Category Archives: Temple architecture

Srirangam : sculptural grandeur and glory

 

       Tiruchirpalli or Trichy; Trichinoply as it was called before, is a city in Tamil Nadu state in southern India. The Kaveri or Cauvery delta begins 16 kilometres  west of the city where the Kaveri river splits into two, forming the island of Srirangam, which is now incorporated into the Tiruchirappalli City. Here is the famous Sriranganathaswamy temple popularly called Srirangam temple. It is a temple of Lord Vishnu as Sriranganathaswamy. The Atharva veda says :

Vishnu is the Almighty Lord,

In whose three wide-extended paces

All worlds and creatures have their habitation:

Vishnu strode through all the worlds

And all the worlds gathered

As grains of dust under His feet!

    It is the world’s largest functioning temple with 50 shrines, 21 towers and 39 pavillions. The temple complex covers  156 acres with seven prakaras or enclosures. Srirangam is a temple town on an island on the Kaveri river. At one time the entire population of Srirangam lived within the walls of this temple.

Ranganathaswamy temple tiruchirappalli.jpgGopurams, Srirangam temple complex, Trichy, Tamil Nadu.

  The gopurams of the temple articulate the axial path, the highest is  at the outermost prakara and the lowest is at the innermost. The Rajagopuram of the temple is the southern one which is 239 feet high, having been plated in gold. The Rajagopuram was stated to be built by Vijayanagara king Achyuta Deva Raya but it was completed by the Ahobila Matha in 1987. The diagram below shows  structures in the temple complex; the gopurams, the mandapas, various shrines among others.

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Layout of the temple complex, image.

Aerial photograph of Srirangam Island between Kaveri and Kollidam rivers.

   The main temple has been built based on Agama texts and is dedicated to Sri Ranganathaswamy. It is a Vaishnavite temple and has many legends associated with it.It is in the inner courtyard. There is 6 meter deity of Sri Ranganathar reclining on Adisesha with five hoods in the sanctum which is entered from the south gateway. The doorway has the dwarapalas or guards Jaya and Vijaya. The mukhamandapa is also called Gayatri mandapa leading to the round sanctum surrounded by a raised square, encircling pillars and an inner square. The other images are of Lord Vishnu on Sesha, Lord Ganesha, Lord Narasimha in Yogasana and Goddess Durga.  The 50 shriens include Lord Vishnu temples, Goddess Lakshmi temple, shrines of various Vaishnave scholars. The temple structures have rich sculptural detail. The temple’s vimana  is embellished with sculptures, and has carved pilasters with fluted shafts, double capitals and lotus brackets. The temple complex has many mandapas, frescoes, inscriptions on its walls, tanks and granaries. The inscriptions are over 800, from 9th century to 16th century of the times of the Nayaks, Pandyas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara rulers, are in different languages like Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Oriya and relate mostly to temple grants and gifts, rulers, nobles and temple management.  Many of the temple structures have been renovated, rebuilt over time, though the temple was looted by different rulers.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (84) (37513353141).jpgPilasters and carvings, Srirangam.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (85) (37482143952).jpg                                                 Bracket figures, Srirangam temple.

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Sculpture, Srirangam temple.

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Yoga Narsimha, Srirangam temple.

Among the mandapas  the 1000 pillar mandapa is a theatre like structure built during the Vijayanagara period made out of granite.

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1000 pillar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Warriors on horses, 1000 pillar mandapa, sculpture, Srirangam temple.

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Dancer and musicians, sculpture, Hall of 1000 pillars.

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Elephant being led by his mahout, sculpture, Srirangam.

      During the Vijayanagara rule the temple complex developed under Sri Krishnadeva Raya. The temple structures include the Sesharayar mandapa and the Venugopala temple which have amazing sculptural work. The Sesharayar mandapa was built during the Nayaka rule. The Garuda mandapa was also made during the Nayaka rule. It has a free standing seated Garuda. Kili mandapa is next to the main shrine, made during the 17th century. The Ranga vilasa mandapa is a large community hall with murals and narratives from mythology and the epic Ramayana. The temple has many wooden monuments like the Garuda vahana, Simha vahana, Hanumantha vahana among others.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (199) (37463830806).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Srirangam temple.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (198) (36842806663).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (208) (37480838632).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (209) (37463770456).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (210) (37511909081).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (213) (36842693473).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (214) (37463731826).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (215) (37480768992).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (220) (37511844021).jpg

Motif, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Fencing, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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With the pot of nectar, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (227) (37463615306).jpg

Damsel, sculpture, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

Sesha Mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (228) (37511787801).jpg

Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Woman warrior, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Sage Agastya, sculpture, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Venugopala shrine, Srirangam temple complex.

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Lord Krishna or Venugopala, Venugopala shrine, Srirangam temple complex.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (46) (37481391062).jpg

Sculptures, Venugopala shrine, Srirangam temple complex.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (50) (37464247216).jpg

Venugopala shrine, Srirangam temple complex.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (55) (37512294621).jpg

Salabhanjika sculpture, Venugopala shrine.

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Woman playing musical instrument, Venugopala shrine.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (62) (37464073226).jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mithuna or loving couple, sculpture, Venugopala shrine.

 

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (59) (23660014378).jpg

Woman applying vermillion, sculpture,Venugopala shrine.

 

References :

  • http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in
  • wikipedia.org
  • https://poetrypoem.com
  • Images sourced from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

 

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Vijayanagara art : glimpses from Tadipatri

         The term Tadipatri means palm-leaf. It is a place in the Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, south of India. Tadipatri is famous for its awesome Vijayanagara temples with their style of art and architecture. Tadipatri came into prominence during Vijayanagara period. It was flourishing village during Chalukyas of Kalyani period. Vijayanagara kingdom was founded in 1336 A.D by brothers Harihara and Bukka when they declared independence from the Delhi Sultanatate. Tadipatri was developed by Nandela Viraraghavaraju. During the rule of Devaraya II Pemmasani chiefs emerged. The earliest member was Pemmasani Thimmanayudu who might have joined Vijayanagara service during Virupaksha period of 1460-85. His three sons were Ramalinganayudu, Yera Thimmanayudu and Chinna Thimmanayudu. The Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy temple was built by Ramalinganayudu, a shrine of Lord Shiva on the bank of the River Penna, between 1490 and 1509, after he succeeded his father in governance of Yadikisima. He was a notable chief under Krishnadevaraya (1509-29).

       The temple is built of granite, richly carved with the superstructures in brick and stucco. Schist stone has been used like the Hoysala temples.  Schist has been used in the gateways. The temple complexes at Tadipatri are well developed having  a main shrine and a devi shrine each with an open rangamandapa. The main shrines in this temple complex are of Ramalingeswara, Parvati and Lord Rama. The other smaller shrines of Chandesa and Virabhadra are to the north and south of the Ramalingeswara shrine.  Closed  mandapa with porches in cardinal direction is seen in the Ramalingeswara temple. The temple complex has a prakara   with gopurams to the south, west and north. There is a mandapa  having the navagrahas in the north-east and at the south west corner, there is a kalyanamandapa.

 

Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

 

Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

 

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Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple complex, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

       The main shrine stands on adishthana , has a mukhamndapa with porches on south and north sides, antarala and the garbagriha. The temple has rich sculpture in the niches, pillars and walls. The images of Lord Shiva include Kevalamurti in the gopura.  Also images as Sukhasanamurti, Dakshinamurti, Uma-maheswaramurti,Vrsabharudamurti, Natarja,Ardhanarimurti and Bhiksatanamurti. Chandeswara is seen in a small shrine north to the main Ramalingeswara temple. The gopuras depict Parvati seen in sambhaga  adorned with jewellery; the kiritamakuta,chandrakundala, kuchabandha,girdle and purnoruka.  Lord Ganesha is seen in diffrent forms of Sthanakamurti and Nrityamurti  or Dancing Ganesha. He is also  seen as Yanakamurti or the riding form. He is seen as asanamurti or in a seated form.

Temple view, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Andhra Pradesh.

    The Ramalingeswara temple has images of Kumara or Lord Murugan (Kartikeya) riding a peacock, standing or in seated position. Goddess Durga is seen depicted in the Gopura in various forms. Lord Brahma, Goddess Saraswati , Surya are also depicted. The saptamatrikas  Brahmi,Vaisnavi,Indrani, Chamunda, Maheswari,Kaumaari and Varahi are seen in the open mandapa. 

    Lord Vishnu is seen seated on adisesa in the Ramalingeswara temple. Lord Vishnu riding on Garuda is depicted at the north gopura of the temple. Goddess Lakshmi is is depicted on the north gopura of the the Ramalingeswara temple. There is a shrine dedicated to the 12th century reformer, Ramanuja. A tall figure in the southern gopura of a noble is of the builder with a tall conical cap and short waist cloth.

Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

          The temples at Tadipatri have upapithas. The wall pattern shows bays and recesses. Doorjambs have two or three  jambs, the broad jamb has salabhanjika sculpture. Ceilings are like a grid with coffers with lotus medallions or a  dome having three tiers and a big pendentive. Bas reliefs are mostly found at Tadipatrit temples. In the niches smaller deity figures have been placed.

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Carvings on ceiling, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

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Carvings, North gopura, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

           Hoysala artistic  influence is seen in the sculpture;  similar motifs, kirtimukhas, floriate arches etc. There is resemblance in the jewellery depictions too.  Facial features have similar prominent eyeballs and high eyebrows. The art at Tadipatri bears resemblance to the Chennakesava temple at Pushpagiri. The temple depicts contemporary life depicting wrestlers, warriors, shepherds,hunting scenes, monkeys and horses.

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Carving of salabhanjika, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

 

References :

  • Temples of Vijayanagara/Jayaprada, V, Delhi : Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, 1998.
  • wikipedia.org

 

All Image attributions

 

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

Vijayanagara art : glimpses from Lepakshi

        The word Lepakshi means painted eye.  The temple at Lepakshi, a village, 15 km from Hindupur in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in south India is an excellent example of Vijayanagara art. Initially there was considerable influence of Hoysala and Kakatiya idioms , the style developed its own uniqueness by mid-15th century. The main centres to study, reflect upon and admire their art and architecture are at Hampi, Lepakshi,Tadipatri, Melkote, Kolar, Bellary, Chikballapur and Chamarajnagar.

    The area of Lepakshi is part of the Mysore plateau and is flat, made  up of granite rocks. The rocka are seen in clusters and the area is surrounded by hills. This area was under the Mauryas in 3rd century B.C., later on the Satavahanas, then the Chutu kings….on.to Chalukyas of Badami, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas of Kalyani and by the end of the 13th century when the Delhi Sultanate tried to control the whole of Deccan, they appointed two brothers Harihara and Bukka, sons of Sangama to control the political situation at Kampile. However they declared their independence and founded Vijayanagara a new city on the southern bank of Tungabhadra opposite Anegondi. They brought many adjoining areas under their territory. They made afort at Penukonda and made it their second capital. Lepakshi bacame part of their empire.

      The art and architecture of a powerful empire in south  Indian history is well lauded since  the style resonates with beauty and freshness. There are some gigantic sculptures inside the temple complexes which include mandapas with pillars which are aging richly carved. Themes from the epics and Puranic stories are depicted too. Musicians, dancers flora, fauna, contemporary society have been carved or painted. Sculpting was a hereditary art and well patronised by the rulers. They formed the panchala  or five types of categories of craftsmen.

       The Lepakshi temple is synonymous with the Veeabhadra temple complex. the temple is situated on Kurma-saila (resembling a tortoise back). The temples are the Papanaseswara and Raghunatha shrines. It is unclear about when this complex was started. The brothers Virupanna and Virana took keen interest under ruler Achyutaraya to develop the edifice into an outstanding example of Vijayanagara art.

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Lepakshi temple shikharas, Lepakshi.

By Mahesh Telkar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20994747

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Mandapa pillars, Temple complex, Lepakshi, Anantapur,Andhra Pradesh.

By Vinu raj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21136957

        The temple complex was developed over a period of time (1100 A.D to 1800 A.D), made of granite. The structures are at three levels of the hillock, each one having an enclosure or prakara.  The Papanaseswara shrine is the earliest one in the complex. Initially there were two shrines Veerabhadra and Papanaseswara, sharing a common platform with a mandapa around it. The Raghunatha shrine was added later was added to the western side of the prakara. The Veerabhadra shrine has its entrance to the north; the inner prakara in 432 square metres mainly developed between 1350 to 1600 A.D. several shrines, mandapas were added.

     The temple complex is an amazing planet of sculptures. The high relief sculptures are large and mostly depict Gods and Goddesses and the pillars of the mandapas.  The low relief sculptures are done on walls, door frames and smaller compartments; demi gods, fauna, flora among others.

        Lord Shiva in different forms like Sadashiva,Dakshinamurti, Nataraja, Bhiksatanamurti, Kalyanasundaramurti,Devisahitamurti, Bhairava, Gajantakamurti, Andhakasura samharamurti, Veerabhadra is depicted in different places like pillars.

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Siva Parvathi Kalyanam. Lepakshi.

Pponnada at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Nagalinga, Lepakshi temple, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.

By Narasimha Prakash (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

         Lord Ganesha is depicted at various places. He is in Lalitasana at the back of the Veerabhadra shrine, a large monolithic sculpture. Goddess Durga figures have also been carved at various places. She is seen as Mahisasuramardini,Uma and Bhadrakali.File:Lord Ganesha on rear side of the Veerabhadra Temple, Lepakshi.jpg

Lord Ganesha, Lepakshi temple complex, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.

By Bikashrd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       Lord Vishnu has been depicted as Narasimha,Kondandarama,Vamana, Kurma and Sri Krishna as Kaliyamardana and Balakrishna. Lord Hanuman has been carved at many places. garuda is found at different points,Goddess Lakhsmi,Gajalakhsmi is also seen.    Lord Brahma,Dattatreya,Surya,Chandra,Indra,agni,Yama,Varuna,Vayu,Kubera,Ishana, dikpalasGoddess Saraswati, the saptamatrikas have all been depicted. Among the demi-gods, the ganas,rishis,pitris,dwarapalas,apsaras,gandharvas,kinnaras,nagas have been carved. In addition devotees, ascetics,warriors, musicians and acharyas (teachers) too find a place in the temple carvings. Also common people like shepherds, priests, wrestlers, potters et al. Some stories from the Puranas have been carved as well. The decorative motifs include geometric designs, kalasa,chakra,conch,sivalinga and nandi.  The bull at some distance is an amazing monolithic sculpture, Basavanna.

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Nandi or Basavanna, Lepakshi temple, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.

By రహ్మానుద్దీన్ (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       Architectural motifs like mandapas,shikharas, chaitya window are all depicted. Floral motifs like trees, creepers are seen. Flowers are also seen as decoration. Fauna or animals are shown as vahanas or in natural poses. Vyalas are also seen which are imaginery creatures, bit grotesque or fierce looking like simha-vyala,gaja-vyala and nara-vyala. The temple complex has simha-vyala and a few hamsa vyalas.

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Carvings, Lepakshi temple, Andhra Pradesh.

By Bikashrd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Carvings, Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh.

By Perched (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Carved pillars at Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh.

By Jitzpop (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Carved pillars at Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi,Andhra Pradesh.

rajaraman sundaram [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Saptamatrika, Lepakshi temple, Andhra Pradesh.

By రహ్మానుద్దీన్ (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Open-air-kalyana-mantapam, Lepakshi temple complex.

By Pponnada at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32718242

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Celestial dancer, Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh.

By Bikashrd – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51736272

 

References :

  • Lepakshi temple : a cultural and archeological study/Rao, D. Hanumantha,Delhi : Bharatiya Kala Prakashan,2004.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by :

 

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

 

Architecture of Bengal : piety and variety

          The history of urbanisation of Bengal seems to have started since the 1st millennium B.C ; after the decline of Indus valley civilisation. Ancient Bengal was a centre for trade and urban networking, with contacts up to Persia. The archaeological sites like Chandraketugarh, Mahasthangarh and Mainamati, the Bateshwar ruins all are evidence of a highly organised urban set-up. Architectural remains of early Bengal remain scarce, stupa fragments have been found  at some archaeological sites. The Pala architecture is remembered for its constructon of viharas and stupas. The Somapura Mahavihara is an iconic monument built by the Palas (now in Bangladesh).

View of the central shrine

Somapura Mahavihara, Paharpur, Bangladesh.

By Masum-al-hasan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51184053

           The mode of building in rural Bengal is the paddy roofed thatched traditional chala type of huts. Temples have drawn inspiration from this and amazing number of temples have been constructed in different districts of undivided Bengal with many interesting variations. What follows in the rest of this write up is the variety and piety of these structures, many of which are still available for us to see !

Village in a clearing at Sundarbans showing thatched huts, drawing, Frederic Peter Layard, January 1839.

By British Library – British Library, Copyrighted free use, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11175234

   In early times wood and bamboo were used as building material. After that bricks were used. The land of Bengal has alluvial soil and stone is not much available. Hence brick is used for building. the architectural parts were made of stone and wood, black basalt, sandstone , granite and black marble. Initially lime or mud was used for the floor concrete. Later mortar was used and lime was used as a plaster. the accounts of travellers Fa-Hien and Hieun Tsang mention temples of stone and brick in ancient Bengal. The Ramcharita of Sandhya Kar mentions Bangarh as an important temple city. But most of these temples have not survived to this day and have destroyed either due to climate or by invaders.

         The main types of temples in Bengal are many and varied yet a basic similarity is detectable, a beautiful architectural signature !

      Firstly the Bhadra type : roof is of horizontal tiers which diminish gradually and are topped with a amalaka sila. The Rekha type has a sukanasa shikhara or tower which is curvilinear and topped by a amalaka sila carrying a kalasa or pot of plenty. A hybrid of these exists which is bhadra with a stupa as acrown. Another variety has a shikhara as a crown. The Sarvatobhadra is a square temple with four entrance points on four sides. Usually five storeys and sixteen corners, spires and turrets are parts of the temple. The hut or chala type of temple have sloping roofs. The ratha type is arranged in tiers of bent cornices, corners with miniature curvilinear towers and topped by a large sized shikhara. The Bhadra type of temples can be studied by the image of Nandi pavillion at Ekateswara at Bankura district, with two receding tiers. the evolution of this type is exemplified at Jangibadi in Dhaka with a amalaka sila crowning the structure. Further on, it can have  kalasa as already mentioned, as in Mandoli, Kumarpur. The Rekha deul or temple are slimmer, taller, curvilinear and built on a square platform. with a amalaka sila or kalasa crowning the structure. Gothic architecture has influenced the design of these temples. The hut or chala type of temples has sometimes been called ‘cottage architecture’ of Bengal which resembles the thatched roof. There are many such temples across Bengal. The terracotta temples when classified based on their number of spires or superstructures are a type of chala or ratna respectively. The single hut are the ek-chalas, the double huts  type are called the do-chalas. The others include triple huts, the teen-chalas, twin huts the Jor-mandirs or temples, the twin double hut type and the grouped hut type.

           Twin hut type or Jor-Bangla are temples where two do-chala hut type temples are joined. The twin temples of Bimanagar, Nadia and Bishnupur, Bankura are of this type and decorated with ornate carvings. The hut type also influenced the Sultanate architecture of Bengal.

Jor-Bangla Temple, Bishnupur, Bankura,West Bengal.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kgabhi/8415024198/

 

 The Rasamancha at Bishnupur is different and does not conform  to the styles mentioned. It has a circumbulatory passage on all sides. It has a square chamber with arched openings and has a pyramidal roof. It stands on a five-foot high platform. The innermost gallery has 5 arched openings on each side, the 2nd has eight and the last has four arched openings. The outer arches have four do-chala roofs with one smaller four chala at the corners for decoration.

Bishnupur Rashmancha.jpg

Rashmancha, Bishnupur ,West Bengal.

By Chiranjibmazumdar1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37129790

    The temples across Bengal are mostly on platforms up to 6 feet in height. The main temple has a sanctum, with a  covered verandah in front mostly with three arches with pillars. On top of the temple there are spires.  The Kalighat temple at Kolkata is a char-chala or having four sloping roofs.  The Ratha typre of temple is exemplified by the temple at Kantanagar (presently at Bangladesh) at Dinajpur. The ratha type combines the hut and shikhara design. These temples stood on platforms with bent cornices and three arched openings on each side. A long spire is in the centre surrounded by 4,8,12,16 or 24 spires. The Hangeswari temple at Hooghly is a 13 spired ratha temple, south facing having 12 arches with ornate terracotta design. 25 spired ratna temples or panchabhimsati ratna are seen at Krishna Chandra temple at Kalna, Bardhaman. The Ananda Bhairabi temple at Sukharia, Hooghly built in 1813 has three storeys and 25 towers. At some places separate rathas were made. One example is at the Radha Gobindo temple at Bishnupur in Bankura district.

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Ek-ratna, the Madan-Mohan Temple of Bishnupur, Bankura, West Bengal.

By AsisKumar Sanyal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Char-chala, Raghunathjee Temple, Ghurisha.

By Amitabha Gupta – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41750396

       Palpara temple in Nadia is a char-chala,one of the earliest forms of temple architecture in Bengal , built in the 17th century by Gandharba Roy, also called Math mandir and Kali Mandir. The char chala structure stands on a raised plinth and  is made of brick facing south . and is around 21 metres tall. The decorated arched entrance is flanked by brick pillars on either side. The area above the arched entrance once contained intricately carved terracotta panels.  Some scenes from the Ramayana, geometric and floral patterns and the lotus motif still remain. Later the char-chala was modified into the at-chala, which consists of a char-chala upon a char-chala, and is a most common type of temple architecture in Bengal.

 

              Palpara Temple - Nadia 2011-10-05 050416.JPG

Char-chala, Palpara Temple, Nadia,West Bengal.

By Biswarup Ganguly – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16882959

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Pancha ratna, Shyam Rai Temple, Bankura,West Bengal.

By Dr. Indranil Banerjee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The temples of Bengal and their exquisite architecture has influenced the temples of Burma, Siam, Cambodia, Java and Nepal. The sculpture at the temple vide the terracotta art was the art of the common people. 17th century onward to the 18th century was a period of expression both for the artists, craft-persons and the patrons alike. The patrons were the rulers, landlords and wealthy merchants. There was a lot of temple building at Bardhaman, Birbhum, Bankura, Nadia, Hooghly and Murshidabad. The depictions on the temples are condensed and full of vitality. There are panels of processions, soldiers, horsemen,elephants with their riders, deities, geometrical motifs, floral motifs, miniature temple are shown above the other. Scenes from the epics, social scenes,, Europeans, love scenes too can be seen at different places.  The 19th century saw some flat roofed temples being built. Temple building of this type went on up to  the middle of the 19th century. It declined under Western influence.

National Heritage.JPG

At-chalas, 26 Siva Temples in Khardah beside Ganga, Barrackpore,West Bengal.

By Aryan paswan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21324358

Bhukailash Shiv Temple 06.jpg

At-chala, Bhukailash Shiv Temple, Khidirpur, Kolkata.

By Kinjal bose 78 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Nava-ratna,  the Dakshineswar Temple, Near Kolkata,West Bengal.

Von Dakshineswar Temple view from outside the temple gates.JPG: Dhruba08derivative work: Vinkje83 – Diese Datei wurde von diesem Werk abgeleitetDakshineswar Temple view from outside the temple gates.JPG:, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19348092

Radhashyam Temple - Bishnupur.jpg

Ek-ratna, Lalji Temple in the city of Bishnupur, West Bengal.

By Amartya Bag – http://www.flickr.com/photos/26529222@N02/4374679207/Uploaded by MrPanyGoff, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19800539

 

 

Ek ratna, Ananta Basudeba Temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.

By Amartyabag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

Kalna Lalji Temple.jpg

Panchavimsati Ratna, Lalji Temple,, Kalna,Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sudiptorana – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21745887

     The word deul is actually a nomenclature given to a temple style of Orissa, North India and Deccan between 6th and 10th centuries. The temples of Bengal are termed as the Rekha deul, having  a square sanctum, curvilinear shikhara or tower, vertical ridges or projections on the walls.

Kalna Pratapeswar Temple by Piyal Kundu.jpg

Rekha deul, Pratapeswar Temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Deul (Temple of Ichai Ghosh).jpg

Rekha deul, temple of Ichai Ghosh, Bardhaman,west Bengal.

By BengaliHindu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36800791

Deul at Banda, Purulia WLM2016-0207.jpg

Rekha deul, Banda, Purulia,West Bengal.

By Amitabha Gupta (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

Mothurar Deol Faridpur.jpg

Rekha deul, Mothurar Deul, Faridpur (in Bangladesh).

By Imranforestry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : Rupa and Co,1959.
  • wikipedia.org
  • aishee.org

 

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Soma Ghosh

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