The Traveling Lens - India

The Top 8 Amazing Architectural Conquests of India

The architecture and heritage that is India is fascinating!   Traveling around the country it is hard not to just dive into the culture and soak it all up.  Architecture is a part of me, maybe it's the story behind these magnificent structures or perhaps the beauty of the design.  Whatever the case I am enthralled with the history, the design, and the story behind these astounding sites and I probably always will be.  It's was hard to narrow down this list, as there are many amazing architectural sites around India, but here it goes - my top 9.  Enjoy!

1. The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal had to be the number one spot on the list.  Not only is it the most recognized building in the world, it is a stunning architectural feat.   Built with Mughal Architectural characteristics, the domed marble mausoleum stuns with it's detail of inlay art and calligraphy.  The buildings, gardens, and waterworks infrastructure only add to the beauty of this amazing piece of architecture and Indian history.

2. Humayun's Tomb

What drew me to Humayun's Tomb was the contrast of the red sandstone and the marble white dome, and the perfect symmetry. It's really beautiful!  There is so much detail in the intricate stone lattice work and the floorplan is so complex - contrasting from the simple, symmetrical exterior.  It's a beautiful site to behold!

3. Elephanata Caves

I was really impressed with the Elephanta Caves off the shores of Mumbai.   The Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves containing rock cut stone sculptures, representing Shaiva Hindu Sect, dedicated to the Lord Shiva.  The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated back to the 5th century though the original builders is still a subject of debate.  It is believed the main cave was a place of Hindu worship until around the 16th century.  

4. Qutb Minar

Qutb Minar was a fascinating site.  The tower stands 73 meters is the world's tallest masonry minaret - a distinctive architectural structure usually seen as a tall spire which provides a visual focal point traditionally used for Muslim call to prayer.   The area surrounding the tower is filled with several historical monuments including a mosque built and expanded by destroyed Hindu and Jain temples.

5. Agra Fort

Built and rebuilt over hundreds of years, Agra Fort served as the capital and main residence for the Mughal Dynasty until the Maratha Empire and the British took over.   As you walk through the sprawling 380,000 square meter fort you can see several styles of architecture ranging from Bengal to Gujarat, to the white marble palaces of the Mughal dynasty, and British  barracks.  A building filled with India's history!

6. Galtaji - Monkey Temple - Jaipur, India

Galtaji, or more popularly known as Monkey Temple is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site about 10 km away from Jaipur.  The colorful temples that make up the site were built into the Aravalli Hills and is believed to be the home of a Saint named Galav.  Over the years the temples have fallen into ruin and been laregely populated by a tribe of monkeys.

7. Jal Mahal

Perhaps one of the most phenominal and mind blowing piece of architecture in India is the Jal Mahal - meaning "Water Palace".   The palace, made up of red sandstone, is located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake.  Designed in the Mughal style of architecture, this palace is incredibly impressive as 4 of the 5 stories remain under water when the lake is full.   

8. Amber Fort

Known for its Hindu and Rajput style of architecture and large ramparts of sandstone and marble, Amber Fort is an attractive, opulent palace laid out on four levels each with it's own stylish courtyard.  One of the main attractions is the Sheesh Mahal (the Mirror Palace) - built with the intent of replicating the starry sky when candlelight is reflecting from the many mirrored tiles and colored glass on the ceiling, walls, and pillars.  

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