Short COurse

Engaging and Evocative 

An Introduction to Indian Art & Architecture

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The artistic heritage of the Indian subcontinent spans millenia. There is evidence of a culture that flourished in the Indus valley going back at least three millenia. Efforts to preserve the vigour and vibrancy of Indian art continue to this day and temples are still being built that express the highest ideals of the art of India.
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Minaksi Temple, Madurai

Madurai described as the ageless cultural capital of Tamil Nadu has as its centre the Minaksi Sundaresvara Temple which, even today, displays the architectural glory of the seventeenth and eighteenth century Nayakas. The skyline is adorned by tall gateways studded with beautiful sculptures. The golden lotus tank where the King of the celestials Indra is believed to have bathed for adoration of Siva, is surrounded by a colonnaded gallery. 

Kailasa Temple, Ellora

Ellora was described by Percy Brown the well-known Art Historian as an example of “unrivalled rock-cut architecture”. This sculptural panel depicts the mighty Ravana attempting to lift mount Kailas, while Siva comforts His consort Parvati. The dwarfish attendants and the celestials in ethereal flight look on with admiration.

This is just one example that highlights the statement, “Ellora is rich in Architecture, but it is richer in sculpture”. This illustration provides the basis on which we will discuss in Lectures 2 and 4, details of Rock-cut architecture and Iconography of Siva and Devi. 
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Rock Cut Architecture 

The fashioning of architecture out of living rock creates not merely “caves” but skilfully crafted places of prayer. The style owes much to Buddhist craftsmen of early years (C.2 BCE to C.2 CE) which saw a transition from the ascetism of the Vedic period to one of Monasticism. 

Temples and Bronzes

The Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu were built in the C.11 and C.12.

Now UNESCO heritage sites, they represent unique examples of Hindu architecture from the Chola Dynasty era.


The flowering of richly embellished religious edifices in India lead to a style called “sculptural architecture”. A profusion of images, whose form and components provide a vivid portrayal of story or message, guides the study of Iconography.
Lesson series

BONUS: The Hindu and Buddhist Shrines of Sri Lanka

Steps to Vatadage which is a circular buddhist architectural structure often guarding a stupa. The entrances, with steps, often lead to a moonstone and guardian stones on either side. Vatadage in Polonnaruwa was built in the C.12 and is believed to have housed the tooth relic of buddha at one time. 
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Course Details

Other students who have taken this course...

I always looked at Contemporary dancers and wished I had their freedom. Delving into the Karanas made me realise I had everything I already needed within my own form. Thank you!
I was stuck in my practice, dancing the same Jathis as I have for years. Vena really helped me find the essence of what I have been trying to express.
I sensed spirituality with dance, but couldn't quite connect to it. Working with the breath has really centered my practice in the here and now.

Is this course for me?

  • This course is ideal for anyone wanting an introduction to the richness of Indian Architecture. No prior knowledge is required.  
  • This course leads to the longer Indian Art and Architecture courses which will be held from Sep 2021. 
  • This course will be presented in English.

Times and Dates

This course will take place via ZOOM on Thursday evenings:

Wk. 1: 3rd June 2021 - 19:00 (UK Time)
Wk. 2: 10th June 2021 - 19:00 (UK Time)
Wk. 3: 17th June 2021 - 19:00 (UK Time)
Wk. 4: 21st June 2021 - 19:00 (UK Time)
Wk. 5: 1st July 2021 - 19:00 (UK Time)

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Places are limited to 12 participants, so please sign up now to secure your place
Meet the instructor

Dr. Kandiah Sivakumar MBBS, FRCPsych, MA (SOAS), PhD (University of Thanjavur)

Dr. Kandiah Sivakumar has had a lifelong interest in the Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent and has visited many sites that show the richness Indian Art and Architecture.

Siva qualified as a medical practitioner in Sri Lanka and emigrated to the UK in 1977. He worked as a Consultant Psychiatrist for over 30 years and served as an Associate Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Pari passu
he continued his interest in the Art 
and Archaeology of the Indian Sub-continent under the guidance of Padmashree Dr. John and Mrs. Wendy Marr. He obtained the Certificate in Art and Archaeology at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London and Completed an MA in the History of Art and Archaeology (South and South East Asia) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

later became a visiting Research Associate at the Department of Sculpture, Tamil University of Thanjavur, India and completed a PhD there. His Thesis was on The Architecture and Iconography of Tiruvarur Tyagrajaswamy Temple Gopuras and he has a series of Publications related to his interests.

He has been keenly involved in Temple restorations including Gopuras in the North of Sri Lanka. In the UK he has a keen interest in and has been a supporter of Cultural events such as Bharatanatyam and Karnatic music recitals and has been a compere for many such programmes. Siva is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK).
Patrick Jones - Course author