Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments - Informative & researched article on Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments
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Home > Art & Culture > Indian Monuments > Indian Regional Monuments > Monuments in Eastern India
Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments
Monuments in eastern India exhibit a mixture of local, along with Mughal and British architecture.
 Monuments in Eastern India are the singular silent spectator of the onslaught with regard to history, culture and tradition of the region. Eastern India monuments and forts are the manifestation of highly sole lifestyle, approach and mode of the residents of that place. East India possesses a large portion of entire significant catacombs and tombs in India. Various forts, archaeological sites, ancient monuments and remains of national importance are placed in a systematic manner in various geographical settings of the region. East India or Eastern India is that portion of India which includes the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Orissa. Historically speaking, the region's life has circled around its two great river systems, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra which combine in the Bengal plains to form a massive delta of fertile alluvial soil and marshland which is regarded as one of the world's most fertile regions. This unparalleled location along with the dense forests, shifting river channels, heavy rainfall and recurrent floods provided shape to the destiny of population and had a fundamental influence on the architecture and art of the country. The architecture of the monuments in the states of Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal are influenced by several invasions.

The arrival of Muslims in Bengal brought a highly developed tradition and architectural vocabulary. The dome, arch, minaret and other distinctive elements were already established. The earliest Islamic monuments in India, constructed before 1410, such as the Adina Mosque at Pandua or the Victory Tower at Chota Pandua, seem to have a clearly alien character, foreign impositions on a native culture. On the other hand, many of the later monuments lacking minarets and with low domes, low facades and curved chala roofs, modeled on the thatched bamboo bungalow, exhibit an interpenetration of architectural forms and styles more suited to the peasant society of Bengal.

Heavy rainfall in West Bengal dictated the form of the early mosques in the region. They do not have open courts, ablution tank, liwans and attached minar which are common elsewhere. Usually, the Bengal mosque is a compact building with a simple prayer chamber and grassy courtyard with a large tank to one side. The later Mughal mosques arc fundamentally different, with either one or three domes. The most interesting feature of the Bengal style is the way in which foreign Muslim elements were transformed to the demands of local climate, tradition and culture.

This fusion of the local vernacular traditions and the Muslim contributed to the evolution of a distinctive indigenous style. The local do-chala and char-chala roofs, made of bamboo or thatch, were taken by the Muslim masons and translated into effective stone or brick buildings. The characteristic parapet and curved cornice became common from the early 15th century until they were superseded by the Imperial Mughal style. Locally available terracotta and brick were employed universally as materials for construction. Although stone was sometimes used for structural support, and at times for the facing of brick structures, terracotta was used for ornament and surface decoration. The readily available fine alluvial soil, together with a long historical tradition of terracotta decoration, produced an art form which occupies a unique position in the history of culture of Islam.

Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments The history of Islamic architecture of the region can be broken into five distinct phases. The first period, from the conquest in the year 1204, to the transfer of the capital from Gaur to Pandua in the year 1340, can be seen in the surviving monuments at Tribeni and Pandua. The second stage, from 1340 to 1430, envelops the period from the establishment of Pandua to the construction of the Eklakhi tomb. The stately Adina Mosque at Pandua, with its innovative use of the drop arch, is from this time. The third stage, from 1442 to the Mughal conquest of 1576, represents the development of a native provincial style in which features dictated by local circumstances like, the need for curved roofs to throw off the heavy rainfall, were adopted and then adapted as part of the Islamic architectural vocabulary. The Eklakhi tomb at Pandua is an evolutionary landmark and prototype in the development of this style. The Dakhil Darwaza or triumphal arch at Gaur displays some of the best surviving brickwork of the period. The fourth or Mughal period bequeathed a legacy of monuments that were Imperial in style but secular in nature, while the fifth, in the late 18th and 19th centuries, saw the spread of European influence and architecture into both religious and secular buildings. Some of the 19th century mosques of Kolkata, for instance, show a strong classical European character derived from colonial architecture.

Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments With the conquest of Bengal and the expansion of British rule in India, European forms of architecture began to make a significant impact on local styles in Bengal. At Murshidabad, one of the palaces of the Nawabs of Bengal was designed on classical lines by a British army engineer, as was the adjacent Imambara, built ten years later. With the foundation of British supremacy after the Battle of Plassey in the year 1757, the old European trading factories of the Dutch at Chinsura and the French at Chandannagardeclined in importance, and were replaced by the powerful new capital of British India at Kolkata (then called Calcutta).

Built on the mud-flats at the mouth of the Hooghly River in the year 1690, by an English merchant adventurer, Kolkata grew steadily until in the year 1756, it was sacked by the Nawab of Murshidabad. With the assumption of British control, between the year 1780 and 1840, Kolkata grew into a magnificent 'city of palaces', the capital of British India. Mud and thatch gave way to pukka buildings of stucco and brick, planned in a variety of classical styles. Each was set in its own compound but all shared common architectural characteristics and a classical vocabulary. With greater security huge forts, like the Fort William, were superseded by spacious cantonments on the outskirts of the city, at Barrackpore and Dum Dum.

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Bandel is one of the notable monuments of West Bengal. Barrackpore, previously the summer residence of the British Governors-General, was founded as a cantonment in the year 1775, and rapidly became one of the most important in India. A list of other monuments of West Bengal includes Government House, The Temple of Fame by Captain George Rodney Blanc, Lady Canning's Grave, Semaphore Tower, etc. The Parade Ground at Barrackpore is famous as the first scene in the terrible chapter of events of 1857. The mutinous 19th Regiment was disbanded here and ten days later, on the 29th of March, the rebellious Mangal Pandey ran amok.

Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments Apart from these some of the other prominent Eastern India monuments are the St Bartholomew's Church, Berhampore (one of the earliest British cantonments in India), the Town Hall, Jubilee Hospital, Kalikot College, the Old Cemetery, Star of India Arch, Thara Palace, The Dargah of Pir Bahrain , Jami Masjid , The Tomb Complex of Khwaja Anwar-i-Shahid , Tomb of Job Charnock (one of the earliest surviving British monuments in India), Admiral Watson's Tomb , Tomb of Begum Johnson, Grave of Lord Brabourne , Metcalfe Hall , High Court , Town Hall , Government House , Howrah Bridge, Howrah railway station, the Victoria Memorial, Writers' Building, General Post Office, Armenian Church of Holy Nazareth, Royal Calcutta Turf Club, Lower Circular Road Cemetery, etc.

Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments The East India monuments also include several historical monuments in the state of Orissa. Cuttack, once the old capital of the state of Orissa, is situated at a distance of about thirty two kilometers to the north of the new capital, Bhubaneshwar. The town was established by Nripati in 920, of the Lion dynasty. It has for long been of military and commercial significance. The stone revetment on the Kathjuri River dates from the 11th century. The principal feature of interest is Fort Barabati, which is largely ruined, with the exception of the fine arched Lion gateway. Another prominent monument is the Ravenshaw College, the School of Engineering and the Museum.

The Kadam-i-Rasui is a complex of three mosques, each crowned by a fine dome. There is a Naubhat Khana or music gallery and a shrine with a huge dome, the largest in the state of Orissa. The footprints of Prophet Muhammad are engraved on a circular stone inside the building, which is venerated by both Muslims and Hindus.

Once the summer headquarters of the government of Orissa, Puri is located at a distance of 498 kilometers from Kolkata. It is a sacred town of great antiquity, with the colossal Lord Jagannath temple dominating the entire area. Balasore district lies 231 kilometers to the south of Kolkata on the way to Chennai. It is one of the districts in the state of Orissa. Previously a place of considerable commercial importance, it was one of the earliest English settlements in India.

Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments In the year 1636, Mr. Gabriel Broughton, surgeon of the ship Hopewell, cured the daughter of the emperor, whose clothes had caught fire, and later in the year 1640, successfully treated one of the ladies of the zenana. He got as a reward the right for the English to establish a maritime station in Bengal. In the year 1634, the first factory was established at Pippli (Philip's City) but in the year 1642, it transferred to Balasore, to be joined by rival Dutch, Danish and French factories. Later, the port silted up and was superseded by Kolkata. In a small compound near the town of Balasore are some fine early Dutch tombs, constructed in the year 1683, in the form of three-sided pyramids having six meters height. Some of the other monuments of Orissa includes Konark Temple, Lingaraja Temple, rock cut caves of Dhauli, Udaygiri, Khandagiri, Ratnagiri, Mukhteswara temple, Barabati Fort, Lalitgiri, 64 Yogini Shrines, etc.

Monuments in Eastern India, Indian Monuments Bihar is one of the states of India, which is located in the eastern region. Of late, the state has been divided into Bihar and Jharkhand. Both of these states are historically important places due to the presence of several ancient monuments of great importance. Some of the notable monuments include Amandbagh Palace at Darbhanga. Situated at a distance of twenty six kilometers to the south of Kudra is the hillfort of Shergarh, on a plateau 244 meters high. The summit was fortified by Sher Shah Suri and the palace that he constructed is still well preserved. Some of the other monuments in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand include , Pathar ki Masjid, Rohtasgarh fort, Tomb of Sher Shah Suri, Tomb of Hasan Shah Suri, Tomb of Shah Makhadum, Palace of Asoka, , Lomas Rishi Cave, Ancient Buddhisti image, Sujatagarh, Laur pillar, Fort ruins, Ancient Mound, Rock sculptures, Patalpuri Cave, Sarnath, Mahabodhi Templeof Bodh Gaya, Manjhi Saran, Maithon Dam, Tilaiya-Dam, Kauleshwari Devi Temple, Bhadrakali Temple, Royal Mosque of Chatra, etc.

A large number of historical buildings and monuments of all periods come under the protection of the archaeological authorities, either of the Government of India or of the State, whose custodians are often in attendance. There are several monuments which are enclosed, and occasionally a small fee may be charged for admission. The vast area of eastern India possesses a number of historical monuments which are preserved as world heritage sites. The art and architecture of the region has been significantly influenced by different invasions including the Mughals and the British. The suitable blend of the indigenous style mixed with that of the Mughals and later the British architecture, formed a new style of construction and the examples of which are still visible in a large number of monuments founded in the eastern regions of India. While on a visit to India's eastern parts which include the state of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa one is sure to experience the magnificent works of architecture of the region.

(Last Updated on : 25/07/2013)
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