India has a magnificent history. All of it is beautifully reflected on the kind of architecture and monuments that the country is adorned with. Some of it is as old as thousand long years. Monuments on Indian banknotes will give you an overview about the country’s illustrious past. Let’s take a tour then.
The Konark Temple is one of the architectural wonders of India that was built in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva. The name “Konark” is a combination of two words, ‘Kona’ which means ‘corner’ and ‘Arka’ which means the ‘Sun’. The temple looks like a humongous chariot from a distance with seven horses and twelve wheels carrying Surya, the sun God. As per mythological stories, Lord Vishnu killed demon Gyasur and placed his important belongings at different places, the lotus being the one that was kept at Konark.
The vignette of 20 rupee note features the chariot wheel from Konark Sun Temple, one elephant on top left and two elephants on top right and one elephant below on either side of chariot wheel. When we are talking about monuments on Indian banknotes, this particular temple has a special significance.
Brihadeeswarar Temple, also popularly known as Tanjore temple turned 100 years old in 2010. It was built during the Chola period by Raja Raja Chola I and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple falls under the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”. The foundation of this temple was laid in 1002 C.E. The magnificent architecture portrays wealth, power and artistic expertise of the Chola regime. The temple represents a pure form of Dravidian architecture. It was used for conducting several kinds of royal ceremonies.
The temple was built as per Vaastu Shastras and Agamas. The base is a whopping 16 feet high. The big nandi bull statue is 2 meters in height, 6 meters in length and is made of one single rock. The lingam is 3.7m tall. The outer wall of the upper storey depicts 108 dance postures of Bharathanatyam. The shrine of Goddess was added by Pandyas during the 13th century, Subramanya Shrine by Vijayanagara rulers and the Vinayaka shrine was renovated by Maratha rulers.
The vignette of the 1000 rupee notes released on 1st April 1984 with the signatory of B. Rama Rau depicts the Tanjore temple in the central panel with ‘Tanjore Temple’ written on the bottom right. There are many monuments on Indian banknotes; this particular one is something that every collector would love to posses.
Shalimar Garden was built by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan in 1619. It is linked through a channel to the northeast of Dal Lake. It beautifully portrays the richness of Mughal horticulture.
The garden was originally made in 2nd century during the reign of Pravarsena II who founded the city of Srinagar and ruled in Kashmir from 79 AD to 139 AD. The word “Shalimar ” means ‘abode of love’ in Sanskrit. Slowly though the garden lost its original fame and the village was named as Shalimar.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh turned the marble pavilion into the guest house for European visitors. Electrification of the premises was done during Maharaja Hari Singh’s rule. Over the years, the garden was modified, extended and renovated by different rulers.
The vignette on Indian 10 rupee notes features the Ashoka Pillar on the obverse and Shalimar Gardens on the reverse. Though Shalimar gardens is an exception while considering monuments on Indian banknotes, we thought of including it since it has a profound historical significance.
In 1911, The gateway of India was actually built to celebrate the visit of George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai. But only a cardboard model was shown to them as the work of constructing it had not commenced since 1915. Only the foundation stone was laid by the governor of Bombay Sir George Sydenham Clarke on 31st March 1911. The gateway was built from yellow basalt and concrete. The foundations were completed in 1920, and construction was finished in 1924. The gateway was opened on December 4, 1924, by the Viceroy, the Earl of Reading.
The end of British Rule was marked with the departure of the First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry through the Gateway on 28th February 1948.
A 5000 rupee note was issued with H V R Iyengar as the signatory where the Gateway of India was featured in the central panel with ‘Gateway of India, Bombay’ written below it. This vintage note has a special significance when we mention about monuments on Indian banknotes.
There are many other breathtaking historical wonders and monuments in India. If you were asked to design a banknote for India, which monument would you like to have on it?