History (English)

Great Chola Temples

Chola dynasty temples are mainly located around the state of Tamilnadu. The Great Chola Temples were constructed by Chola dynasty rulers. These Hindu temples were completed between early 11th and the 12th century CE. The monuments included in the UN Heritage sites are: the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Brihadisvara Temple was recognised in 1987; the Temple of Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple were added as extensions to the site in 2004. The criteria on which these were included in the UN Heritage sites are as follows:

Criterion (i): The three Chola temples of Southern India represent an outstanding creative achievement in the architectural conception of the pure form of the Dravidan type of temple.

Criterion (ii): The Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur became the first great example of the Chola temples, followed by a development of which the other two properties also bear witness.

Criterion (iii): The three Great Chola Temples are an exceptional and the most outstanding testimony to the development of the architecture of the Chola Empire and the Tamil civilization in Southern India.

Criterion (iv): The Great Chola temples at Thanjavur, at Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram are outstanding examples of the architecture and the representation of the Chola ideology.

Brihadisvara Temple

The Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It is one of the largest South Indian temples and an exemplary example of fully realized Tamil architecture. Built by Raja Raja Chola I between 1003 and 1010 AD. The original monuments of this 11th century temple were built around a moat. It included gopura, the main temple, its massive tower, inscriptions, frescoes and sculptures predominantly related to Shaivism, but also of Vaishnvaism and Shaktism traditions of Hinduism. The temple was damaged in its history and some artwork is now missing. Additional mandapam and monuments were added in centuries that followed. The temple now stands amidst fortified walls that were added after the 16th century.

Built out of granite, the vimanam tower above the sanctum is one of the tallest in South India. The temple has a massive colonnaded prakara (corridor) and one of the largest Shiva linga in India. It is also famed for the quality of its sculpture, as well as being the location that commissioned the brass Nataraja – Shiva as the lord of dance, in 11th century. The complex includes shrines for Nandi, Amman, Subrahmanyar, Ganesha, Sabhapati, Dakshinamurti, Chandesrvarar, Varahi and others. The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.

Airavatesvara Temple

The Airavatesvara Temple is in the town of Darasuram, near Kumbakonam completed in 1166 CE. It is one among a cluster of eighteen medieval era large Hindu temples in the Kumbakonam area. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. It also reverentially displays Vaishnavism and Shaktism traditions of Hinduism, along with the legends associated with sixty three Nayanars – the Bhakti movement saints of Shaivism. Named after the White Elephant of Indra, this temple is an exquisite testimony to the grand temple architecture of the Cholan Empire. It is the last of the 3 great Cholan temples built by successive generations of Kings starting from Rajaraja I. Airavateswara temple was built by Rajaraja II around 1150 AD. One of the striking features of this temple is Rajagambhira Thirumandapam – Royal Courtyard, with intricately carved pillars, long steps made of granite stones and elegant chariots drawn by horse – again hewn out of stone. You will see finer workmanship in this temple than the earlier temples. Darasuram is literally a stone’s throw away from Kumbakonam.

The stone temple incorporates a chariot structure, and includes major Vedic and Puranic deities such as Indra, Agni, Varuna, Vayu, Brahma, Surya, Vishnu, Saptamtrikas, Durga, Saraswati, Sri Devi (Lakshmi), Ganga, Yamuna, Subrahmanya, Ganesha, Kama, Rati and others. The temple was much larger and once had seven courtyards according to inscriptions. Only one courtyard survives, parts of the temple such as the gopuram is in ruins, and the main temple and associated shrines stand alone. The temple continues to attract large gatherings of Hindu pilgrims every year.

Gangaikondacholapuram Brihadisvara Temple

The Gangaikondacholapuram Brihadisvara Temple is a Hindu temple located at Gangaikondacholapuram about 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Thanjavur Brihadisvara Temple. Completed in 1035 AD by Rajendra Chola I as a part of his new capital, this Chola dynasty era temple is similar in design and has a similar name as the 11th century, and sometimes just called the Gangaikondacholapuram temple.

It is dedicated to Shiva and based on a square plan, but the temple reverentially displays Vaishnavism, Shaktism and syncretic equivalence themes of Hinduism with statues of Vishnu, Durga, Surya, Harihara, Ardhanishvara, and others. In addition to the main shrine with linga, the temple complex has a number of smaller shrines, gopura, and other monuments, with some partially ruined or restored in later centuries. The temple is famed for its bronze sculptures, artwork on its walls, the Nandi and the scale of its curvilinear tower.

History (English)

Great non-moderate or assertive leaders of Indian National Movement: Lal- Bal- Pal

The Indian National Congress(INC) which was established in 1885 by A.O Hume was divided into two groups(in the year 1907) mainly by extremists and moderates at the Surat Session of the Congress.The period 1885-1905 was known as the period of the moderates as moderates dominated the Indian National Congress. These Moderates used petition, prayers, meetings, leaflets and pamphlets memorandum and delegations to present their demands in front of the British government. Moderates were not able to achieve notable goals other than the expansion of the legislative council by the Indian Council Act of 1892. This created dissatisfaction among the people. In 1907 the INC meeting was to be held in Nagpur and the extremists wanted Lala Lajpat Rai or Bal Gangadhar Tilak as president. But moderates wanted Rash Behari Ghosh to be president. Gopal Krishna Gokhale changed the meeting place from Nagpur to Surat fearing that if Nagpur was to be held as meeting place then Bal Gangadhar Tilak would become President. The partition of Bengal became the rise of extremism in INC. In Surat Congress a great split between the moderate and assertive nationalist leaders was seen. The main moderate leaders of the Indian national movement included among others, Dadabhai Naoroji, R.C.Dutt, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, S.N.Banerjee and.A.O.Hume. On the other hand the main extremist or assertive leaders of the movement included great names like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal and (Lal, Bal, Pal). Both the groups contributed to the cause of freedom struggle in their own manners.

The Early Nationalists were known as the Moderates. Moderate political leaders in India, who were active between 1885 and 1905, were mostly drawn from educated middle-class professionals including lawyers, teachers and government officials, many of them were educated in England. They have become known as “Early Nationalists” because they believed in demanding reforms while adopting constitutional and peaceful means to achieve their aims. The Early Nationalists had full faith in the British sense of justice, fair play, honesty, and integrity while they believed that British rule was a boon for India. The Early Nationalists were staunch believers in open-minded and moderate politics.

When the method of moderate leaders was not indicating any immediate sign of the British intention of giving right to self determination and freedom to India, a group of people came forward with more assertive and pro-active methods fro winning freedom for India. Their period existed from 1905 to 1919. When Mahatma Gandhi came to India and assumed leadership for freedom movement, both the groups –moderates and extremist or assertive leaders- continued to contribute to freedom movement during the Gandhian era, which existed from 1919 until Indian Independence in 1947.

Although moderates or early nationalists were able to politicize Indian people and highlight the highhandedness and injustices of the British rulers, they failed to achieve any tangible results. This was one of the reasons of frustration and anger among large number of people and political leaders in India. and thus what was born in the ranks of leadership was a lot more assertive group of leaders, traditionally referred to as “extremist” leaders, the words which many think should not be used. They feel that they should be described only as “nationalist leaders” without any derogatory adjective.

The contribution of Moderates

However, the achievements of the moderates or early nationalists cannot be overlooked. They created a national awakening among the people that made Indians conscious of the bonds of common political, economic, and cultural interests that united them, They also trained people in politics by popularising the ideas of democracy, civil liberties, secularism and nationalism .The Early Nationalists did pioneering work by exposing the true nature of British rule in India. They made the people realise the economic content and character of British imperialism. In doing so, they weakened the foundations of British rule in India. Their political and economic programmes established the idea that India must be ruled in the interest of the Indians. The efforts of the Early Nationalists also led to the implementation of various social reforms such as the appointment of a Public Service Commission. A resolution of the House of Commons (1893) allowing for simultaneous examination for the Indian Civil Service in London and India and appointment of the Welby Commission on Indian Expenditure (1895). They also passed The Indian Councils Act of 1892. These achievements served as the basis for nationalist movements in later years by extremist leaders. The differences between the moderates and the extremists became official in the Surat session of the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1907.

Surat Split

The differences between the moderates and the extremists became official in the Surat session of the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1907. The meeting was to take place in Nagpur that year. The extremists wanted Lala Lajpat Rai or Bal Gangadhar Tilak to be the President. But the moderates wanted Rash Behari Ghosh as President. There was a rule that the session’s President could not be from the home province. Tilak’s home province was Bombay Presidency in which Surat was also situated. So, the moderates changed the venue to Surat so that Tilak could be excluded from the presidency. The moderates also wanted to drop the resolutions on swadeshi, boycott movements and national education. Rash Behari Ghosh became the president in the session which was held at Surat. Tilak was not even allowed to speak and this angered the extremists, who wanted to cancel the session. Both sides were firm on their demands and neither was willing to find a common path. The moderates then held a separate meeting in which they reiterated the Congress goal of self-government within the British Empire and to adopt only constitutional methods to achieve their goals.

Lucknow Pact

Lucknow Pact, (December 1916), agreement made by the Indian National Congress headed by Maratha leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the All-India Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah; it was adopted by the Congress at its Lucknow session on December 29 and by the league on Dec. 31, 1916. The meeting at Lucknow marked the reunion of the moderate and radical wings of the Congress. The pact dealt both with the structure of the government of India and with the relation of the Hindu and Muslim communities.

On the former count, the proposals were an advance on Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s “political testament.” Four-fifths of the provincial and central legislatures were to be elected on a broad franchise, and half the executive council members, including those of the central executive council, were to be Indians elected by the councils themselves. Except for the provision for the central executive, these proposals were largely embodied in the Government of India Act of 1919. The Congress also agreed to separate electorates for Muslims in provincial council elections and for weightage in their favour (beyond the proportions indicated by population) in all provinces except the Punjab and Bengal, where they gave some ground to the Hindu and Sikh minorities. This pact paved the way for Hindu-Muslim cooperation in the Khilafat movement and Mohandas Gandhi’s noncooperation movement from 1920.

Lal- Bal-Pal- Here is a description of the architects of assertive Indian National Movement

Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai (28 January 1865 – 17 November 1928) was a great Indian freedom fighter. He played a pivotal role in the Indian Independence movement. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari. He was one third of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate. He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages in 1894. Lajpat Rai was born on 28 January 1865 in a Hindu Aggarwal family, as a son of Urdu and Persian government school teacher Munshi Radha Krishan Agrawal and his wife Gulab Devi Agrawal, in Dhudike (now in Moga district, Punjab). In 1877, he was married to Radha Devi Agrawal, with whom had two sons, Amrit Rai Agrawal and Pyarelal Agrawal, and a daughter, Parvati Agrawal. In 1884, his father was transferred to Rohtak and Rai came along after the completion of his studies at Lahore. In 1886, he moved to Hisar where his father was transferred, and started to practice law and became founding member of Bar council of Hisar along with Babu Churamani. Since childhood he also had a desire to serve his country and therefore took a pledge to free it from foreign rule, in the same year he also founded the Hisar district branch of the Indian National Congress and reformist Arya Samaj with other like minded people. After joining the Indian National Congress and taking part in political agitation in Punjab, Lala Lajpat Rai was deported to Mandalay, Burma (now Myanmar), without trial in May 1907. In November, however, he was allowed to return when the viceroy, Lord Minto, decided that there was insufficient evidence to hold him for subversion. Lajpat Rai’s supporters attempted to secure his election to the presidency of the party session at Surat in December 1907, but he did not succeed. Graduates of the National College, which he founded inside the Bradlaugh Hall at Lahore as an alternative to British institutions, included Bhagat Singh. He was elected President of the Indian National Congress in the Calcutta Special Session of 1920. In 1921, he founded Servants of the People Society, a non-profit welfare organisation, in Lahore, which shifted its base to Delhi after partition, and has branches in many parts of India. In 1928, the British government set up the Commission, headed by Sir John Simon, to report on the political situation in India. The Indian political parties boycotted the Commission, because it did not include a single Indian in its membership, and it met with country-wide protests. When the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lajpat Rai led non-violent march in protest against it. The protest was with the words “Simon go back” and black flags. The superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi (baton) charge the protesters and personally assaulted Rai. Despite being extremely injured, Rai subsequently addressed the crowd and said, “I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India”.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (or Lokmanya Tilak; 23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920), born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, was a great nationalist, teacher, lawyer and an independence activist. He is considered by many as the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him “The father of the Indian unrest.” He was also conferred with the title of “Lokmanya”, which means “accepted by the people (as their leader)”. Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj (“self-rule”) and a strong radical in Indian consciousness. He is known for his quote in Marathi: “Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it!”. He formed a close alliance with many Indian National Congress leaders including Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Tilak opposed the moderate views of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and was supported by fellow Indian nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. They were referred to as the “Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate”. In 1907, the annual session of the Congress Party was held at Surat, Gujarat. Trouble broke out over the selection of the new president of the Congress between the moderate and the radical sections of the party . The party split into the radicals faction, led by Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai, and the moderate faction. Nationalists like Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai were Tilak supporters. During his lifetime among other political cases, Bal Gangadhar Tilak had been tried for Sedition Charges in three times by British India Government—in 1897, 1909,[ and 1916. In 1897, Tilak was sentenced to 18 months in prison for preaching disaffection against the Raj. In 1909, he was again charged with sedition and intensifying racial animosity between Indians and the British. The Bombay lawyer Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Tilak’s defence could not annul the evidence in Tilak’s polemical articles and Tilak was sentenced to six years in prison in Burma. On 30 April 1908, two Bengali youths, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, threw a bomb on a carriage at Muzzafarpur, to kill the Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford of Calcutta fame, but erroneously killed two women traveling in it. While Chaki committed suicide when caught, Bose was hanged. Tilak, in his paper Kesari, defended the revolutionaries and called for immediate Swaraj or self-rule. The Government swiftly charged him with sedition. At the conclusion of the trial, a special jury convicted him by 7:2 majority. In passing sentence, the judge indulged in some scathing strictures against Tilak’s conduct. He threw off the judicial restraint which, to some extent, was observable in his charge to the jury. He condemned the articles as “seething with sedition”, as preaching violence, speaking of murders with approval. “You hail the advent of the bomb in India as if something had come to India for its good. I say, such journalism is a curse to the country”. Tilak was sent to Mandalay from 1908 to 1914. Later, Tilak re-united with his fellow nationalists and re-joined the Indian National Congress in 1916. He also helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916–18, with G. S. Khaparde and Annie Besant. After years of trying to reunite the moderate and radical factions, he gave up and focused on the Home Rule League, which sought self-rule. Tilak travelled from village to village for support from farmers and locals to join the movement towards self-rule. Tilak was impressed by the Russian Revolution, and expressed his admiration for Vladimir Lenin. The league had 1400 members in April 1916, and by 1917 membership had grown to approximately 32,000. Tilak started his Home Rule League in Maharashtra, Central Provinces, and Karnataka and Berar region. Besant’s League was active in the rest part of India. Tilak said, “I regard India as my Motherland and my Goddess, the people in India are my kith and kin, and loyal and steadfast work for their political and social emancipation is my highest religion and duty”. The Deccan Education Society that Tilak founded with others in the 1880s still runs Institutions in Pune like the Fergusson College.

Bipin Chandra Pal

Bipin Chandra Pal (7 November 1858 – 20 May 1932) was a great Indian nationalist, a freedom fighter, writer, orator and social reformer of Sylheti origin. He was one of the main architects of the Swadeshi movement. He stood against the partition of Bengal. Bipin Chandra Pal was born in the village of Poil, Habiganj, Sylhet, Bengal Presidency of British India, in a Hindu Bengali Kayastha Vaishnava family. Pal is known as the ‘Father of Revolutionary Thoughts’ in India and was one of the freedom fighters of India. Pal became a major leader of the Indian National Congress. At the Madras session of congress held in 1887, Bipin Chandra Pal made a strong plea for repeal of the Arms Act which was discriminatory in nature. Along with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak he belonged to the Lal, Bal, Pal trio that was associated with revolutionary activity. Aurobindo Ghosh and Pal were recognised as the chief exponents of a new national movement revolving around the ideals of Purna Swaraj, Swadeshi, boycott and national education. His programme consisted of Swadeshi, Boycott and national education. He preached and encouraged the use of Swadeshi and the Boycott of foreign goods to eradicate poverty and unemployment. He wanted to remove social evils from the form and arouse the feelings of nationalism through national criticism. He had no faith in mild protests in the form of Non-Cooperation with the British colonialists. On that one issue, the Assertive nationalist leader had nothing common with Mahatma Gandhi. During last six years of his life he parted company with the Congress and led a secluded life. Sri Aurobindo referred to him as one of mightiest prophets of Nationalism. As a journalist, Pal worked for Bengal Public Opinion, The Tribune and New India, where he propagated his brand of nationalism. He wrote several articles warning India of the changes happening in China and other geopolitical situations. In one of his writings, describing where the future danger for India will come from, Pal wrote under the title “Our Real Danger”. The most prominent books of Pal include Indian Nationalism, Nationality and Empire, Swaraj and the Present Situation, The Basis of Social Reform, The Soul of India.

History (English)

Mughal Architecture: A Bird’s Eye View

Mughal Architecture   developed during the period of  Mughal rulers in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.  It is  an amalgam of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian architecture. Some of the remarkable features of Moghul buildings include   a uniform pattern of structure and character, large bulbous domes, slender minarets at the corners, massive halls, large vaulted gateways, and delicate ornamentation etc.

The Mughal dynasty was established after the victory of Babur at Panipat in 1526. During his five-year reign, Babur took considerable interest in erecting buildings, though few have survived. His grandson Akbar built widely, and the style developed vigorously during his reign. Among his accomplishments were Agra Fort, the fort-city of Fatehpur Sikri, and the Buland Darwaza. Akbar’s son Jahangir commissioned the Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir. Mughal architecture reached its zenith during the reign of Shah Jahan, who constructed the Taj Mahal, the Jama Masjid, the Red Fort, and the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. After Shah Jahan Mughal architecture declined.

Main Features

Mughal Architecture incorporates Indian elements with Persian and Islamic elements. Mughal Architecture has also influenced later Indian architectural styles, including the Indo-Saracenic style of the British Raj, the Rajput style and the Sikh style.

 Some features common to many buildings are:

  • Large bulbous onion domes, sometimes surrounded by four smaller domes.
  • Use of white marble and red sandstone.
  • Use of delicate ornamentation work, including pachin kari decorative work and jali-latticed screens.
  • Monumental buildings surrounded by gardens on all four sides.
  • Mosques with large courtyards.
  • Persian and Arabic calligraphic inscriptions, including verses from the Quran.
  • Large gateways leading up to the main building.
  • Iwans on two or four sides.
  • Use of decorative chattris.

To begin with Jahangir and Akbar took lot of interest in constructing beautiful buildings based on Moghul architecture specifications. Rather than building a huge monuments like his predecessors to demonstrate their power, Shah Jahan built elegant monuments. The force and originality of this previous building style gave way under Shah Jahan to a delicate elegance and refinement of detail, illustrated in the palaces erected during his reign at Agra, Delhi and Lahore. Some examples include the Taj Mahal at Agra, the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) in the Lahore Fort and the Jama Masjid at Delhi are imposing buildings of his era, and their position and architecture have been carefully considered so as to produce a pleasing effect and feeling of spacious elegance and well-balanced proportion of parts. Shah Jahan also built sections of the Sheesh Mahal, and Naulakha pavilion, which are all enclosed in the fort. He also built a mosque named after himself in Thatta called Shahjahan Mosque. Shah Jahan also built the Red Fort in his new capital at Shah Jahanabad, now Delhi. The red sandstone Red Fort is noted for its special buildings-Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas. Another mosque was built during his tenure in Lahore called Wazir Khan Mosque, by Shaikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari who was the court physician to the emperor.

 Following are the important pieces of architecture during the Mughal period:

Agra fort

Agra fort is situated in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The major part of Agra fort was built by Akbar from 1565 to 1574. The architecture of the fort adopted the features of Rajput planning and construction. Some of the important buildings in the fort are Jahangiri Mahal built for Jahangir and his family, the Moti Masjid, and Mena Bazaars. The Jahangir Mahal is an impressive structure and has a courtyard surrounded by double-storeyed halls and rooms. Agra fort is a UNESCO world heritage site

Humayun’s tomb

Situated in Delhi, Humayun’s tomb is was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum (also known as Haji Begum), in 1569-70, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and his son, Sayyid Muhammad, Persian architects chosen by her. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It is often regarded as the first mature example of Mughal architecture.

Fatehpur Sikri

Situated in Fatehpur Sikri, a place near Agra, it is considered to be one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of Akbar. Fatehpur Sikri was his capital city. The construction of the walled city was started in 1569 and completed in 1574. It contained some of the most beautiful buildings – both religious and secular which testify to the Emperor’s aim of achieving social, political and religious integration. The main religious buildings were the huge Jama Masjid and small tomb of Salim Chisti. The tomb, built in 1571 in the corner of the mosque compound, is a square marble chamber with a verandah. The cenotaph has an exquisitely designed lattice screen around it. Buland Darwaza, also known as the Gate of Magnificence, was built by Akbar in 1576 to commemorate his victory over Gujarat and the Deccan. It is 40 metres high and 50 metres from the ground. The total height of the structure is about 54 metres from ground level…

The Haramsara, the royal seraglio in Fatehpur Sikri was an area where the royal women lived. The opening to the Haramsara is from the Khwabgah side separated by a row of cloisters. According to Abul Fazl, in Ain-i-Akbari, the inside of Harem was guarded by senior and active women, outside the enclosure the eunuchs were placed, and at a proper distance there were faithful Rajput guards.

Buland Darwaza

Buland Darwaza,  the “Gate of victory”, was built in 1601 A.D. by Mughal emperor Akbar to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. It is the main entrance to the palace at Fatehpur Sikri, which is 43 km from Agra, India. Buland Darwaza is the highest gateway in the world and is an example of Mughal architecture. It displays Akbar’s empire. The Buland Darwaza is made of red sandstone, decorated by white and black marble and is higher than the courtyard of the mosque. The Buland Darwaza is symmetrical and is topped by large free standing kiosks, which are the chhatris. It also has at the top center, terrace edge gallery-kiosks on the roof, stylized buckler-battlements, small minar-spires, and inlay work with white and black marble. A Persian inscription on eastern archway of the Buland Darwaza records Akbar’s conquest of Uttar Pradesh and the victory in Gujarat in 1573. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwaza describes Akbar’s religious openness.

The Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti

The Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti is famed as one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in India, built during the years 1580 and 1581, along with the imperial complex at Situated near Zenana Rauza and facing south towards Buland Darwaza, within the quadrangle of the Jama Masjid which measures 350 ft. by 440 ft. It enshrines the burial place of the Sufi saint, Salim Chisti (1478 – 1572), a descendant of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, and lived in a cavern on the ridge at Sikri. The mausoleum, constructed by Akbar as a mark of his respect for the Sufi saint, who foretold the birth of his son, who was named Prince Salim after him and later succeeded Akbar to the throne of the Mughal Empire.

Messis’s Palace

This is the largest palace in the Fatehpur Sikri seraglio, connected to the minor haramsara (where the less important harem ladies and maids would have resided) quarters. The main entrance is double storied, projecting out of the facade to create a kind of porch leading into a recessed entrance with a balcony. Inside there is a quadrangle surrounded by rooms. The columns of rooms are ornamented with a variety of Hindu sculptural motifs.

Begum Shahi Mosque 

Begum Shahi Mosque is also called the Mosque of Mariyam Zamani, which was constructed during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir in the honour of his mother, Begum Mariyam Zamani, who was also known as ‘Maharani Jodha Bai‘.Jahangir built his mother Mariyam Zamani Begum’s mosque and is just 1 km away from the tomb of Akbar near Agra at a place called Sikandra. The mosque is located inside the old Masti Gate in the Walled City of Lahore.

Wazir Khan Mosque 

The Wazir Khan Mosque is 17th century mosque located in the city of Lahore, capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab. The mosque was commissioned during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as part of an ensemble of buildings that also included the nearby Shahi Hammam baths. Construction of Wazir Khan Mosque began in 1634 C.E., and was completed in 1641. Considered to be the most ornately decorated Mughal-era mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque is renowned for its intricate faience tile work known as kashi-kari, as well as its interior surfaces that are almost entirely embellished with elaborate Mughal-era frescoes. The mosque has been under extensive restoration since 2009 under the direction of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Government of Punjab, with contributions from the governments of Germany, Norway, and the United States.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal , which means “Crown of the Palaces” is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658). The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year and in 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative. The Taj Mahal houses the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (U.S. $827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

Moti Masjid

Moti Masjid , one of the “Pearl Mosques”, is a 17th-century religious building located inside the Lahore Fort. It is a small, white marble structure built by Mughal emperor Jahangir and modified by the architects of Shah Jahan, and is among his prominent extensions (such as Sheesh Mahal and Naulakha pavilion) to the Lahore Fort Complex. The mosque is located on the western side of Lahore Fort, closer to Alamgiri Gate, the main entrance. Other pearl based mosques included Mina Masjid (Gem Mosque) and Nagina Masjid (Jewel Mosque), both located in Agra Fort and completed in 1637 under Shah Jahan’s reign. The mosque, built between 1630–35, is the first among the “pearl” named named mosques, the others built by Shah Jahan in Agra Fort (1647–53), and his son Aurangzeb in the Red Fort (1659–60). The structure, located in the northwestern corner of Dewan-e-Aam quadrangle, is typical of Mughal architecture of Shah Jahan’s times. It is completely built of white marble that was brought from Makrana. The façade is composed of cusped arches and engaged baluster columns with smooth and fine contours.The mosque has three superimposed domes, two aisles of five bays, and a slightly raised central pishtaq, or portal with a rectangular frame.

The Lahore Fort

The Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila, is a citadel in the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. The fortress is located at the northern end of walled city Lahore, and spreads over an area greater than 20 hectares. It contains 21 notable monuments, some of which date to the era of Emperor Akbar. The Lahore Fort is notable for having been almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century, when the Mughal Empire was at the height of its splendour and opulence. Though the site of the Lahore Fort has been inhabited for millennia, the first record of a fortified structure at the site was in regard to an 11th-century mud-brick fort. The foundations of the modern Lahore Fort date to 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar, who bestowed the fort with a syncretic architectural style that featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs. Additions from the Shah Jahan period are characterized by luxurious marble with inlaid Persian floral designs,  while the fort’s grand and iconic Alamgiri Gate was constructed by the last of the great Mughal Emperors, Aurangzeb, and faces the renowned Badshahi Mosque. And after the fall of the Mughal Empire, the Lahore Fort was used as the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire. The fort then passed to British colonialists after they annexed Punjab following their victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Gujrat in February 1849. In 1981, the fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.

Red Fort

The Red Fort is a historic fort in the city of Delhi in India. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, until 1856. It is located in the centre of Delhi and houses a number of museums. In addition to accommodating the emperors and their households, it was the ceremonial and political center of the Mughal state and the setting for events critically impacting the region. Constructed in 1639 by the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the palace of his fortified capital Shahjahanabad, the Red Fort is named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone and is adjacent to the older Salimgarh Fort, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546 AD. The imperial apartments consist of a row of pavilions, connected by a water channel known as the Stream of Paradise (Nahr-i-Bihisht). The fort complex is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity under Shah Jahan,[citation needed] and although the palace was planned according to Islamic prototypes, each pavilion contains architectural elements typical of Mughal buildings that reflect a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions. The Red Fort’s innovative architectural style, including its garden design, influenced later buildings and gardens in Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir, Braj, Rohilkhand and elsewhere.

The fort was plundered of its artwork and jewels during Nadir Shah’s invasion of the Mughal Empire in 1747. Most of the fort’s precious marble structures were subsequently destroyed by the British following the Revolt of 1857. The forts’s defensive walls were largely spared, and the fortress was subsequently used as a garrison. The Red Fort was also the site where the British put the last Mughal Emperor on trial before exiling him to Yangon in 1858. Every year on the Independence day of India (15 August), the Prime Minister hoists the Indian “tricolour flag” at the main gate of the fort and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Red Fort Complex.

History (English) Readings for Prelims

Peasant movements during Indian Freedom Struggle

Peasant movements have a long history that can be traced to the numerous peasant uprisings that occurred in various regions of the world throughout human history. Early peasant movements were usually the result of stresses in the feudal and semi feudal societies, and resulted in violent uprisings. More recent movements, fitting the definitions of social movements, are usually much less violent, and their demands are centered on better prices for agricultural produce, better wages and working conditions for the agricultural laborers, and increasing the agricultural production. The economic policies of British adversely affected the Indian peasants the British Govt. used to protect the landlords and money lenders. They exploited the peasants. The peasants rose in revolt against this injustice on many occasions. Some of the important ones are listed below:

Champaran Satyagraha

The Champaran Satyagraha took place in 1916.Chamaparan Satyagraha was a farmer’s uprising that took place in Champaran district of Bihar, during the British colonial period. This movement was the first popular satyagraha (standing up for truth) in India, although the word Satyagraha was used for the first time in Anti Rowlatt Act agitation.   It was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. This movement is recognized as the beginning of revolt for   the independence of India after Gandhi’s home coming from South Africa. The farmers were protesting against to grow indigo with barely any payment for it. When Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915, and saw peasants in Northern India oppressed by indigo planters, he tried to use the same methods that he had used in South Africa to organize mass uprisings by people to protest against injustices. Neel (indigo) started being grown commercially in Berar (Today Bihar), Audh (today Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand) and Bengal in 1750 by the British East India company, primarily for export to China, UK and Europe. Being a cash crop which needed high amounts of water and which left the soil infertile, local farmers usually opposed its cultivation, instead preferring to grow daily need crops such as rice and pulses. Hence the British colonialists forced farmers to grow indigo, often by making this the condition for providing loans, and through collusion with local kings, nawabs and landlords.

Kheda Sayagraha

The Kheda Satyagraha of 1918, in the Kheda district of Gujarat,  during the period of the British Raj, was a Satyagraha movement organized by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It was the third Satyagraha movement after Champaran Satyagraha and Ahmadabad.Gandhi organised this movement to support peasants of the Kheda district. People of Kheda were unable to pay the high taxes levied by the British due to crop failure and a plague epidemic. In Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi was chiefly the spiritual head of the struggle. His chief lieutenant, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and a close coterie of devoted Gandhians, namely Indulal Yagnik, Shankarlal Banker, Mahadev Desai, Narhari Parikh, Mohanlal Pandya and Ravi Shankar Vyas toured the countryside, organised the villagers and gave them political leadership and direction. Many aroused Gujaratis from the cities of Ahmadabad and Vadodara joined the organizers of the revolt, but Gandhi and Patel resisted the involvement of Indians from other provinces, seeking to keep it a purely Gujarati struggle.

Bardoli Movement

The Bardoli Satyagraha of 1928, in the state of Gujarat,  during the period of the British Raj, was a major episode of civil disobedience and revolt in the Indian Independence Movement. The movement was eventually led by Vallabhbhai Patel, and its success gave rise to Patel becoming one of the main leaders of the independence movement. In 1925, the taluka of Bardoli in Gujarat suffered from floods and famine, causing crop production to suffer and leaving farmers facing great financial troubles. However, the government of the Bombay Presidency had raised the tax rate by 30% that year, and despite petitions from civic groups, refused to cancel the rise in the face of the calamities. The situation for the farmers was grave enough that they barely had enough property and crops to pay off the tax, let alone for feeding themselves afterwards. Patel first wrote to the Governor of Bombay, asking him to reduce the taxes for the year in face of the calamities. But the Governor ignored the letter, and reciprocated by announcing the date of collection.

Sardar Patel instructed all the farmers of Bardoli taluka to refuse payment of their taxes. Aided by Parikh, Vyas and Pandya, he divided Bardoli into several zones – each with a leader and volunteers specifically assigned. Patel also placed some activists close to the government, to act as informers on the movements of government officials. He also instructed the farmers to remain completely non-violent, and not respond physically to any incitements or aggressive actions from officials. He reassured them that the struggle would not end until not only the cancellation of all taxes for the year, but also when all the seized property and lands were returned to their rightful owners. The Government declared that it would crush the revolt. Along with tax inspectors, bands of Pathans were gathered from northwest India to forcibly seize the property of the villagers and terrorize them. The Pathans and the men of the collectors forced themselves into the houses and took all property, including cattle (resisters had begun keeping their cattle inside their locked homes when the collectors were about, in order to prevent them from seizing the animals from the fields). In 1928, an agreement was finally brokered by a Parsi member of the Bombay government. The Government agreed to restore the confiscated lands and properties, as well as cancel revenue payment not only for the year, but cancel the 30% raise until after the succeeding year. Even when farmers were celebrating their success in the movement, but Patel continued to work to ensure that all lands and properties were returned to every farmer, and that no one was left out. When the Government refused to ask the people who had bought some of the lands to return them, wealthy sympathizers from Bombay bought them out, and returned the lands to the rightful owners.

Moplah Rebellion

There is controversy among historians whether Mopala rebellion was propelled by religious   reasons or agricultural crisis or both. Contemporary British administrators and modern historians differ markedly in their assessment of the incident, debating whether the revolts were triggered off by religious fanaticism or agrarian grievances. The Moplah rebellion or Malabar rebellion was an armed uprising in 1921 against British authority in the Malabar region of Southern India by Mappilas and the culmination of a series of Mappila revoltsthat recurred throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. The 1921 rebellion began as a reaction against a heavy-handed crackdown on the Khilafat Movement, a campaign in defense of the Ottoman Caliphate, by the British authorities in the Eranad and Valluvanad taluks of Malabar. The Mappilas attacked and took control of police stations, British government offices, courts and government treasuries. The British Government put down the rebellion with an iron fist, British and Gurkha regiments were sent to the area and Martial Law imposed. One of the most noteworthy events during the suppression later came to be known as the “Wagon tragedy”, in which 67 out of a total of 90 Mappila prisoners destined for the Central Prison in Podanur suffocated to death in a closed railway goods wagon. For six months from August 1921, the rebellion extended over 2,000 square miles (5,200 km2) – some 40% of the South Malabar region of the Madras Presidency. An estimated 10,000 people lost their lives, although official figures put the numbers at 2337 rebels killed, 1652 injured and 45,404 imprisoned.The most prominent leaders of the rebellion were Variankunnath Kunjahammad Haji, Sithi Koya Thangal and Ali Musliyar.

Telangana Rebellion

The Telangana Rebellion, started in 1946 was a peasant rebellion against the feudal lords of the Telangana region and, later, the princely state of Hyderabad, between 1946 and 1951. The communists led a series of successful attempts at organising the rebellion and distribution of land. With the Nizam holding on, even after the proclamation of Indian independence, the communists stepped up their campaign, stating that the flag of the Indian union was also the flag of the people of Hyderabad, much against the wishes of the ruling Asaf Jah dynasty. The farmers started the revolt in 1946 against the oppressive feudal lords and quickly spread to the Warangal and Bidar districts in around 4000 villages. Peasant farmers and labourers revolted against local feudal landlords (jagirdars and deshmukhs), who were ruling the villages known as samsthans. These samsthans were ruled mostly by Deshasthas, Reddys and Velama, known as doralu. They ruled over the communities in the village and managed the tax collections (revenues) and owned almost all the land in that area. The Nizam had little control over these regions except the capital, Hyderabad. Chakali Ilamma, belonging to the Rajaka caste, had revolted against ‘zamindar’ Ramachandra Reddy, during the struggle when he tried to take her 4 acres of land. Her revolt inspired many to join the movement. The agitation led by communists was successful in taking over 3000 villages from the feudal lords and 10,00,000 acres of agriculture land was distributed to landless peasants. Around 4000 peasants lost their lives in the struggle fighting feudal private armies. It later became a fight against Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asif Jah VII. The initial modest aims were to do away with the illegal and excessive exploitation meted out by these feudal lords in the name of bonded labour. The most strident demand was for the writing off of all debts of the peasants that were manipulated by the feudal lords.

Tebhaga Movement

The Tebhaga movement was significant peasant agitation, initiated in Bengal by the Kisan Sabha (peasant front of the Communist Party of India) in 1946–47. At that time sharecroppers had contracted to give half of their harvest to the landlords. The demand of the Tebhaga (sharing by thirds) movement was to reduce the landlord share to one third. In many areas the agitations turned violent, and landlords fled, leaving parts of the countryside in the hands of Kisan Sabha. In 1946, sharecroppers began to assert that they would pay only one-third and that before division the crop would stay in their godowns and not that of the Jotedars. The sharecroppers were encouraged by the fact that the Bengal Land Revenue Commission had already made this recommendation in its report to the government. The movement resulted in clashes between Jotedars and Bargadars(sharecroppers). As a response to the agitation, the Muslim League ministry in the province launched the Bargadari Act, which provided that the share of the harvest given to the landlords would be limited to one third of the total. However, the law was not fully implemented. The Bengal Land Revenue Commission popularly known as Floud Commission had made recommendation in favour of the share-croppers. The leaders of the movement were too many and some of them are Ila Mitra, Kansari Halder, Moni Singh, Bishnu Chattopadhyay, M.A. Rasul, Moni Guha, Charu Majumdar, Abani Lahiri, Gurudas Talukdar, Samar Ganguly, Bimola Mandal, Sudher Mukherjee, Sudipa Sen, Moni Krishna Sen, Subodh Roy, Budi ma etc.

The Kisan Sabha movement

The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights. Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of India.  All these radical developments on the peasant front culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936 with Swami Sahajanand Saraswati elected as its first President. Although born in North-Western Provinces (present-day Uttar Pradesh), his social and political activities focussed mostly on Bihar in the initial days, and gradually spread to the rest of India with the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha. He had set up an ashram at Bihta, near Patna and carried out most of his work in the later part of his life from there. He was an intellectual, prolific writer, social reformerand revolutionary. The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights, and thus sparking the farmers’ movements in India.

The movement also involved prominent leaders such as N. G. Ranga and E. M. S. Namboodiripad. The Kisan Manifesto, which was released in August 1936, demanded abolition of the zamindari system and cancellation of rural debts. In October 1937, the AIKS adopted the red flag as its banner. Soon, its leaders became increasingly distant with Congress, and repeatedly came in confrontation with Congress governments in Bihar and United Province. Saraswati organised the Bakasht Movement in Bihar in 1937–1938. “Bakasht” means self-cultivated. The movement was against the eviction of tenants from Bakasht lands by zamindars and led to the passing of the Bihar Tenancy Act and the Bakasht Land Tax. He also led the successful struggle in the Dalmia Sugar Mill at Bihta, where peasant-worker unity was the most important characteristic. On hearing of Saraswati’s arrest during the Quit India Movement, Subhash Chandra Bose and All India Forward Bloc decided to observe 28 April as All-India Swami Sahajanand Day in protest of his incarceration by the British Raj. Saraswati died on 26 June 1950. At the time Subhash Chandra Bose, leader of the Forward Bloc, said, “Swami Sahajanand Saraswati is, in the land of ours, a name to conjure with. The undisputed leader of the peasant movement in India, he is today the idol of the masses and the hero of millions.”

Munda Rebellion

Munda Rebellion is one of the prominent 19th century tribal rebellions in the subcontinent. Birsa Munda led this movement in the region south of Ranchi in 1899-1900. the ulgulan, meaning ‘Great Tumult’, sought to establish Munda Raj and independence. The Mundas traditionally enjoyed a preferential rent rate as the khuntkattidar or the original clearer of the forest. But in course of the 19th century they had seen this khuntkatti land system being eroded by the jagirdars and thikadars coming as merchants and moneylenders.

This process of land alienation had begun long before the advent of the British. But the establishment and consolidation of British rule accelerated the mobility of the non-tribal people into the tribal regions. The incidence of forced labour or beth begari also increased dramatically. Unscrupulous contractors, moreover, had turned the region, into a recruiting ground for indentured labour. Yet another change associated with British rule was the appearance of a number of Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic missions. The spread of education through missionary activities made the tribals more organised and conscious of their rights. Tribal solidarity was undermined as the social cleavage between the Christian and non-Christian Mundas deepened. The agrarian discontent and the advent of Christianity, therefore, helped the revitalisation of the movement, which sought to reconstruct the tribal society disintegrating under the stresses and strains of colonial rule.

Birsa Munda was a folk hero and a tribal freedom fighter hailing from the Munda tribe. He was a spearhead behind the Millenarian movement that arose in the Biharand Jharkhand belt in the early 19th century under the British colonisation. Birsa Munda’s slogan threatening the British Raj—Abua raj seter jana, maharani raj tundu jana (“Let the kingdom of the queen be ended and our kingdom be established”)—is remembered today in areas of Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh.

The British colonial system intensified the transformation of the tribal agrarian system into a feudal state. As the tribals with their primitive technology could not generate a surplus, non-tribal peasantry were invited by the chiefs in Chhotanagpur to settle on and cultivate the land. This led to the alienation of the lands held by the tribals. The new class of Thikadars was of a more rapacious kind and eager to make the most of their possessions.In 1856 Jagirs stood at about 600, and they held from a village to 150 villages. But by 1874, the authority of the old Munda or Oraon chiefs had been almost entirely annulled by that of the farmers, introduced by the landlords. In some villages they had completely lost their proprietary rights, and had been reduced to the position of farm labourers.

To the twin challenges of agrarian breakdown and culture change, Birsa along with the Munda responded through a series of revolts and uprisings under his leadership. In 1895, in Chalkad village of Tamar, Birsa Munda renounced Christianity, took sacred thread, became a Vaishnav asked his fellow tribesmen to worship only one God and give up worship of bongas. He advice people to follow the path of purity, austerity and prohibited cow- slaughters. He declared himself a prophet who had come to get back the lost kingdom of their people. He told that the reign of the Queen Victoria was over and the Munda Raj had begun. He gave orders to the raiyats to pay no rents. The mundas called him Dharati Aba, the father of earth.

History (English) Readings for Prelims

Indian Temple Architecture

In ancient India, temples played a very important role in life by acting as acting as Religious institutions, administrative and educational centres and centres for pursuing classical arts. etc. Hindu temple architecture reflects a synthesis of arts, the ideals of dharma, beliefs, values and the way of life cherished under Hinduism. The architectural principles of Hindu temples in India are described in Shilpa Shastras and Vastu Sastras. The Hindu culture has encouraged aesthetic independence to its temple builders, and its architects have sometimes exercised considerable flexibility in creative expression by adopting other perfect geometries and mathematical principles in Mandir construction to express the Hindu way of life. The temple architecture of ancient India was marked by variety and high standards of architecture and excellence in creativity. Nevertheless, the ancient Indian temples evolved with distinct architectural styles due mainly to geographical, climatic, ethnic, racial, historical and linguistic diversities.

Main Architectural features of Hindu Temples

Hindu temple architecture as the main form of Hindu architecture has many varieties of style, though the basic nature of the Hindu temple remains the same, with the essential feature an inner sanctum, the garbha griha or womb-chamber, where the primary Murti or the image of a deity is housed in a simple bare cell. Around this chamber there are often other structures and buildings, in the largest cases covering several acres. On the exterior, the garbhagriha is crowned by a tower-like shikhara, also called the vimana in the south and Meru tower in Balinese temple. The shrine building often includes an ambulatory for parikrama (circumambulation), a mandapa or congregation hall, and sometimes an antarala or antechamber and porch between garbhagriha and mandapa. There may further mandapas or other buildings, connected or detached, in large temples, together with other small temples in the compound.

Terms related to Hindu Temple Architecture:

Garbhagriha: It literally means ‘womb-house’ and is a cave like sanctum. It is the house of main deity.


Mandapa: It is the entrance to the temple. It may be a portico or colonnaded (series of columns placed at regular intervals) hall that incorporate space for a large number of worshippers.


Shikhara or Vimana: They are mountain like spire of a free standing temple. Shikhara is found in North Indian temples and Vimana is found in South Indian temples. Shikhara has a curving shape while vimana has a pyramidal like structure.


Amalaka: It is a stone disc like structure at the top of the temple and they are common in North Indian temples.

 Kalasha: It is the topmost point of the temple and commonly seen in North Indian temples.

 Antarala (vestibule): Antarala is a transition area between the Garbhagriha and the temple’s main hall


Jagati: It is a raised platform for sitting and praying and is common in North Indian temples.


Vahana: It is the mount or vehicle of the temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar or Dhvaj which is placed axially before the sanctum.

Site and Design of Hindu Temples

A Hindu temple is a symmetry-driven structure, with many variations, on a square grid of padas, depicting perfect geometric shapes such as circles and squares. The appropriate site for a Mandir, suggest ancient Sanskrit texts, is near water and gardens, where lotus and flowers bloom, where swans, ducks and other birds are heard, where animals rest without fear of injury or harm. While major Hindu Mandirs are recommended at sangams (confluence of rivers), river banks, lakes and seashore, the Brhat Samhitaand Puranas suggest temples may also be built where a natural source of water is not present. Here too, they recommend that a pond be built preferably in front or to the left of the temple with water gardens. Temples may also be built, suggests Visnudharmottara in Part III of Chapter 93, inside caves and carved stones, on hill tops affording peaceful views, mountain slopes overlooking beautiful valleys, inside forests and hermitages, next to gardens, or at the head of a town street.

The design, especially the floor plan, of the part of a Hindu temple around the sanctum or shrine follows a geometrical design called vastu-purusha-mandala. The name is a composite Sanskrit word with three of the most important components of the plan. Mandala means circle, Purusha is universal essence at the core of Hindu tradition, while Vastumeans the dwelling structure. Vastupurushamandala is a yantra. The design lays out a Hindu temple in a symmetrical, self-repeating structure derived from central beliefs, myths, cardinality and mathematical principles. The four cardinal directions help create the axis of a Hindu temple, around which is formed a perfect square in the space available. The circle of mandala circumscribes the square. The square is considered divine for its perfection and as a symbolic product of knowledge and human thought, while circle is considered earthly, human and observed in everyday life (moon, sun, horizon, water drop, rainbow). Each supports the other. The square is divided into perfect square grids. In large temples, this is often a 8×8 or 64 grid structure. In ceremonial temple superstructures, this is an 81 sub-square grid. The squares are called ‘‘padas’’ The square is symbolic and has Vedic origins from fire altar, Agni. Beneath the mandala’s central square(s) is the space for the formless shapeless all pervasive all connecting Universal Spirit, the Purusha. This space is sometimes referred to as garbha-griya (literally womb house) – a small, perfect square, windowless, enclosed space without ornamentation that represents universal essence. Above the vastu-purusha-mandala is a high superstructure called the shikhara in north India, and vimana in south India, that stretches towards the sky. Sometimes, in makeshift temples, the superstructure may be replaced with symbolic bamboo with few leaves at the top. The vertical dimension’s cupola or dome is designed as a pyramid, conical or other mountain-like shape, once again using principle of concentric circles and squares Predominant number of Hindu temples exhibit the perfect square grid principle. However, there are some exceptions. For example, the Teli ka Mandir in Gwalior, built in the 8th century CE is not a square but is a rectangle consisting of stacked squares.

Three Styles of Hindu Temples

There are three main distinct styles of ancient Indian temples: the Nagara or the Northern style, the Dravida or the Southern style and the Vesara or Mixed style. Prominent Nagara style temples include the Khajuraho Group of temples, Sun temple, Konark, Sun temple at Modhera, Gujarat and Ossian temple, Gujarat while the remarkable examples of Dravidian style (south Indian style) temples include Tanjore, Madurai, Mahabalipuram, Badami, Pattadakal and Kanchipuram. The temple of Lingaraja at Bhubaneswar (11th century) built by Anantavarman Choda Ganga represents the Orissa (Nagara) style in its maturity. The Jagannatha Temple of Puri (late 12th century), the Sun-temple at Konark (built by Narasimha I, (1236-64 A.D.) are the other well-known Nagara Style temples. The earliest examples of Dravida Style temples include 7th century rock-cut shrines at Mahabalipuram and a developed structuraltemple, the Shore Temple at the same site. Finest examples are Brihadeshwara temple at Thanjavur, built about 1010 by Rajaraja 1, & temple at Gangaikondacolapuram, built about 1025 by his son Rajendra Chola. The Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebidu and Somnathpura are leading examples of the Vesara style.

These temples had different styles of architecture and construction and arrangement of different temple parts. Their decoration styles, viz sculpture and architecture as well as iconography and art and architecture such as positioning of different parts of temple, viz, surrounding of the temple and open spaces inside, temple courtyard, temple roofs, prayer halls, meeting halls and garbhagriha were different. For example, sikhara and gateways had different emphasis in Nagara and Dravida styles. In the north Indian temples, the sikhara remained the most prominent component while the gateway was generally given a lesser prominence. On the other hand in the Dravidian temples, the enclosures around the temples and the gateways or Gopurams (entrance) were given remarkable prominence. The Gopurams led the devotees into the sacred courtyard. It is not that temples architecture in North and South India were in total contrast in all respects. There were similarities as well. For instance, their ground plans, positioning of stone-carved deities on the outside walls and the interior, and the range of decorative elements had lot of similarities, despite not being a true copy of each other.

Comparison between Nagara and Dravidian style of temple architecture


  • In north Indian temples we can see images such as Mithunas (erotic) and the river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna guarding the temple. But in the Dravida style of temple architecture, instead of these sculptures, we can see the sculptures of fierce dvarapalas or door keepers guarding the temple.
  • A large water reservoir or a temple tank enclosed in the complex is general in south Indian temples.
  • Subsidiary shrines are either incorporated within the main temple tower, or located as a distinct, separate small shrine besides the main temple.
  • The north Indian idea of multiple shikharas rising together as a cluster was not popular in dravida style.
  • At some of the most sacred temples in south India, the main temple in which the garbhagriha is situated has, in fact, one of the smallest towers.
  • Just as the nagara architecture has subdivisions, dravida temples also have subdivisions. These are basically of five different shapes:
  • Kuta or caturasra – square
  • Shala or ayatasra – rectangular
  • Gaja-prishta or vrittayata (elephant backed) –elliptic
  • Vritta – circular
  • Ashtasra – octagonal

History of Indian Temples

There are hardly any remains of Hindu temples before the Gupta dynasty in the 4th century CE; no doubt there were earlier structures in timber-based architecture. The rock-cut Udayagiri Caves are among the most important early sites. The earliest preserved Hindu temples are simple cell-like stone temples, some rock-cut and others structural, as at Sanchi. By the 6th or 7th century, these evolved into high shikhara stone superstructures. However, there is inscriptional evidence such as the ancient Gangadhara inscription from about 424 CE, states Meister, that towering temples existed before this time and these were possibly made from more perishable material. These temples have not survived. Examples of early major North Indian temples that have survived after the Udayagiri Caves in Madhya Pradesh include Deogarh, Parvati Temple, Nachna (465 CE), Lalitpur District (c. 525 CE), Lakshman Brick Temple, Sirpur (600-625 CE); Rajiv Lochan temple, Rajim (7th-century CE).

No pre-7th century CE South Indian style stone temples have survived. Examples of early major South Indian temples that have survived, some in ruins, include the diverse styles at Mahabalipuram. However, according to Meister, the Mahabalipuram temples are “monolithic models of a variety of formal structures all of which already can be said to typify a developed “Dravida” (South Indian) order”. They suggest a tradition and a knowledge base existed in South India by the time of the early Chalukya and Pallava era when these were built. Other examples are found in Aihole and Pattadakal.

By about the 7th century most main features of the Hindu temple were established along with theoretical texts on temple architecture and building methods. From between about the 7th and 13th centuries a large number of temples and their ruins have survived (though far fewer than once existed). Many regional styles developed, very often following political divisions, as large temples were typically built with royal patronage. In the north, Muslim invasions from the 11th century onwards reduced the building of temples, and saw the loss of many existing ones. The south also witnessed Hindu-Muslim conflict that affected the temples, but the region was relatively less affected than the north.In late 14th century, the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire came to power and controlled much of South India. During this period, the distinctive very tall gopuram gate house actually a late development, from the 12th century or later, typically added to older large temples.

History (English) Strategist

BPSC Examination: Quick Historical Facts on Bihar

  • The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word, Vihāra , meaning “abode”. The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval periods.
  • Medieval writer Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani records in the Tabakat-i-Nasiri that in 1198, Bakhtiyar Khalji committed a massacre in a town now known as Bihar Sharif, about 70 km away from Bodh Gaya.
  • Medieval writer Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani records in the Tabakat-i-Nasiri that in 1198, Bakhtiyar Khalji committed a massacre in a town now known as Bihar Sharif, about 70 km away from Bodh Gaya.
  • Chirand, on the northern bank of the Ganga River, in Saran district, has an archaeological record from the Neolithic age (about 2500–1345 BC). Regions of Bihar—such as Magadha, Mithila and Anga—are mentioned in religious texts and epics of ancient India.
  • Mithila gained prominence when people of Āryāvarta (an ancient name for India) established the Videha Kingdom. During the late Vedic period (c. 1100-500 BCE), Videha became one of the major political and cultural centers of South Asia, along with Kuru and Pañcāla. The kings of the Videha Kingdom were called Janakas.  Sita, a daughter of one of the Janaks of Mithila is mentioned as the consort of Lord Rama, in the Hindu epic, Ramayana, written by Valmiki. The Videha Kingdom later became incorporated into the Vajji confederacy which had its capital in the city of Vaishali, which is also in Mithila.
  • Vajji had a republican form of government where the king was elected from the number of rajas. Based on the information found in texts pertaining to Jainism and Buddhism, Vajji was established as a republic by the 6th century BCE, before the birth of Gautama Buddha in 563 BCE, making it the first known republic in India.
  • The region of modern-day southwestern Bihar called Magadha remained the centre of power, learning, and culture in India for 1000 years. The Haryanka dynasty, founded in 684 BC, ruled Magadha from the city of Rajgriha (modern Rajgir). The two well-known kings from this dynasty were Bimbisara and his son Ajatashatru, who imprisoned his father to ascend the throne.
  • Ajatashatru founded the city of Pataliputra which later became the capital of Magadha. He declared war and conquered the Vajji. The Haryanka dynasty was followed by the Shishunaga dynasty. Later the Nanda Dynasty ruled a vast tract stretching from Bengal to Punjab.
  • The Nanda dynasty was replaced by the Maurya Empire, India’s first empire. The Maurya Empire and the religion of Buddhism arose in the region that now makes up modern Bihar. The Mauryan Empire, which originated from Magadha in 325 BC, was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, who was born in Magadha. It had its capital at Pataliputra (modern Patna). The Mauryan emperor, Ashoka, who was born in Pataliputra (Patna) is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of the world.
  • The Gupta Empire, which originated in Magadha in 240 AD, is referred as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, commerce, religion, and Indian philosophy. Bihar and Bengal was invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century.
  • Buddhism in Magadha went into decline due to the invasion of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, during which many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila were destroyed.
  • After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer, and collect revenue or tax) for Bihar, Bengal and Odisha.
  • Bihar remained a part of the Bengal Presidency of British India until 1912, when the province of Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province.
  • Since 2010, Bihar has celebrated its birthday as Bihar Diwas on 22 March.
  • Farmers in Champaran had revolted against indigo cultivation in 1914 (at Pipra) and 1916 (Turkaulia). In April 1917, Mahatma Gandhi visited Champaran, where Raj Kumar Shukla had drawn his attention to the exploitation of the peasants by European indigo planters. The Champaran Satyagraha that followed received support from many Bihari nationalists, such as Rajendra Prasad and Anugrah Narayan Sinha.
  • In the northern and central regions of Bihar, the Kisan Sabha (peasant movement) was an important consequence of the independence movement. It began in 1929 under the leadership of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who formed the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS), to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights. The movement intensified and spread from Bihar across the rest of India, culminating in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936, where Saraswati was elected as its first president.
History (English)

The Rise and Fall of Maratha Power

The Marathas, organised under Shivaji, posed the most formidable challenge to the Mughal Empire. Shahu the grandson of Shivaji was imprisoned by Aurangzeb in 1689 and released in 1707 after his death.

           Balaji Vishwanath, the Peshwa of King Shahu led the Marathas to become a strong power in the Deccan. He made Zulfiqar Khan to pay Chauth and Sardeshmukhi in the Deccan. In 1719 he came to Delhi with a Maratha force to help the Saiyid brothers to overthrow Farrukh Siyyar.

             In 1720, Balaji was succeeded by his son Baji Rao I who was the greatest exponent of guerrilla tactics after Shivaji. He led a number of campaigns against the Mughals. Under his leadership Maratha control extended to Malwa, Gujarat and parts of Bundelkhand. He also forced the Nizam of Hyderabad to grant Chauth and Sardeshmukhi to the Marathas. He expanded the Maratha power in the North.

            Balaji Baji Rao who is popularly known as Nana Saheb in 1740 succeeded Baji Rao. After the death of Sahu in 1749 the Peshwa became the real ruler of the Marathas. He made Poona his headquarters. He extended the Maratha power in all parts of India. In 1751 he took Orissa from Bengal Nawab. In 1760 he defeated the Nizam of Hyderabad.

        In the North, the Maraths became the power behind the Mughal throne. From Delhi the Marathas turned to Punjab and expelled the agent of Ahmad Shah Abdali who formed an alliance with the kings of Rohilkhand and Awadh. Nana Saheb sent an army led by his cousin Sadashiva Rao Bhau. At the third battle of Panipat in 1761, the Maratha army was completely routed by Ahmad Shah Abdali.

        The Peshwa died soon after this defeat. Madhav Rao became the next Peshwa in 1761. He defeated the Nizam, compelled Haider Ali to pay tribute and brought the Mughal emperor Shah Alam back to Delhi. Madhav Rao died in 1772 after which the Maratha power began to decline.

         A fight broke out between Raghunath Rao, the younger brother of Nana Saheb and Narayan Rao the elder brother of Madhav Rao. Narayan Rao was killed in 1773 and was succeeded by his minor son Sawai Madhav Rao. Raghunath Rao went over to the British for

Help. This resulted in the First Anglo-Maratha War. Now, the Maratha power was divided into a number of Maratha Sardars. ….

Baroda came under the Gaekwad,

Nagpur under the Bhonsle,

Indore under the Holker and

Gwalior under the Sindhia.

Sawai Madhav Rao died in 1795 and was succeeded by the worthless Baji Rao II, the son of Raghunath Rao. The British were now able to crush the Maratha power during the Second and Third Anglo-Maratha Wars (1803-1805 and 1816-1819).

First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-82): Struggle for power among the Marathas and attempts of the British to take advantage of this struggle resulted in the First Anglo-Maratha War. The British defeated the Marathas at Talegaon in 1776. A Treaty of Salbai was concluded in 1782 by which status-quo was maintained. This Treaty bought peace for the British against the Maraths for the next 20 years.

Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-05): Wellesley’s desire to impose Subsidiary Alliance on the Marathas, strife among the Maratha chiefs, the signing of the Subsidiary treaty at Bassein by the Peshwa (Bajirao II) with the British became the principal causes of the Second Anglo-Maratha War. The British defeated the combined forces of Sindhia and Bhonsle and signed Subsidiary Treaties with them.

Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-18): The Maraths resented the loss of their freedom to the British and hated rigid control exercised by the British residents on the Maratha chiefs. The Peshwa was dethroned and sent to Bithur near Kanpur and the British annexed his territories. The kingdom of Satara was created as a symbol of Maratha pride.

History (English)

The State of Mysore and Anglo-Mysore Wars

Mysore under Haider Ali had emerged as a strong state in south India. He organised his army on the basis of Western Military training. He established a modern arsenal at Dindigul in 1755 with the help of French experts. In 1761 he overthrew the ruler Nanjaraj and established his own authority. Though he was illiterate, yet he was an efficient administrator. He practised religious toleration. He fought the British and died in 1782 during the Second Anglo-Mysore War. His son, Tipu Sultan succeeded him. Tipu had a keen interest in the French revolution. He planted a tree of liberty at Sringapattam and became a member of Jacobin Club. He also organised his army on European lines. He also tried to build a modern navy after 1796. Tipu also introduced modern industries in India. He sent embassies to France, Turkey and Iran to develop foreign trade. He also traded with China. He even tried to set up a trading company on the pattern of European companies. He gave money for the construction of the image of goddess Sharda in Shringeri temple.

First Anglo-Mysore War (1766-69): Haider wanted to push the British away from the Carnatic and finally from India. The British, the Nizam and the Marathas formed a tripartite alliance against Haider. Finally, the Treaty of Madras ended the war.

Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84): Mutual distrust and refusal of the English to fulfil the Terms of the Treaty of Madras led to the Second Anglo-Mysore War. Haider Ali died during this war. The Treaty of Mangalore was signed in 1784 by which both the sides agreed to restore each other’s possessions, trade privileges of the company were restored and all prisoners of war were released.

Third Anglo-Mysore War (1790-92): Success of Tipu in strengthening his position, his attempts to acquire the help of France and Turkey and enlargement of his territories at the cost of his neighbours particularly the Raja of Travancore forced the British to conclude an alliance with the Nizam and the Marathas against Tipu in 1790. Tipu defeated Major General Medows after which Cornwallis himself took command. He succeeded in surrounding Seringapatam in 1792. The Treaty of Seringapatam was concluded in March 1792 between Tipu and the English and their allies. Under this Treaty Tipu had to cede half of his territories and make a payment of Rs. 3.6 crore as indemnity. Tipu also had to release all prisoners of war.

Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799): Tipu wanted to avenge his humiliating defeat in the Third Anglo-Mysore War and repudiate the terms of the Treaty of Seringapatam. Lord Wellesley also wanted to remove Tipu’s threat forever. Tipu was defeated and killed in this war. The British annexed Mysore and small part of it was restored to Krishna Raja III of the Wodeyar Dynasty who signed a Subsidiary Treaty with the British.

History (English)

British Conquest of Bengal

Battle of Plassey (1757): Misinterpretation of the Mughal firman granted to the British in 1717 and the misuse of Dastaks (free passes) became the source of constant tension between the Bengal Nawabs and EIC. Siraj-ud-daulah the young Nawab of Bengal wanted the company to work under certain restrictions but after their success in south India, the EIC became too bold to obey the Nawab. Against the orders of the Nawab, the British fortified Calcutta against future French attack. Siraj-ud-daulah captured the English factory at Kasim Bazar and thereafter took control of Fort William. The English prisoners were confined in a small room known as Black Hole.

It is alleged that in this small room 123 Englishmen died of suffocation. After the fall of Calcutta, the English took refuge at Fulta. A strong army and naval force under Clive and Admiral Watson was dispatched to Calcutta. Manikchand who was given charge of Calcutta by Siraj-ud-daulah deserted the city and allowed the British to capture Calcutta again. The Nawab concluded the treaty of Alinagar on 9th February, 1757 and conceded all the British demands. In violation of the Alinagar treaty, the British captured Chandarnagar in March 1757. Now, the British wanted to replace Siraj-ud-daulah by Mir Jafar. Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh the two generals of the Nawab and Jagat Seth, a rich banker of Calcutta joined a conspiracy against the Nawab. The battle of Plassey was fought on 23rd June, 1757. Mir Jafar and Rai Durlabh hardly fought. Only a small force under Mohan Lal and Mir Madan took part in the battle. The British forces easily defeated the Nawab.

Importance of the Battle of Plassey: It paved the way for British control over Bengal and later the whole of India. The British now, became a major power to replace the Mughal rule in India. The company amassed huge wealth from Bengal.

Battle of Buxar (1764): Even Mir Jafar was not able to keep the greed of the British satisfied. The British removed him and made Mir Qasim the new Nawab of Bengal. After some time, even Mir Qasim began to oppose the British sovereignty over him. He was joined by Shuja-ud-daulah of Awadh and Shah Alam II, the Mughal emperor in the battle of Buxar on October 22, 1764 against the British. This time, the British Army led by Hector Munroe defeated the three most powerful combined forces of India.

Importance of the Battle of Buxar: The British became the rulers of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Nawab of Awadh became dependent on the company and the Mughal emperor became a pensioner of the company.

History (English) Uncategorized

Anglo-French rivalry In Carnatic

Carnatic became the theatre of a 20 years’ struggle between the French and the English for Supremacy, which ultimately resulted in the overthrow of the French power in India.

First Carnatic War (1745-48)

The English Navy under Barnatte captured the French ships in 1745 and Duplex, the French Governor captured Madras in 1746. The English made an appeal to the Carnatic Nawab Anwaruddin to secure Madras from the French. The French refused to obey the Nawab. The forces of Nawab and the French fought at St. Thome in which the Nawab was defeated. Finally, in 1748, the Anglo-French struggle in South India ended and the French restored Madras to the English.

Second Carnatic War (1749-54)

The French supported Muzaffar Jung of Hyderabad and Chanda Sahib of Carnatic. The English supported Nasir Jung in Hyderabad and Anwar-ud-din and his son Mohammad Ali in Carnatic. Initially the French succeeded in their plans but later the English under Robert Clive captured Arcote by defeating the French. The British executed Chanda Sahib and Mohammad Ali was made the Nawab of Carnatic. The French government recalled Duplex in 1754. However, the French position at Hyderabad was allowed to be held by their agents Bussy.

Third Carnatic War (1758-63)

The third Anglo-French War in India started with the outbreak of seven years’ war in Europe. In 1757, Clive captured Chandra Nagar. In 1760, the English General Eyri Coot in the famous battle of Wandiwash defeated Count de Lally the French governor. This marked the end of Anglo-French rivalry in south India.