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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Carnatic Music: The Unaltered Cultural Heritage

In the days of pop and EDM music give your ears a change with the pleasing sound of Carnatic music.'



Carnatic Music

The classical music of India is popular for the aesthetic pleasure it offers the listeners. However, in ancient times, music wasn’t limited to just a medium of pleasure but also associated with spirituality. Thus, we should not complain about the scrupulously formed structure of classical music.

One of the subgenres of classical Indian music is Carnatic Music. Its origins are credited to the southern part of the nation. Like other classical music genres of ancient India, the Sama Veda is believed to be the instructing medium for the formulation of Carnatic Music, including the contributions of the hymns of Rig Veda. This genre of music unlike the Hindustani music, remains true to its roots even today and enjoys the same structural aestheticism as it enjoyed in allusions of the early ancient texts. The music remains unsusceptible to the ravages of time.

The History

It was in the 16th century when Carnatic music flourished and diffused vastly its fragrance in the historic city of Ancient India, Vijayanagara. A poet and composer of the same era, Purana Das, contrived a lesson plan for teaching Carnatic music, which survives even in modern times. Purana Das is also referred to be the father of Carnatic music. Talking about the ancient laureates of Carnatic music, we should not risk missing the “Trinity of Carnatic music” who were the finest musicians and composers of the genre, namely Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri.

The Four Elements of Carnatic Music

This form of music meticulously focuses on the four founding elements, Sruti (pitch), Swara (note), Raag (melody) and Taal (metre). The singing or the kayak is the prime part of this genre of classic music, which is backed up by the instruments like violin, tambura, mridangam. Sometimes, it also includes veena, flute and other instruments supporting the composition.

We have inherited this beauty of culture as a blessing from our musician ancestors, who laid it and passed on to the progeny. They preserved and carried it to the modern day and it is now for us to let their endeavours survive eternity.

Here are two astounding performances of Carnatic music for you to enjoy.

Credits – YouTube Bharatiya Samagana Sabha
Credits – YouTube Darbarfestival

Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

The Rich History & Value of Indian Handloom

Indian handloom is the pride and joy of our nation, but were you aware of its rich history and how much significance it holds for us Indians?



National Handloom Day, Handloom, Swadeshi Movement, Handloom UPSC, Swadeshi Movement UPSC

India’s pride and joy which makes it stand out on the global stage is indefinitely its handloom. Indian handloom has been around for centuries. But how well do we know about its existence? Has its history always been rich and colourful? Or have there been specks of black and grey that adds a tone of melancholy to this vibrant sector? Let’s dig deep into this so that we can understand its true value by the end of this article at the very least.  

Indian Handloom: A Brief History

Having a vibrant and diverse history, Indian handloom has been around for a really long time. Some say it dates back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. There was a time in ancient India wherein every village had their own community of weavers. And these weavers ensured that all the clothing needs of each respective town were met. Because of the existence of many weaver communities that were scattered throughout India catering to a very diverse population and having different access to resources, different forms and styles of weaving on different kinds of materials came into existence.

Considered a high-standard occupation, weavers were of immense importance to the Vedics. The settlement of Aryan ensured weaving as a craft was honoured and efforts were made to develop it further. The era of the Mughals was considered the golden age for Indian craftsmanship. During their rule, handloom sarees like Sambalpuri, Banarasi, Jamawar, Maheshwari, Nuapatna Khandua, Mulmul, etc. took centre stage. 

With the colonial invasion and the usage of industrial looms, the handloom sector in India saw a decline. As the British officials forced the weavers to use synthetic yarn, it led to a loss of livelihood for the spinners. And gradually weavers who were unable to afford these industrial looms lost their livelihood as well. Fortunately, this trend was reversed by Swadeshi movement. As people went back to using Khadi, there was a revival of the Indian handloom sector.

Sadly this revival was quashed once again with India’s entry into the global market. On one end India opened its door to globalisation in the 1990s and made it easier for private companies to grow. And on the other end, many traditional weavers closed their shops as they were unable to keep up with the cheap and mass-produced goods.  


Due to continued efforts by the government, such as The rural employment guarantee act (MGNREGA) of 2006, the National Handloom Policy of 2007, etc. weavers’ livelihoods are protected to some extent. The handloom sector not only holds cultural significance to the country but has also made India the 3rd largest exporter of Textiles & Apparel in the world. It is one of the sectors that promoted women’s employment as over 70% of the weavers are women.

Because of its huge significance in helping our country gain freedom and ensuring that our culture is immortalized, the government of India has designated 7th August as National Handloom Day, as on that particular day in 1905 the Swadeshi Movement was launched. It celebrates the historic call to promote indigenous products during the Swadeshi movement. Spearheaded by visionary leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, and Lala Lajpat Rai, this movement held a special significance in encouraging the use of handloom and local craftsmanship, while the Indian handloom played a very integral part in deciding the fate of India’s freedom.

Credits: YouTube (Isha Foundation)
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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Ancient Innovative Taq Construction of Jammu & Kashmir

Discover how ancient Indian architecture protected the beautiful land of Kashmir from earthquakes with progressive construction techniques.



Taq Constructions, Indian Architecture, Kashmiri Architecture, Earthquake resistant building, building design

Nestled in the lush green hills in the north of India lays Jammu and Kashmir. A beautiful land with breathtaking landscapes that are bound to rest every restless soul. But every beauty comes with a price. And the same is true for Kashmir. Although its beauty remains unparalleled, its geophysical setting makes it highly prone to earthquakes. On top of that, the beautiful city of Srinagar is actually in a very high-risk earthquake zone. And as the saying goes, ‘Earthquakes don’t kill people-buildings do’, it is the need of the hour for people there to come up with highly innovative construction ideas to survive this natural disaster.   

Taq Construction

Considered one of the oldest systems of construction which was once very common in Srinagar, Kashmir. Taq construction was famous for its ability to withstand earthquake shock. Made out of wood and masonry a taq building can be several floors high yet still withstand the test of time because of its strong structure. The Kashmiri construction of Taq walls typically involves a combination of brick and rubble stone or sun-dried bricks, which were laid in thick mud mortar. These walls were then reinforced with load-bearing piers placed at regular intervals. 

A distinctive characteristic of Taq walls is that the infill masonry panels are not rigidly connected to the piers. This design feature enables the building to accommodate and adjust to differential settlements, which are common on the soft soil found in Srinagar. By allowing flexibility between the infill panels and the piers, Taq walls are better able to handle variations in the ground settlement, thus enhancing the structural stability of the buildings constructed on such soil. 

The flexibility provided by the wooden lacings at the slab and lintel level along with the configuration of interior partitions allows the building to move along with the seismic wave during an earthquake. This is the secret to how the Taq building survives through earthquakes. Built in the 19th century, Jalali House still stands tall and serves as one of the prime examples of 19th-century Taq architecture. 

Dhajji Dewari Construction

Another common construction technique that is used in Kashmir is Dhajji Dewari. Dhajji is a Persian word that translates to quilt patchwork in the ancient language of carpet weavers. Combined with the word Dewari which means wall, Dhajji Dewari construction is named so because it gives the appearance of patchwork art on the wall. 

During the 2005 earthquake that hit Kashmir, Dhajji Dewari construction became the underdog that saved many lives because of its unique design. Unlike traditional masonry-bearing wall construction, it consists of a braced timber-framed structure with masonry infills. A strong foundation is laid with stone and cement mortar and the plinth beam which is made out of timber is anchored well into it. The timber posts which make up the braced timber frame are of different sizes and are combined together to form a basic structure. The roof is often a flat mud or timber roof or a pitched roof of metal sheeting/ timber. 

The best part about Dhajji Dewari is that it is made up of locally available materials such as timber, stone or brick, mud and metal sheeting. The close arrangement of wooden studs in the structure prevents diagonal shear cracks from spreading within a single section and reduces the chances of thin masonry walls collapsing outwards. Additionally, the timber studs bear the vertical loads and contribute to the required flexibility of the overall structure. 

The mortar and masonry infill panels have the ability to break easily along their plane, which helps them absorb seismic energy by generating friction with the surrounding timber framing and within the cracks of the infill material. And that’s the secret to how the Dhajji Dewari building survives earthquakes.


These two unique forms of construction which have been in India for centuries show the foresight of ancient Indian architecture. Sadly nowadays these constructions are being abandoned for more contemporary-looking buildings with less strength. Given the high-risk zone the area of Jammu and Kashmir is in it is important for us to go back to these designs for the future of humanity. Apart from the rustic aesthetic, these buildings stand the test of time because of their progressive construction technique. 

Credits: YouTube (National Geographic India)
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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

How Did Western Art and Culture Influence Indian Art: An Insight

From Madhubani to Warli, Indian Art is treasured. Here’s a glimpse of how it embraced Western Art and Culture.



Western Influence in Indian art

Indian art is a treasure. It is antique and fulfilling in an insanely different sense. It has been an integral aspect of India’s culture since ancient times. The oldest evidence of its significance of in our civilization dates back to as old as 30,000 years old. The Bhimbhetka cave paintings are a wonder in rock art in caves. The miniature paintings of India are one of the world’s most intricate and amazing art forms. Precisely, Art has been a proud thing for India since its inception. But with the onset of British rule in India, it was influenced by western culture. This effect created many masterpieces but also led certain forms to fade.

Bhimbetka Cave Paintings (Source – Outlook India)

Indian Oil Paintings

The British brought with them not only their political, economic and social structures, but also their culture, values, and artistic traditions. This led to a gradual assimilation of Western ideas and aesthetics into Indian art, resulting in a unique blend of East and West. Many new techniques of painting emerged as a result of the same. The introduction of oil paintings is linked to the western culture. The oil painting technique gained popularity because it gave artists a new visual language to express themselves. They could not combine perspective, shading and depth into their pieces to create marvels.

Oil Painting (Source – Indian Art Ideas)

Indian Sculptures

Sculptures have been in existence since the times of Indus Valley Civilization of 2500 to 1800 BCE. During that time generally small terracotta figurines were produced. But with the impact of western culture, sculpting developed. Sculptors started using new materials, methods and apparatuses to create larger sculptures. More intricate patterns could now be traced onto the statues. The combination of the East and the West traditions brought out a new wave of creativity.

Sculpture of Nataraj (Source – Invaluable)

Indian Architecture

Architecture also witnessed the influence of Western culture. Many British architects were involved in designing and constructing buildings in India during the colonial period. This led to the fusion of Western and Indian architectural styles resulting in buildings with a unique blend of both. The British used a specific style in the architecture of their era in India. The basic structures were developed keeping in mind the Gothic and Neo-classical styles. And the British added Indian features and decoration enhancing the work.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Source – Cultural India)

Further Evolution

The impact of Western culture on Indian art is not limited to the colonial period alone. It continued to evolve and grow as India became more open to the world. In the 20th century, Indian artists began to experiment with new forms and styles of art, including abstract and pop art, and minimalism, which were influenced by Western movements. Also, Western culture impacted the spread and growth of Indian art in the world. It influenced how our art was perceived internationally. Indian artists have achieved global recognition and success by blending Western and Indian styles, resulting in works that are both visually captivating and culturally significant. This amalgamation has broadened the appeal of Indian art, leading to increased participation in cultural exchange programs, exhibitions, and collaborations between Indian and Western artists.

This cross-cultural fertilization has also enabled a better understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures, enriching the artistic landscape. However, the assimilation of Western art and culture into Indian art has been controversial. Some artists and critics contend that it has resulted in the dilution of traditional Indian art forms and techniques. They maintain that Indian art should be firmly rooted in its own cultural and historical heritage, rather than being influenced by Western concepts.

Nonetheless, Western culture has also been influenced by Indian art in numerous ways, ranging from intricate designs to spiritual themes. One cannot ignore the vibrant colors and patterns of Indian textiles that continue to be cherished in the West. Despite the concerns about the loss of traditional forms, the assimilation of Western ideas has led to the evolution and diversification of Indian art, resulting in a new genre of art that is unique to India. The Western influence on Indian art has been significant and long-lasting, leading to the fusion of Eastern and Western styles. While there may be some reservations about the loss of traditional forms, the assimilation of Western ideas has propelled Indian art to new heights, making it more dynamic and diverse.

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Indian Street Food: A Legacy

Indian cuisine is known around the world for its diversity, and it’s Indian street food which is an integral part of the Indian culture.



Indian street Food, street food

Mix cultural diversity with a long history of cultural influences from all over the world and you get Indian street food. Diverse and iconic because of their perfect blend of spices and aroma, they not only tantalise your tastebuds but unite us all together. Cheap and abundantly available they are the true stars of Indian cuisine and are consumed by millions of Indians on a regular basis. Let’s find out more about these mouthwatering Indian street food items that have stolen the hearts of millions worldwide.

Indian Street Food: History

Street food culture has been around in India since ancient times. The earliest mention of Indian street food items can be traced back to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Street vendors were known for selling various food items like roasted grains and nuts, various types of bread etc to travellers and locals. As markets and busy streets served as the social hub for most people during those times, many street vendors used to set up their stalls right there. 

Starting off with just a handful of food items which were offered as part of Indian street food, the intermingling of various cultures in India led to a more diverse food palate. One change in street food came with regional variations. Street food in the northern part has more gravy and is richer and creamier like Chole Puri, Chaat, etc., while the food in the southern part has plenty of vegetarian options like Idlis, Dosa, etc. Street food in the western part has a very bold and spicy taste like Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, etc. while the one available in the east is characterised by its savoury and sweet flavours like Jhal Muri, Churmur, etc.

Given India’s past history of colonisation and many other foreign rulers’ rule, it is a no-brainer that Indian cuisine has been widely impacted by Persian, Mughal, Portuguese, and British cuisine. The Indian street food scene was also not saved from these influences. From kebabs to our beloved chai, many of these now-renowned Indian street food items were heavily influenced by other cultures. Trade and migrations played a major role in diversifying the Indian street food cuisine and making it what we know today.

Although the Indian street food scene is pretty diverse let’s take a look at some of the most popular street food items that will surely leave your mouth watering:

  1. Pani Puri: 

The quintessential Indian street food item, Pani Puri or Gol Gappa is the perfect street food item to indulge in when you want to be blown away but not far from home. It consists of small bite-sized puris filled with a spiced potato and chickpeas filling (you can adjust the heat of the filling according to your tastebuds and mood for that day), which are then dipped in a tangy mint or tamarind-infused water and served. And always remember, you must finish it in one bite! Its texture and flavours are best appreciated when eaten in one bite!  

  1. Chaat:

Literally translating to “lick” in English, Chaat is a popular Indian street food item that will leave you licking the last bits off your plate, because it’s a sin to leave even a morsel behind! Just kidding, but we are sure once you take a bite of the chat there’s no way you’re returning the plate back without making it shine anew. There are several types of chaat but the most popular ones are; Papdi Chaat which consists of crisp flour crisps topped with yoghurt, chutneys, and spices; and Aloo Tikki Chaat, potato patties served with chutneys and curd. The tangy and bold flavours of Chaat highlight the true taste of Indian street food.   

  1. Vada Pav:

The ride or die of every Mumbai resident, Vada Pav is the Indian version of a burger. Consisting of a soft bun (Pav) that is stuffed with a spicy potato fritter (Vada) and served with a little bit of tangy chutney, this street food item is the spirit of Mumbai. Over the years it has become an iconic symbol of the Indian city of dreams.

  1. Dosa:

A south Indian delight consisting of a thin crispy pancake made with fermented rice, Dosa is the pride and joy of southern India. The regional variations of Dosa that are available throughout southern India highlight the versatility of this single dish. It is served with a variety of chutneys and Sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew). And is a must-eat when you’re stomach tells you it’s so hungry that it can eat a horse, but your brain knows that’s far from reality. 

  1. Khaman Dhokla:

The pride of Gujarat and the joy of India, Khaman Dhokla is a soft and fluffy steamed street food that is bound to make you fall head over heels for it. A simple dish made up of gram flour and leavening agents and served with tangy chutneys, this dish is perfect for anyone looking for something light yet filling enough to make you feel full for a couple of hours.

  1. Dahi Bara Aloo Dum:

The summertime saviour in Odisha, Dahi Bara Aloo Dum is a simple dish that hits the sore summer spot of every Odia. It consists of two items Dahi Bara (legume-based, doughnut-shaped savoury fritters called Vada which are dipped in yoghurt) and Aloo Dum (a spicy potato semi-gravy curry) and served with freshly chopped onions, coriander and sev. During the hot summer, the cool yoghurt of the Dahi Bara acts like a cooling balm that soothes the soul. A perfect mix of spicy, savoury and sweet it is the pride and delight of every Odia.   

Indian Street Food: Significance

Going beyond tastebuds and indulgence, Indian street food items are iconic because of their social equalising ability. From the insanely rich to the dirt poor, Indian street food items are for everybody. It allows people hailing from various religious, caste and financial backgrounds to truly bond. It’s high availability and cheap pricing makes it an excellent option for those on a budget. While it’s irresistible makes it a hit even among the richest socialites. 

Apart from bringing the people of India together, its huge popularity ensures steady employment for many unemployed masses in the nation. Enriching the tastebuds of passersby while also ensuring a good flow of income, the popularity of Indian street food helps reduce the growing problem of unemployment in India.


Food is one thing that is strong enough to bind the entire world together. India with its huge cultural diversity is held together by Indians’ shared love for food, especially Indian street food. Its lip-smacking flavours and bewitching aroma will make everyone nod their heads in agreement over the supremacy of Indian spices and culinary skills. Reflecting India’s culinary heritage and regional diversity, Indian street food offers a beautiful blend of historical influences, regional flavours and cultural traditions. From the mouthwatering Pani Puri to the aromatic Dosa, each street food item represents a slice of India’s cultural fabric. These dishes not only tantalize taste buds but also foster a sense of community and pride among Indians and continue to captivate food enthusiasts worldwide.  

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Indian Architecture: A Symbol of National Pride.

Embark on a captivating expedition delving into the enchanting tapestry of Indian architecture, spanning diverse eras and rich cultures.'



Indian Architecture, Art & Culture

Indian architecture stands as a tribute to the country’s rich cultural legacy. Spanning over thousands of years and reflecting the diverse influences from various civilizations. From prehistoric cave temples to grand Mughal palaces, India has a remarkable architectural history that demonstrates artistic talent, religious enthusiasm, and the inventiveness of its craftsmen. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history, distinctive styles, spiritual significance, traditional techniques, modern influences, preservation attempts, and societal effects on Indian architecture.

History and Evolution

The history of Indian architecture has been influenced and shaped by various civilizations and cultures, each contributing to its evolution. From planned cities of the Indus Valley Civilization to the intricate rock-cut cave temples of Ellora and Ajanta, Indian architecture has seen the rise and fall of dynasties and empires. The architectural styles of the Guptas, Cholas, Pallavas, and other regional rulers left indelible imprints on architectural styles, culminating in the beautiful Dravidian and Nagara styles. The Islamic rulers brought new elements, resulting in magnificent Mughal and Indo-Islamic architecture that blended Islamic and Indian traditions.

India’s vast geographical spread gave rise to distinct regional architectural styles. The Dravidian styles prospered in the South, with its temple towers ( Gopurams) and intricate carvings and sculptures. While the Mughal style flourished in the North, with its graceful elegance showcased in its massive forts, palaces, and mausoleums. In the East temples flourished, while in the Western state of Rajasthan, intricate havelis and forts came to be. The architectural heritage of each region reflects the cultural and historical context of the time, showcasing a diverse tapestry of creativity and workmanship.

The Diverse Influences on Architecture

Traditional techniques and construction processes distinguish Indian architecture. Craftsmen from ancient times have used locally accessible resources like stone, wood, and clay. Intricate carvings, vibrant paintings and delicate jali work( intricate lattice design) showcase the potential of these materials. Vaastu Shastra (Indian architecture principles) and Jali’s work are two of the many traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations. These sustainable practices increase building longevity and also promote harmony with the environment.

Religion and spirituality have had a significant role in shaping Indian architectural aesthetics. Temples, mosques, gurdwaras, and churches are built to evoke a sense of divinity and provide a holy space for worship. Intricate sculptures, complex facades and detailed decoration adorn these monuments, reflecting the religious beliefs and tales of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and other faiths. These sacred structures are not just places of worship but also sites for communal gatherings and cultural activities. They make up essential components of Indian society.

The British colonial rule left a lasting impact on Indian architecture. The Indo-Saracenic architectural style was the result of the fusion of Indian and Western architectural elements, integrating Gothic, Islamic, and classical features. British colonial influence can be found in administrative buildings, railway stations, and universities across the country. While colonialism brought new architectural practices, it also aided in the efforts to restore old Indian architecture as a symbol of national pride and cultural identity.

Preservation and Revitalization

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need of preserving and revitalising traditional Indian architecture. Various government and non-government initiatives have been developed to protect heritage sites, restore ancient structures, and promote traditional handicrafts. Institutions like the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage ( INTACH) have played a vital role in safeguarding architectural treasures for future generations.

Indian architects of today have made significant contributions to the global architectural scene. Pioneers like Hafeez Contractor, Balkrishna Doshi, and Charles Correa have integrated modern design principles with traditional Indian components. Resulting in iconic structures that merge functionality, sustainability, and cultural significance. Their creative visionary work has received international acclaim, establishing India as a hub of architectural innovation and drawing global attention to its design philosophy.

Cultural and Social Significance

Indian architecture transcends mere aesthetics, significantly impacting daily life in the country. Architectural marvels serve as cultural markers, instilling a sense of pride and identity. They become spaces for community gatherings, religious events, and festivals, becoming hubs for social engagement. The architecture’s spatial design and use of natural elements complement India’s climatic conditions, offering comfort and harmony in everyday life.

India’s architectural journey traverses time, culture and many influences. It continues to shape India’s cultural identity and captivate the world. Indian architecture is a testament to human innovation, spirituality, and the enduring legacy of architectural history. As the country celebrates its rich architectural heritage, from ancient cave temples to modern-day architectural marvels, protecting old techniques and embracing contemporary innovation.

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