Tracing the Architecture of India and Pakistan by Ishaan Sudan

It is only after the partition in 1947,  that the Indian empire got divided into India and Pakistan .The history of the Indian empire includes the prehistoric settlements and societies in the Indian subcontinent; the blending of the Indus Valley Civilization and Indo-Aryan culture into the Vedic Civilization; the development of Hinduism as a synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions ; the growth of Muslim dynasties during the Medieval period intertwined with Hindu powers; the advent of European traders resulting in the establishment of the British rule; and the subsequent independence movement that led to the Partition of India and the creation of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Prior to their separation, India and Pakistan shared the same heritage and culture, similarities of which are evident to this day.

With the rise of Buddhism outstanding architectural monuments were developed, which have lasted into the present. Important remnants of Buddhist construction are stupas and other buildings with clearly recognizable Greek statues ,etc. Both India and Pakistan have monuments of this era. A particularly beautiful example of Buddhist architecture are the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in the northwest province in Pakistan. The Buddhist stupa, a dome shaped monument, was used in India as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics.The stupa architecture was adopted in Southeast and East Asia, where it became prominent as a Buddhist monument used for enshrining sacred relics.


A smooth transition to the Islamic architecture occurred during the Mughal rule. Mughal tombs of sandstone and marble show Persian influence. Early mosques were built with decorations oriented them strongly to the Arab style.  In India ,the architecture during the Mughal Period, has shown a notable blend of Indian style combined with the Islamic. The Red fort ,the Taj Mahal ,Jama Masjid ,the Old Fort ,etc. Taj Mahal in Agra, India is one of the wonders of the world. Taj Mahal is a symbol of love for some, and barbaric brutality to others due to the treatment meted out to the artisans who built it.


The earliest example of a mosque from the days of infancy of Islam in South Asia is the Mihrab Lose mosque of Banbhore, from the year 727, the first Muslim place of worship on the Indian Subcontinent(Now Pakistan). Under the Delhi Sultan  the Persian-central asiatic style ascended over Arab influences. Most important characteristic of this style is the Iwan, which is walled on three sides, with one end entirely open. Further characteristics are wide prayer halls, round domes with mosaics and geometrical samples and the use of painted tiles. The most important of the few completely discovered buildings of Persian style is the tomb of the Shah Rukn-i-Alam (built 1320 to 1324) in Multan. At the start of the 16th century, the Indo-Islamic architecture was at the height of its boom. During the Mughal era design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were fused with and often produced playful forms of the Hindustani art. Lahore, which was an occasional residence of Mughal rulers, exhibits a multiplicity of important buildings from the empire, among them are the Badshahi mosque, the fortress of Lahore with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the Wazir Khan Mosque,  as well as numerous other mosques and mausoleums. Also the Shahjahan Mosque of Thatta in Sindh originates from the epoch of the Mughals.The architecture and plan of Badshahi Masjid which was built by Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb in Lahore is closely related to that of the Jama masjid which is located in New Delhi. Taj-ul-Masajid is a Mosque situated in Bhopal is the largest mosque in India.


The British arrived in 1615 and over the centuries, gradually overthrew the Maratha and Sikh empires and other small independent kingdoms. Britain ruled India for over three hundred years and their legacy still remains through some building and infrastructure they left behind. The major cities colonized during this period were Madras, Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Agra, Bankipore, Karachi, Nagpur, Bhopal and Hyderabad. In the British colonial age predominantly representative buildings of the Indo-European style developed, from a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic components. Amongst the more prominent works are Mohatta Palace and Frere Hall in Karachi. St Andrew’s Kirk, Madras is known for its colonial architecture. The building is circular in form and is sided by two rectangular sections one is the entrance porch. The entrance is lined with twelve colonnades and two British lions and motto of East India Company engraved on them. The interior holds sixteen columns and the dome is painted blue with decorated with gold stars. The Britishers are also responsible for the railways in India and Pakistan.


At present we can still see similarities like shopping malls, crowded street markets, Universities ,Religious buildings , metros and much more. Even though an evident distinction has been created in the subcontinent through the creation of the two nations, their architectural similarities continue to bind them together as one.