(Last Updated on : 30/03/2013)
The monuments of Western India have a distinctive regional flavour of the various states that comprise the region. The states of Rajasthan
make up the resplendent landscape of Western India, and lying luxuriantly among them are the various monuments of a past era. India has long had a history of dynastic rule, and it is these different ruling powers that determined the nature and style of the monuments found therein.
The state of Rajasthan is an evocative blend of exuberant people, arid deserts and beautiful lakes and forests studded with spectacular fortresses and luxurious palaces. It is the home of the mighty Rajputs
, and their glory and splendour is amply evident in the many majestic forts and palaces found here. The myriad small kingdoms and principalities which once comprised the Rajput states now form the state of Rajasthan.
The most attractive feature of Rajasthan is its unparalleled heritage of fortified cities and palaces. Generally, most palaces were built as inner citadels, surrounded by the city and enclosed by a fortified wall, although this was not always the case. Even small towns and villages are defended by formidable bastions and protective ramparts, a product of the warlike history of the region. Fortifications and palaces at Amber
, Chittorgarh, Udaipur
etc are remarkable instances of Rajput constructions. Unlike the Mughals, the Rajput monuments were a complex construction with large spatial arrangements and a centrality of water resources.
However, most of the early monuments were destroyed by recurrent waves of Muslim invasion of the area. After Mughal invasion in the sixteenth century, a synthesis of the Rajput and Mughal forms was achieved. The miniature painting of Rajasthani
is an interesting example of this cultural exchange. The palaces at Bundi, Kota and Jodhpur have a remarkable example of the same.
Even with the advent of British rule, most states remained under native rule so the most significant European buildings are confined to the old British residencies or to the work of British architects employed by the native princes. Indo-Saracenic buildings built by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob in Jaipur
and elsewhere are notable.
In Gujarat is found the earliest known form of India civilization, with evidence of settlements at the valley of the Narmada River
. Later Mahmud of Ghazni
made his mark in the 11th century and following him was the Khalji dynasty. The regional style of architecture which developed in Gujarat was the largest and most important provincial expression of Indo-Islamic architecture. It flourished for over 250 years, until the last half of the 16th century, when the country was absorbed by the Mughal Dynasty
A number of mosques were built by the Muslim in the stead Hindu and Jain temples, such as the Jami Masjid at Cambay, Hilal Khan's mosque at Dholka, ruins of the Adina Masjid at Patan etc. A refined style had been achieved by the second half of the Fifteenth century. The best examples are the Ahmad Shahi buildings at Ahmedabad
In addition to the distinctive Islamic style which developed in Gujarat, with its intricate stone lattice screens and pointed minarets, there is a rich legacy of vernacular architecture in the monuments in towns such as Bhuj
and Ahmedabad. The reputation of the region for architectural exuberance can be traced right through the 19th century in the remarkable mausoleum of the rulers of Junagadh
, a city with a fascinating array of buildings which combine local, European and Gothic forms in a riotous mixture of styles.
The proximity to the sea and the establishment of strong trade relations saw the coming in of a number of colonial powers here- the English, Dutch as well as the Portuguese.
Throughout Gujarat there is a fascinating legacy of early European funerary architecture in the form of sepulchres, tombs and cemeteries, the most notable being the Oxinden mausoleum and the adjacent Dutch tombs at Surat
. The buildings of Major Charles Mant (1840-81) at Bhavnagar
, Surat and Vadodara
(Baroda) pioneered the development of Indo-Saracenic styles of architecture. The Lakshmi Vilas Palace and the exotic palaces of the native rulers at Dungarpur
, Morvi, Porbandar
and Wankaner demonstrate the extent to which the Indian ruling classes were influenced by European culture and design at the height of the British Raj.
The monuments of Goa display a remarkable mix of Indian, Mughal and Portuguese styles. Having been under the control of the Portuguese for a long century, a number of Churches and colonial bungalows built in typical Portuguese style can be found here. Also side by side are the remnants of Mughal rule as seen in the various domed-structures found here. The architectural style of the monuments of Goa is not too complex and towards the end of colonial rule it was a comfortable blend of different styles. Old Goa is a treasure trove of monuments with a number of ancient historical and religious monuments.
The prime attractions among the various monuments of Goa are the glorious churches built her by the Portuguese. Of the various beautiful churches found here, the Basilica of Bom Jesus
is remarkable. Others include the Se Cathedral
, Church of St Francis of Assisi, Chapel of St Catherine, Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary etc.Temples and Mosques are also to be found here such as the temple of Saptakoteshwar, the Safa Masjid etc.
The monuments of Maharashtra tell the tale of the various dynasties that ruled here. It is dotted with the historical tales of valour and chivalry of great rulers and beautified with the splendid stone architecture well preserved and showcased in some of the regions mighty forts and temples. A number of monuments are found strewn all over the state in the cities of Nagpur
and the capital city of Mumbai
itself. The style of construction of the monuments is of different types, depending on whichever rule it was constructed under. Thus there can be seen here Mughal, Maratha as well as British constructed monuments.
A number of forts, palaces, temples, churches and mosques are to be found all over the state of Maharashtra.Some of the most remarkable monuments here include the Devagiri fort in Aurangabad,the Gateway of India
, the Mahalakshmi temple
, Haji Ali Dargah and various other well known monuments. The world famous Ajanta caves
, Ellora caves
and Elephanta caves
have been declared a world heritage site. They are a magnificent representation of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu beliefs and philosophies.
The monuments in Western India thus display a remarkable variety in term of types as well as style of architectural construction. Together they contribute a significant chunk in maintaining the history of an ancient age.