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Article

Abaneri  

Walter Smith

[anc. Abhānagari]

Temple site in north-eastern Rajasthan, India. It contains the fragmentary remains of two major monuments of the 8th century ad. The Chand Baori, a stepped ritual bathing tank c. 19 m deep, was probably built by Raja Chandra, from whom its name derives; an enclosing verandah dates to the 17th century. Although the Harshatmata Temple also dates to the 8th century, or early 9th, according to some scholars, a modern temple has been built over the original foundations, which include a broad platform and the lower walls of the original monument. A remarkable sequence of sculptures, showing primarily secular scenes, survives. These include kings with courtiers, musicians and couples (see Indian subcontinent, fig.). The figural scenes are framed by pilasters carved with floral motifs and capped by elaborate interlaced pediments employing the gavākṣa (Skt: ‘cow’s-eye’) motif.

The sculpture of Abaneri extensively illustrates a phase of sculptural development midway between the Gupta style of the Mathura region and the abstracted linearized style adopted in northern India from the 10th century. Its style, often referred to as naturalistic, renders the figure with an energetic elasticity conveying both potential and actual movement. The profuse details, including facial expressions and gestures, are carved with great delicacy, and the high relief utilizes deep undercutting. Several of the ancient sculptures have been embedded into the walls of the modern temple, and numerous fragments—possibly from other temples no longer extant—lie about the site. Other pieces, including images of deities such as Ganesha, Durga and Gaja-Lakshmi and scenes from the life of Krishna, have been removed to the Archaeological Museum in Amer....

Article

Gregory L. Possehl

[Ahicchatra; Adhicchatrā]

Fortified site in Bareilly District, Uttar Pradesh, India. It flourished from c. 500 bc to ad 1100, and it was identified by Alexander Cunningham as the capital of North Panchala, an early kingdom mentioned in the Mahābhārata epic of the 1st millennium bc. The fortifications of the site measure 5.6 km in circuit, and the mounds within stand 23 m above the surrounding plain. Early visitors such as the 7th-century Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang noted a number of Buddhist stupas; although these can no longer be located, Cunningham’s excavations of 1862–5 produced a reliquary casket at one stupa site. Some years later A. Führer undertook the excavation of a temple without much result. However, the principal excavation of Ahichchhatra was carried out between 1940 and 1944 by the Archaeological Survey of India under the direction of Rao Bahadur K. N. Dikshit, assisted by Amalananda Ghosh. This yielded evidence of nine successive periods of occupation in the western sector of the city dating from ...

Article

Ye. V. Zeymal’

[Aï Khanoum; Ay-Khanum]

Site of a Hellenistic town of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, located at the confluence of the Kokcha and Pyandzh rivers (tributaries of the Amu River), northern Afghanistan. The site was excavated by the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan under Paul Bernard, from 1965 until the outbreak of the Afghan civil war in 1978. The town was founded on the eastern border of the oikoumene (inhabited territory) in the late 4th century bc or early 3rd, after the conquest of this region by Alexander the Great and, Bernard suggested, was first called Alexandria Oxiana. The name was changed to Eukratidea (after the GrecoBactrian king Eukratides), c. 170–c. 150 bc, when an extensive programme of construction was carried out. After the town was attacked and destroyed c. 140 bc, it was abandoned by its inhabitants. Later, during the Yueh-chih and Kushana periods (c. 1st century bc–3rd century ad), the ruined buildings were occupied by ‘post-Greek’ peoples who did not undertake any significant repair work. Little has yet been published concerning this later period at the site. Finds from the site were placed in Kabul Museum, although they appear to have been looted after the museum was bombed in ...

Article

Aihole  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Aihoḷe, Aivalli; anc. Āryapura, Ayyāvoḷe]

Temple site and city in Karnataka, India, that flourished c. ad 525–1200.

An important centre of the early Chalukya dynasty (see Chalukya, §1), Aihole is situated, like the nearby sites of Pattadakal and Badami, near the Malaprabha River. Little is known of the ancient urban complex, but there are remains of a massive city wall with bastions and fragmentary crenellations. Inscriptions indicate that Aihole was a prominent commercial centre and the home of the ‘Ayyavole Five Hundred’, a corporation of traders and craftsmen. The remains of about 150 temples (in diverse styles) are preserved at the site. The oldest date to the mid-6th century and later examples to the time of the Rashtrakuta dynasty (c. 752–973) and Chalukyas of Kalyana (973–1189; see Chalukya, §2).

The temples at Aihole were first photographed and published in the mid-19th century by Col. Thomas Biggs, Bhau Daji and ...

Article

Ajanta  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Ajaṇṭā]

Ancient Buddhist monastic and pilgrimage site (c. 200 bcad 500) located 100 km north of Aurangabad in the Sahyadri range of western India.

Ajanta is India’s richest surviving Buddhist complex. Far from any city, but close to the trade routes linking northern India with the western coast and the Deccan plateau, the monastery (saṅghārāma) and pilgrimage centre are composed of some 30 halls cut into the coarse, volcanic rock of a horseshoe-shaped gorge of the Waghora River (see fig.). The ‘caves’ were excavated along a 550 m-long stretch of a single path 10–30 m above the river bed. Five halls are in an early aniconic style, lacking images of the Buddha, and 24 are in the later image-filled style conventionally associated with Mahayana Buddhism of the Gupta age (c. 4th–5th centuries ad). The aniconic series, created between c. 200 bc and ...

Article

Alampur  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[anc. Alampūra, Hatampura]

Temple site in Karnataka, India. It flourished c. ad 650–1140 and is notable for its well-preserved 7th- and 8th-century temples. Alampur is located on the west bank of the Tungabhadra River, near its confluence with the Krishna, in the western part of the Andhra region of southern India. A number of copperplate grants show that Alampur was a centre of the early Chalukya dynasty known as the Chalukyas of Badami (reg mid-6th to mid-8th century; see Chalukya §1).

The main group of temples, known as the Nava Brahma, was begun sometime before ad 713, the date inscribed on an enclosing wall (Skt prakara) once surrounding a part of the complex. All the temples are dedicated to the god Shiva. They exhibit a local variation of the north Indian style of architecture and are especially important as contemporary versions of forms that have not survived elsewhere. The earliest is the modest Kumara Brahma, probably begun in the later 7th century. It was followed by the Bala Brahma, now encrusted in later accretions, though particularly notable for its magnificent sculpture of the seven mother goddesses (...

Article

Robert Knox

[Amarāvatī]

Site near the ancient city of Dharanikota on the right bank of the Krishna River in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India, that flourished from the 3rd century bc to the 14th century ad. It is also the location of a modern town, but the site is celebrated for its stupa, which may have been the earliest Buddhist foundation in the region and which certainly came to be its largest and most elaborate (see fig.). It was rediscovered in 1799 as a ruined but largely intact mound by Colonel Colin Mackenzie, first Surveyor General of India. His work in that year and in 1816 led to the excavations conducted in 1845 by Walter Elliot of the Madras Civil Service. Most of the sculptures now in the British Museum, London, were excavated at that time, although part of the Elliot collection remains in the Government Museum, Madras. Unfortunately, between the rediscovery of the stupa and these early excavations, much damage was done to it, with limestone slabs being quarried for building materials by the local residents. The stupa was further excavated in ...

Article

A. P. Jamkhedkar

[anc. Aṁvaranātha, Ambaranātha]

Site of a Shiva temple in Maharashtra, India, some 7 km south-east of Kalyan, a suburb of Bombay. An inscription inside the hall records that it was repaired in 1061 (Shaka year 982) by one Mamvaniraja (Mummuniraja) of the Shilahara dynasty, dating the temple to the early 11th century or before.

Enclosed within a wall (Skt prakāra) and facing west, the temple consists of a closed hall (gūḍha-maṇḍapa) with three porches, a vestibule and sanctuary (garbha-gṛha), the latter placed at a lower level and approached by steps. The exterior walls of the sanctuary and hall are subject to a series of projections and carry niches with divine figures. These include regents of the directions on the corners and themes of Vaishnava and Shaiva mythology: for example Vishnu in his incarnations as Varaha and Narasimha; Durga Slaying the Buffalo Demon (Mahiṣāsuramārdinī); and the marriage of Shiva and Parvati (Kalyanasundara). The main cardinal niches contain Mahakali (north); Gajasurasamhara, Shiva celebrating his victory over the elephant demon, shown dancing and wearing an elephant hide (south); and Hariharapitamaharka, a syncretistic god representing Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and the Sun (east)....

Article

Angkor  

John Villiers, Guy Nafilyan and Madeleine Giteau

Site in northern Cambodia, in a fertile plain to the north-east of the northern tip of the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and near the modern town of Siem Reap. Angkor was the site of almost all the capital cities founded by successive rulers of the Khmer realm from the end of the 9th century ad until the mid-15th, when it was abandoned in the face of attacks from the neighbouring Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya. Each ruler built in the centre of his capital a state temple, usually in the form of a stepped pyramid representing Mt Meru, centre of the universe and abode of the gods, in accordance with the precepts of Hindu and Buddhist cosmology (see also Cambodia, §II, 1, (ii)). This state temple was generally surrounded by a series of concentric enclosures bounded by walls, ditches, moats and embankments, laid out in accordance with the same cosmological precepts. Within the enclosures were the chief buildings of the city, including the royal palace and other temples founded by the king, members of the royal family or leading state dignitaries. All but the religious monuments were built of wood. Important adjuncts to many of these royal cities were the reservoirs (Khmer ...

Article

Frederick M. Asher

[anc. Vikramashila, Vikramaśīla]

Site of Buddhist monastery on the River Ganga in Bhagalpur District, Bihar, India. Until recently, the location of the monastery of Vikramashila was known only approximately from Tibetan sources, but excavations at Antichak have almost surely revealed its remains. The monastery was founded by the Pala dynasty monarch Dharmapala (reg c. ad 781–812; see Pala and Sena family). At the middle of the site is a tall brick stupa with a cruciform plan, closely related in form and dimensions to the stupa at Paharpur, also part of a monastic complex built by Dharmapala. Both stupas are set on an elevated terrace for circumambulation and in both cases the lowest portion of the stupa wall (where it survives) is decorated with terracotta plaques. At Antichak these depict mostly animals, human figures and ritual devices (pots, conch shells etc). Although sometimes described as ‘folk art’, they are carefully rendered and appear to be arranged according to a systematic programme. A row of cells forms the site’s outer perimeter, enclosing the large courtyard in which the stupa stands. These may have been intended as dwellings for monks or to accommodate images and likely functioned as the outer rim of the three-dimensional ...

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

Arakan  

Pamela Gutman and Pierre Pichard

Kingdom on the east coast of the Bay of Bengal existent from at least the mid-4th century ad. It was independent until 1784 when it was conquered by the Burmese: in 1826 it was annexed by the British. When Burma gained its independence in 1948 it became one of the constituent states of the Union of Burma. Its geographical position (see fig.) favoured both land and sea links with Burma, India and, less directly, with China, and facilitated the spread of Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic influence from India along the trade routes across the bay and up the Kaladan River, along which a series of cities arose from about the 5th century. The architecture and sculpture of these cities shows the influence of the great Indian schools of art of both north and south, from the Gupta period in the 4th century to the 17th century, reinterpreted in a South-east Asian cultural context....

Article

Gary Michael Tartakov

[ Auraṅgābād]

Buddhist monastic and pilgrimage site—fl c. 100 bcad 600—and later city in Maharashtra, India. Together with Ajanta and Ellora, it represents the culmination of Buddhist rock-cut art along the trade routes of western India. The Buddhist site, located in the hills north-west of the city, contains a dozen excavations, an aniconic prayer-hall (Skt caityag ṛha) of the 1st century bc, two possibly Mahayana Buddhist designs that resemble examples at Ajanta closely enough to be by the same artists, a series of profusely decorated Vajrayana Buddhist ma ṇḍala shrines and a unique syncretic temple combining Brahmanical and Buddhist deities within a single sanctum. The richness and sensuousness of both the architecture and the sculpture is exceptional.

The earliest structure at the site is an aniconic caitya (Cave 4) of the 1st century bc. This prayer-hall was followed in the 5th century ad by two caves in the manner of later Ajanta: Cave 1, a ...

Article

Walter Smith

[Avantipur]

Temple site 28 km south-east of Srinagar in Kashmir, India. It was established, possibly as a secondary or ceremonial capital, by Avantivarman (reg ad 855–83), founder of the Utpala dynasty. The two major monuments attributed to him are the Avantisvamin Temple, dedicated to Vishnu and thought to be the earlier, and the Avantishvara Temple, dedicated to Shiva (see Indian subcontinent, §III, 5, (i), (b)).

Only foundations and sections of walls survive at the Avantisvamin Temple, which was constructed on the five-shrined (Skt pañcayātana) plan comprising a sanctum, fronted by a stairway and centred in a spacious courtyard with four smaller shrines at the corners; two additional shrines on the eastern side of the enclosure are perhaps later additions. A square pavement before the stairway of the central shrine indicates a no longer extant forehall aligned to a well-preserved monumental gateway on the west side of the elaborately sculptured enclosure wall. The inner side of the wall contains a series of 69 cells fronted by a colonnade. Architectural forms are in the hellenizing style seen throughout Kashmir. Several images excavated from this temple (Srinagar, Sri Pratap Singh Mus.) show Vishnu in his four-faced (...

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

Badami  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Bādāmi; anc. Vātāpi]

Temple site and city in Karnataka, India, that flourished c. ad 542–1600. The most important remains date to the early Chalukya dynasty (6th century to mid-8th), known from the site as the Chalukyas of Badami (see Chalukya, §1). Building activity continued into the Mughal period. Badami is located on the western edge of a rocky plateau near the Malaprabha River. Set in a box canyon around an ancient tank, it first rose to prominence in 542 when it was fortified by the early Chalukyas. In the third quarter of the 6th century four shrines were cut in the south cliff. Caves I and II form a pair and are dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu respectively. These were followed by Cave III, the most spectacular of the series. Dated by inscription to ad 578 (Shaka era 500), the cave has a rich variety of lavishly decorated columns and an interesting early series of images showing the incarnations of Vishnu (...

Article

Badoh  

Michael D. Willis

[Badoh-Pathārī; anc. Vaṭodaka]

Site in Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, India. The monumental temple ruins at the twin villages of Badoh and Pathari are scattered over a wide area, indicating that they mark the site of a once important city. The oldest remains are in a wide-mouthed cave to the west of Badoh, where a small spring is flanked by an early 5th-century ad rock-relief of seated goddesses and the god Virabhadra; an inscription mentions one Maharaja Jayatsena. The cave also contains ruined shrines from about the 9th century ad. To its south-east is the large 9th-century Gadarmal Temple (see Trivedi). It collapsed some time before the 19th century and was reconstructed in a haphazard fashion; the main image is in the Archaeological Museum, Gwalior. Near by, at the side of a large tank, is a rare example of a pre-Islamic pleasure pavilion, the Sola Khambi (c. 10th century). A short distance to the west is a group of Jaina temples that have been subject to reconstruction. Early fragments include doorframes of the ...

Article

Bagh  

Frederick M. Asher

[Bāgh]

Site of Buddhist rock-cut sanctuaries in Dhar District, Madhya Pradesh, India. During the second half of the 5th century ad a series of ten sanctuaries, one of them incomplete, was carved at Bagh from rock a great deal softer and thus less durable than that of sites in the Deccan plateau, such as Ajanta: consequently the work is not well preserved. The most elaborately carved caves are nos 2, 3, 4 and 6. All the caves at Bagh are viharas (monastic dwellings). The characteristic plan places monks’ cells around the outer walls enclosing a large pillared central hall. The pillars have thicker shafts than those of contemporary shrines at Ajanta (probably to compensate for the quality of stone), yet their design is imaginatively varied. Some of the shafts have diagonal or spiral flutes, while others are composite varieties combining a lower section of four sides, with upper sections moving from an octagonal to a 16-sided section; yet others become 12- or 24-sided. The pillar brackets of Cave 4 depict animals, some with riders. At the rear of most of the sanctuaries is an image shrine housing a stupa, not a Buddha figure as in the Ajanta shrines. Buddha images are, however, carved elsewhere in the Bagh sanctuaries, for example in the antechamber of several of the caves. The most famous are those of Cave 2, where larger-than-life-size standing Buddha figures flanked by bodhisattvas are depicted on two of the side walls. These figures bear a close resemblance to contemporary figural sculpture of Ajanta....

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 ...