Like all other aspects, colonization of Indian also had an impact on architecture style. With colonization, a new chapter in Indian architecture began. The Dutch, Portuguese and the French made their presence felt through their buildings but it was the English who had a lasting impact on architecture. In the beginning of the colonial rule there were attempts at creating authority through classical prototypes. In its later phase the colonial architecture culminated into what is called the Indo-Saracenic architecture.
The Indo-Saracenic architecture combined the features of Hindu, Islamic
and western elements. The colonial architecture exhibited itself through
institutional, civic and utilitarian buildings such as post offices,
railway stations, rest houses and government buildings. Such buildings
began to be built in large numbers over the whole empire. Colonial
architecture in India followed developments not only from metropolis but
also took inspiration from existing architecture in India.
From the mid nineteenth century it became a norm for the Anglo-Indian
church builders to follow the model set by the revivers of the many
combinations of Gothic in England. In many cases imperialism was the
sole guiding force rather than practicality. On many occasions heavier
styles than Gothic were employed. This can be seen in the Mutiny
Memorial Church at Kanpur and the last garrison church in New Delhi.
The Italian Gothic was seen to be well adapted to conditions in India.
The architecture style recommended by Sir Gilbert Scott for Bombay
University proved crucial in making the colonial architecture look more
'Indian'. Perhaps this was the beginning of a truly imperial style that
reached its apex at New Delhi. The great public building campaign
launched in Bombay in the second half of the nineteenth also resulted
into great development of colonial architecture. In this phase Sir
Gilbert Scott's buildings were significant products. Other remarkable
landmarks produced during this phase were William Emerson's Crawford
Market, the Bombay high court and the Victoria terminus (now Shivaji
The Victoria Terminus, once the headquarters of the Great Indian
Peninsular Railway, was the culminating masterpiece of the phase. It was
increasingly hybrid in style. The Classical and Baroque style furthered
the innovation in architecture. Its best exponent was Walter Carnville's
Calcutta General Post Office. The innovation in colonial architecture
did not stop here; in Victoria Memorial, William Emerson tried to
emulate the Taj Mahal in material if not in form. This was an indication
of 'Indo-Saracenic' hybridization and was being increasingly employed at
different places like St. John's College, Agra and the Madras High
This short write up traces the main features of colonial architecture in India.