An insight into Buddhist architecture from 20 countries by Vikram Lall
A book discussion program on ‘Architecture of the Buddhist World: The Golden Lands,’ first volume in a series of six books by Vikram Lall was held at India International Centre. Mr.Lall is the first person worldwide who travelled to more than 20 countries to conduct in-depth research on Buddhist architecture including the Southeast Asian countries, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. It was chaired by Dr. Kapila Vatsayayan, eminent art scholar, historian and the Chairperson of IIC Asia Project.
It is the first book in the world that presents Buddhist architectural history in virtual reality. The other panelists of the book discussion were Dr. Lokesh Chandra, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Dr. Subhash C. Malik, Retd. UGC Professor, Prof. Nalini Thakur, School of Planning and Architecture, and Shri. Shyam Saran (Ex-foreign secretary), Chairman, Research & Information System for Developing countries.
In her opening speech Dr. Vatsyayan said, “Going through these images one goes through many centuries and many lands where Buddhism flourished”. She congratulated Mr. Lall on his remarkable insight.
Dr. Chandra, an authority on Buddhist history said, “I don’t look at these as architectural structures, but believe in the vedic concept of chitti, which meant placing one brick over the other in an ascending manner, thus reaching spiritual heights.” He ended his speech saying, “Architecture is the expression of Consciousness”.
Dr. Saran congratulated Mr. Lall on successfully undertaking this painstaking research and stressed on the “importance of cultural diplomacy” and was happy that through this work people would know the impact India had on these Buddhist nations.
Mr. Lall in his address said, “My focus in this research was the change and development in the architecture of Buddhist monuments.” He stressed that his research work gives an analysis of the geographical and historical details associated with these temples and he also focused on the various Buddhist concepts such kingship etc.
It was a thought provoking discussion of the book, which is first in the series ‘Architecture of the Buddhist World’ that represents a new multidisciplinary approach showing how Buddhist thoughts and rituals have interacted with local traditions across the Asian continent to produce masterpieces of religious architecture. It reveals the history, styles, and interpretation of Buddhist temples, monasteries, and ancient monuments in Southeast Asian countries. The book was launched by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
The discussion was preceded by an exhibition which was inaugurated by Dr. Vatsayayan. It consists of 3 dimensional architectural models, drawings and photographs from his book and will run from 12th till 19th June, portraying various Buddhist monuments- monasteries, stupas and pagodas from Southeast Asian countries. It also includes original photographs of the various destinations that have been captured by world’s top 10 photographers. The exhibition traces the evolution of architectural form and spaces in response to changing ideas, material realities, and building traditions of Southeast Asia.
About Mr. Vikram Lall
Vikram Lall is an award-winning architect, educator, author, and patron of the arts. He has more than 25 years of experience in architectural practice and consultancy and is the principal architect and partner of Lall& Associates. With a Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Design from Cambridge, he has designed several landmark buildings, such as the Akshardham temple in Delhi and the Buddha Smriti Park in Patna. He has been feted by the President of India, and his projects have been extensively covered in several national and international journals.
His passion for the conservation and promotion of India’s rich cultural heritage led to the formation of a non-profit organization called SAAR, Society for Art Appreciation and Research. For SAAR, he has conducted concerts and given presentations on literary, artistic and musical traditions of India in India and overseas. He has directed and anchored the television series ‘Baithak’ on the history of musical traditions of India for Doordarshan, India’s National Television broadcaster. Through SAAR he has provided a scholarship of Rs. 1 crore to support genuine students working hard to reach their full potential in the field of art and music.