Friday, 25 December 2015

Indian Architecture- III

Secular Architecture
The colonial attention towards Indian architecture was mainly focused towards religious buildings and hence there is much scholarship in this area. In recent times, the secular production of India is gaining the attention it merits. Cities of the desert region in the North such as Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, towns such as Srirangam in Tamil Nadu evolving around the temple as nucleus, the stepped wells of Gujarat, the vernacular architecture of the warm, humid area of Kerala- all these are unique in their response to socio-cultural and geographic context.

Architecture under the Colonial Rule
With colonization, a new chapter began. Though the Dutch, Portuguese and the French made substantial forays, it was the English who had a lasting impact.
The architecture of the colonial period varied from the beginning attempts at creating authority through classical prototypes to the later approach of producing a supposedly more responsive image through what is now termed Indo-Saracenic architecture- a mixture of Hindu, Islamic and Western elements. Institutional, civic and utilitarian buildings such as post offices, railway stations, etc., began to be built in large numbers over the whole empire. Perhaps the most famous example is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in Mumbai, originally named in honor of Queen Victoria. The creation of New Delhi in early 20th century with its broad tree lined roads and majestic buildings generated lots of debate on what should be an appropriate architecture for India.

Post-independence architecture of India
With the introduction of Modern Architecture into India and later with Independence, the quest was more towards progress as a paradigm fuelled by Nehru’s visions. The planning of Chandigarh- a city where most architects hate/love- by Le Corbusier was considered a step towards this. Later as modernism exhausted itself in the West and new directions were sought for, in India too there was a search for a more meaningful architecture rooted in the Indian context. This direction called Critical Regionalism is exemplified in the works of architects such as B.V. Doshi, Charles Correa, etc.,

Indian architecture as it stands today is a pluralistic body of production that cannot in all justice be exemplified by the approaches, buildings and architects cited above. It has evolved over the centuries and has been affected by numerous invaders who have brought different styles from their motherlands. But it is an unavoidable fact that certain expressions tend to get magnified and others reduce when set against the vast canvas of the world.


Sunday, 20 December 2015

Indian Architecture- II

The Hindu Temples
The reference to temples in literature go back early with Panini (520 BC - 460 BC) and Patanjali mentioning temples which were called ‘’Prasadas’’. Early beginnings of Hindu temple architecture have been traced to the remains at Aihole and Pattadakal in present day Karnataka, and have Vedic altars and late Vedic temples as described by Panini as models. Later, as more differentiation took place, the Dravidian/ Southern style and the Indo-Aryan/Northern/Nagara style of temple architecture emerged as dominant modes, epitomized in productions such as the magnificent Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur, and the Sun Temple, Konark. The older terminologies of Dravidian and Indo-Aryan are not used in current practice because of their racial and dubious origins. Buddhist elements and motifs have influenced temple architecture to a considerable extent.

Early temples were rock-cut, later structural temples evolved. The Kailasanatha temple at Ellora is a good example of the former, excavated from top to bottom out of a massive rock face.
The pyramid formed an essential architectonic element in any temple composition- stepped in the Dravidian style, stepped and slightly curved in the Northern style. The structural system was essentially trabeated and with stone being the basic raw material for the Indian craftsman, construction could be carried out with minimal or no mortar. Decoration was fundamental to Indian architecture and is seen in the myriad details of figured sculpture as well as in the architectural elements. The concept of fractals has been used to examine the form of the Hindu temple, both in terms of its planning and external appearance.

The garbha-griha or the womb chamber forms the central focus housing the deity of the temple and is provided with a circumambulation passage around. However, there are also many subsidiary shrines within temple complexes, more particularly in the South Indian (the Dravidian style) temple. As the Hindu temple is not meant for congregational worship, the garbah-griha is small in scale when compared to the whole temple complex. However, it is articulated externally by the vimana or the sikhara. Pillared halls or mandapas are found preceding the garbha-griha.

The spatial experience of a South Indian temple complex is considered particularly rich and meaningful. In many of them, such as the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam, the concentric enclosures or prakaras along with the series of gopurams or entrance gateways reducing in scale as they move towards the garbha-griha set up a rhythm of solids and voids as well as providing a ritual and visual axis. The principles of temple architecture were codified in treatises and canons such as Manasara, Mayamatam, and Vaastu Shastra. These offered an ordering framework yet allowed certain latitude for contextual articulation.

Today most of the ancient Hindu architecture thrives in temples of south India and south-east Asia as the subsequent forces of Islam transformed the cultural landscape of India more dominantly in the north. 
Influence of Islam and the Mughal Architecture
With the advent of Islam, the erstwhile Indian architecture was slightly adapted to allow the traditions of the new religion, but it remained strongly Indian at its heart and character. Arches and domes began to be used and the mosque or masjid too began to form part of the landscape, adding to a new experience in form and space. The sahn or the open courtyard for congregational worship with the enclosing cloisters or liwans and the sanctuary at the Western end offered a different architectural vocabulary. The fundamental difference lay in the fact that Islam prohibited idol worship and therefore a concentrated point of focus such as the garbha-griha was unnecessary. However, the mihrab on the Western wall of the sanctuary articulating the Qibla or the direction towards Mecca offered a notional focus. As idolatry was prohibited, the main means of adornment was surface decoration through the use of geometry, arabesque and calligraphy. Later, mosques began to be built with original material. The Jama Masjid at Delhi is a representative example of an Indian mosque. Islamic architecture was also represented by distinct regional styles that drew a lot of inspiration from the local context.

The most famous Islamic buildings in India emerged during the Mughal period. Mughal architecture built on the traditional Hindu architecture with influences from the Persian world. Over time, Hindu and Islamic architecture produced a synthesis that is exemplified in the glorious production of Akbar- the city of Fatehpur Sikri, considered by many to be superior to the Taj Mahal (often seen as representing India) in terms of what it has to teach to civilisation- syncretism, tolerance and the best of different worlds, and the Taj itself, renowned for its beauty in white marble, its intricate engravings, its minarets and its setting.

The most popular Islamic building type in India is the tomb or the mausoleum which evolved from the basic cube and hemisphere vocabulary of the early phase into a more elaborate form during the Mughal period where multiple chambers are present and tombs were set in a garden known as the char-bagh. The tomb chamber houses the cenotaph below which is the grave. Well known examples are the Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur and the Taj Mahal, Agra.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Indian Architecture- I

Ancient Indian Architecture
Indian architecture is that vast tapestry of production of the Indian Subcontinent that encompasses a multitude of expressions over space and time, transformed by the forces of history considered unique to the sub-continent, sometimes destroying, but most of the time absorbing. The result is an evolving range of architectural production that none the less retains a certain amount of continuity across history.

Ajanta Caves
The Ajanta Caves in India are 29 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of both Buddhist religious art (which depict the Jataka tales) as well as frescos which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka. The caves were built in two phases starting around 200 BCE, with the second group of caves built around 600 CE.
Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, just outside the village of Ajintha. Caves are only about 59 kilometres from Jalgaon Railway station (on Delhi - Mumbai, Rail line of the Central railways, India); and 104 kilometres from Aurangabad (from Ellora Caves 100 Kilometres).

Indus-Sarasvati Civilization and the Vedic Village
The earliest production in the Indus Valley Civilization was characterized by well-planned cities and houses where religion did not seem to play an active role. The presence of drainage systems and public baths showed advanced standards of hygiene and sanitation and ingenious planning. The Vedic village had certain distinct characteristics that influenced subsequent architectural production. The Vedic grama could have a pur, or a fort-like structure within it. The Vedic hymns speak of "purs" made of stone and metal.
The Vedas have many words for houses. It appears that the main distinction was between chardis (house with a thatched roof), harmyam (a house of brick and stone that had a courtyard in the middle), and gotra (a multi-dwelling complex with sheds for animals). The Rig-Veda speaks once of a palace with 1000 doors, and twice of a palace with 1000 columns.

Buddhist and Jaina Architecture
Buddhism gained prominence during the reign of the emperor Ashoka. It is primarily represented by three important building types- the Chaitya Hall (place of worship), the Vihara (monastery) and the Stupa (hemispherical mound for worship/ memory)- exemplified by the magnificent caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the monumental Sanchi Stupa. The Greek influence led the Indian architecture of the time, especially the rock-cut art, to fall under one of the two categories: the Mathura school of art which was strictly Indian in spirit and did not adopt from the Greek styles, and the Gandharva School of art which incorporated influences of the Greek art. The division of Buddhism into Hinayana and Mahayana phases also influenced the nature of rock-cut art, the former being represented by artifacts used by the Buddha, and the latter by images of the Buddha. The Jaina temples are characterized by a richness of detail that can be seen in the Dilwara Temples in Mt. Abu.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

A note on furnished apartments

Did you shift your base to a new city recently? And are you worried about shelling out extra money to arrange the furniture and furnishings for your new place? Don’t be; opt for a furnished apartment as it is best suited for all your requirements.
Furnished apartments have been dominating the real estate market trend for quite some time now. Furnished apartments are highly preferred by buyers as well as tenants. Based on the condition of the property, it can be priced. Such as if it is furnished properly with the availability of necessary appliances and furniture then it can be priced on a higher side.

These apartments are usually studio and service apartments, but nowadays larger residential units also come as fully furnished. Fully furnished apartments are mostly preferred by bachelors, working professionals who need low maintenance homes. Also, furnished apartments are very comfortable as it comprise of a functional kitchen, bathroom as well as living space with all furniture.

Those who need to constantly shift their base and stay for a short period of time in one place, furnished apartments are a boon for them.  Because moving to another place becomes easier and a lot of money is saved from buying new furniture and appliances.

In addition, moving to furnished apartment also saves time in terms you don’t have to devote your time and energy in unpacking the household things, arranging them, fix any defective appliance and much more. In this case, the landlord takes care of everything starting from repairing of appliances to arranging the furniture.

But as every coin has two different sides, so as furnished apartments also have some drawbacks too.

For instance, if you already have your own furniture and appliances, then moving to a furnished apartment will not be a good idea. As then you have to keep some of your things in storage. Usually, the rent of the furnished apartments comprises of the rent for the furniture and appliances also. So if you use your furniture, then also you have to pay the entire rent. And ultimately you will end up paying more rent without using all of the household things.

Secondly, if you make furniture on your own in an unfurnished apartment, it gives you a choice to design it in your own way and you can plan it as you want.

So the conclusion is, for short-term stay, furnished apartments should be preferred and for long-term stay, with your old furniture with you, unfurnished apartments can be preferred.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

E-commerce Growth & Real Estate

The Internet revolution has transformed the way businesses used to operate. E-commerce is one of the tools of the internet which is replacing the brick-and-mortar shops with digital portals. Fortunately, real estate developers and brokers have recognized that the evolution of the Internet has raised the pulse of realty demands. In fact, realty pundits have announced that the Internet offers more opportunities than threats to real estate developers and brokers. That is why, real estate professionals are increasingly embracing e-commerce rather than ignoring or fearing it.

How does e-commerce change the real estate demand? E-commerce has led to the demand for technological skills within real estate companies, and they are increasingly developing expertise in technology. Today, the need is to develop specialized skills for real estate firms to redefine their roles for the digital economy. Importantly, success doesn’t come with just designing a web page for the company but to modify it to use e-commerce to serve clients better.

The Internet makes realty transactions fast and enables companies to act rapidly too. It is mainly because; the web itself is growing at tremendous speeds. E-commerce has been exploding and opening up new doors for newer opportunities. Also, E-commerce is expected to augment physical realty sales in many areas as the Internet can pick up those sales around the edges. Time-starved consumers who once browsed through catalogs and ordered products by phone or by mail may now do so over the web. The Internet serves as a direct marketing channel. 

Technology has acted as a game changer, especially for realty market. Riding high on the back of technology, real estate companies are striving to create a suited environment where new ideas spawn. The purpose of the Internet based environment is to help customers learn, interact, and make the best possible choices.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Quick tips to make your entrance look different

The entryway is the first thing that any visitor notices. And often it gets neglected in terms of decoration. We mostly concentrate on the interiors of the house and forget that the entryway play a significant role in the home decor. It is one of the essential parts of a house as it projects the interiors of a house as well. Looking at your entryway, visitors might form a good or bad impression about the interior of your house.  But the question arises what to do in the entrance area? So here are a few pointers that can be helpful for you.

The entryway is the only way to enter the house, so it should have limited furniture to make it look uncluttered. If you have furniture like a shoe rack then it should be properly covered and organized.

If you have a small apartment and want to make it look bigger, place mirrors of different sizes. As mirrors brighten up the place and create an impression of elongated entryway making it look bigger. You can also place a runner rug vertically in front of the doorstep. It instantly uplifts the entrance.

In order to personalize space, hang some of your family pictures, or include some bright colours to highlight the section while creating a positive and lively ambiance. You can also place some paintings of your favourite artist or something painted by you, such that the place reflects your personality. If you like earthy stuff, then place some handcrafts in your entryway. You can also place some souvenirs of different places from your recent travel.

Light up the entryway with bright lights. Instead of placing lamps in the entryway, which might make the space look cluttered, use hanging lights or small chandeliers.

Moreover, put some life into your doorway by including some plants or flowers. Some flowers last for a week, keep them in vases, water them to keep them fresh. But make sure to regularly clean the entryway.


Friday, 27 November 2015

Good Days Ahead For Home Buyers

Are you looking out to buy a new flat? Then this time is the most desirable time that you might have been waiting for.  As the Government along with other higher authorities in the country such as RBI has set their eyes on the real estate sector to improve its present condition. And this is quite visible with several recent developments, which include the clearance of Real Estate bills and twice rate cuts by RBI. Further to the RBI rate cut, well-known banks like HDFC, ICICI, Axis and SBI have also reduced their home loan rates. Reduced home loan rate is a great news for any buyer, as it refers to less interest that further points out to reducing burden from the buyer's shoulder and in return the buyer will be more enthusiastic to buy new properties. In line with the present rate cut, developers are also hoping high for a further rate cut by the end of the year.

However, looking at the current developments, real estate developers are launching new projects in Mumbai and suburbs with a view to boosting the status of decreasing sales of residential projects. In spite of the fact there are lots of inventory still under construction in the region, the builders are still looking at developing more new projects. Also with the reduced home loan rates by the banks, builders are hoping high with the new launches, as buyers now will not be hesitant in investing money in new projects.

In addition, the new job opportunities such as the rise of the e-commerce sector, returns from the stock markets have comparatively increased in the earnings and thus the spending power. This rise in spending power of the buyers combined with lesser home loan rates is expected to further push up the home sales sentiments.

Also, the clearance of the real estate bill is another major step towards the improvement of the real estate market. With a proper regulatory body in place, the buyer can now invest in any property without getting worried about being cheated or harassed by the developer. The bill has brought in a positive vibe among the home buyers as now they can feel protected against the wrong practices of the real estate sector. Henceforth, the buyer can now become hopeful about an organised property market that encourages transparent and smooth dealings.