India has been a land of many empires. From the North to the South, the East to the West, it has been ruled by a variety of dynasties that have imparted their own flavor and style to the kind of structures built here throughout centuries. India is a treasure trove of architectural wonders, mostly those erected in the pre-colonial era by the Mughals, Cholas, Rajputs and so on. Let us list our top favorites:
15. IIM Ahmedabad
The fifteenth position is held by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad which is an archetype of modern Indian architecture. Built entirely in traditional brick construction, this residential institute is a blend of discretion and elegance. Designed by the famed American architect Louis Kahn, the main attraction of this building is the Louis Kahn plaza which has played host to many notable events. World class education and world class architecture- all in one!
14. Char Minar, Hyderabad
Next in line is the global icon of Hyderabad-Charminar- that is built on the east side of the Musi river and flanked by Laad Bazaar in the west and richly bedecked granite Makkah Masjid in the southwest. Literally meaning ‘four towers’, this landmark of Hyderabad is a mosque erected by Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah during his reign.
13. FatehBurj, Mohali
The tallest minar in India (100 m in height), this is located in ChapparChiri at Mohali. This was the place where Banda Singh Bahadur won the battle against Wazir Khan, who commanded the Mughal army and had come to ChapparChiri to prevent the Sikh army from marching to Sirhind.
12. QutubMinar, New Delhi
The second tallest minar in India, this UNESCO world heritage site is built of red sandstone and marble. Started in 1993 by Qutb-ud-din-Aibak, this tower has 379 steps. It is surrounded by other ancient and medieval structures and ruins, collectively called as the Qutub Complex.
11. Lotus Temple, New Delhi
Shaped like a lotus, it is one of the most popular Bahai houses of worship. Open to people of all religions and faiths, this temple has been in the expressionist architectural style. This architectural marvel consists of 27 flower petals arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides and has made it to the Guinness world records in 2001.
10. Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
This eponymous temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Surya, and has been constructed in the shape of a chariot with elaborately carved wheels and horses. Situated in Odisha, India, this was built by Narasimha deva I and has featured in NDTV’s and TOI’s 7 Wonders of India list.
9. Khajuraho temple, Madhya Pradesh
The list of temples continues with Khajuraho group of temples in Madhya Pradesh. Reflecting Nagara style of architecture and adorned with intricate and erotic sculptures on its walls, these temples were dedicated to Hinduism and Jainism.
8. Shivaji Terminus, Maharashtra
Of the Indo-Saracenic Revival architectural style, it is a marvelous archetype of Victorian Gothic architecture blended with Indian traditional styles. Designed by F.W. Stevens, it was a symbol of Bombay as a hub of trade and commerce.
7. Imambara, Lucknow
A shrine built by the Shia Muslims, Asaf-ud-Daula ordered this construction so as to provide food and aid in the days of famine. Other attractions in the same complex include Chhota Imambara, Hussainabad Picture Gallery, Clock Tower and so on. Being the world’s largest unsupported structure, it is an engineering marvel.
6. Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
It is the oldest stone structure in India whose construction was ordered by Ashoka the Great after he converted to Buddhism having waged countless wars and caused immense bloodshed. It is a Buddhist vihara located in the Sanchi town in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh.
5. Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
Built in Kolkata by the British to commemorate Queen Victoria, this memorial made entirely of marble was dedicated to her memory. It now houses museums and is a tourist place.
4. Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh
The first planned as well as the cleanest city of India, Chandigarh was designed by the architectural master Le Corbusier. Internationally known for its urban and tasteful design, Chandigarh which literally means ‘The City Beautiful’ is best known for its Rock Garden.
3. Lutyen’s Delhi
The third position is bagged by Lutyens’ Delhi. Designed by the famed architect Edwin Lutyens, this complex consists of the high-profile buildings and roadways like Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, Rajpath, Connaught Place and what have you. It is the heart of Delhi and houses the most prominent people involved in the government.
2. The Ajanta-Ellora caves
At the second rank is the paragon of ancient Indian art and Buddhist paintings-the caves at Ajanta. The rock cut caves of Ellora and Ajanta are amazing depictions of Jataka tales. Under the auspices of the Archaeological Survey of India and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these caves are one of the most interesting relics of Indian architectural styles.
1. The Taj Mahal
The No. 1 position is attained by a very well-known architectural masterpiece. This monument has namesakes all over the country in the form of five-star and seven-star hotels. One of the seven wonders of the world and the quintessential symbol of eternal love, it is none other than the Taj. As a posthumous present to his beloved wife MumtazMahal, Shah Jahan built this monument as a symbol of his undying love for her.