The Colours of India - an Architect's Perspective
Is India Becoming a Graveyard of Greys?
From the divine blues of Jodhpur
Besides the authentic pinks of Jaipur
The tribal tint of the east
Rival with warm hues on the West
The South with the spiritual shades
Amritsar fame for the golden grades
The festive feels of Varanasi
To the earthiness of Kerala all in its fluency.
Colours have always paved the way for our vernacular aesthetics and emotions. Be it festivals or streets, colours bring life and meaning out of anything. It strongly influences the space and the emotions of the people performing a certain activity. Colors communicate culture and convey where we belong. On a larger scale, the colors of façades in architecture change the image of the city and increase the visual balance.
Let us take a look at a few regions of India and their color palette.
• JAIPUR •
The Pink City of India, Jaipur holds the title of being the first planned city in India. Architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya planned the city using the established principles of Vastu Shastra.
The Maharaja painted the whole city with the shade of terracotta pink to welcome the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria as the color pink was symbolic of hospitality. Later on, a law was passed that all the buildings and houses in the city must be painted pink.
• JODHPUR •
Neighboring Jaipur, Jodhpur in Rajasthan is known as the blue city of India. The houses surrounding the Mehrangarh fort bleed in hues of blue. Initially, the reason behind the blues was that the families from upper castes wanted to differentiate their homes from those belonging to lower castes.
As time passed the entire city turned into blue color houses making Jodhpur the blue city. The blue color is a good reflector of the sun's rays and keeps houses cool. The mix used to create the blue plastering also repels bugs and wasps.
• AMRITSAR •
The City of Amritsar is home to the holy Harmandir Sahib - the Golden Temple. This city holds deep history and culture. It's the holiest city for followers of Sikhism. The golden shades represent the epitome of divinity, selflessness, and warmth.
The Golden Temple, when constructed first wasn’t covered with an inch of gold. During the year 1762, the Islamic rulers of that time destroyed the heritage site. The temple was later rebuilt under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh with marble. It was then covered with pure gold leaf.
• KERALA •
Amongst lush greens, Kerala is well known for its serenity. Architecture in addition to nature has a major part to play in adding to the scenic beauty that frames the state.
The architectural tradition of Kerala is influenced by the regional expression of social, geographical, and climatic factors. Shades of brown, beige, white, and grey go in the palette. These colors are easy on the eyes for the hot and humid weather. They complement the art, culture, and traditional rituals of the state.
• VARANASI •
Varanasi, located in Uttar Pradesh is a spiritual emotion. The holy river Ganga flows through this city.
Varanasi is like a painting that contains every hue under the sun. The ghats are always active with purple saris, pink sunrises, orange sadhus’ robes, blue boats along with colorful step ways. These pops of color are in contrast to the brick red and sandstone shades of Kashi and are a treat to the eyes. It is interesting to see how these little things and their colors coexist naturally on these streets. Articulated by nature while painted by man, the colors show deep and rich mysteries that have long been forgotten.
• MADHURAI •
A city that never sleeps, Madurai in Tamil Nadu is famous for its Dravidian architecture. Apart from temples, it also has a bustling market that adds to its charm.
The word Madurai means sweetness in Tamil and is derived from an ancient tale of Lord Shiva. The most famous among all its temples is the Meenakshi Amman temple. It is surrounded by the many color.s of the temple architecture. The fine detailing on the structure finished in its various shades and patterns is a visual treat to the eyes.
• THE NORTH EAST•
The architecture in the North-East part of our country has an intimate connection with the environment that surrounds it.
The vernacular architecture has evolved over time and is very sensitive to its local climate, materials, and lifestyles. So much that the culture of the region is also an extension of it.
The place holds neutral earthy tones with buildings that blend along with nature.
• PONDICHERRY •
Pondicherry is a charming little French colony in the south of India. A city of pure calmness, the colored streets and peaceful environment make it a happy place to be.
The White Town is known as the soul of Pondicherry with the pastels that swath the landscape. The cheerful bougainvillea, greens and summer-colored walls are in contrast to the brick-paved lanes. Each building is unique and showcases Franco-Tamil architecture that’s not to be seen anywhere else in India, other than Pondicherry.
Unlike other parts of the world, Indian architecture is incomplete without its vibrancy. We would go from bright red to the coolest violet in our façades, creating an interesting vibe in our many cities. This would enlighten joy in the eyes of the visual seeker. Neutrals and monochromes were at the bottom of our list. Just like food, flowers, clothing, and accessories - architecture also adds to the list of colors of India.
These colors evolved from numerous factors and brought out the emotions, values, and culture of that location. The color schemes in these spaces created heritage and connected with the surrounding environment. The design decisions city always considered the palette and context.
Today, in the most vibrant times, our country seems to be losing its vibrancy. The colours are slowly disappearing. The recent buildings follow the trend of greys. Not just architecture, even the interiors, and accessories seem to be neutral and pale.
The question is -
Are we imitating another culture or being afraid of colors?
The legacy of our art and thoughts makes our country an example of unity in diversity, Nevertheless, there's less diversity found these days as we are switching and trying to mimic a culture that is not complimenting the richness of our country.
There can be a wide range of colours in the palette. The brush is still in our hands. Chose the color wisely to paint the unique picture of our country.
Do colors and patterns in architecture have an impact on your city life?
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