India is blessed with centuries of exquisite architecture and spectacular design. It’s a truly exhaustive list, but here are five of my own personal favourites.
SHOP LE MILL
Amdavad ni Gufa
Pacific Coast News
Designed by Balkrishna Doshi, the Amdavad ni Gufa combines art with architecture and provides respite from the straight-lined brick facades of Ahmedabad. This architectural intervention is a piece of fine art in a literal and figurative sense. The cave-like underground structure has a roof made of multiple interconnected, mosaic-tiled domes, supported inside by irregular tree-like columns. The contemporary structure draws on ancient and natural theme: the domes are inspired by the shells of tortoises and by soap bubbles. The gallery's walls are used as a canvas, and the paintings on them use bold strokes and bright colours. It’s a masterpiece.
The sheer scale and magnanimity of Jama Masjid deem it one of India’s greatest buildings. A stark example of Mughal architecture, the mosque stands out for its detailing and the proportions of its architectural elements: impressive minarets, domes and massive arched gateways. The masjid, the largest mosque in India, represents the spirit of old Delhi and is synonymous with what the capital stands for. Also, the fact that the colour of the red sandstone changes throughout the day makes the place even more magical.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
The Meenaxi Amman temple is the heart and soul of the 2,500-year-old southern city of Madurai. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple, some of the most exquisite in the world. The Dravidian style of architecture has always been fascinating to me, and this takes it to a whole new dimension. Its intricate carved stonework and statues of deities, kings, warriors and dancers are vibrant, lively and colourful, breaking the stereotypical temple mould. It redefines what a temple means to me.
The centre of Auroville is considered one of India’s crown jewels. Bharat Nivas; the Vérité Learning Centre; the Matrimandir golden sphere – the whole town is a visual treat for designers and travellers alike. But the most important reason why Auroville figures in my list is because it has the right mix of old world mystical charm and New Age design. That’s what sets it apart from everything else our country has to offer.
The Lotus Temple
The Lotus temple is a remarkable attraction that stands out for its lyrical structure and graceful form. Its radical design and impressive structural system consists of 27 metal clad petals arranged in clusters of three that form the nine sides of the temple. The design really emulates the beauty of the lotus flower and creates a striking visual impact. It is one of the most astounding pieces of architecture in India.
SHOP LE MILL