In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Colonial and Modern Architecture in India

  • Introduction
  • Historiography
  • Art Deco
  • Modern Architecture
  • Works of Modern Architects
  • Autobiographies
  • Reviews of Architecture in India

Architecture Planning and Preservation Colonial and Modern Architecture in India
Pushkar Sohoni
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 January 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 12 January 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190922467-0051


In the colonial period, the term India was used in the traditional sense to describe the whole of South Asia from Afghanistan to Burma, and after 1947, the national boundaries of the nation of India were precisely defined. Of course, several colonial powers had held territories of what eventually became the Republic of India. Here we are concerned with colonial powers from the early modern period onward, which are all European, mainly the British, the French, and the Portuguese. They all shaped the architecture of the region, and their contributions are no less important than the indigenous architectural styles that had evolved over many more centuries. Eventually, in the 20th century, international movements such as Art Deco and Modernism came to India. The professionalization of architecture and the rise of Indian architects dominate the narrative of modern architecture in the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st.


There have been some essays and monographs on the historiography of architectural history in South Asia, which try to provide a meta-discourse on how the field of architectural history itself has been changing through the 19th and 20th centuries. While there are several studies on the history of architectural history, this is particularly a late-20th-century perspective. Sinha 2014 and Sohoni 2018 provide an overview of the field of architectural history in India and the discourses that have shaped it.

  • Sinha, Amita. “Architectural History in India: A Post-Colonial Perspective.” Tekton 1.1 (2014): 32–47.

    An essay that critically employs a postcolonial theoretical discourse to examine the study of the history of architecture in India (using the term for the subcontinent).

  • Sohoni, Pushkar. “Building History: Historiography of Architectural History in South Asia.” History Compass 16.5 (2018).

    DOI: 10.1111/hic3.12450

    This paper provides a survey of architectural history of South Asia, commenting on the changing modes of scholarship and theoretical interventions through time.

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