Types of Indian Monuments
Despite the ravages of time and diverse rulers, there are rich variety of monuments in India, each with its own distinct history, beauty and significance. Temples, mosques, forts, tombs, mausoleums and more abound in the cultural landscape, and for a better comprehension of the same, one may categorise them into certain broad groups.
Where religious monuments are concerned, there is abundant proof of the secular spirit of the nation. While the Temples in North and South India mark the triumphant reign of the Hindi rulers such as the Varanasi temple etc, the lofty and majestic mausoleums and mosques like the Jama Masjid mark the majesty and splendour of the Mughal rulers. The advent of the British in India saw the reigns passing over to Christian rulers and with them came constructions of new religion viz Christianity. Thus one sees a number of Churches that sprang up during the British era which still stand tall today like the St.Paul's Cathedralin Kolkata. Apart from these, Pagodas built after Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism, Gurdwaras etc. are all the religious evidences of monuments. Notable among religious monuments are the Golden Temple, Chola temples, Sanchi Stupa, Dhamek Stupa, Lotus Temple etc.
Apart from these there are also a number of secular monuments which are indicative of certain events as well as representative of varied architectural styles at different stages in history. Different rulers reigned in India at different points of time in history, and the stamp of their unique style, art and civilisation is borne on the monuments constructed during the time. Noted historical monuments include the Chittorgarh fort, Parliament house, Ajanta and Elloracaves, Red Fort etc.
Architectural Styles of Indian Monuments
There is seen a great versatility where the construction styles of the monuments are concerned. This is primarily a result of the various rulers who have held sway over the Indian sub-continent as each one of them have left an impression of their unique style and concepts of construction. Every period of history has been sculpted in its own typical way. The earliest forms of architecture are seen in the Buddhist period which began sometime around the fourth century B.C. These include monasteries and Stupas like the Sanchi Stupa, Dhamek Stupa etc.
With the advent of the Hindu Kingdoms there was the flourishing of temple architecture in India, modelled along the Mandalas, especially the South and the North. Thus, there are such noted monuments like the Mahabalipuram Shore Temple in the South and the remarkably intricate Khajuraho temple in the North. With the coming in of the Muslim rule in India a completely novel system of architectural style started flourishing. Constructions were now loftier, with arches, high minarets, round domes and a lot of inlay work.
A number of mosques, mausoleums and forts were built during this period under the patronage of the Muslim rulers. These include Alai Darwaza, Quwwat ul Islam Mosque, Qutub Minar, Tughlaqabad Fort, Agra Fort etc. The most outstanding work produced during this period is the Taj Mahal.
The advent of British rule in India added yet another dimension to the colourful landscape of Indian monuments. The British architects attempted to emulate the models back home when they set about building Churches and Memorials in India. Thus, one can see Mutiny Memorial Church, Victoria Memorial, St. Paul's Cathedral etc. all cast in a western mould.
UNESCO World Heritage Monuments
The UNESCO has declared certain monuments in India as world heritage monuments in India. This is due to their value in upholding a rich cultural heritage as well as their traditional and environmental importance. Most noted among them is the Taj Mahal, one of the greatest tourist attractions in India. Others include Agra fort, Fatehpur Sikri, group of monuments at Hampi, Tomb of Humayun, Khajuraho group of monuments, Basilica of Bom Jesus etc.
The rich cultural heritage of India is contained in all these monuments spread along the length and breadth of the continent. The monuments speak of the olden times as well of India.