In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Hindustan, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing and links. This mid-Victorian reference work has substantial sections on both India and Hindustan, and it is not always clear how Victorians distinguished between the two. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851 or 1852. This discussion of British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]

India, and especially the Deccan, abounds with stupendous and highly-elaborate architecture; not, indeed, possessing the elegant proportions of the edifices of ancient Greece, but rather exhibiting the ponderous sublimity which characterize those still extant in Egypt, with the addition of a great deal of ornamental and minute sculpture, representations of the deities of the Hindoo pantheon, and their reputed acts, &c.; not generally conceived or executed in good taste, or with any regard to delicacy of sentiment.

Entrance to the Caves of Elephanta from Anna HarrietKeonowens, Life and travel in India. (London: Trübner, n.d.).

Amongst the most remark able monuments of the kind are the excavated temples of Elora, Elephanta, Carlee, and Baug, on the western side of the peninsula; the pyramids of Pooree (Juggernaut) in the east; and the temples of Tanjore, Trichinopoly, &c., in the south Most of these are Brahminical, others of Buddhist, and some of Jain origin; all have been constructed at epochs long passed, and some may perhaps boast of a high antiquity.

Left: [H]indoo Temples at Agouree, on the river Soane, Bahar by Thomas Daniell. 1785-1897. Aquatint. Middle: Srirangam. Hindu Temple. Right: Vellore, Hindu Temple, front of hall.. Last two from George Arents Collection. . All three from the New York Public Library Digital Collections. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Muslim Architecture

Left: The Taj Mahal, Agra.. Middle: Tomb of Itimad-ud-dauia. Right: The Mosque of Gholaum Mahomed, Calcutta. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

In the region of Hindoostan proper, which was the great seat of Mahometan ascendency, many beautiful structures, constructed by the western invaders of Hindoostan, exist; the most elegant of which is the Taj-Mehal, at Agra a splendid mausoleum, constructed by the Emperor Shah-Jehan. In the Mahometan edifices marble is plentifully employed a material never used in Hindoo structures; all of which have been either excavated in sandstone, or hewn out of granite. Throughout the centre and south of India, hill-forts, on heights difficult of access, are numerous, and have proved formidable strongholds of native chiefs.

Left: Palace of the Old Rajahs at Madura. Middle: The Palace of the King of Oude.. Right: Le Palais des Sêths, a Ajmir. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

But, with exception of the latter, and of the embankments, tanks, and other constructions for facilitating irrigation in which endeavour the Hindoos have displayed much care and ingenuity nearly all the great architectural efforts of the Hindoos have been spent on structures connected with their religion. From the palace of the sovereign to the hut of the peasant, their habitations are, for the most part, meanly built; in some hilly parts the walls are constructed of stone, but elsewhere only of mud or sun-dried bricks, and roofed with bamboo or palmyra leaves; except in the principal cities and towns, where more attention is paid to solidity in domestic architecture.

Related material


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 11 December 2018