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Spirituality through Architecture

We can close our eyes and meditate. Whatever be the faith we have, the God we pray to, the Almighty we beseech – prayer kindles a spiritual joy in our hearts. The same prayer done in a place of worship takes the joy several notches higher. Here, we examine five places of worship of different faiths – and understand how architectural compositions done in a contemporary context induce spiritual uplifting of the human soul.

There is something about Sacred Spaces that makes them attractive, even magical. It is hard to pin down that feeling, let alone express it in words. But, across the world, the most visited architectural sites, besides forts and palaces, are invariably churches, temples, shrines, and mosques. And this has nothing to do with religion – people of all cultures and communities visit these monuments, and enjoy the experience of these spaces. It is in essence a case of architecture transcending the mind into an elevated sense of being.

Regardless of our own religion – if an opportunity presents itself, we visit the Charminar in Hyderabad, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Mount Mary Basilica in Mumbai or the Mangueshi temple in Goa! Faith and spirituality do not understand or follow any religion. And this is best embodied in the architecture of these spaces. 

A person’s experience of a space is known to influence the mind – there are spaces that spread joy and lend comfort, and others that don’t. But what is special about sacred spaces? Or, to begin with, what makes a space sacred? 

Humans have been known to build places of worship adjacent to their settlements. Historically, these places of worship are identifiable from outside; have certain distinguishing architectural features. They are typically larger in scale with an imposing presence - their poise and grandeur instilling a sense of awe in the viewers’ minds. This is an attempt to understand spiritual spaces built today. Architecture and construction techniques have undergone radical changes, and there is a plethora of options and easy availability of materials today. Has that changed the architect’s or client’s perception of a traditional place of worship?

Prof. Julio Bermudez from the Catholic University of America’s School of Architecture and Planning, theorizes that the architecture of sacred spaces helps to induce a metaphysical state of mind. Though people can pray and

Text & Images : Aishwarya Khurana

Images: Procured from the architect

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