Hindu Architecture1 is basically temple architecture. They were meant as the home of a particular god where his devotees could visit to obtain the darshan [sight] of the god and goddess. It was where heaven and earth meets and thus a sacred place of pilgrimage.
Temples are built according to precise and harmonious geometry, on elaborately carved platforms involving precise cutting of dressed stones. The structure is laid out according to the eight cardinal directions with the gods of each of the direction represented in sculpture on the temple’s exterior. Their main features are a portico entrance (ardha-mandapa), pillared hall (mandapa), an innermost heart centre called garbhagriha and topping it above, a huge corbelled tower (sikhara). The “garbhagriha” or womb-chamber is a windowless shrine room having one entrance door with symbolic doors on all the other three sides. Within is placed the symbolic representation of the specific god the temple represents. Surrounding the “garbhagriha” is a spacious hall where worshippers to stand or sit together for singing songs of devotion.
The special features of temples are square forms, grid ground plans and soaring towers. Temple walls and pillars are elaborately decorated with sculptures of Gods, Worshippers and animals; floral and geometric patterns; love scenes and episodes from mythologies.
Though distinctive regional styles developed in Orissa, Kashmir and Bengal, broadly two pan-Indian styles are recognized -the Nagara style in the North and the Dravida style in the South.
The Nagara Style
In the Nagara style the Sikhara towers have a sloping curve as they raise, have decorative arches (asgavakshas) topped by a large fluted stone disk or amalaka and a small pot and finial. Their walls have exterior projections or ratha numbering seven on each side resulting in many recesses.
The Dravida Style
The Dravida styles (asvimana) are dome like topped by another smaller dome. The outer walls of have entablatures containing sculptures. In additions Dravida style temples have ritual bathing tank or Nandi mandapa and barrel vaulted roof or shala. The whole structure further enclosed within a walled courtyard with a gate or gopura more massive and ornate than the temple itself.
Main Characteristic of Islamic Architecture
Islamic architecture2 is either tombs or mosques.
The mosque is characterized by arches, beams, pillars, lintels, cut and polished stones and the extensive use of lime as mortar and pure white marble,
The basic outline of the structure is either Cubic, square or octagonal enclosing an oblong worship hall surrounded by colonnade, four courtyards and stone ramparts.
The top of the structure is often crowned with a dome architecture that consisted of either a double shell dome system or a row of five domes.
The inner walls are covered with inlays of gold, silver and precious metals. They are further richly decorated with geometrical, arabesque and foliage designs, Arabic calligraphy which is either cut on plaster, carved on stone in low relief or inlaid.
The main feature of the Tomb is the domed chambers or hujra. In the centre is a Cenotaph and on the western wall is a Mihrab. An underground chamber contains the actual grave. The Tomb structure is surrounded by a garden, often sub-divided into square compartments called Char-bagh.
The idea that Islam created anything is coming under scrutiny. The Arabian Peninsula had neither original architecture to boast nor the Arabian people any creativity to talk about. It was the prophet who gave them a form of writing and The Koran their first act of creativity. Adjoining the Arabs in the North were the Byzantine kingdoms of North Africa and the Levant while to the East were the Persian and Indic civilizations. Expanding Islam appropriated to itself the achievements of the conquered people including their intellectuals and craftsmen who continued their skill under Muslim names.