Ancient Asian Architecture
he architecture of the ancient Indus Valley civilization was very advanced. There were two main cities, named Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. These cities existed from about 3000 B.C. to about 1600 B.C. Both were planned out with exactness.
They were in the shape of a square, a mile on each side. Each town had 2 sections. There was a walled fortress section with official buildings and gathering places, and a town section, where all the homes were located. The town section was neatly arranged in neighborhood blocks.
Some houses were simple, with only one room. Others had several rooms and even stairs leading to an upper floor. There were no grand castles or palaces, so perhaps the rulers lived right in the town, along with the people.
Most interesting is the fact the buildings in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro had indoor plumbing! Some homes had bathrooms with toilets and baths. Water came from wells near each home or from a local well. The water and waste were drained away through plumbing under the streets.
Later cities were not quite as well-organized as Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Most of the architecture of later times revolve around religion and the building of grand temples for the Hindu and Buddhist gods.
The most interesting architecture of these years include the cave-buildings. These were halls carved into mountains. Sometimes whole temples were carved. The most famous is the Kailasa temple, named after the mountain where the Hindu god Shiva had his temple. This amazing structure was carved into the mountain, from the top down. The builders had to remove about 200,000 tons of rock! The Kailasa temple took around 100 years to complete
Other, free-standing temples were also built. Wherever you go in India, you can see temples built for the various gods of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. A good example is the Lingaraj temple of east India, built for the Hindu god, Shiva, probably around 600 B.C.
It has four main sections. There is one section for the altar, one for the gathering place, one for holding festivals, and one for offerings. Each section is higher than the one before it. It also contains 50 other shines and has a large wall around it.
In the 1100’s, followers of the Islamic religion gained control of India. India’s architecture began to take on the style of sultans (the rulers of Islamic cultures). One great example is the famous Taj Mahal.
This beautiful white marble palace was built in the 1600’s by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his wife. It combines Indian building skills and materials with Islamic architectural style. Here are some facts about the Taj Mahal:
• Shah Jahan was a Mogul Emperor. The Moguls established an empire in northern India in the 1500s.
• The Moguls adopted the Islamic religion, so the walls of the Taj Mahal contain verses from the Koran, the Muslims’ holy book.
• Shah Jahan gave his wife the name Mumtaz Mahal, meaning “Chosen One of the Palace” or “Jewel of the Palace”. She died giving birth to their 14th child.
• There are 28 varieties of precious stones that adorn the walls
• Its construction took 20 years to complete.
• It’s estimated that it took 22,000 people to build it, and 1000 elephants to carry all the materials.
• The building appears to be different colors at different times of the day. During the early morning, it looks pinkish, in the afternoon, white, and in the evening, golden. This is said to reflect the changing moods of women!
• The complex also includes a gateway, a mausoleum, a mosque, a reflecting pool, and a large garden.
• There is a legend that Shah Jahan had the architect executed, so he could never build a more beautiful building than the Taj Mahal.