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Historical Background

Question:

Analyze and Discuss Cultural, Social, Political or theoretical Issues of Architectural History Specific to the chosen topic.

The essay focuses on the architecture of British India that helped in representing and promoting civilised influence in the country. The essay discusses the impact of the architectural landmarks in developing India as a civilised country in the world. The history behind the British rule in the development of architecture in India is also discussed in the report. During the colonisation of the countries, people from Britain built upon the richness of the countries. The architectural establishments helped the British people to establish a firm foothold in the colonised countries and ensure that modernity is spread in the countries (Jia et al. 2014). The birth of a new and modern India can be attributed due to the introduction of British rule in India.

The development of modern architecture in India is largely due to the existence of cultural expression and identity of the Western forms. According to Anderson (2013), the reason for colonisation was the development of architectural buildings in order to improve cultural hegemony. Moreover, the expansion of Western culture during did not contribute to the expansion of the architectural culture of the British people but also helped in adopting the cultures of the colonised countries. Thus the development of architectural culture in Britain and India has helped in improving the civilised culture within India. In the light of this statement, it can be said that the emergence of British rule in India has had many positive impacts in the development of India. The British wanted to colonise India due to the existence of the richness of the country. The rule continued from 1858 till 1947 during which time most of the modern architectural landmarks were developed. Ching (2014) stated that apart from architectural development, the country was also developed economically. Economic trends such as the development of industries, railways and policies also resulted due to the existence of British rule in India. The development of railways is considered to be one of the best architectural projects in the country.

This is mainly because of the fact that the railways helped in the development of communication from one part of the country to another. The construction of railways also paved way for building the modern architectural buildings as it became easier to shift materials from one part of the country to another. According to Schmidt et al. (2013), the development of architectural buildings started from the ancient periods during the time of the rise of dynasties in the country. The development of architectural buildings such as the Stupa of Sanchi or the Pillar of Ashoka proved to be significant landmarks in the country. With the coming of the Mughals, India was enriched with the development of the Taj Mahal that is considered as one Seven Wonders of the World. These places attracted the interests of the British and paved way for the age of colonisation. Smith (2014) stated that the ultimate contribution in the field of architectural development came into existence from the British rule. In order to ensure that the spread of culture is maintained, the British people managed to overthrow the constructions of the Maratha and Sikhs and construct buildings that emerged as the architectural heritage of the country.

Cultural and Architectural Influence


These architectural heritages helped in the development of civilisation in India. For example, the construction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is considered as one of the finest buildings in India. Originally the building was constructed in order to house the Viceroy of India. During the colonial days, the Viceroy was considered as a person holding prominent power and position (Kelly 2015). Hence, the base of operations in terms of taking decisions was conducted from the building. In the modern era, this building is used by the President of India in order to conduct political meetings for the country. Apart from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the construction of courthouses and other buildings related to the political aspects of the country have been constructed during the British rule. Places such as Victoria Memorial are another architectural site that was constructed by the British in order to commemorate Queen Victoria. Hence, according to Brittain-Catlin (2017), the architectural sites that had been constructed by the British serve the purpose of fulfilling the main requirements of the country during colonisation. Nevertheless, it has helped in improving the civilisation of India and has brought about modernisation in the country. As of today, these sites are considered as ancient heritage sites of the country and are useful for attracting tourists. The attraction of tourist is a way of increasing the economy of the country as well as improves upon the culture of the country.

Shukla and Misra (2016) observed that the idea of modern architecture in India is most difficult to understand as there exists no clue about the development of architecture. As stated earlier, the development of architectural richness in the country started from ancient times. The advent of the British rule modernised the concept and provided the impression that the era of modernisation in India had begun. Some scholars deem it to be true as, without the construction of the political house, courtrooms, transportation facilities and so on, India could still remain as one of the underprivileged and underdeveloped countries. The historical aspects of the development of architecture in India have evolved with the change in time. The ideas formulated by during the British rule were considered modern due to the existence of some of the ancient relics. However, as stated by Hunt (2013) the preservation of the ancient relics were made in order to send a message about the unity of the country. The post-British rule, the development of the art of the 20th century created a uniform architectural movement in the country. With proper analysis and understanding of arts and architecture, India was transformed into a modern artistic country with the development of civilisation. In this regard, the modernisation was considered as an overall approach to life that helped in designing the world taking in consideration the works of great minds in the history of Indian literature.

Role of British Rule in Modernization

The biggest development that occurred during the British rule was the fact that the public buildings that were designed for the purpose of carrying out British colonisation operations became a centre of attraction for the people. Educational institutions, railway stations and monuments became a landmark for the country. These were constructed in order to demonstrate the superiority of the British culture in terms of cultural and architectural design. Some of the structures in the modern days include the monuments that were constructed during the time of the Mogul period. This signifies the fact that the architectures in the country are a mixture of Indo-European culture. Dobraszczyk (2014) stated that the study of architecture in India developed after the end of the British rule. However, it can be said that the architectural monuments that were built during the ancient days did not need people to be trained by any institutions. Natural talents of the people helped in the construction of the buildings that were built before the emergence of the British in India. Post-emergence of the British rule, many modern technologies were developed that highlighted the progress of the nation and helped in the construction of the British cultural sites in the countries.


According to Misra (2016), during the time of independence India had a handful of trained architects. The population of the country was as high as 330 million with only one institution dedicated to teaching arts. However, the number grew with time and people pursuing courses related to the history of India began to take interest in the architecture of the country. Financially capable people moved abroad to study art and be enriched with the culture of different countries. The reverse is also true as people from abroad travel to India to study art and try to create a fusion between the style of arts in India and abroad. This is an important step in the development of civilisation in the country as the people began to be more civilised by pursuing the Western cultures (Almeida 2017). Over the years, the country has developed and has managed to make minute changes in the traditional monuments and places that have been the landmark of the country. This is mainly due to the fact that Indian people studying abroad have contributed to the wellbeing of the country. The advent of civilised culture began with adopting ideas from the foreign lands and implicating it in order to enrich the cultural heritage of the country.

Significant Architectural Landmarks

According to Hunt (2016), the development of civilisation in India began early during the ancient times. Ancient history claims the development of Indus Valley, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa as the early strides towards building a civilised India. This was the early phase in which the development of coins and some of the modern day tool was developed. Over the ages development towards a civilised culture in India progressed with the emergence of the rulers and dynasties. The development of coins, weapons and so on helped in civilising India to some extent. These proved to be the base of which the adoption of modern technologies from the British rule was accepted in the country. However, Pinter-Wollman, Fiore and Theraulaz (2017) stated that during the British rule many Indians had opposed the use of technologies due to the fight for independence in the country. This resulted in some backwardness in the advent to civilisation in the country. However, with the effectiveness of the technology, the country began to be more civilised in terms of the development of architecture. The tools and materials brought about by the British contributed to the development of proper development of architects as well as a civilised people.

Hutchins (2015) is of the opinion that civilisation does not refer to the development of the people in terms of reduced crime rates. The term is used to indicate the social development that is undergone in a country in terms of the behaviours of the inhabitants. Human development, advancement in the field of technology, culture and education and so on constitutes the development of civilisation in a country. In this regard, it can be said that a particular country cannot be considered as highly developed or civilised as there exist some flaws in the development. Every country wants to be civilised covering all the aspects that are required for the growth of civilisation. For example, India is considered to be a hugely populated country currently at the developing stage. The country is equipped with modern technologies and development in the economy in terms of the rising of industries. The level of development in the country is different as compared to other countries due to the existence of a mixed cultural heritage. Hunt (2013) stated that civilised India began after the independence the country. This is mainly due to the fact that the freedom wars between the British and India led to the rise of many uncivilised activities.

In this regard, it can be said that the British people provided the impetus for the growth of a civilised culture in India. However, Sen (2016) stated that many people are of the opinion that the British rule causes the decline of civilised in India. This is because the advent of new technologies, monuments and other architectural development overshadowed the ancient tradition of the country. The development of relics, architecture, philosophies and cultures began from the ancient times. Hence, the advent of the British rule led to the destruction of the ancient beliefs and installed a sense of new cultural development in the country. According to Hawes (2013), this is a debatable factor among many scholars as it is important to identify the extent to which the cause and effects of the development of British culture in India. Hence, people of India are divided in terms of providing opinions about the pros and cons of British rule. In the light of this, it can be said that the mixture of Indo-European culture is one of the biggest advantages that the country has witnessed during the time of civilising the country. Some of the opinions of the scholars can be analysed in order to understand the impact of the Indo-European culture in the country.


Hawes (2013) stated that India had been an agricultural country in the ancient times. The fact that the people managed to create food for the mass and ensure that other people got work in terms of aiding in the agricultural fields marks the development of civilisation. Evidence of such agricultural background can be traced back to the ancient times. The growth of crops such as rice, indigo and wheat were the main components that helped India to remain a country of interest in the ancient times. This resulted in attracting the dynasties that ruled the country and the emergence of British rule. The crops harvested in the country were used by the British to enrich their land thereby, exploiting the poor people of the country. The economic exploitation that the British rule caused in the country can be considered as negligible given the development of infrastructure and industries in the country (Viswanathan 2014). This can be argued by stating that the education on science and technology provided to the people of India during the British rule were not aimed at the development of the country. Rather the aim was to execute a complete domination of the country by using technologies developed abroad. The fact that the local dialect proved to be difficult for the British prompted the Empire recruited Indian people for their benefit. This led to the slow development of civilised culture among Indians.

Most people are of the opinion that the developing stage of the country would not have occurred had the British people not conquered the land (Khan 2017). This is evident from the fact that the growth of infrastructure, modes of communication and industries developed as a result of the British rule. However, Smith (2014) stated that trade relations are also important for the growth of a civilised nation. Modern technologies spread from one country to another largely due to the existence of various industries in the country. Trade between countries have resulted in the development of technologies and contributed to the growth of a civilised country. In this regard, an example of Japan can be considered as a highly developed and civilised country in the world. Unlike India, Japan was not colonised by any of the European countries. However, due to the trade relations with other countries in the world, Japan managed to develop itself in terms of culture, technology and industries. Thus, the British rule has managed to exploit India more than it has helped in its development. The native of the country were forced to harvest crops that were sold to the British people at low prices. The growth of crops like cotton and indigo is used for the development of fashionable industries and the selling of these in large amounts helped in the growth of the economy of Britain. In this regard, a counter statement can be made citing the art of learning to harvest these crops.


Despite these flaws, the British rule provided historical landmarks in the country. It is due to the existence of such landmarks and the rich history of the country; people from abroad are attracted to study and perform research in India. This is one way of improving the economic growth of the country. The British rule also united the nation which may have been difficult during the time of the dynasty rulers in the country. The emergence of courts and the Indian Civil Service helped in civilising the country as any crime committed in the country are solved by courts. In modern day, however, the civilised people of India have had some setbacks in terms of behaviours and the way by which people are treated. Ching (2014) stated that the mixture of the Indo-European culture proved to have a positive impact on the country. The unification of the political parties in the country made India develop into a democracy. The development of modern transport facilities also contributed to the growth of a civilised country. This is largely backed by the modern education that the people receive. This contributes to the modernising of the society and making the country more civilised (Pinter-Wollman, Fiore and Theraulaz (2017).

Thus, it can be said that despite the differences of opinion of the people, the cultural identity of India has resulted from the British rule. The architectural buildings, development of educational centres, modernising of the country are a result of the 200 years of British rule over India (Anderson 2013). The fact that the economy of India has been exploited vehemently is indicative of the current economic state of the country. The architecture of modern India contributes to civilising the society with the mixture of western as well as regional cultures and ideas. One of the most important aspects of modern India is the fact that most of the technological development, cultural development and the lifestyle of the people are mainly due to the existence of British rule in the ancient times. Dobraszczyk (2014) observed the fact that the development of India from an agricultural based country to a technologically driven country is one of the biggest achievements of the country since its independence.

Thus, it can be concluded that the architectural development during the British rule contributed significantly to the growth of a civilised nation. Some of the modern facilities and technologies that are used in the modern world were developed during the British rule. The foundation of civilisation in India began in the ancient days and resulted in the slow development of the country. Despite varied opinions, British rule and architecture have contributed heavily to the progress of India. The economic exploitation that the country had encountered during the British rule can be recovered with the modernising of the society. Thus, the contribution of the architectural buildings promoted a civilising influence in the country.

References

Almeida, Hermionede. Indian Renaissance: British romantic art and the prospect of India. Routledge, 2017.

Anderson, John R. The architecture of cognition. Psychology Press, 2013.

Brittain-Catlin, Timothy. "Realism in Nineteenth-Century British Architecture." (2017): 174-191.

Ching, Francis DK. Architecture: Form, space, and order. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.

Dobraszczyk, Paul. "Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, 1840–1870." (2014): 372-374.

Hawes, Christopher J. Poor Relations: The Making of a Eurasian Community in British India, 1773-1833. Routledge, 2013

Hunt, Roger. "Architecture and climate: an environmental history of British architecture 1600–2000." (2013): 284-285.

Hunt, Tristram. "“India has an extraordinary collection of cities which form a key part of the story of British colonialism”–Tristram Hunt MP." South Asia@ LSE (2016).

Hutchins, Francis G. The illusion of permanence: British imperialism in India. Princeton University Press, 2015.

Jia, Yangqing, Evan Shelhamer, Jeff Donahue, Sergey Karayev, Jonathan Long, Ross Girshick, Sergio Guadarrama, and Trevor Darrell, Convolutional architecture for fast feature embedding." In Proceedings of the 22nd ACM international conference on Multimedia, pp. 675-678. ACM, 2014.

Kelly, Jessica. "Vulgar modernism: JM Richards, modernism and the vernacular in British architecture." Architectural History 58 (2015): 229-259.

Khan, Shafaat Ahmad. Sources for the history of British India in the seventeenth century. Vol. 22. Routledge, 2017.

Misra, Manjusha. "Laurie Baker’s contribution to the continuation of vernacular architecture in India." International Journal of Environmental Studies 73, no. 4 (2016): 631-650.

Pinter-Wollman, Noa, Stephen M. Fiore, and Guy Theraulaz. "The impact of architecture on collective behaviour." Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, no. 5 (2017): s41559-017.

Schmidt, Douglas C., Michael Stal, Hans Rohnert, and Frank Buschmann. Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture, Patterns for Concurrent and Networked Objects. Vol. 2. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Sen, Sudipta. A distant sovereignty: National imperialism and the origins of British India. Routledge, 2016.

Shukla, Bulbul, and Manjusha Misra. "Built from below: British architecture and the vernacular." (2016): 674-676.

Smith, Peter R. "Architecture and climate: an environmental history of British architecture 1600–2000." (2014): 84-85.

Viswanathan, Gauri. Masks of conquest: Literary study and British rule in India. Columbia University Press, 2014.

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