A hundred years ago, MAY 13, 1922 Archives

Will architecture survive in India?

Mr. Sitaram was asked by the Chairman (Dr. Thomas, of the Indian Office Library) whether he considered that the Indian temples and tombs of which he had shown us so many fine examples were really beautiful. He replied that to an artistic Indian they certainly were, and I think the vast majority of intelligent Europeans would say the same from their own point of view. Moreover, he claimed that the art of architecture was still living in India, though fast dying and in the south at least it was managing to survive, in spite of the Public Works Department. He pointed to the recent additions to the Rameswaram, Chidambaram, and Tiruchendore temples, and to the erection of new temples at Kaladi and Sringeri as showing that the master architects of the South like their brothers of the North, know their business and the requirements of their country and climate far better than the architect who refuses to understand the needs of a tropical climate and a conservative people but goes on building practically flat structures or other monstrosities. As an instance of this he contrasted the High Court of Madras and the Presidency College in the same city. The former owed its inspiration chiefly to a master-builder and the later to the aesthetics of the Public Works Department.

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