Consciously Designed Religious Buildings Cultural Studies Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


India, the land of cultural diversities, land of faiths, rituals and religions, is a place where religious structures epitomise the identity of every part the country.It is a country where religious structures are the centres of settlements. From the deserts to snow-capped mountains, it was faith and worship that held the community together. Most of the pre-industrial settlements derived their identity from these religious structures. With these structures being one of grandest forms of architecture, the best of everything was put in for the evolution of their design. In the pre-industrial society, when people were struggling to come up with acceptable designs for temples, building them would mean huge investments of time, labour and money. But the patrons had the power to choose the image that the religious building would project, of their settlement.

Religious architecture, whether it's a temple, a mosque or a church, always stands as the image that a place projects. It reflects our culture, our society and our history. While we are evolving, we are losing something that is a major part of our identity.

There was a time when the yearly social calendar revolved around one's religion. Every activity of the day was dependent upon your place of worship and now our priorities have drastically changed. Now the thought of proximity to a temple, mosque or gurudwaras before buying a house doesn't strike us anymore knowing how important a part it is to our lifestyle. The significance of religious buildings has not only lost its meaning in our daily lives but also in the architecture of our country.

Response to architecture comes naturally, to like or dislike a building and its elements of it is instinctive but when it comes to religious sphere of architecture, there is a major disconnect. People react when they see a building, be it good or bad, it affects the skyline, the streetscape and the general context it stands in (Botton, 2008). A temple might be flat roofed, or a mosque may look like a gurudwaras, there can be cases where all of these look the same, but the sad part is that we have stopped questioning. And hence the need to address such questions is dying.



With the growing society, there is a growth in our ideology which reflects in our changing culture and new architecture. Architecture is progressing tremendously in our country and so are the people; Religious architecture is the point of focus for India as of now, but still new ones keep coming up every by-lane of India and that is what makes it a topic of concern. If we stop questioning our new religious buildings today, then 50 years down the line they might end up being monuments, tourist spots or just chapters in history books and will completely change the identity that India projects.


Scope of dissertation confines itself to India. The research will consist of Hindu, Islamic, Sikh and Christian places of worship in India.

The study of religious architecture in history will again confine to these structures in their fully evolved forms, e.g. Hindu temples in medieval period.

Dissertation includes the study of religious architecture in terms of its form and symbolism in its classical form.

Contemporary examples in all faiths would be selected judiciously and examined with respect to the classical ones.

The scope of dissertation does not include a design proposal.


The dissertation will rely on secondary sources of information about religious architecture and its case studies

Limitation of language will necessitate relying on secondary interpretation of ancient texts

There is a lack of proper documentation of the evolution of gurudwaras therefore some conjectures have to be made.

There is a possibility of not being able to access all the drawing available for religious structures



What are the different places of worship

Who funds, builds, and designs? Who uses them?

What guides the design of religious buildings?

Their significance people/settlement?

i.e. These can be compared to contemporary religious architecture in India to map the reasons of change in the significance of these buildings.


The study will include Hindu, Islamic, Christian and Sikh places of worship

The history of religious structure in pre and post-independence, in their classical form

It will not include detailed evolution of sacred building

What used to guide the design: patrons and priests

Case studies of settlements which originated around religious buildings


Which are the new (post-independence) places of worship?

What have the present places of worship taken from the ones earlier

How the contemporary religious buildings that have tried to redefine existing norms

What guides their design now: bye-laws, restrictions, patrons

Studying briefly the experiments done with contemporary religious buildings keeping in mind the new concepts of architecture and the changing beliefs


Comparison of the old and new religious structures ( case studies)

Change in society and their outlook ( from interviews and secondary sources)

Reasons of disconnect

Point of views: people, priest, patrons and devotees (survey)

Need to integrate the present take on religious architecture with the advancement in technology


Limitations of design

Need to go beyond addressing the basic amenities around the places of worship

Finding a new audience among the youth by reinventing these places


By not questioning the design of religious buildings we are widening the gap between the present generation and their places of worship. There is a need to reinvent religious architecture keeping in mind the change in ideology and the evolved building techniques.


In India, people are bound to places by faith. Mostly everyone follows a religion that affects their life in some way or the other and every religion has its temple or a place where that religion can be practiced.

It is an establishment where a group of people come to perform acts of religious study, honour, or devotion. The form and function of religious architecture has evolved over thousands of years for both changing beliefs and architectural style. (A place of worship)

Who uses it? Who designs, builds and pays?

A place of worship attracts people from all around the world. They can be of the same religion; they can belong to some other religion or nationality, they may live right next to it or in the same town or may travel to come there. Hence a religious structure is one of the few forms of architecture whose circle of influence is as indefinite.

They can be built by the government, trusts and individuals.

There were various reasons to build these places, ranging from religious merits, attaining heaven and immortality, to displaying power and wealth. (Staff, 2012)



3.1. Brief history on religious building

3.2. Contribution and significance: Explaining the impact of these structures on the people

3.3. Inference of the study of history

The issue: Present/contemporary places of worship in India

4.1 The design of Religious buildings post-independence: new ideology and aspirations

4.2 Evolution: what the present structures have taken from the classical ones

4.3 How contemporary religious buildings that have tried to redefine existing norms

5. Comparison

5.1 Changing definition of religion

5.2 Changes in Society

5.2.1 The change the outlook of people towards their places of worship

5.2.2 Patron, priest and devotee: their roles and opinions

5.3 What is being done by the Indians living outside the country?

6. Case studies

6.1 Primary case study and inferences supporting the secondary research: Contemporary Religious structures of Delhi

6.2 Secondary case studies on Structures of historic significance

6.3 Secondary case studies of new religious places outside India and how they have adapted.

6.4 Findings/ Inferences

7. Possible solutions to the current situation, focussing on space design and planning

7.1. Proposed by NGOs and concerned organizations

7.2. Proposed by the government/ authorities (are there any?)

7.3. Proposed by archaeologists and historians

7.4. Proposed by architects and designers

8. Conclusion

8.1. Is there really a disconnect between the people and their religious structures? Is the state intention completely mistaken?

8.2. How can this situation be redeemed? Are the various proposed solutions viable?

Do we need a religion and hence a religious structure

How important is the design of religious buildings to us

Old and new>> change in significance?

Reaction of people..priests, patrons and devotee