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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.

The symbolic and ritual centre of the complex is Pura Penataran Agung, the largest temple, which over the centuries has undergone numerous changes. Its 57 separate structures are arranged on six terraces. Originating probably in a simple prehistoric sanctuary, it has a terraced form suggesting a series of successive enlargements. The earliest structures were probably simple shrines and stone seats, represented now in developed form by the two uppermost shrines dedicated to the Lord of the Mountain. On current evidence, the pagoda-like shrines (...


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 Chola rulers of the 9th–13th century ad, only a few shrines on the west side of the enclosure can be dated confidently to the 12th century; most extant parts belong to the Nayaka period (16th–17th century). Like most later temples in southern India, the Ramalingeshvara consists of a series of enclosures entered through monumental gates (Skt gopuras). The eastern gopura, begun in 1640, was completed in the 20th century and stands over 40 m high. The intermediate enclosure is surrounded by long colonnaded corridors; those on the north and south sides are each 205 m long. The colonnades are supported by piers standing on a moulded base and crowned with large pendant lotus brackets; some of the ceilings have faded paintings of figures and decorative medallions. At the centre of the complex are the twin shrines of Shiva Ramalingeshvara and his consort Parvati, preceded by a columned hall (...



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 (reg c. 570–630) and the lower to the Pandya era (c. 8th century). The façade of the upper temple is of squat, octagonal pillars bearing Tamil and Sanskrit inscriptions executed in beautiful Pallava script. Inside, at the east end, is a bare cell; opposite this is an important sculpted panel representing the descent of Ganga into the hair of Shiva, who is shown surrounded by devotees. The lower cave is a columned hall (...