The Landscape Guide

Indian Gardens and Buildings

Kachha (short-life) and pukka (long-life)

Little is known about the early days of Indian gardens - or building. Fertile regions were forested and the buildings were relatively temporary structures in timber and mud. In historic times a distinction emerged between short- and long-life buildings. Temporary Indian buildings (kachha - unripe, raw) were made of mud, wood and grass. Permanent buildings (pukka - ripe, cooked) were were of stone and burnt brick. The earliest stone buildings were made by the Harappans, who arranged streets on a grid plan andformed courtyard houses. The Mauryan civilisation, under the rule of Ashoka (269-232 BC), converted to Buddhism and began to make stone religious buildings. Stupas represented Buddha's tomb, placed in a fenced enclosure. Hindu scriptures (shastras) set down a code for the orientation and organisation of buildings in relation to compass points, hills, water and plants. This art (vastu - Sanskrit for nature ) travelled to China, along with Buddhism, and developed into Chinese feng shui. Enclosed outdoor space, in the form of courtyards, became intrinsic to India housing.Village dwellings consisted of a fenced compound containing mud-built huts. Town dwellings, also in mud, had rooms grouped round a courtyard.

Islamic influence

As Islam began to influence India after the 12th century stone came to be used non-temple buildings. When Turcic Muslims became conquerors, forts were built prottecting stone palaces for the rulers and mud houses for the populace. The forts at Delhi and Agra were of this type. Both have lost the mud buildings which occupied most of the space within the fortifications.

Kachha building

Pukka building

Akbar's tomb garden at Sikandra