• Search 

Article




call for papers

Volume: V, Issue: I, January-December 2014


NĀGARA TEMPLE FORMS: RECONSTRUCTING LOST ORIGINS







Abstract

Prof. Adam Hardy is presently engaged in a project that seeks to illuminate the origins of the northern Indian Nāgara tradition during the Gupta period which is funded by British Academy, London. This report briefly touches upon his field work and survey conducted during his recent visit to India in November 2014.



Keywords Content

Prof. Adam Hardy, Professor of Asian Architecture at Cardiff University, UK, visited Allahabad University in mid-November this year. He gave a lecture on 12th November at the Allahabad Museum on Rājā Bhoja’s unfinished temple at Bhojpur in Madhya Pradesh (first half of 11th century CE), with its set of architectural drawings engraved on the surrounding rocks, and temple architecture in Bhoja’s famous Vāstuśāstra text, the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra. Both the temple and the text are the subject of Prof. Hardy’s most recent book, Theory and Practice of Temple Architecture in Medieval India, to be published shortly by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. In the talk he showed how the Bhojpur temple, if completed, would have been by far the biggest temple ever built in India.

The reason for Prof. Hardy’s November visit, however, was for research into an earlier period of temple architecture. He is presently engaged in a project that seeks to illuminate the origins of the northern Indian Nāgara tradition during the Gupta period. While the relatively few remnants of Gupta temples are well known, there remains work to do on the form of their superstructures, and clues are to be found among scattered fragments in museums as well as at temple sites. From Allahabad, Prof. Hardy visited the Gupta temple sites of Nachna and Bhumara in Satna District, M.P., and he also examined the stone fragments from Bhumara that are now in the Allahabad Museum. From the fragments at Bhumara and in the museum it is clear that the superstructure, probably of tiered, pyramidal form, had āmalaka-topped kūṭasat the corners and candraśālas at the centre. It therefore belonged, broadly speaking, to the kind of proto-Nāgara śikhara that eventually developed into the curved Latina form, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Another strand to Prof. Hardy’s project is focusing on the lost temple architecture of the Vakatakas, allies of the Guptas. He points out that this was distinct from the temple architecture of the Guptas, and had a separate legacy. There are no Vakataka temples surviving intact, but clues about them may be gleaned at Ajanta and among the brick ruins at the Vakataka capital, Mansar. Their legacy is found in the 7th to 9th century temples of Dakṣiṇa Kośala (now Chattisgarh state), with outposts in Orissa, and Prof. Hardy believes that these temples represent the form termed ‘Vāvāṭa’ (relating etymologically to Vidarbha) in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra.

 

List of Figures 

Figure 1: Hypothetical reconstruction of the piling up of early Nāgara shrine forms, leading towards the Latina. A simple ‘āmalaka shrine’ (Top) becomes the superstructure of a more complex type (Centre). A developed form of this, in its turn, is placed above a further tier (Bottom). The fusion of the central aedicules into a spine, and the introduction of a curved outline, will result in a Latina śikhara.

Figure 2: Nachana Temple and the locale.

Figure 3: Nachana Temple—Garbhagṛha entrance with Dwāraśākhās and uttaraṅga (architrave).

Figure 4: Nachana Temple, Front View—showing remains of the lower part of the upper Storey.

Figure 5: Bhumara Temple—Sopāna, Jagatī and Garbhagṛha.

Figure 6: Bhumara Temple—Garbhagṛha entrance uttaraṅga (architrave).

Figure 7: Bhumara Temple—Garbhagṛha entrance left side Dwāraśākhā.

 

 

Figure. 1: Hypothetical reconstruction of the  early Nāgara shrine forms.

 

 

Figure 2: Nachana Temple and the locale.

 

 

Figure 3: Nachana Temple—Garbhagṛha entrance with Dwāraśākhās and uttaraṅga (architrave).

 

 

Figure 4: Nachana Temple, Front View—showing remains of the lower part of the upper Storey.

 

 

Figure 5: Bhumara Temple—Sopāna, Jagatī and Garbhagṛha.

 

 

Figure 6: Bhumara Temple—Garbhagṛha entrance uttaraṅga (architrave).

 

 

Figure 7: Bhumara Temple—Garbhagṛha entrance left side Dwāraśākhā.