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Agra  

R. Nath

City and administrative seat of the district of the same name, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Situated on the Yamuna River in the fertile north Indian heartland, it is 200 km south of Delhi and 55 km south of the ancient city of Mathura. A centre of Mughal culture and government in the 16th and 17th centuries, Agra has numerous monuments of that period, including the famed Taj Mahal (see §II, 1).

Agra’s antiquity is indicated both by a living literary and religious tradition and by occasional archaeological discoveries of ancient pottery, bricks, pillars and sculpture in and around the city. Pilgrimage centres upstream on the Yamuna are associated with the great epic the Mahābhārata, and nearby Mathura is one of the ancient sites identified with the worship of Vasudeva Krishna. The name Agra may derive from the ancient Hindu sage Angira. The area was ruled by Rajput chiefs prior to the Muslim conquest (...

Article

R. N. Mehta and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Ahmedabad]

City in western India, until 1970 the state capital of Gujarat.

Remains of bones and tools indicate occupation in the area around Ahmadabad during the second millennium bc. The earliest permanent settlement, called Ashaval after its founder Asha Bhil, was established on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati River in the 8th century ad and prospered in subsequent centuries. In 1391 Zafar Khan was appointed Governor of Gujarat by the Sultanate rulers in Delhi. In 1403 his rebellious son, Tatar Khan, proclaimed himself Sultan of Gujarat at Ashaval but died a few months later, possibly from poisoning. His father regained power and, assuming the title Muzaffar Shah I, proclaimed himself Sultan of Gujarat. On his death he was succeeded by his grandson, Ahmad Shah I (reg 1411–42), who built a capital at Ashaval, naming it Ahmadabad. Ahmad’s reign chiefly involved the expansion of his realm and the propagation of Islam....

Article

Ajmer  

Asok Kumar Das

[anc. Ajayameru]

City in Rajasthan, India, that flourished from c. 12th century. Ajmer was an important centre of Jainism in the 8th century, but it was not until c. 10th century that the area came into prominence under the Chahamanas (Chauhans) of Shakambhari. King Ajayapala is said to have founded the city in the 12th century, naming it Ajayameru after himself. He is also credited with building the now ruined hilltop fort called Taragarh. His son and successor Arnoraja (also called Anaka) constructed the massive embankment that created Ana Sagar Lake. The Chahamanas, especially Prithviraja (1178–92), constructed numerous temples and other buildings at Ajmer, as well as bathing ghats at Pushkar Lake some 11 km west. None of these are preserved in their original state.

Ajmer was sacked by Mu‛in al-Din Muhammad of Ghur in 1192 and again by Qutb al-Din Aybak in 1193, the latter incorporating it into the Delhi sultanate. The Sanskrit college complex of Visaladeva and numerous temples were destroyed, and the building materials were reused to raise an impressive mosque in ...

Article

Aligarh  

Walter Smith

[anc. Koil]

City in Uttar Pradesh, India, 135 km south-east of Delhi. A Rajput stronghold, Koil fell to Muslim invaders in ad 1194. Several later monuments were built on the foundations of its Hindu temples, no early examples of which survive. During the first half of the 15th century Koil figured in the confrontations between the Sharqis of Jaunpur and the armies of the Delhi Sultanate. The fort, built in 1524 during the reign of Ibrahim Lodi, was rebuilt by Sabit Khan in 1717 and extensively redesigned by the French in the early 19th century. Several monuments attributed to the period of the Mughal emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605) in the Bagh-i-Gesu Khan (now a public cemetery) include a pillared pavilion with a low dome and the remains of another double-storey pavilion; the supposed tomb of Gesu Khan, an official of Akbar, is a red sandstone structure set on a plinth with lattice screens and crowned by a low dome. The Jami‛ Masjid, at the summit of a long, steep slope called the Bala Qila, was begun in the 17th century but almost completely reworked in ...

Article

J. B. Harrison

[anc. Prayaga]

City of religious, strategic and administrative importance in Uttar Pradesh, India. Located at the confluence of the sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mystical Saraswati, Allahabad has drawn Hindu pilgrims for centuries. The earliest monument is a stone pillar, inscribed with edicts of Ashoka (reg c. 269–c. 232 bc), a panegyric of the Gupta king Samudragupta (reg c. ad 335–76) and a record of its re-erection in 1605 by the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27). Brooding over the Sangam (sacred bathing area) is the massive sandstone fort of Akbar (reg 1556–1605), built in 1584 to guard the river-route to Bengal. As at Agra, Delhi and Lahore, the fort enclosed residential quarters and palace buildings, but these were substantially altered during British tenure in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some indication of their former splendour is given in aquatints by Thomas and William Daniell family.

Mughal residences and gardens straggled along the Yamuna from the fort to the city. Prince Salim, the future emperor ...

Article

Pierre Pichard

City in upper Burma on the Irrawaddy River, 11 km south of Mandalay. It was the capital of the Burmese kings of the Konbaung dynasty from 1782, the year of its foundation, to 1823 and again from 1837 to 1860. It was built on a strictly square plan, surrounded by a wall and a moat. Each side of the wall measured 1.6 km and had three gates leading into the main streets that divided the city into equal square blocks, with a great wooden palace at its centre. The palace was dismantled in 1857, and its materials reused to build the new royal capital, Mandalay.

The major monuments of Amarapura are located outside this central square. They include the Naga-yon Temple with its superstructure in the form of a gigantic guardian serpent; the large Kyauk-taw-gyi Temple built in 1847 on the model of the Ananda at Pagan, and famous for its mural paintings depicting scenes of daily life; the tall Pahto-daw-gyi Stupa (...

Article

Amer  

Walter Smith

[Amber]

City in north-west Rajasthan, India, founded by Mina tribesmen in the early 10th century ad and taken by the Kachchhwaha Rajputs c. 1150. Amer is dominated by the palace complex located halfway up a hill crowned by massive fortifications. Below, a maze of buildings constitutes the town. The palace complex was built along a north–south axis over a period of c. 100 years. Raja Man Singh (reg c. 1590–1614) built the original palace at the southernmost end, a central courtyard surrounded by a rectangle of even, uniform structures. Below the palace in a funerary monument are some of the earliest surviving Rajasthani wall paintings. They lack inscriptions but relate formally to late 16th-century miniatures from Mewar and Amer.

Further additions were made to the palace in the 17th and 18th centuries. Two sets of courtyards and structures, showing rich cross-fertilization between the Mughal and Rajput styles, were added along the northern axis by ...

Article

Patwant Singh

Sikh holy city in Punjab, northern India. Lying on a flat stretch of agricultural land between the rivers Beas and Ravi, close to the Pakistan border, Amritsar (Skt amrit sarowar, ‘pool of nectar’) is the location of the Harmandir, the holiest of Sikh shrines at the heart of the Darbar Sahib temple complex, also referred to as the Golden Temple (see also Indian subcontinent §II 8., (ii) and §III, 7(ii)(a), fig.). It was the third Sikh guru, Amar Das (1552–74), who was first drawn to the area by the peace and tranquillity of its forested terrain and the pool where the Harmandir was later built. His successor, Guru Ram Das (1574–81), bought the pool and the surrounding land. Some historians believe that the Mughal emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605) offered the land as a gift, but that Ram Das declined in keeping with the Sikh tradition of self-reliance (...

Article

Senake Bandaranayake

[Anurādhapura]

Ancient city and religious centre in north-central Sri Lanka on the Malvatu Oya River. The site (see fig.) extends over an area of about 64 sq. km. At its centre are the vestiges of a fortified inner city, surrounded by several ancient Buddhist monastery complexes and four large, man-made lakes. The founding of Anuradhapura as a major urban complex is traditionally ascribed to the semi-historical figure of the pre-Buddhist period, King Pandukabhaya, in the 4th century bc. Recent excavations indicate the existence of settlement, import ceramics and early writing from a horizon of the 5th century bc or earlier, indicating the possibility of urbanization taking place from c. mid-1st millennium bc. The earliest rock shelter monasteries at the site date from the last few centuries bc.

Anuradhapura was the country’s principal political and religious centre for nearly a millennium and a half, until the closing decades of the 10th century ...

Article

Ava  

Pierre Pichard

[anc. Ratnapura]

City in Upper Burma at the confluence of the Irrawaddy and Myitnge rivers. It was founded c. 1365 as the third capital of the Shan rulers previously established at Pinya and Sagaing. In 1635 it became the capital of the Burman Toungoo dynasty. It was not finally abandoned as a royal capital until 1841 in favour of Amarapura. In contrast to the usual plan of Burmese cities (see Burma, §III), Ava was built with its citadel, the plan of which was a rectangle with the two longer sides curving slightly outwards, at the north-east corner of an irregular, redented city wall. The wooden royal palace in the centre of the citadel and most of the other structures were either destroyed by the catastrophic earthquake of 1838 or dismantled three years later when the capital was definitively moved to Amarapura, 10 km to the north-east. The ruined Baga-ya-kyaung was, with its 267 teak posts, one of the largest wooden monasteries built....

Article

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

Bajaura  

Kirit Mankodi

Village and temple site in India, some 15 km south of Kulu town, Himachal Pradesh, which flourished in the 9th century ad. It is located on the old trade route from Punjab to Lahaul-Spiti and Leh. When the region was ruled by the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty in the 9th century, a Shiva temple, the Vishveshvara, was built there. Facing east, the building is square in plan, with prominent niches on three sides containing sculptures of Ganesha, Vishnu and Durga slaying the buffalo-demon (Mahiṣāsuramardini). The walls are articulated with high mouldings (Skt vedībandha), subsidiary niches and corner pilasters. A prominent arched antefix (śukanāsā) is placed over the entrance and each of the door-like niches. The arches each contain busts of Shiva in his four-faced form. The sanctum contains a linga. The curvilinear spire and serrated crowning element (āmalasāraka) are similar to other buildings of the period and may be considered an extension into the Himalayas of the prevalent temple style of northern India. For example, a similar plan and elevation are seen in the Jaina temple outside Banpur (District Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh). The sculpture at Bajaura, however, has a distinctly local cast and shows some relation to the art of Chamba and Kashmir....

Article

Balkh  

City in northern Afghanistan, believed to be the site of Bactra, capital of ancient Bactria, and a major city in the province of Khurasan during the Islamic period. Located on a fertile plain, Balkh commanded trade routes between India, China, Turkestan and Iran. It was already a wealthy city under the Achaemenid dynasty (538–331 bc) and a centre of Zoroastrianism. Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, it became important under the Bactrian monarchies (323–87 bc) and then under the Kushana and Hephthalites, and it was a Buddhist centre. The most substantial remains from the early periods are the mud ramparts, which stand more than 20 m at several places. The circular plan around the citadel (modern Bala-Hisar) may date back as far as the Achaemenid period. The only other monuments to survive from the pre-Islamic period are four Buddhist stupas. That excavated at Tepe Rustam in the south of the city is the most monumental found north of the Hindu Kush (platform 54 m on a side; cylindrical dome 47 m in diameter; total height ...

Article

Walter Smith

Capital city of Karnataka State in southern India. Hero stones of the late 9th century ad discovered at Begur, 11 km east of Bangalore, bear inscriptions mentioning a ‘Battle of Bangalore’, and Roman coins found in the vicinity indicate that the area had some importance as a trading centre. In 1537 a city was established by Kempe Gowda, a vassal of the Vijayanagara dynasty. Nothing remains of his mud-brick fort, but temples attributed to him include the Gavi Gangadhareshvara, a rock-cut shrine preceded by a masonry hall, and the Basavan Temple, a structural shrine of two unelaborated forehalls and a superstructure in Vijayanagora style.

Bangalore’s strategic location and the temperate climate created by its high elevation made the city attractive to subsequent ruling powers. In 1637 it was conquered by the Bijapur Sultanate and given as a fief to the Maratha chief Shahji Bhonsle. In 1685 it fell to the Mughal dynasty. The rajas of Mysore, who subsequently became its governors, built a new mud-brick fort south of the old one in the late 17th century. In ...

Article

Bangkok  

Michael Smithies

[Thai Krungthep: ‘City of Angels’]

Capital city of Thailand. Founded by Rama I (reg 1782–1809), first king of the Chakri dynasty, as his capital, the city was built on the site of a fort dating from the 1660s on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, 77 km south of the former capital Ayutthaya, which was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. One of the most elaborate complexes in Bangkok, the Grand Palace (Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang), was built in the early years of Rama I’s reign and was extended and embellished by his successors, so that it contains buildings in a variety of styles. One of the earliest is the Amarin Winichai Hall, which was formerly the royal court of justice and is now used for coronations, for the bestowal of decorations and for other ceremonial functions. It is a T-shaped building with painted walls; the ceiling was rebuilt after a fire in ...

Article

Jeffrey A. Hughes

City in the Chambal Valley, Rajasthan, India. It was an important strategic and commercial location from the beginning of the Islamic period and became increasingly important during Mughal family times, culminating with the construction of a lavish palace complex during the reign of Shah Jahan (reg 1628–58). The area first came to prominence in 1021 when Mahmud of Ghazna (reg 998–1030) led a punitive expedition to Bari. The earliest permanent fortification was erected between 1345 and 1351, and in the 15th century Buhlul Lodi (reg 1451–89) brought the region under his control.

The first Mughal emperor, Babar (reg 1526–30), visited Bari as early as 1525; he liked the surrounding countryside and soon instigated a building programme to beautify the arid location with gardens and irrigation tanks. Mughal involvement in the area intensified under Akbar (reg 1556–1605), when, according to Akbar’s historian Abu’l-Fazl, Bari became one of the most favoured imperial hunting grounds. Bari continued as a hunting retreat under Jahangir (...

Article

Belur  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Belūr]

Indian town and temple site in southern Karnataka that flourished c. 1100–1800. The most important temple at the site is the Chhennakeshava (or Vijayanarayana) temple, the earliest example of the uniquely ornate style developed under the Hoysala dynasty. The temple was dedicated to Vishnu in 1117 by Bittiga (Vishnuvardhana) (reg c. 1106–56) in celebration of his victory over the Cholas and attainment of undisputed Hoysala independence in southern Karnataka. Within the same compound stand the Kappechhennigaraya temple, constructed by Vishnuvardhana’s queen, and many later structures, including a Vijayanagara-period gopura (towered gateway) built in 1397.

The Chhennakeshava temple stands on a wide platform opposite the gopura. The complex, star-shaped plan of the sanctum contrasts with the square, faceted plan of the multi-pillared hall (Skt navaraṅga) that precedes it. An exceptionally elaborate, nine-course moulded socle is mainly geometric above an initial frieze of elephants. The low-roofed navaraṅga, originally open on the front and sides, was closed in with the standard, richly embellished screens and doorways of the later Hoysala style (...

Article

Kirit Mankodi

[Vidisha; Vidiśā; Vidiśānagarī; Vedisā; Vessanagara]

City and temple site in Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, India, near the modern town of Vidisha. It flourished c. 3rd century bc to the 13th century ad and was the principal city of the Dasarna region in ancient times. Besnagar was established at the confluence of the rivers Betwa (Vetravati) and Bes (Vidisha). The River Bes has given the town its various names through history. Few monuments survive, but vestiges of a substantial rampart remain on the west side of the city, where it is not skirted by rivers, and numerous mounds mark the sites of abandoned habitations and prominent religious structures. Just north of the ruined city is a free-standing pillar (c. 100 bc) known as Kham Baba. The pillar bears a Brahmi inscription stating that it was set up as a Garuda pillar in honour of Vasudeva (Vishnu) by one Heliodoros, a Greek from Taxila. Foundations of an elliptical temple have been excavated near by (...

Article

Gautam Vajracharya

[Bhadgaon; Newari Khopa; Newari Khopva; anc. Khopriṅ]

City in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, 11 km east of Kathmandu and 10 km north-east of Patan. The youngest of the three sister cities of the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur is associated with only a few inscriptions and artefacts of the Lichchhavi period (c. ad 300–c. 800). In the Transitional period (c. 800–1200) the small town grew, especially towards the west, apparently because of the opening of a new trans-Himalayan trade route. In 1147 Prince Anandadeva chose Bhaktapur as his capital (partly, it seems, to avoid power struggles in Kathmandu and Patan) and built the famous palace Tripura. Apparently the modern Bhaktapur Darbar Square originates from that early palace. From this time forward, politically as well as culturally noteworthy episodes began to occur in the previously isolated city. In the 14th century Prince Sthiti Malla (reg c. 1382–95), who ruled from Bhaktapur, gradually came to control the turbulent political situation of the valley and firmly establish his dynasty. His grandson ...

Article

Bhopal  

[anc. Bhūpāla]

Capital city of Madhya Pradesh, India. Palaeolithic tools dating from c. 600,000 to c. 50,000 bp have been found in and around Bhopal, and rock shelters in hills north-west of the city contain early historic paintings estimated to date from c. 8000 to 2500 bc. Bhopal itself was founded by Bhoja (reg c. 1020–47) in the 11th century ad, but little survives from this time apart from a few fragmentary sculptures from the 10th and 11th centuries (Bhopal, Archaeol. Mus.). Dost Muhammad Khan (d 1726), a general of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (reg 1658–1707), laid the foundations for the present city and built the Fatehgarh fort, now ruined. In the 19th century the nawabs of Bhopal built a number of palaces, fortifications, mosques and other public buildings. The most notable of these are the congreagational mosque, Jami‛ Masjid (1819–37), built by Kudsia Begum, the Moti Mosque (...