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Ayodhya  

B. B. Lal

[Ayodhyā]

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 c. 700 bc, as is indicated by the occurrence of the earliest variety of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) and a few sherds assignable to a late stage in the production of Painted Grey Ware (PGW). The NBPW is very well fired, thin-sectioned, with a shining surface and showing a variety of colours: steel grey, coal black, indigo, silver, even gold. In the earliest levels the houses were of wattle and daub, but later they began to be constructed of kiln-fired bricks. Terracotta ringwells were used for disposing of sullage water. Concomitantly, systems of coinage (punch-marked and uninscribed cast coins) and weights (cylindrical pieces of jasper, chert etc) also came into being, laying the foundation of urbanization in the Ganga Valley around the middle of the 1st millennium ...

Article

Baroli  

Heather Elgood

[Badoli]

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 Ghateshvara Mahadeva Temple, comprising a columned porch, a sanctuary with a spire and a separate hall. Sacred to Shiva, the temple is named after a central liṅga formed of a natural stone resembling an inverted pot (ghaṭa). On the outer walls are sculptures including images of the dancing Shiva (Nataraja) on the west, Chamunda on the north and Shiva spearing Andaka on the south; there is a fine figure of Parvati within the sanctum. On the lintel of the sanctuary doorway is a dancing Shiva flanked by Brahma and Vishnu; on the jambs below are carvings of guardian figures and river goddesses shaded by lotus-leaf parasols. The adjoining porch contains six columns with female figures carved on the shafts and a pyramidal (...

Article

Michael D. Rabe

[Telugu: ‘Mountain of the fearsome god’]

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 ad, all eight caves house Shiva liṅgas within sanctuaries measuring c. 2×2×2 m. Life-size door guardians carved into the façade of each shrine lean upon heavy clubs; their abundant hair is set with single blades or triple forks, respectively identifying them as personifications of Shiva’s axe and trident. All but one of the cave façades are also adorned with smaller-scale icons of Brahma and Vishnu, which, together with the Shiva liṅgas, complete the Hindu trinity. Each cave is preceded by an open court containing a reclining image of Shiva’s vehicle, the bull Nandi, set facing the sanctum; relief panels on either side are carved with seated images of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha and the child-devotee Chandikesha. The external façades of caves 5–8 include porches with richly detailed parapets supported by twin pillars ...

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 di-hyang, ‘the abode of the gods’. The Dieng temples are spread over a pear-shaped valley and its bordering elevations. Many, however, have been destroyed, and the few that remain standing cannot be ascribed to any one period. Even the temples that belong to the ‘Arjuna group’ show at least two styles: the squat candi (ancient religious monuments built of stone) Arjuna, Semar, Srikandi and Gatokaca, which are strongly influenced by south Indian architecture, and the slender Candi Puntadewa with its two-tier foundation and its high protruding niches. Quite different is Candi Bima, 1.6 km south of the Arjuna compound. Its upper structure is obviously a north Indian shikhara, but the ornamental elements reveal south Indian influence. Remains of monasteries indicate that the plateau was a lively pilgrimage resort, possibly for many centuries, as is suggested by a date equivalent to ...

Article

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 (c. 800–1124). It demonstrates strong stylistic affinities with excavations of the Pandya period in lower Tamil Nadu (see Indian subcontinent §III 5., (i), (j)). The façade pillars rise from a square base to an octagonal mid-section; the bevelled corbels support pendent volutes. The beautifully executed relief carvings in the hall preceding the shrine include a human figure that may represent a chieftain. Steps lead up to the sanctum, which contains a rock-cut liṅga (Skt: phallic emblem of Shiva). The nearby Mahadeva Temple is a circular shrine of the Kerala type, with a sloping tiled roof, a granite base and exterior walls of carved wood. The complex is approached through a tall, Kerala-style gateway (...

Article

Konarak  

Walter Smith

[Konārak; Koṇārka]

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 13th century.

The first known mention of the temple is an inscription dated Shaka year 1217 (ad 1295) stating that a king Narasimha built at Konarak a temple of the Sun. It is generally believed that this and subsequent inscriptions refer to Narasimha I (reg 1238–64) of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. The physical magnitude of the temple alone suggests royal patronage, which is confirmed by numerous sculptural representations where a king is seen in military procession, worshipping various deities and even enshrined as a kind of divinity (e.g. ...

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.

F. A. Khan: Mainamati (Karachi, 1963) A. M. Chowdhury: Dynastic History of Bengal (Dhaka, 1967) B. M. Morrison: Lalmai, a Cultural Center of Early Bengal: An Archaeological Report and Historical Analysis (Seattle, 1974) N. I. Khan, ed.: Bangladesh District Gazeteers: Comilla (Dhaka, 1977) A. K. M. Zakaria: Bangladesher pratna ṣampad [The archaeological treasures of Bangladesh] (Dhaka, 1984) An Album of Archaeological Relics in Bangladesh (Dhaka, 1984) [excellent pls]...

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 ad (see Indian subcontinent §III 5., (i)). The entire temple is built of large blocks of dressed grey limestone held together by mortar and dowels. The large entrance portico, where the once profuse decorations have nearly disappeared owing to the friability of the stone, is on the west. There is a small tank in front of the main shrine, and traces of foundations in the four corners of the court suggest that the temple originally formed a quincunx. The main shrine consists of a portico (Skt ...

Article

Sirpur  

Donald M. Stadtner

[anc. Sripura]

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 (avatāras), including scenes from the life of Krishna on the uprights. The temple’s long pillared hall faces east; of this, only two parallel rows of stone pillar bases have survived. The brick superstructure has been heavily restored. There are also two smaller brick temples with dilapidated walls that reveal a layout based on a stellate plan. The brick walls of two Buddhist monasteries indicate a plan based around an open inner courtyard surrounded by individual cells; in the rear of each monastery is a sanctum containing a large stone Buddha. The monuments were erected by the Panduvamsi dynasty, which ruled from Sirpur during the latter part of the 6th century and first half of the 7th. A small group of late 7th- or 8th-century Buddhist bronzes from the site reveal affinities with metalwork from Bihar....

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 5th century ad and the early 6th. The Jethani Temple has entrances on the south, east and west, the southern entrance being the largest. Other notable features include huge sculpted slabs forming the side walls on either side of the southern entrance, enormous four-sided pillars faced with carved slabs on the southern steps and a cyclopean elephant plinth (Skt gajapīṭha) that substitutes for an entrance on the northern side of the temple. The Deorani Temple, a more compact structure equipped with only one entrance, comprises a sanctum (garbhagṛha) and a vestibule (antarāla) of almost equal size fronted by a small hall (...