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Heather Elgood

[Osiāñ, Osia; anc. Uvasiśa, Upakeśa]

Village 52 km north-west of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India, the site of a group of 16 temples of the 8th–12th centuries ad. Originally a Brahmanical centre, Osian later became a stronghold of Jainism before being destroyed by the Muslim invasions of the late 12th century. Characteristics of the temple architecture of Osian include a raised terrace; decoration with mouldings and niches; a curvilinear tower with serrated crown (Skt āmalaka) and pot finial; and a front porch that in later buildings became a hall (ma ṇḍapa) with an overhanging eave shading a balcony seat (kakṣāsana). Doorways are highly decorated with a variety of themes, including river goddesses and serpents. Some temples were originally built on the five-shrined (pañcāyatana) plan, with subsidiary shrines connected by a cloister, but these have largely been destroyed.

The temples are in groups to the south and the west of the town and on a hill to the north. One of the earliest temples in the southern group, Harihara Temple 1, is one of three temples in this group devoted to the worship of Harihara, the unified form of Shiva and Vishnu. Originally built on the ...



Pierre Pichard and Richard M. Cooler

[Pali Arimaddanapura]

Capital of the first kingdom of Burma from the 11th to the 14th century. Famous for its temples and other religious monuments, Pagan was probably founded in the 9th century ad. The city’s official Pali name, meaning ‘crusher of foes’, appears in contemporary stone inscriptions. The name Pagan is first mentioned (as Pukam) in Chinese sources c. 1004 and in a Cham inscription from Po Nagar in Vietnam dated 1050. Pagan’s foreign relations were mostly with eastern India (Bengal and Orissa), Sri Lanka, the Mon kingdoms to the south and China. The chief influences on its architecture and arts came from Burma itself (Pyu and Mon), from eastern India and from Sri Lanka.

Pierre Pichard

The city is on a bend of the Irrawaddy River in the arid region of central Burma, described in ancient inscriptions as tattadessa (the parched land). Its subsistence was always dependent on the rice-producing areas of Kyaukse, some 170 km upstream, and Minbu, 110 km downstream. The site is an alluvial terrace on the east bank of the river. It is bordered on the south-east by a low hill range; a higher range closes the western horizon across the river. At the foot of the south-east range a dam was built in the 12th century to store water during the meagre rainy season (June to November). A few other reservoirs were set up in the plain, but no evidence of irrigation channels has been found. Several streams cross the site from the east to the Irrawaddy; they are dry most of the year, their sandy beds used as cart tracks. Most of the plain is cultivated (palm trees and dry crops such as millet, sesame, cotton and groundnuts). About 36,000 people live in several villages within the archaeological area of some 13×8 km....


Walter Smith

[anc. Anahilapataka; Anhilvada]

Town on the Chandrabagha River in western Gujarat, India. Capital of several western Indian dynasties from c. ad 700 to c. 1400, Patan flourished under the Solanki dynasty during the 11th and 12th centuries, and literary sources attest to the building of dozens of temples during this time; none, however, survives. The ruined Rani Vav (Queen’s Well), built by Udayamati, queen of Bhimadeva I (reg c. 1023–62), is one of the most lavish stepwells in Gujarat (see Stepwell). The Sahasrara Linga Tala (Tank of 1000 li ṅgas) was built by Jayasimha Siddharaja (reg c. 1093–1134). The embankment surrounding this huge reservoir was faced with stone masonry, forming steps that once supported hundreds of small li ṅga shrines; these survive only in fragments.

Patan fell to Muslim rule in the late 13th century. The Islamic appropriation of Hindu monuments is seen in the tomb of Shaykh Farid (...


T. P. B. Riley-Smith

[Pāṭan; Lalitapur; Skt: ‘beautiful city’]

City some 5 km south-west of Kathmandu, Nepal. One of the Kathmandu Valley’s earliest settlements, Patan has been described as ‘the cradle of art and architecture in the valley’. Legend claims that the city was founded by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka, who ruled northern India in the 3rd century bc. He is credited with establishing the four stupas (Buddhist reliquary mounds) that terminate the roads emanating from Patan’s centre. They may, in fact, predate Ashoka’s era. Evidence from inscriptions, sculptures and architectural fragments indicates that Patan was one of the major settlements of the Lichchhavi dynasty (reg c. ad 300–800).

Most of Patan’s early monuments date from the time of the Malla monarchs (reg c. 1200–1769). Yaksha Malla (reg c. 1428–82) divided the valley between three sons, one of whom became ruler of the city-state of Patan. In the 17th century patronage of the arts flowered, as successive monarchs sought to outdo their cousins in ...



Walter Smith

[anc. Pataliputra; Pāṭaliputra]

City in north-eastern India, capital of Bihar state. The origins of the name Pataliputra (‘son of the ṭali tree’) are unknown; explanatory myths appear to have been formulated after the fact. According to literary traditions, both Buddhist and Jaina, Pataliputra was founded by King Ajatashatru (reg c. 491–c. 459 bc) of Rajagriha (Rajgir). Located at the confluence of the Ganga and Son rivers, the site was of strategic importance in regard to both warfare and trade. Textual traditions assert that Ajatashatru built a fort at Pataliputra, and that his successor, Udayi, transferred the Magadhan capital there from Rajagriha; while the fort itself has not been found, excavations have revealed strata datable to the 6th century.

During the 4th–3rd centuries bc, when Pataliputra became the Maurya capital, the city stretched for c. 14 km along the northern bank of the Son River. Excavations in the village of ...


Kamil Khan Mumtaz

City in Pakistan lying close to the country’s north-west border with Afghanistan, said to have been founded by King Parras (or Porus) in the 4th century. The earliest references to the site occur in documents by Chinese pilgrims visiting the celebrated Buddhist stupa at Shah-ji-ki-Dheri, on the city’s south-east edge. Faxian, writing in ad 400, knew the town as Fo-lou-sha; Sung Yun mentioned it in 502, when it was ruled by the king of Gandhara; and Xuanzang, visiting the country in 630, called the capital Pu-lu-sha-pu-luo, or Purushapura. It was next mentioned, under the name of Purushavar, by Mas‛udi and al-Biruni in the 10th and 11th centuries and again by the first Mughal emperor, Babur (reg 1526–30), in 1519; it was given its present name of Peshawar (‘frontier town’) by Akbar (reg 1556–1605). From 1818 Peshawar became part of Ranjit Singh’s Sikh empire. In 1849 it fell to the British and remained under their rule until independence and the partition of Pakistan and India in ...



J. Marr

Town about 35 km south-east of Panaji in Goa, India. It passed to the Portuguese in 1764, but before this date it was one of the places of refuge for Hindus persecuted in Portugal’s early coastal settlements. Like much of the interior of Goa, Ponda retains a much more Hindu flavour; even the Christians there, converted at a later, more tolerant period of Portuguese rule, retain many features of Hindu social organization.

The fort (ruined) in Ponda was founded by the ‛Adil Shahi family kings of Bijapur in the 16th century. One of them, ‛Ali ‛Adil Shah I (reg 1557–79), constructed the Safa Masjid (1560), which is characterized by typical Deccani arches. Much of the construction is of laterite, visible below the stuccoed upper part, and the pitched roof suits the heavy rainfall of the area. Unusually, the ablution tank is on the south side. Several Hindu temples of the 17th and 18th centuries clearly show the influence of Portuguese church architecture. One is the Shanti Durga Temple (...


Philip Davies


City lying 161 km south of Madras on the east coast of India, capital of the Union Territory of Pondicherry. The Territory is an amalgamation of the former French enclaves in India, including Mahé, Karaikal and Yanam, which were handed over by the French Government on 1 November 1954. The town retains a distinct French ambience, and its architecture is characterized by an interesting mixture of Mediterranean and Indian styles.

Pondicherry was established on the site of an ancient Roman settlement. In 1672 the territory was bought by the French from Sultan Sikander of Bijapur. The town was founded by François Martin two years later, and it rapidly became the principal French port trading in fabrics, indigo, spices and precious stones. In 1693 Pondicherry fell to the Dutch, but it reverted four years later under the Treaty of Ryswick. It subsequently changed hands frequently with the British, who razed the town in ...



A. P. Jamkhedkar

[Poona; anc. Pūṇaka, Puṇya]

City in Maharashtra, India, that served as the headquarters of an ancient administrative division (viṣaya, deśa) flourishing from at least the mid-8th century. Pune is mentioned in the records of Krishna I (reg c. ad 758–73) of the Rashtrakuta dynasty and also in the copperplates (ad 793, Shaka year 715) found at Muruda Janjira, dating from the reign of King Aparajita of the Shilahara dynasty, which record the donation of some land at Vihale to Kolama, a resident of the village of Khetaka in Punakadesa. A rock-cut monument of the Rashtrakuta period in the Shivajinagar area of the city consists of a shrine and Nandi pavilion cut into a knoll near the river. Placed in a pit-like courtyard (48.8×30.5 m), the circular Nandi pavilion rests on twelve pillars, while the shrine proper has three cells fronted by a pillared hall. Around the block of shrines there is a circumambulatory passage. The narrative panels and figurative sculpture, discerned with difficulty, include such Shaiva and Vaishnava themes as Shiva receiving the River Ganga (Gangadhara) and appearing within the ...



Walter Smith

City on the eastern coast of India in the state of Orissa, centre of the cult of the god Jagannatha and site of the Jagannatha Temple, one of the most important pilgrimage temples in India. Although Puri’s history is unclear, recent research suggests that during the 10th to 11th centuries it was sacred to the Devi (goddess) and Shiva. A set of Seven Mother Goddesses (Sapta Matṛikās) is the major evidence for goddess worship. Several Shiva temples are now partially below ground and embedded in plaster; their excavation and cleaning is essential for an adequate assessment of Puri’s place in Orissan art history.

The Jagannatha Temple (c. mid-12th century) is popularly thought to have replaced a 10th-century shrine that fell into disrepair. If such a temple existed, it is not known if it was located at the site of the present temple. This can be established only through excavation. By the 13th century, as Vishnu worship became prevalent, the kings of the Ganga dynasty declared Purushottama (referred to as Jagannatha from the 14th century) their state deity, with themselves as his deputies and partial incarnations. The cult of Jagannatha is highly synthetic. The god’s image, a simply articulated log with large saucer-shaped eyes, originates in the aniconic tradition of tribal art. The Ganga dynasty rulers perhaps played a role in synthesizing the elements of tribal and Brahmanical religions in the Jagannatha cult, thus unifying a diverse population. By the 14th century Jagannatha was identified with Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, and accompanied by a sister and brother, Subhadra (possibly relating to the earlier goddess cult) and Balabhadra (Balarama, the incarnation of Shesha, the cosmic serpent)....



Gregory L. Possehl

City and surrounding valley in the Baluchistan highlands of Pakistan, close to the border with Afghanistan. Its strategic location in the Quetta–Pishin valley region, which forms a natural route from the plains of the Indus Valley to the lowlands of southern Afghanistan, has made it an important crossroad of cultures and a prosperous settlement from prehistoric times to the present. A complete archaeological survey of the Quetta–Pishin valley region undertaken in the 1950s by Walter A. Fairservis jr documented human settlement in the area from the Early Neolithic culture of the site known as Kili Ghul Mohammad I (c. 5000–4000 bc) to the mature Bronze Age settlement at Damb Sadaat III contemporary with the civilization at Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and other Indus Valley sites (c. 2550–2000 bc). The important prehistoric ceramic type known as Quetta Ware was first defined in this region. It is a fine ceramic, made on the wheel, fired buff to light pink and used to make cups, pots and plates which were decorated in bold geometric patterns of zigzags, crosses and chevrons....



M. E. Heston

[Skt Kōḷamba; Malayalam Kollam]

Port and capital of Quilon District in Kerala, south-west India. The Kollam Era, established in ad 825, was the ancient chronological system of the Malayalam region; as it is named after the city, its inception may reflect the date of the foundation of Kollam. While some scholars believe it was an important port even before the 9th century, epigraphy suggests the city attained prominence only after the Chera or Kulashekhara dynasty of Mahodayapuram (c. 800–1124) made Kollam the headquarters of their southernmost district, Venadu. The city subsequently became the capital of the independent Venadu dynasty after the disintegration of the Kulashekhara empire in the 12th century.

In the earliest copperplate documents issued from Kollam in 849, a governor granted the Syrian Christian community privileges to build the church of Tarisa, indicating the importance of this community in the commercial growth of Quilon (the church has not survived). Inscriptions of the 10th and 12th centuries refer to the Panamkavil Palace of the local ruler, but no traces of this monument have been found. Although an inscription of ...



Frederick M. Asher

[Rājgir, Rājagṛha]

Ancient capital of the kingdom of Magadha in Nalanda District, Bihar, India. Rajgir was a frequent resort of the Buddha and of Mahavira, the Jaina teacher (c. 5th century bc), and it is sacred to both religions. Its outer fortifications (c. 6th century bc) run for about 40 km over hilly terrain; this wide rubble rampart with projecting bastions is probably the earliest surviving stone monument in India. Within the walls is a citadel with earthen ramparts. Beyond the outer walls, to the north, are the remains of new Rajgir, laid out in an irregular square, possibly by King Ajatashatru (c. 491–459 bc).

While archaeological excavations have revealed much material, few ancient monuments have survived. The earliest are the two rock-cut Sonbhandar caves. These are similar in plan and elevation to the rock-cut sanctuaries in the Barabar Hills (3rd century bc; see Barabar and Nagarjuni...


Perween Hasan

District and its main town on the River Ganga in Bangladesh; formerly part of the ancient region of Varendra, which was also known as Pundravardhana. Inscriptions testify that the Maurya, Gupta, Shashanka and Harshavardhana dynasties had authority over Pundravardhana between the 4th century bc and 8th century ad. From the 8th century the region was ruled by the Pala dynasty; however, in the late 12th century the Senas ousted the Palas and established their rule over the whole country (see Pala and Sena family). After the invasion of Bakhtiyar Khalji in 1204, Varendra was brought under Muslim rule.

The 8th-century Buddhist monastery of Paharpur is located in Naogaon. A sandstone Buddha image executed in the 5th-century style of Sarnath was excavated in Biharail (Rajshahi, Varendra Res. Mus.). The earliest extant Muslim monument is the mosque at Bagha, dated by inscription to ah 930 (ad 1522–3). It is built in the typical pre-Mughal style with curved cornice, profuse terracotta ornamentation and lacking a courtyard. The Kusumba Mosque in Naogaon was built in ...



Walter Smith

[Rāmtek; anc. Rāmagiri]

Town and temple site 54 km north-east of Nagpur in eastern Maharashtra, India. It is probably identical with the Ramigiri (‘Rama’s mountain’) described by Kalidasa in his poem Meghadūta (‘Cloud messenger’) as the place where Rama and Sita spent their exile and whence Sita was abducted by Ravana. Inscriptions by the Vakataka queen Prabhavatigupta (reg c. ad 390–410) mentioning ‘Ramagiriswamin’ as the deity of the site, support this identification.

A group of temples and images in varying states of preservation, located at the foot of the fortified hill, date to the 5th century. Though recognizably ‘Gupta’ in style, they lack the refinement of work found at Ajanta, Nachna and Marhia. A Varaha shrine in the form of an open square pavilion has four square columns carved with lotus medallions. More elaborate surface decoration is seen in the forehall of the ruined Trivikrama Temple; a broken image of Vishnu Trivikrama stands near by (...


Kamil Khan Mumtaz

[anc. Gajipur, Gajnipur; Fatehpur Baori]

City in northern Pakistan c. 12 km south of the capital, Islamabad. It first came into the possession of the Gakhar family as a gift from Mahmud of Ghazna (reg ad 998–1030). However, its exposed position made it vulnerable to invasion, and it subsequently lay deserted until Jhanda Khan, a Gakhar chief, restored it, naming it Pindi or Rawalpindi after the nearby village of Rawal. In 1765 the town was occupied by Sirdar Milka Singh, whose invitation to traders from Bhera, Miani, Pind Dadan Khan and Chakwal ensured its rapid growth in importance. During the early 19th century Rawalpindi became for a time the refuge of Shah Shuja, the exiled Amir of Kabul, and his brother, Shah Zaman, who built a house once used as a police headquarters (kotwali). From 1849, under British rule, Rawalpindi became a cantonment of considerable size and the headquarters of a division. The cantonment and civil station were on the right bank of a muddy stream called the Leh; the city itself was on the left. In ...



Pierre Pichard

City in Upper Burma, on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River, opposite Mandalay. It was founded in 1315 by a Shan prince and from 1760 to 1764 was briefly the capital of King Naungdawgyi of the Burman Konbaung dynasty. Built at the foot of a range of hills, the ancient city has now practically disappeared, but a number of monuments are still standing. Among the more notable are several stupas: the Htupa-yon, with its innovative circular terraces with rows of niches, the Hsin-mya-shin (both 15th century), Kaung-hmu-daw (17th century), which is surmounted by a huge dome 46 m high, and Aung-mye-law-ka (18th century). The remains of numerous monasteries dot the hills behind the city, including the Ti-law-ka-guru underground monastery, which contains mural paintings from the 17th century.

V. C. Scott O’Connor: Mandalay and Other Cities of the Past in Burma (London, 1907/R Bangkok, 1987) U Aung Thaw: Historical Sites in Burma...



Erberto F. Lo Bue

Village 19 km north-east of Kathmandu, in Bagmati Province, Nepal, near the ancient Buddhist monastery, Gum Vihara. The monastery is located on a ridge 3 km north of the village at a site known as Vajrayogini (or Khadgayogini). Gum Vihara is one of the most ancient Buddhist sites mentioned in Lichchhavi inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley, and it may well antedate the Lichchhavi period (c. ad 300–800). According to tradition Manadeva (reg c. ad 464–505) repaired the monastery, and under his influence a large caitya (stupa) was erected. This may refer to the only monumental stupa at this site, which is now enclosed in a c. 17th-century Newar-style double-roofed temple, surrounded by four stupas of the Lichchhavi period. The enclosure of a stupa of this size is now unique in the Kathmandu Valley and can be related to early Indian Buddhist monasteries with a stupa in the centre of a courtyard lined with cells....



Catherine B. Asher

[Pers. Sahsarām]

Town in Rohtas District, Bihar, India. It is the site of an Ashokan inscription from the 3rd century bc and several fine tombs from the 16th century ad. Sasaram was probably situated on an important early trade route. The edict issued by the emperor Ashoka (reg c. 269–232 bc) is inscribed on the wall of a rock-cut cave located near the summit of Chandan Shahid Hill, about 4 km south of the town centre. Its eight-line text in Brahmi script calls on all subjects to commit themselves to the goal of piety. The single-chambered enclosure is probably contemporary with the edict; its entrance of plaster-covered bricks suggests later additions were made to the rock-cut core.

A second rock-cut cave at Tara Chandi Hill, 1.5 km away, has a 12th-century inscription naming the site as Sasaram. At the entrance to the cave are the remains of a structural porch. A nearby rock-cut sculpture possibly depicts the Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati. Pre-Islamic period remains found at Sasaram also include a life-size image of the Hindu god Vishnu and coins....


Sara L. Schastok

Pilgrimage centre located on the Mesvo River in Sabarkantha District, Gujarat. The ancient name of the village is unknown, but its modern appellation is derived from the main image of its primary temple, a medieval structure dedicated to Shamal or Shyamala (Black One), a glistening black image of Vishnu that may date to the 7th or 8th century ad. Shamalaji’s most ancient remains are those of the 4th- or 5th-century Buddhist monastic complex at Devni Mori, 2 km from the village proper, which was excavated in 1960–63 by a team from Maharajah Sayajirao University, Vadodara (see Mehta and Chowdhary). Subsequently inundated owing to the construction of a dam on the Mesvo, Devni Mori contained a large multi-tiered stupa, a prayer-hall (Skt caitya) and a monastery (vihāra); finds included terracotta images of the Buddha seated in a meditation posture (dhyāna mudrā), an inscribed casket and 64 coins, primarily of Kshatrapa date. Both the excavators and Umakant P. Shah are adamant that the stupa and the images associated with it cannot, on archaeological grounds, be dated later than ...