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Ayodhya  

B. B. Lal

City in Faizabad District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Located on the right bank of the River Sarayu, it was the capital of the ancient Kosala kingdom, one of whose kings, Rama, is regarded by Hindus as an incarnation of Vishnu.

Excavations in 17 different parts of the ancient mounds have revealed that the first occupation at Ayodhya commenced ...

Article

Baroli  

Heather Elgood

Group of Hindu temples of the 10th century ad, 45 km south-west of Kota in Rajasthan, India. Despite some damage, the three Baroli temples are among the finest examples of the Gurjara–Pratihara style in western India. Construction was begun in the mid-9th century. The best preserved is the ...

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Besakih  

D. J. Stuart-Fox

Balinese Hindu temple (pura) complex. It is situated on the south-western flank of the volcano Gunung Agung, Bali’s highest mountain, in the north-east of the island. Associated probably since prehistoric times with the Lord of the Mountain, now identified with the Hindu god Shiva, it has been a dynastic temple of several royal families since at least the 15th century. The complex consists of 22 temples, spread along three parallel ridges over a distance of more than a kilometre. The complex was not planned as an entity but seems to have been constructed piecemeal, and the overall structure that links the temples is more ritual and symbolic than physical. The annual cycle of more than 70 rituals culminates in the enormous centennial Ekadasa Rudra ceremony....

Article

Michael D. Rabe

Site of a Hindu cave temple complex 140 km north-west of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, India. Isolated between the precipitous red cliffs of a box canyon, the site comprises eight small and remarkably similar caves excavated from a single rock face above a stream. Datable by style and epigraphy to the 7th century ...

Article

Erberto F. Lo Bue

Village 8 km north of Kathmandu, Nepal. It is the site of a stone image of the Hindu god Vishnu lying on the coiled mass of the serpent Ananta (l. 7 m), the largest sculpture in the Kathmandu Valley and one of its outstanding masterpieces....

Article

R. Soekmono

Hindu temple site, 1800 m above sea-level in Central Java. Volcanic activity in the area led to the creation there from the 8th century ad of temples for the worship of the ancestors, who were deified and identified with the Hindu god Shiva. The site’s name is derived from Old Javanese ...

Article

Heather Elgood

Two groups of Hindu temples of the 10th–15th centuries ad on the edge of a small lake near Udaipur in Rajasthan, India. The complex is enclosed by undecorated walls similar to those at Baroli. The main temple at Eklingji is dedicated to Shiva and houses a ...

Article

J. Marr

Southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent. Venerated as a Hindu holy place, the rocky promontory is associated with the cult of Parvati, who sought to win the god Shiva by doing penance. At first unsuccessful, she swore to remain a virgin (Skt kanyā), and she is worshipped here as such. The Kanyakumari Temple, entered through a gateway (...

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Kaviyur  

M. E. Heston

Temple site in Alleppey District, southern Kerala, India. It is known for two Hindu temples: the Mahadeva Temple of the late 10th century ad and an earlier rock-cut shrine dedicated to Shiva. The latter is of unknown date, although it is believed to pre-date the Kulashekhara dynasty (...

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Konarak  

Walter Smith

Site of a Hindu temple sacred to the sun god Surya, on India’s eastern coast about 48 km south-east of Bhubaneswar, Orissa. The 13th-century temple marks the climax of the temple building tradition of Orissa (anc. Kalinga) both in its grandiose monumentality and in the quality and extent of its sculptural decoration. Some scholars have suggested, on the basis of local legends, that the Surya Temple was built on the site of an earlier temple dedicated to the sun god. While not archaeologically verified, the legends indicate that Konarak was sacred to Surya earlier than the ...

Article

Perween Hasan

Hill area some 8 km west of Comilla, Bangladesh. It was a centre of Buddhist culture and of extensive building activity in the 6th–13th centuries. Coins, inscriptions and other evidence provide the names of Hindu and Buddhist dynasties that ruled the region: the Khadgas, Devas, kings of Harikela, Chandras, Varmans and Senas. Among the forty-seven archaeological sites are the ruins of seven monasteries, five large shrines and a palace. The earliest dated site is the 8th-century Buddhist monastery and cruciform shrine of Salban Vihara....

Article

R. Soekmono

Hindu temple complex in southern Central Java. It is the largest and most important of a group of Shaivite and Buddhist temples (candi) on the plain of Prambanan near the village of that name, 17 km north-east of Yogyakarta. Candi Loro Jonggrang, popularly known as Candi Prambanan, is associated with an inscription with a date equivalent to ...

Article

J. Marr

Temple site on a high plateau overlooking the Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The Surya Temple, built by the Karkota king Lalitaditya (reg c. ad 724–c. 760) is the earliest surviving Hindu temple in Kashmir. The main shrine, measuring some 19×11 m, stands on a high plinth in a rectangular colonnaded court (80.5×52 m) surrounded by 84 small shrines. This layout, together with the use of tall ribbed pillars and pilasters in the entrance porch and the repeated motif of a trefoil arch within a triangular pediment, gives a strong feeling of Bactrian Hellenistic influence. Indeed, the earlier Buddhist monasteries of the region were directly influenced by the architecture of Gandhara and Bactria, and the style remained current in both Buddhist and Hindu buildings in Kashmir until the 13th century ...

Article

Pagoda  

Frances Wood, Young-Ho Chung, Dennis Lishka and Richard John

Usually a type of free-standing tower. The word pagoda is of unknown etymology, but it is thought by some scholars to be derived from the Sanskrit bhagavat, ‘sacred’, or the name Bhagavati, as applied to Durga and other Hindu goddesses. Its earliest known occurrence is in Duarte Barbosa’s account of the Malabar coast of ...

Article

J. Marr

Island off the south coast of Tamil Nadu, India. Linked to the mainland by a causeway, Rameswaram is sacred to Hindus because of its legendary connections with the god Rama. The principal temple is the Ramalingeshvara, an extensive complex at the northern end of the island. Although the temple was founded by the ...

Article

Tapati Guha-Thakurta

Indian writer. His posthumously published work, Essay on the Architecture of the Hindus (published for the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1834), was a pioneering attempt at acquainting the West with the ancient Hindu ‘science’ of architecture, through a translation of some surviving fragments of Sanskrit treatises. Coming from an aristocratic but impoverished family of Karnataka, Ram Raz rose from the position of clerk to that of Head English Master at the College of Fort St George, Madras, eventually becoming a local judge and magistrate at Bangalore. His translation from Marathi into English of an indigenous code of revenue regulations brought him to the attention of Richard Clarke, a British official of the Madras government. It was under Clarke’s initiative that he turned his linguistic skills towards the elucidation of the ancient temple architecture of south India. While the British turned to a ‘Hindu’ to uncode the age-old precepts ‘locked’ in the Sanskrit language, Ram Raz himself had to rely on traditional Brahman scholars and on the practising craftsmen of the ‘Cammata’ clan of Thanjavur in deciphering the abstruse language and technical vocabulary of the texts. Highlighting the difficulties of his study, he noted the gap in communication between the Brahmans, with their closely guarded high knowledge, and the working ‘lower orders’ of artisans; the result was that the original theories were either lost or vastly distorted....

Article

Sirpur  

Donald M. Stadtner

Site in Raipur District, Madhya Pradesh, India. It is noted for its Hindu and Buddhist monuments of the 7th century ad. The principal shrine is the Lakshmana Temple, a brick temple with a large sandstone sanctum doorway bearing a reclining image of Vishnu on the lintel and smaller images of his various incarnations (...

Article

Tala  

Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty

Hindu temple site 25 km south of Bilaspur in Madhya Pradesh, India. It was excavated and cleared by Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty for the Madhya Pradesh Department of Archaeology and Museums. Its two temples, known as Jethani and Deorani (or Devarani), are datable respectively to the late ...

Article

City on the Kaveri River c. 400 km south-west of Madras in Tamil Nadu, India. An important Hindu religious centre since the 7th century ad, it is dominated by an immense granite rock some 85 m high, on the summit of which is a modern shrine dedicated to the elephant-headed god Ganesha. Hewn into the rock on the south side are two caves, the uppermost dating from the time of the Pallava king Mahendravarman I (...

Article

M. A. Claringbull

Sacred city and pilgrimage centre on the banks of the Ganga River between the Barna, or Varuna, and Asi rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the most holy of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism (the others being Ayodhya, Mathura, Hardwar, Kanchipuram, Ujjain and Dwarka) and has been the focus of Brahmanical learning and religious ...