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  • 20 Most Beautiful Arcade Architecture in Indian Monuments

    Arcade architecture has a rich history in India, dating back centuries and evolving through various dynasties and architectural styles. It consists of a series of arches supported by columns or piers. Thus, Arcade Architecture represents a path from the past to the future, conveying openness and strength.

    Arcade Architecture
    Arches in Red Fort; Image from Pickpik

    Although the use of true arch in Indian architecture dates back to the 1st–2nd centuries CE, credit is given to the Turks, who introduced it to India in 1206. Arcades have not only served functional purposes, providing shade and circulation, but have also become a symbol of India’s architectural diversity, reflecting the influences of various dynasties and cultures throughout its history. In medieval times, Islamic architecture introduced pointed arches and intricate designs to structures like the Taj Mahal. However, the British colonial period, with its Indo-Saracenic style, saw arcade architecture incorporated into public buildings. Today, they continue to influence modern designs, blending traditional and contemporary styles.

    Here are 20 examples of beautiful arcade architecture in Indian monuments:

    1.Monuments of Mandu

    Stone Arcades of Mandu, Photo by Shravan Khare

    The town of Mandu, adorned with hundreds of historical monuments, is a celebration of stone architecture. These monuments speak of ancient history and the fusion of Hindu and Islamic styles of architecture. In addition, each of Mandu’s structures is an architectural gem, from the grand Jami Masjid to the mesmerising Jahaz Mahal. What the structures lack in ornamentation and decoration, they compensate with elegant arcades, striking domes, and the massiveness of their construction.

    2.Diwan-i-Aam, Delhi

    Arcade Architecture
    Red sandstone arches at Diwan-i-Aam, Delhi; Wikimedia Commons

    Constructed by Shah Jahan, this hypostyle hall in red sandstone is a harmonious blend of Persian, Islamic, and Hindu styles of architecture. Besides, it was here that the emperor used to sit on his Peacock Throne to hold an audience with the public. Three sides of the building are open, and each side features an arcade of nine arches, with double columns between each arch and a group of four at each corner, for a total of 40 columns. The arcade architecture of the building and the high ceiling of the hall keep it well-lit and cool even during hot summers.

    3.Moti Masjid, Agra

    Arcade architecture at Pearl Mosque, Agra; Wikimedia Commons

    Also known as the “Pearl Mosque”, Moti Masjid is a stunning white marble structure built during the reign of Shah Jahan. Pristine white marble, graceful domes, and a series of graceful arcades that encircle the prayer hall characterise its architectural elegance, exemplifying the beauty of Mughal arcaded architecture.

    4.Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri

    Arcade Architecture
    Interior Arches of Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri; Wikimedia Commons

    Jama Masjid was built under the patronage of Akbar. The Mughal architecture of this grand mosque features intricate arcades, rhythmic domes, delicate jalis, and a beautiful contrast of red sandstone and marble. At the same time, the mosque’s central courtyard is surrounded by arcades on three sides and a prayer hall on the west. The arcade architecture of the mosque provides structural support, offers shaded areas for worshippers, enhances the mosque’s visual appeal, and contributes to the overall symmetry of the design.

    5.Mysuru Palace

    Gold and Turquoise collonaded hall in the Mysuru palace; Photo by Tanmoy Pal

    Designed in Indo-Sarcenic style by a British architect, this exuberant piece of architecture is also known as the Amba Vila Palace. Ornate domes, ‘jharokha’-style balconies, grand arches, and ornamental pillars are the main characteristics of the palace. What makes the structure truly stand out is its vibrant colour palette!

    6.Amber Fort, Jaipur

    Court of 27 pillars in Amber Fort; Benjamin Hemer via Imaginiso

    The Amber Fort, also known as Amer Fort, is a splendid testament to the grandeur of Rajput and Mughal architecture. It is built using red sandstone and marble on four different levels. The fort boasts ornate gateways like Ganesh Pol and Suraj Pol, with intricate frescoes and latticed windows. Its elegant courtyards, including Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas, are richly decorated with arches and columns. The Sheesh Mahal dazzles with countless tiny mirrors, while the Sattais Katcheri, a charming 27-pillared pavilion, adds to the architectural splendour.

    7.Rajon ki Baoli, Delhi

    Arcade Architecture
    Symmetrical arcade architecture at Rajon ki Baoli; Parth Joshi on Flickr

    Built during the reign of Sikander Lodhi, the U-shaped stepwell is designed in the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The stepwell consists of four levels, becoming narrower as you descend towards the water. It features collonaded arcades on three sides, with steps on the fourth side. There are also small internal rooms built behind the arcades to offer a respite from the heat.

    8.Paigah Tombs, Hyderabad

    Scalloped Arcades at Paigah Tombs; Kandukuru Nagarjun via Flickr

    The architecture of these tombs is a blend of Persian, Rajasthani, Mughal, and Deccani influences. Notable features of the necropolis are the intricately detailed fenestrations, stucco-embellished arcades, lime and mortar jaalis, and elaborate trellises. The profuse ornamentation and the opulent use of materials drench the place in gleaming beauty.

    9.Samode Palace, Jaipur

    Arcade Architecture
    Colourful Arches at Samode Palace; Peter Burka via Flickr

    Originally built as a fort, the place was later converted into a palace, and today it is being run as a heritage hotel. The architecture of the palace is a blend of Rajputi and Mughal styles. The three-story palace boasts marble floors, ornamental pillars, frescoes, and mosaic walls. The arcades, which look like they have come straight out of a Wes Anderson movie set, are the most intriguing part of the palace.

    10.Lotus Mahal, Hampi

    Arcade of cusped arches at Lotus Mahal; Wikimedia Commons

    The Lotus Mahal at Hampi is built in the Vijayanagara style of architecture. The symmetrically laid-out structure is constructed out of brick and mortar and is raised on an ornamental stone base. At the same time, the arcade and the balcony with a domed construction resemble a half-opened lotus bud, giving the structure its name. Also, there is a lotus bud shape carved on the main dome.

    11.Junagadh Fort, Bikaner

    Golden Arcade at Junagadh Fort; Wikimedia Commons

    Within this timeless fort, there are 37 palatial structures constructed using a combination of red sandstone and marble. These palaces boast kiosks, balconies, and an abundant use of intricate jaalis. The Karan Mahal, in particular, showcases a ceiling upheld by an arcade of cusped arches spanning balustered and fluted columns. Meanwhile, the palace apartment also features a false arcade. Other architectural elements found in the fort complex are columns, cusped arches, and towers.

    12.City Palace, Jaipur

    Arcade Architecture
    Arcade architecture at Diwan-i-Khaas, City Palace; Vecteezy

    The City Palace in Jaipur epitomises the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. It showcases the best of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, with some European elements. The palace complex showcases opulent rooms, season-themed entrances, and beautifully designed courtyards. In particular, the Diwan-i-Khaas and the Mubarak Mahal feature a stunning array of arches and collonaded arcades.

    13.Jama Masjid, Delhi

    Arcade at Jama Masjid, Delhi; © Hadynyah/E+/Getty Image via Peapix

    Jama Masjid in Delhi is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, characterised by its use of red sandstone and white marble. It features towering minarets, three imposing domes, and a vast courtyard. Intricate arched arcades adorn the edges of the courtyard and the eastern elevation, through which one can see the surroundings of the Masjid. The inner prayer hall also features arcades decorated with golden inlay work and black marble.

    14.Kurumbera Fort, West Bengal

    Stone arcade at Kurumbera Fort; Wikimedia Commons

    This walled complex, though called a fort, is more of a public gathering place. The huge courtyard of the complex is mostly vacant, with only an arcaded corridor surrounding a mosque and an altar. The corbelled-type arches of the corridor are made of laterite stone and resemble Odia architecture.

    15.Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar

    Arcade Architecture
    Stone-carved arcade with Jharokha in the centre; Jean-Pierre Dalbera via Flickr

    This Maratha fort features elements from Rajasthani havelis like chhatris, jharokhas, jaalis, and stone carvings. The multi-foil arches and arcades are extensively used in the verandahs and facades of the complex. The monumental staircase leading to the formidable rampart of the fort is a sight to behold.

    16.Bada Imambara, Lucknow

    Arcades at the Bhool Bhullaiyya in Bada Imambara; Adeel Anwer via Flickr

    Blending Mughal and Awadhi styles, the structure showcases a massive central hall with one of the largest arched constructions in the world, an iconic arched gateway, expansive courtyards, and intricate stucco work. Its main attraction, the Bhool Bhulaiyya, features a labyrinth of arched passageways, domed chambers, and hidden staircases, adding intrigue to the architectural marvel. The complex exemplifies the archetypal Mughal arches and arcades, displaying a fusion of Mughal and indigenous elements.

    17.Jami Masjid, Gulbarga

    Arcade Architecture
    Wide span arches at Jami Masjid, Gulbarga; Wikimedia Commons

    Unlike typical mosque architecture, Jami Masjid at Gulbarga does not have a central courtyard, a minaret, or solid outer walls. The light that generally filters into the interiors through the courtyard instead comes through the open arcade that forms the facade of the building. The interiors, with their wide span and unconventional arches, resemble the Great Cathedral-Mosque of Córdoba in Spain.

    18.Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

    Arcade Architecture
    Arcade architecture at Ibrahim Rouza; Wikimedia Commons

    Known as the Black Taj Mahal of the South, the complex comprises two main structures: a mausoleum and a mosque, with a reservoir in between them. Within the arched verandah, a row of pillars surrounding the mausoleum chamber creates a double arcade. The pointed arches of the structure are elaborately ornamented with carvings and have a decorated ceiling. Both the mausoleum and the mosque have minarets rising from each corner, with an onion dome on top.

    19.Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer

    Yellow sandstone arches at Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer; Patrick Barry via Flickr

    Built in yellow sandstone, Bada Bagh is a collection of cenotaphs for the ruling kings and queens of the land. These are open pavilions raised on square or hexagonal bases with ornate pillars and arches supporting the cupolas on the top. They feature Rajput-style intricate carvings on them. The size and style of the pavilion vary depending on the stature of the person it was built for.

    20.Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace

    Arcade Architecture
    Arcade around the central courtyard; Ashwin Kumar via Flickr

    Famous for its imposing columns and mesmerising stucco work, the palace features the Dravidian style of architecture with hints of Italian influence. The palace boasts massive, ornate 25-metre-high columns that support a stunning arcaded colonnade. The grand arcade features multi-foil arches, constructed with foliated brickwork and adorned with a finish of shell lime and egg white.

    Arcade architecture has, to date, been an integral part of architecture and masonry globally. In addition, they serve a multitude of purposes in making our buildings more functional and aesthetic, even today. Furthermore, today, with advanced materials and technology, arcade architecture doesn’t restrict itself to height or form limitations.

    Thus, in contemporary design, arcade architecture fosters a harmonious coexistence of tradition and innovation, breathing life into structures with timeless beauty. For instance, the Tel Aviv tower designed by PENDA and the Brick Arcade designed by MMX in Mexico are fine examples of contemporary arcade architecture. To sum up, the adaptability of arcade architecture, both in form and function, makes it indispensable for creating inviting, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing spaces in modern buildings.

    Content Writing And Research By: Ar. Kiran Rathi

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