over India. One of the earlier groups is on top of Mount Abu.
The Hindu style is very similar to the Jain style. The Hindu style is divided into three categories: northern from ad 600 to the present; central, from 1000 to 1300; and southern, or Dravidian, from 1350 to 1750. In all three periods the style is marked by lots of decorations and the use of pyramidal shaped roofs. One of the most famous examples of this style are the temples at Belur.
Islamic architecture dates from the 13th century to the present. It was first introduced to India when the first Muslim conquerors arrived. Islamic architecture soon lost its originality and borrowed many elements of the native styles, such as courtyards, balconies, and above all, lots of decorations. On the other side of the picture, Islam introduced many concepts to India, such as the dome, the true arch, geometric motifs, and mosaics. Despite many differences, Indian and Islamic styles fused into a very harmonious style.
The most notable of the three phases of Indo-Islamic architecture is the Mughal style. It took place from the 16th century to the 18th. During this style, architects started using luxurious materials such as marble. The Taj Mahal in Agra is a very good example of this. The white marble dome is inlaid with many multi-colored gemstones, and set upon a platform set of by four slender minarets and it's reflected in a gian reflecting pool. The Taj Mahal was originally built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife.
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