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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

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

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

Frederick M. Asher

and Gaya [Bodhgayā and Gayā]

Pilgrimage centres and towns located on the Phalagu (Niranjana) River in Bihar, India. From an early date Gaya has been a site for the performance of śrāddha, rites for recently deceased parents. This ancient tradition and the general sanctity of Gaya in the 5th century bc probably drew Siddhartha Gautama to its outskirts, to the place now known as Bodhgaya, where, following profound meditation, he became a Buddha (Enlightened One). The tree under which he meditated (the bodhi tree) became an object of veneration; initially it was surrounded by a hypaethral temple (Pali bodhighara), the general form of which is known from relief sculptures of the 2nd–1st centuries bc at Bodhgaya and other sites (see also Indian subcontinent, §III, 3). A stone slab (Skt vajrāsana) at the site, dating to the 3rd century bc, carries motifs similar to those found on contemporary Mauryan pillars (see...

Article

Kirit Mankodi

[Bharmaur; anc. Brahmāpura]

Capital of the Varman dynasty, 75 km east of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh, India, notable for its wooden temples. Numerous shrines were built at Brahmaur, deodar trees (Cedrus deodara) supplying the material as elsewhere in the Himalayas. Heavy snow and earthquakes have necessitated renovations, but some 9th-century ad portions of the Lakshanadevi Temple have survived. These include a façade, hall pillars, a ceiling and the inner sanctum doorway. Influence from Kashmir is evident in the trefoil pediment over the doorway and in the figure of Vishnu contained within. The temple, dedicated to Durga Mahishasuramardini (She who Slays the Buffalo Demon), enshrines a metal image of the goddess (h. 1.25 m) bearing an inscription of King Meruvarman of the Varman dynasty. Figures of the god Ganesha and of Shiva’s bull, Nandi, at Brahmaur also carry inscriptions of Meruvarman; all were cast by the artist Gugga in the 8th century ...

Article

Erberto F. Lo Bue

[Buḍhā Nilkaṇṭha]

Village 8 km north of Kathmandu, Nepal. It is the site of a stone image of the Hindu god Vishnu lying on the coiled mass of the serpent Ananta (l. 7 m), the largest sculpture in the Kathmandu Valley and one of its outstanding masterpieces.

The Jalashayana Narayana of Budhanilkantha village is second in importance only to Changu Narayan in the worship of Vishnu in Nepal. It was carved from a single block of a variety of basalt found a few kilometres outside the Kathmandu Valley. Several artists must have contributed to the sculpture, although it appears to have been conceived by a single mind. Notwithstanding its huge size, the figure is well proportioned and seems to float in the spring-fed pool surrounding the cushion-like coils of Ananta, who shelters the god under the canopy of his eleven hoods. The statue was consecrated in ad 641–2 by Vishnugupta, a de facto...

Article

Kirit Mankodi

Village 50 km east of Chamba (see Chamba) in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is renowned for a wooden temple of Shaktidevi, the nucleus of which dates to the 9th century ad. The original portions consist of the sanctum, 12-pillared hall and ceiling. The pillars have square shafts, pot-and-foliage capitals and brackets with flying figures; the doorframes are carved with representations of Hindu deities; and the compartmented ceiling is decorated with lotuses and flying celestials. The carving of the figures, characteristic of Chamba and Kashmir, shows pronounced pectoral muscles, deep navels and elongated trefoil crowns. The temple stands at the site of a 7th-century ad shrine built by Meruvarman of the Varman dynasty of Brahmaur. The inscribed image of Shaktidevi, commissioned by Meruvarman and cast by the artist Gugga (see Indian subcontinent, §V, 7, (ii)), was reinstated in the temple when it was reconstructed in the 9th century. Other metal and stone images, as well as fountain stones in the village, testify to continuous art activity at Chhatradi over many centuries....

Article

Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty

Village and temple site on the Rajpur–Shankargarh–Kusmi road on a plateau close to the confluence of the rivers Kanhar, Galphulla and Surya in Madhya Pradesh, India. It flourished between the 7th century ad and the 10th. The temple ruins fall into three groups. One group, in the Oraontola area of the village, consists of a ruined Shiva temple with remains of a sanctum (Skt garbhag ṛha) and hall (ma ṇḍapa) and remnants of pillars and foundations of a few other temples. The largest of these temples yielded a damaged 17-line inscription (in two fragments; c. 9th century). A second group, known as Samatsarna, is near the rivers and consists of a large Shiva temple, a five-shrined (pañcāyatana) temple with Devi and Chamunda images, a double Shiva temple with three sanctums, a double row of small Shiva temples, a stepwell and the remains and foundations of other shrines. The third group of remains is scattered in the vast area between Samatsarna and Oraontola. It includes a five-shrined Vishnu temple near Samatsarna, four ruined Shiva temples close to an ancient tank with stone embankments known as Ranipokhra (Queen’s Tank) near Oraontola and two monastic residences. The temples are mostly in stone, while brick is used in the flooring of the monastic residences. They are generally built on a square or rectangular plan, but two temples are made on the stellate plan popular in South Kosala (...

Article

Eran  

Michael D. Willis

[anc. Airikiṇa.]

Site of a ruined city and temple complex in Sagar District, Madhya Pradesh, India, 80 km north-west of Vidisha. The site first drew the attention of archaeologists in the mid-19th century but was excavated only in the 1960s, by a team from the University of Sagar that set the origin of the settlement to c. 1750 bc. Eran was an important religious centre in the eastern Malwa region in the 4th and 5th centuries ad; as with many ancient cities, the sacred complex was set apart from the town proper. By the 8th century Eran had been largely superseded by Badoh.

The monumental remains at Eran, clustered together on a gentle curve of the Bina River, consist of a row of four ruined shrines, two standing pillars and numerous sculptural and architectural fragments. The oldest stone sculpture at the site is a broken image of a yakṣī (female nature spirit) that dates to the second half of the 4th century ...

Article

R. Nagaswamy

[Gaṅgaikoṇḍacoḷapuram]

Town and temple site in Tamil Nadu, India. It was founded by Rajendra Chola I (reg ad 1012–44) to commemorate his conquests up to the River Ganga in northern India. Displacing the earlier centre at Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram remained the capital of the Chola dynasty until the 13th century.

Excavations have revealed that the royal enclave at Gangaikondacholapuram was laid out according to canonical prescription. The palace was in the centre and shrines to various gods were placed in the appropriate quarters (Shiva to the north-east, Vishnu to the west, etc). Two broad brick walls, with the intervening space filled with sand, formed the base for the fort walls and a multi-storey palace. Only the base and parts of the lime-plaster flooring have been exposed. Inscriptions in contemporary temples refer to outer and inner fortifications, named the Rajendra Chola madil (Tamil: ‘enclosure of Rajendra Chola’) and uṭpaḍaivīttu madil (‘inner garrisoned enclosure’). Also mentioned are such multi-storey palace structures as the Gangaikondacholan Maligai and such features as the ...

Article

Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty

Village and temple site 3 km from Keskal on the Raipur–Jagdalpur road, Bastar District, Madhya Pradesh, India. Sixteen mounds, cleared by the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Madhya Pradesh, and a number of significant images in the surrounding area, are the most notable features of the site. Twelve mounds yielded temples, which follow designs established at Bhongapal (also in Bastar District), namely a sanctum (Skt garbhagṛha) with a constricted vestibule (antarāla) demarcated by brick pilasters, the sanctum being occasionally provided externally with a central projection (bhadra) and sometimes with this and a subsidiary offset (prati) and corner offset (karṇa). The preference is for a sequence of tall, flat mouldings like the base (vedībandha) at the Deorani Temple, Tala. Three of the mounds are large and were built in terrace formation, in a sequence of successive squares or rectangles, of diminishing size and rising height. The square or rectangular plan, with an occasional apsidal sanctum, the plinth (...

Article

Walter Smith

[anc. Tiruvippirambedu]

Village and temple site in south-eastern Andhra Pradesh, India. The oldest and most important feature of the site is a li ṅga (h. 0.8 m;) in the form of a naturalistically rendered phallus with a figure of Shiva carved on one side. Shiva holds a spear, a water pot and an antelope skin and stands on a dwarfish earth spirit (yakṣa) symbolizing fertility and abundance. Stylistically, the figure represents a stage between the sculptures of Bharhut and Bodhgaya and is therefore the earliest extant li ṅga erected for worship in a temple. Recent excavations have shown that the li ṅga was originally surrounded by a stone railing similar to that shown in a relief of li ṅga worship from Mathura (c. 2nd century ad; Mathura, Govt Mus., see Chandra, 1975, pls 2, 3). It has been restored to this original format. The li ṅga was originally housed in an apsidal brick temple; the present temple, also apsidal, is of late Chola date (...

Article

Gyantse  

Barry Till

[rgyal rtse; Gyangzê]

Fourth largest city in Tibet, strategically located between Lhasa and Shigatse along the caravan route to India, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Gyantse is most famous for its fortress citadel, or Dzong, and its lamasery. The 15th-century fortress, situated on a hill overlooking the town, served as an effective buffer against invasions from the south for centuries until 1904, when it was partially destroyed and conquered by British forces led by Francis Younghusband. It suffered further damage by the Chinese in the 1960s. Although in poor condition, the fort still has significant traces of ancient wall paintings.

The complex of buildings within the old walls at Gyantse, often referred to as the Palkhor Choide or Pelkor Chode (dpal ‘khor chos sde) Lamasery, was founded in 1418 by Rabten Kunsang (1389–1442), a follower of Khedrup Je (1385–1438), himself a disciple of Tsong Khapa (1357–1419), the founder of the Gelugpa sect. The monastic complex was formerly much more extensive, but a number of buildings were dismantled during the 1960s. The main buildings have survived relatively intact, however. Chief among these and one of the most impressive buildings in all of Tibet is the ...

Article

Halebid  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Haḷebiḍ; anc. Dōrasamudra, Dvārasamudra]

Indian town and temple site in southern Karnataka that flourished c. 1100–1350. It was the capital of the Hoysala dynasty; remains include four major temples and several irrigation tanks. Two temples were built in the reign of Vishnuvardhana (reg c. 1108–42), who consolidated the dynasty’s power—the Jaina Parshvanatha (1133) and Shaiva Hoysaleshvara (c. 1121–60)—and two in the reign of his grandson Ballala II (reg c. 1173–1220)—the Jaina Shantinatha (1196) and Shaiva Kedareshvara (1219). The site was pillaged by Malik Kafur in 1311.

The Hoysaleshvara is the most extensive and mature example of the dynasty’s characteristic, ornate style. Built for Ketamalla, an officer of Vishnuvardhana, by the architect Kedaroja, it is a two-shrined (dvikū ṭa) Shiva temple, resembling a double version of the Chhennakeshava temple at Belur. The two halves are linked by a complex system of subshrines on the interior, with corresponding projecting offsets on the outside wall. The temple stands on a high platform that serves as an exterior circumambulatory passage (...

Article

Hampi  

George Michell

Site of the ruined city of Vijayanagara in Bellary District, Karnataka, India. The city was founded in the 14th century at the sacred centre of Hampi. The modern village of the same name occupies part of the site.

Vijayanagara (‘City of victory’) emerged as the capital of an empire comprising much of peninsular India by the end of the 14th century, a position it maintained throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. While its rulers were Hindu, its society included an influential Muslim minority. Foreign travellers were welcomed; descriptions of the city’s grandeur survive in accounts of Persian, Portuguese and Italian visitors; Arab horse-traders also visited the city at this time. Celebrated kings include Deva Raya I (reg 1406–22) of the Sangama dynasty and Krishnadeva Raya (reg 1510–29) and Achyutadeva Raya (reg 1529–42) of the third or Tuluva dynasty. Vijayanagara’s rivals for supremacy in the Deccan were the Muslim kingdoms to the north. In ...

Article

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Hanamkoṇḍa; Anmakoṇḍa and Warangal; Orguṅgallu; anc. Ānumakoṇḍa and Orukallu]

Cities, some 6 km apart, in Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh, India, that flourished c. ad 1100–1325. Both are temple sites and former capital cities of the Kakatiya dynasty. Hanamkonda became the Kakatiya capital in the 11th century, when the rulers were given title to the Telingana region by the Chalukyas of Kalyana (see Chalukya §2). The site rose to special prominence after the Kakatiyas asserted independence under Parola II (reg c. 1115–58) and Rudradeva (reg c. 1158–95).

The most important monument at Hanamkonda is the ‘Thousand-pillared’ temple dedicated by Rudradeva in 1163, according to an inscription. Set within a walled compound entered by a gateway on its east, the temple is of the triple-sanctum (Skt trikū ṭa) type. It has a somewhat ambivalent orientation. As a whole it faces south, unusually, and its elevated platform (upapī ṭha) extends into the vast, 300-pillared hall after which it is named. This hall is connected to the temple by a narrow platform, on which is an impressive image of the recumbent Nandi, the bull vehicle of Shiva, facing directly into the central sanctum, although this, surprisingly, is not the Shiva sanctum. The sanctums, dedicated to the gods Surya (on the east), Shiva (west) and Vishnu (central), are arranged on three sides of a hall of nine bays (...