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Ambarnath [anc. Aṁvaranātha, Ambaranātha]locked

  • A. P. Jamkhedkar

Site of a Shiva temple in Maharashtra, India, some 7 km south-east of Kalyan, a suburb of Bombay. An inscription inside the hall records that it was repaired in 1061 (Shaka year 982) by one Mamvaniraja (Mummuniraja) of the Shilahara dynasty, dating the temple to the early 11th century or before.

Enclosed within a wall (Skt prakāra) and facing west, the temple consists of a closed hall (gūḍha-maṇḍapa) with three porches, a vestibule and sanctuary (garbha-gṛha), the latter placed at a lower level and approached by steps. The exterior walls of the sanctuary and hall are subject to a series of projections and carry niches with divine figures. These include regents of the directions on the corners and themes of Vaishnava and Shaiva mythology: for example Vishnu in his incarnations as Varaha and Narasimha; Durga Slaying the Buffalo Demon (Mahiṣāsuramārdinī); and the marriage of Shiva and Parvati (Kalyanasundara). The main cardinal niches contain Mahakali (north); Gajasurasamhara, Shiva celebrating his victory over the elephant demon, shown dancing and wearing an elephant hide (south); and Hariharapitamaharka, a syncretistic god representing Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and the Sun (east).

The tower over the sanctuary is a damaged example of the bhūmija mode, which is characterized by four spines (latā) at the cardinal points springing from large arched windows (śurasenaka); the intervening quadrants are filled with superimposed rows of miniature towers (kūṭa-stambha). Here the kūṭa-stambha are capped with unique bell-shaped elements that appear to represent the drāviḍa-karma (‘Dravidian decoration’) prescribed by architectural texts. The hall carries an elaborate pyramidal roof with bell-shaped finials (ghaṇṭā-saṁvaraṇa).


  • H. Cousens: Medieval Temples of the Dakhan (Calcutta, 1931), pp. 14–18
  • V. V. Mirashi: Inscriptions of the Śilāhāras, Corp. Inscr. Indic., 6 (New Delhi, 1960), pp. 110–13
  • G. B. Deglurkar: Temple Architecture and Sculpture of Maharashtra (Nagpur, 1974), pp. 24–7
  • Krishna Deva: ‘Bhūmija Temples’, Studies in Indian Temple Architecture, ed. P. Chandra (New Delhi, 1975), pp. 90–113