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The architecture of Bengal consists of the present country of Bangladesh and the Indian province of West Bengal, Tripura, and Assam. Bengali architecture incorporates ancient urban architecture, religious architecture, rural vernacular architecture, colonial town hall, and ranch-style houses, and present-day urban styles. Bengal is wealthy in good stone for building, and traditional Bengali architecture mostly uses brick and wood, often reflecting the style of the wood, bamboo, and thatch styles of local vernacular architecture for houses. Enhancing curves and cuts or molded plaques of terracotta are an extraordinary component of this design.
The Architecture of the Traditional Dwellings
A blend reared type of architecture, conceived out of traditionalism and colonization, are among a couple of stunning things passed on by the Britishers to us. The vast majority of the customary houses were very much furnished with balconies, running both around the ground and the first floors, which went about as a buffer space, which subsequently assisted with directing the external climate. The climate of this region remains predominantly hot and humid, which produced stodgy and awkward conditions for living, hence the climate issue was catered by two ways, one by resisting heat gain, and two by facilitating heat loss. Reducing humidity was also one of the key factors for generating comfort conditions. The pale tinge of the wall expanded the surface reflectivity and diminished the input thermal coefficient. The orientation of the structures was to such an extent that they gave concealing to the inside essences of the house bringing about a decrease of the heat gain. Using bamboo under the roof provided excellent insulation which carried out the thermal insulation of the roof. Ventilation was principally finished by putting two windows and two entryways before one another at a similar rooftop level. The cleverly placed central courtyard acted as the air sink which distributes and ventilates air.
History of Architecture
Urbanization is recorded in the locale since the first millennium BCE. Ancient Bengal was a piece of a network of urban and trading hubs extending to ancient Persia. Terracotta become a hallmark of Bengali construction, as the region lacked stone reserves. Bricks were produced with the clay of the Bengal Delta. Antiquated Bengali architecture peaked during the Pala Empire (750 – 1120). Pala Architecture impacted Tibetan and southeast Asian Architecture. The most well-known monument built by Pala Emperors was the Grand Vihara of Somapura, which is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and which historians accept to be a model for the architects of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Hindu and Jain Architecture
The majority of the Hindu temples were implicit by Gupta Era, Shashanka, Pala, and Sena Dynasty who administrated since the 5th century until the conquest. The deula, deul, or deoul is utilized for a style of Jain and Hindu temple architecture of Bengal, where the temple is devoid of the usual mandapa besides the main shrine, and the primary unit consists only of the shrine and a deul above it. The roofing style of the Bengali Hindu temple is unique, extraordinary, and firmly related to the paddy roofed traditional building style of rural Bengal. The terracotta reliefs often portray secular subjects in a very lively and enthusiastic fashion. Roofing styles incorporate the jor-Bangla, do-Chala (only two hanging roof tips on each side of a roof divided in the middle by a ridgeline), char-Chala (two halves are fused into one unit and have a dome-like shape), at-Chala (double storey at Chala type has eight roof corners), and Ek-Ratna. In mickle and later temples, small towers ascend from the center or corners of the curving roof. These are straight-sided, generally with conical roofs. They have little resemblance to a typical north Indian shikhara ‘Navaratna’ (nine towers) styles are assortments of the kind. Temple structures included gabled roofs which are colloquially called the Chala. For instance, a gabled roof with an eight-sided pyramid structured roof is called ‘ath chala’. These are built of laterite and brick bringing them at the mercy of extreme weather conditions of South Bengal. Dakshineswar Kali temple is one illustration of the Bhanja style while the extra small temples of Shiva along the river bank are the illustration of Southern Bengal roof style however in much smaller dimensions.
The most seasoned enduring mosque was worked during the Delhi Sultanate. The unmistakable provincial style drew its inspiration from the indigenous vernacular architecture of Bengal, including curved Chala roofs, corner towers, and complex floral carvings. Sultanate period mosques highlighted various domes or a single dome, richly designed mihrabs and minbars, and an absence of minarets. While clay bricks and terracotta were the most broadly used materials, the stone was utilized from mines in the Rarh region. Sultanate styles additionally incorporate gateways and bridges. Mughals replicated the do-Chala roof custom in North India. Mughal Bengal saw the spread of Mughal Architecture in the region, including, forts, Havelis, gardens, caravanserais, hammams, and fountains. The Eklakhi Mausoleum is enormous and has several elements that were common in the Bengal style, including slightly curved cornices, large round decorative buttresses, and decoration in carved terracotta brick. The demolished Adina Mosque (1374 – 75) is exceptionally huge, which is uncommon in Bengal, with a barrel-vaulted central hall flanked by hypostyle areas. The heavy rainfall in Bengal required enormous roofed spaces, and the nine domed mosques, which permitted a huge region to be covered, were more famous there than anywhere else.
The era of British rule saw affluent Bengali families utilizing European firms to design houses and palaces. Indo – Saracenic movement was emphatically common in the region, it tends to be found in the Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad. Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, designed by Vincent Esch additionally has Indo-Saracenic features, conceivably propelled from the Taj Mahal. Rural estates featured an elegant country houses, while cities were influenced by urban architecture. Art deco influences began in Calcutta in the 1930s.
Bungalows and Modernism
Origin of Bungalow has its foundations in the vernacular architecture of Bengal. The term, ‘Bangalo’ signifies ‘Bengali’ and is utilized elliptically for a ‘house in the Bengal style. Such houses were generally small, only one storey and detached, and had a wide veranda were adapted by the British, who utilized them as houses for Colonial Administration in Summers and Retreats in the Himalayas and compound outside Indian cities. Baglow style houses are exceptionally well-known in rural Bengal. The primary construction material used in present-day time is corrugated steel sheets. Previously, they had been constructed from wood, bamboo, and a kind of straw called ‘khar’. Khar was utilized in the roof of the bungalow house and kept the house cold during warm summer days. Another roofing material for bungalow houses has been red clay tiles. Art Deco can likewise be found in the bungalows, which were being annihilated and supplanted by high-rise buildings.
Bengal has always been a culturally and traditionally rich place. It has always served its citizens with a variety of cultures, traditions, heritage, and architecture. It has a long and rich history, blending indigenous elements from the Indian Subcontinent, with influences from different parts of the world. It has always inspired the world with its art and architecture and will continue to do so in the coming future too.
- Wikipedia.org. (2021). Architecture of Bengal. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Bengal
- Das, Dipanjan. (n.d.). Traditional Dwelling in West Bengal. [online] Available at: https://www.archinomy.com/case-studies/traditional-dwelling-in-west-bengal/
- Surana, Prachi. (n.d.). 10 Buildings Representing Exuberant Architecture of West Bengal. [online] Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/city-and-architecture/a2734-10-buildings-representing-exuberant-architecture-of-west-bengal/