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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

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

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....