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Books > Art and Architecture > Temple Architecture of South India (Salem Region)
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Temple Architecture of South India (Salem Region)
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Temple Architecture of South India (Salem Region)
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About the Author

A Researcher on temple architecture, Dr. G. Manoj is an Archaeologist by profession. He carned his M.A. and Ph.D. Degrees in Ancient Hisory & Archaeology from manasa Gangotri, University of Mysore. Currently a research Associate with Maharani lakshmi ammani Research Foundation, Banagalore, Dr. Manoj is also resource person with the Archaeological Survey of Indian Dr. Manoj is also a resource work focuses on the study of ancient Dravidian temple archieture based on traditional agamas and vastugranthas besides the study of sculptures and iconograpy based on ancient Sanskrit text. He has presented more than 50 research papers both in English and Kannada at various seminars and symposia. He has delivered lectures on Archaeology, Music and Mythology to students of th e Universities of Guelph, Mt Allison, and concordia besides various universities and and colleges of Karnataka. One of his books, Devalaya Vastu vijnana, is a reference book on Dravidian temple architecture for post graduate students of History and Archaeology. Dr. Manoj's interests include Kannada and Sanskrit literature, Inscriptions and Manuscripts, Amulti linguist, he has several compositions in sanskrit ,Kannada, Telugu and tamil to his credit. Planet Prayers, a trilingual commentary on navagraha krithis of Muthuswami Dikshitar and siddhivinayakam Sada Bhajeham, and exposition in English and Muthuswami Dikshitar Krithison Mahaganapati are among his well-acclaimed books.

Preface

Inclination and inquisitiveness towards temple architecture inspired me to undertake research on Temples of Salem Region for my doctoral dissertation. Salem region, in the context of my research, includes the old Salem district before its bifurcation and it encompasses the present day Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts in Tamil Nadu. There are innumerable temples of great antiquity and aesthetic value in this region. Unfortunately, many of them are in total neglect while a few are renovated to the extent that they have lost their original form and character. Though extensive epigraphical survey has been done since the last decade of the 19th century, no serious attempt has been made so far to study and analyze the temples and their art and architectural traditions. In 1961, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department, Government of Tamil Nadu documented all the temples of this region prior to its division into Dharmapuri and Salem districts. But, this documentation is based only on local beliefs and versions and not on their historical and cultural intricacies.

Salem region, being a buffer Zone, has its own historical and cultural perspectives. It was ruled by both the Kannada and Tamil imperial powers. Frequent political hegemony between these two great powers over this region witnessed the influence of both the cultural idioms. The northern region even now is dominated by Kannada cultural traits while the southern region manifests a mixture of both Kannada and Tamil cultures.

The earliest edifices in the northern area are the temples erected by the Nolambas. Many sculptures exhibiting Gangal / Nolamba traits and innumerable inscriptions of both these dynasties found here suggest the supremacy of the Kannada monarchs over this region. In 10th century, the Cholas held their sway over the entire region and raised many temples. Later on, the Hoysalas established their sovereignty over this area in 12th century. Devarakundani, a small hamlet of Sinna-kottur Village in Krishnagiri district is identified as one of the regional capitals of the Hoysalas. The Vijayanagara Empire which encompassed entire south India brought this region under their direct rule.

The Southern Salem region, as mentioned earlier, was dominated by the influence of both the Tamil and Kannada cultures wherein the former dominated the latter. The earliest edifices are the rock-cut shrines excavated by the Adigamans. These shrines date back to circa 7th century CE and exhibit Pallava features in their sculptural renderings. The Sheshasayi sculpture possesses a striking resemblance to a similar theme found in the Mahishamardini cave at Mamallapuram. Aragaluru, a village in Attur taluk, was the royal seat of the Bana chiefs. Cholas, as mentioned earlier, had controlled this region and consecrated innumerable temples. When Hoysalas overpowered the Cholas, the boundaries of their kingdom extended towards south beyond Tiruchanapalli, the neighbouring district, where the second capital of Hoysalas viz. Vikramapura (modern Kannanur) was built. The Hoysalas also consecrated many temples and patronized the existing ones. This tradition was continued by the Nayakas during the Vijayanagara and post Vijayanagara periods who also caused many temples to be built and renovated or enlarged a few edifices. The temples in the Salem region exhibit the culmination of both Tamil and Kannada architectural idioms.All the temples belong to the Dravida style. Surprisingly, not a single temple built in the Nagara or Vesara style is found here. Many of these temples morphologically possess Chola-Dravida features, while the intricate decoration on them is, undoubtedly, a Hoysala influence. Due to the influence of Karnataka- Dravida idiom, many changes were introduced in the ground plan, the carving of pillars, in the decoration of the plinths and in the Surface treatment of the walls. In plan, the original Chola temples were very simple, having a garbhagriha and an antarala/ ardhamantapa. But in many temples a gudhamantapa, was introduced, a feature that penetrated to this region from Karnataka. Pillar forms also are greatly influenced by the Hoysala style. The decoration of the plinth and surface treatment of the wall with reliefs are also the influence of Karnataka-Dravida style and these features appear more prominently during the Vijayanagara and post Vijayanagara periods. For instance, the use of padmakesara adishthana during the late Chola / Hoysala and early Vijayanagara temples is prominently seen in this region, which was not introduced, prodigally by the Vijayanagara builders in the heart land at Hampi. The use of sribandha adhishthana and sribhoga adhishthana appears from 14th century onwards and continues on a large scale till the mid-17th century. The effort put in by the sculptors for the crisp and intricate carvings on a hard medium like granite stone is really astounding. The various pillar forms, especially of the transition period, display a renewed concept of the existing forms.

Eminent scholars like Percy Brown and others, while describing the development of architectural features, have related/ affiliated the architectural features with the contemporary ruling dynasties. But it is interesting to note that these developments appear even earlier to their Supposed time of development. Such aspects are clearly discernible in the modelling of corbels, pillars, cornices etc.,that were used earlier during the imperial Chola period. The present study conducted in the buffer zone has revealed such developments in temples and its architectural members.

For a better understanding of morphological features of temples and their adjuncts, Sanskrit texts on ancient building technology are essential. The present study based on classical texts on vastu explains thoroughly several architectural members, their definition, their meaning, purpose and functions. Though some of the terms used for various architectural components were already in Vogue, the present work attempts to discuss their etymology, meaning and synonyms on the basis of their forms and functions. This emphasizes how important are classical texts for a better analyses of the science of Indian temple architecture. This does not imply that everything and anything mentioned in the texts are to be relied upon as the final Verdict. Analyses of textual prescriptions, in the light of the available architectural members, is the need of the day for the clear understanding of the description of ancient texts. This method of application of traditional texts with an archaeological approach is found always highly rewarding.

In studying classical texts, a glance at some literary works also has helped in identifying the symbolism of certain architectural members- This source has been utilized to understand the metaphysical aspects of the symbolism of kumbhapanjara, a decorative member found on the outer walls of the temples. Interestingly, epigraphical evidences supporting these embellishments are also available.

The sculptures of the region, found in abundance, are also studied with their textual background. Stylistic traits, termed on dynastic affiliation are analyzed along with their textual bearings. Rare sculptures are studied with the help of their mythological citations. It is interesting to note that sculptures of four major creeds i.e. Shaiva, Vaishnava, Jain and Bauddha are found in this region. Of these, the Shaiva sculptures dominate in number followed by the Vaishnava images. Of the few Buddhist sculptures noticed, two images found at Tyaganur are noteworthy for their features and size. Majority of the Jaina and Bauddha sculptures are housed in the museums and are not under worship.

To conclude, this work attempts to delineate the salient features of Dravidian temple architecture of the Salem region based upon archaeological evidence supported by important classical texts. This study throws light on the lesser known temples of great aesthetic value. This also shows the importance of the knowledge of temple architecture in buffer zones where also notable features of various styles are noticed. A study of this type, many a times, results in fresh categorization of distinct local styles that help for the understanding of major architectural styles.

Introduction

The present work is an attempt to study the various aspects of temple architecture in the Salem region. Salem region is situated in the northwestern part of Tamilnadu comprising of the present day districts of Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Namakkal and Salem. Of the four districts, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts form the northern part, and Salem and Namakkal districts form the Southern part of the region. This region is situated between 10030' and 140 north latitude and 77.28oand 78.50oeast longitude. In the present work, for the easy understanding of the subject, the land described above is addressed by the name 'Salem region'. Salem region is a 'buffer' land between the present day Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu. Therefore, this region, from the beginning, experienced the political and cultural impacts of the three different states. Salem region is a land where the people of three languages live. Geographical location of the Salem region made it a politically strategic point between the Tamil and Karnataka powers. Political vicissitudes often changed the fortunes of this land.

The northern part of this region is adjacent to both Karnataka and Andhrapradesh. To the west is the Coimbatore district. To the south, Trichy and to the east, North and South Arcot districts are situated. Total area of this Salem region is about 18,262.6 sq. kms i.e. 7051.2 sq miles.

The Salem region, in the present context, comprises of the old Salem district, i.e., the region before its partition into Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Namakkal districts, which were previously taluk headquarters of old Salem district. Dharmapuri was separated in the mid 1960s and Namakkal in the 90s. Krishnagiri became a district in 2002. For the purpose of a thorough study of temples, these regions are included under one head, i.e., the Salem Region.

Salem Region is geographically divided into three parts. The first part is the Balaghat, which is a part of the Deccan tableland. It constitutes a large portion of Krishnagiri and about half of the western Hosur taluk. To its south and west are dense forests and the average elevation of this region is about 3000 feet above sea level. Baramahal, which is about 1300 feet above the sea level, comprising roughly the taluks of Dharmapuri, Harur, northeastern part of Krishnagiri and the eastern part of Hosur, form the second part. The third part is the Talaghat and it differs from the above two. It is a plain region and is about 1200 feet above sea level. Taluks of Attur, Rasipuram and Namakkal are in the east and Salem, Omalur and Tiruchengodu are in the west of this division.

Salem region, geographically, is also varied in its nature. Hilly regions rising up to 3,000 ft and plain tableland rising up to 1,300 ft and also plain regions of lesser altitude are found. The land of this region is fertile and the climate is very salubrious for human habitation. The Cauvery river is the only major river that flows through a part of this region. Apart from this, the region is full of rivulets, tanks and lakes. Therefore, this region was commercially very prosperous. The main connecting route between Karnataka and Tamilnadu passed through this region. Military invasions of the powers of these two states used to pass through this land.

In this context, it is necessary to explain Salem, as a "buffer zone". Buffer region is a geographical region, which lies between two Imperial seats of political powers. Consequently, the region experiences the shift of powers. Whenever one Imperial dynasty becomes powerful than the other, this buffer zone experiences its influence and gets included into its boundary. This, many a times, results in the change of cultural and social milieu of the society of the buffer region, which are best reflected in the temples of that region. Variants of the known art styles, hybridization of different architectural motifs and decorative members and sometimes even the emergence of the new forms and motifs can be noticed in the monuments and relics of the buffer region.

Political supremacy of various rulers over this region influenced the socio-cultural development of this region. Therefore, a tasteful blend of the two distinctly different traditions is clearly discernible in the art forms of the Salem region. This factor makes the present study more interesting.

The Salem region, as stated above, was a buffer state during the different periods of its history. The political powers of Karnataka and Tamilnadu tried to establish their supremacy over this region. The Tamil political powers that ruled over this region were the Adhigamans, Pallavas, Banas, Cholas and the Pandyas. Likewise, the Kannada powers that ruled over this region were the western Gangas, Nolambas, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara rulers. The impact-of different cultures on this land resulted in the development of a cultural idiom that possessed the characteristic features of the Tamil and Kannada cultures. Though the general architectural pattern of the entire south India was basically Dravidian in character, the influence of the local tradition, beliefs, customs and manners played an important role in the formation of local idioms of the Dravidian style. This is very clearly discernible in the art forms of this region.

Religious edifices built under the patronage of many of these ruling powers are found in this region. The earliest shrines of the region are the rock-cut shrines at Namakkal. This was excavated by an Adhigaman ruler, as evidenced by an inscription there. Though it was excavated by an Adhigaman ruler, the influence of the Pallava School of art is explicit in the execution of these rock-cut shrines. Even the sculptures found here exhibit the traits of the sculptural art of the Pallavas. Therefore the beginnings of the architectural and sculptural art of the region may be traced to the Pallava period.

Structural temple art begins from the days of the Nolamba rule and shows a continuous development under the patronage of the succeeding ruling dynasties. About a hundred temples, ascribed to the period between 9th century and 16th century A.D., are noticed, spread all over the Salem region. All these temples are built in the dravidian style. As this region was a buffer zone between the Tamil and Kannada powers, hybridised form of art can be noticed here. These hybridised features are not generally noticed in their respective heartlands. Therefore, a study of the art forms of this buffer region is not only interesting but also highly informative from the point of view of hybridization and development of new forms.

The period of the present study begins from 7th century CE, i.e., from the time of the Pallavas to 17th century CE, i.e., the end of the Vijayanagara period. The beginning of temple architecture can be traced to the middle of 7th century in this region. However, an uninterrupted progress in the development is discernible from the 9th century onwards. During the Vijayanagara period, the temple architecture reached its zenith and the same declined in a short period, after the fall of Vijayanagara Empire in 1565. By the middle of 17th century, clear traces of deterioration and stagnation in the temple art can be noticed all over the region. Therefore, this study is limited up to the middle of 17th century.

Now, coming to the study of the subject done already by scholars and historians, they may be listed as follows:

Extensive archeological and epigraphical surveys have been conducted and recorded in this region, yet not much study on temple architecture and sculpture has been done exclusively. Few works like 'Namakkal' by Ramaswamy and the 'Namakkal caves' by Vidya Daheja are published. These are handbooks on the subjects. Salem Cyclopedia, an encyclopedia edited by B. Rajannan, is a work general in nature and the description of temples given in this work is more mythological and traditional in nature. Hence, this study cannot be considered as a scientific study of the subject.

'The Kongu country' is a work by Arokiaswami. This work is one of the first research works on this region. But, there are many loopholes in this work. The statistics, the chronology and the dates given are not accurate. The survey of temples given by this author is very brief. 'The history of Kongu' is another work by V. Ramamurthy. This again, is a work mainly oriented towards the political history. 'Kongu Nadu' is a very recent research work by V Manikkam. This work concentrates on the political and economic history of the Kongu region. All the above-cited works concentrate more on the political, economical and administrative history and such other aspects, while importance given to art and architecture in them is negligible.

Several scholars have worked on the Mallikarjuna and Kamakshiamman temples at Dharmapuri. 'Nolambas' a research work by Prof. M. S. Krishna Murthy gives an illustrated description of these temples for the first time. Likewise, works on Nolamba architecture and sculpture by Scholars like K. Krishna Murthy and Andrew L Cohen give the description of these temples. The EIT A volume also describes these temples, but considers these temples as the temples consecrated by the Banas of Perumbanavadi.

'Hoysalas in Tamil country' is a work by K R Venkataraman, which concentrates on the political supremacy of the Hoysalas over the Tamil regions. In this work, mention of certain aspects of Salem is noticed, but it is very brief. In this work, the chapter on art and architecture concentrates only on the Hoysaleshwara Temple built in Kannanur, but no detailed study of the temples with the influence of Hoysala art in the region is made.

Research articles of various researchers are published in different journals and periodicals, highlighting new discoveries, such as inscriptions, sculptures, archaeological sites, etc., of the region.

All the works mentioned above are, no doubt, laudable in their own right. Yet, they do not give a clear, complete and comprehensive account of the development of the temple architecture of Salem region. The studies mentioned above, particularly with regard to the study of temples, are limited in their scope. They are descriptive studies of the monuments of the region or of a particular place. In this situation, the present work forms a concerted study of the temple architecture of the Salem region based on scientific study of the architectural members part by part of the temple, their textual affinity, their development, their variations and deviations from the textual prescription, hybridization, regional talents and also an overall analysis of the development of temple architecture of the region. Hence it is a work, first of its kind, dealing with all the aspects of temple architecture of the region.

In the beginning of the research programme by the author, the intention was to study the origin and development of the temple architecture in the Salem region beginning from 7th century A.D., to the beginning of the Vijayanagara rule. But after conducting a detailed survey of the region, it was found that the culmination of the development of temple architecture of the region is noticed only by the end of the Vijayanagara rule. Therefore, it was felt that the study would be incomplete if it ends at the beginning of Vijayanagara rule. Also majority of the developed and finer aspects of the architecture of the region begin to appear only during the Vijayanagara period. Majority of the temples of the region are not just isolated structures belonging to pre- Vijayanagara period, they, during the Vijayanagara period, continued to be in use with additions made to them during the Vijayanagara period. In that way, they become a part and parcel of Vijayanagara architecture also. Considering these aspects, it was decided to include the Vijayanagara period also under the purview of this study, so that, a clear comprehensive development of all the aspects of temple architecture, from its beginning to the period of decline can be traced in one study.

The nature of art forms of this region is not only extensive in nature but also varied. This is because of the influence of various schools of art on the art of this region. A study conforming to the art of the heartland, generally, limits itself to one school of art. Therefore, knowledge of the aspects of that particular school of art is enough to understand the art of that region. Whereas, for the present type of study, a knowledge of the elements of different schools of art are necessary for the analysis of the temple art of this region. The temples of different schools appear with certain of their salient features in this region. The temples of the region not only continue the features of the earlier forms of art, but at the same time accept certain features of the newly arrived art forms. The art forms of such a transition period can be clearly observed here and the development of those forms, in the region, is also discernible.

The present study is an approach to analyse and understand the various scriptural definitions as well as, the morphological studies of the different architectural forms of the region. To make this study systematic, various parts of the temples of the region are classified and studied in a detailed manner. This study includes the definition, the purpose, the function and the importance of that particular part of the temple building. The vastu Texts on Hindu temple architecture are studied and the description given in them are taken into account. The descriptions of the vastu Texts are analysed and compared with the existing architectural forms and the existing forms are compared with the types of forms given in the Texts. In this effort, the etymology of the terms, used for such parts and types, are also taken into account for definition and proper identification. The meaning of the terms of the architectural forms and the types of motifs is also considered for their description. Sometimes, based on the appearance of the forms or the implied meaning of the terms used for them, they are identified.

This methodology is applied particularly in the identification of the different types of the adhisthanas, pillars and prasadas, for which different names are given in the Texts. The Texts, as such, do not give a clear picture of the nature of these architectural members, but they provide a number of types and sub- types of such members. Therefore, to identify the exact name of the type of such an existing member in the temple, the above said methodology is used.

A thorough study of vastu Texts and Agamas is made to understand the name, nature, function and significance of the different architectural members.

Vastu Texts available for the study of south Indian temple architecture are, mainly, the Mayamata, the Manasara, the Kasyapasilpa, the Silparatna, the Isanasivagurudevapaddati and the Tantrasamucchaya.

Agamas like Kamikagama, Ajitagama, Vimanarcanakalpa, Padmasamhita, Rauravagama, Karanagama, Suprabhedagama, etc., also deal with the aspects of temple architecture, to a certain extent.

Puranas like Agnipurana and Visnudharmottarapurana also furnish details regarding the temple architecture and sculpture. Samhitas like Brhatsamhita, Isvarasamhitha, Purusottarnasamhita, etc., contain a few references regarding temple architecture.

Apart from these, a vague idea of the terminology and application of certain architectural principles are to be seen in Kautilya's Arthasastra and the Amarakosa, In this work, Kirtanas of saints and great composers of music and verses are also used as source for the description of temples and the temple culture. Some of the literary works by ancient poets are also used as source material for the description of certain architectural motifs.

In the present study, the Texts referred to are mainly, Mayamata, Manasara, Nasyapasilpa, Silparatna, Isanasivagurudevapaddati and Kamikagama, as the prescriptions found in these Texts can be easily applied for the temples of our region. Therefore, the term 'Texts' in the body of this work implies these Texts only. Of these Texts Mayamata is very clear in its description and maintains consistency in its presentation. These Texts agree regarding the description and prescription, with a few exceptions. A feature invariably noticed in these Texts is the use of synonyms denoting the same architectural member mentioned in the other Text.

Though these Texts provide quite an amount of information regarding temple architecture, they are not free from inconsistencies. Certain descriptions and prescriptions in the Texts are quite confusing and not clear. It is also difficult to understand certain aspects of the Textual prescriptions. Different versions of the same Text make contradictory statements. Apart from these, the major difficulty while studying the Texts is the loss of certain parts of the Text itself. As these Texts were written in a perishable medium, i.e., palm leaves, due to the ravages of time and weather, some of the leaves would have got damaged, which has resulted in the loss of certain parts. Likewise, in ancient times the mode of preservation of these Texts was to make an eye copy of the earlier version. In this process, the chances of misspelling and misinterpretation of the original version, omissions, additions and alterations may occur. These again lead to contradictions and confusions.

In the reading of the original portions of some of the Texts, it gives the impression that those portions are a verbatim copy of the Text of an unknown source. Because, the same type of inconsistency, incongruity and vagueness appear uniformly in many of the Texts. Even some of the experts on Agamas and vastu of the present day have expressed their inability to understand or grasp the exact concepts explained in the Texts, in the discussions they had personally with the author. They have expressed the same opinion, as given earlier, regarding the reasons for the inconsistency and incongruity in the Texts.

In spite of these difficulties faced while studying the Texts, considerable information regarding the essential building components is available. This information is judiciously analysed and studied to cull out the essence of such descriptions, omitting unnecessary details. That means minor aspects are ignored and major aspects are analysed and applied. Texts give enormous information regarding the measurements of the major and minor mouldings of adhisihanas, application of which is difficult. Therefore, measurement aspect is not considered very important in this study. Likewise, mention and description of umpteen numbers of minor mouldings and motifs made in the Texts are also given less importance in this study.

Taking into consideration the etymological sense of the names of architectural members, the morphology of such architectural forms are analysed. This approach has given good results, particularly, in identification of the adhisihana types mentioned in the Texts. It is also to be noticed here that some Texts differ in naming the architectural members differently, though their etymology conveys the same meaning.

Other architectural terms are also explained through etymological approach and their functions, their characteristic feature, physical and aesthetic, the hidden technological factors behind the construction and provision of certain architectural members, are also analysed and explained.

While explaining the origin and development of certain art concepts or idioms and other associated ideas, examples from other areas of south India are also taken into account. The idea behind this is to establish that the same concepts and ideas regarding the general nature of building and sculptural art prevailed in the region of our study also.

The explanation regarding the constructional procedure to be followed in the beginning, is that given in Kasyapasilpa, Though other texts also mention about this aspect, these descriptions are unclear and ambiguous, whereas, the presentation of the same in Kasyapasilpa is easily understandable. The other architectural members that are visible to the eye, their technical aspects, their function, their necessity, their advantages and such other aspects, are explained with the help of modern civil engineering technology.

While dealing with certain members of the temple and other decorative motifs found in the region, the features of those parts as expressed both in Tamil and Kannada idioms are explained, the reason being, the area of our study is a buffer zone between Tamil and Kannada kingdoms. Therefore, to explain the presence of such motifs in the region, one has to know the place of their origin first and understand the reasons behind the presence of such traits in the temples of our region.

Regarding the use of terminology in the present study, the Sanskrit nomenclature is used first. Its English equivalent is also given there of. In the body of the Text simultaneous use of both Sanskrit and English terms are made to familiarize both the terminologies. Similarly synonymous terms are also used in the narration.

In the region of our study, the begining of structural temple architecture can be noticed from late 9th century CE onwards. The Nolambas laid the foundation for the temple building activity of this region. From this time onwards, a continuous activity of temple construction is observed. Increase in the number of constructions, as well as the patronage for temple construction in the succeeding centuries has been noticed. Though the architectural style of the region can be brought under the Dravidian school of architecture, influence of various sub-styles of the same architectural school, which have affiliation either to a particular dynasty or to a particular period, can be clearly observed. The same statement holds good for the sculptural art also. For example, the general outlay of the temple may be of Chola idiom, but, while studying the architectural members, their decoration and carving may reflect the traits of Hoysala school of art. Such factors are also analysed in this work.

Though the Texts give specific prescription for the carving of different architectural members and decorative motifs, artists of the region have executed them according to their own imagination and skill. This aspect proves that at all times, the Texts were not followed strictly and even the artists enjoyed freedom of expression. Such aspects have been noticed on various occasions while studying many architectural members and structural additions to the temples and such instances are highlighted in the present work.

Discussions and consultation with Sanskrit scholars and Agamic experts were held for the confirmation of the statements made and the conclusions drawn by the author about textual prescriptions and also their etymological meanings. Likewise, civil engineers were consulted for the understanding of certain aspects of constructional methodology.

In the present study analytical observations regarding the aspects, which are directly concerned with the development of temple architecture of the Salem region have been brought out. Analysis of factors like the availability of material, skilled labour, efficient architects, patronage and the adoption of changing technology have been made. The temples distributed throughout the region are not uniform in nature. Some of them are very simple in their execution and basically utilitarian. Likewise, some of the temples are highly ornate and grand. There are some more temples, which are a mixture of the two elements. These factors are the results of the change in the taste of the contemporary society, the availability of men, material and money, improvement in the technology, acceptance of new ideas, innovations and the change in the socio-religious attitude of the contemporary society.

Ground-plans and line-drawings presented in this work are prepared by the author himself. These drawings and plans are not to scale.

Regarding the use of diacritical marks to transliterate the Sanskrit and dravidian terms into Roman script diacritical marks given in the chart are used. While spelling the well-known names of persons, places and divinities, Roman script is used without diacritical marks. For unfamiliar and lesser-known names of persons and divinities Roman script with diacritical marks is used. For all non-English words and expressions Italics with diacritical marks are used. Generally, except at the beginning of the sentence, lower case is used for the first letter of the word in Italics, the reason being, that there is no use of lower and upper case in the writing of Sanskrit and Dravidian scripts.

Italics are used for all non-English names, which are also not familiar in the general context. For example, for names of Iilamurtis and the avataramurtis, Roman script with diacritical is used.

In the body of the thesis, while naming the nature of different architectural and sculptural traits, expressions like Nolamba school, Chola school, Hoysala school, etc., are used liberally. The 'school' in this context means the characteristic features and traits associated with the art forms produced by the artisans of that society, of that particular region, and under the rule of that dynasty.

Likewise, the expression 'idiom' is also used liberally in the Text. 'Idiom' in this context means the specific character or form of expression unique to that particular school or region, where that art form was widely prevalent.

After/explaining the nature of study and presentation of the subject, it is necessary here to explain some of the aspects connected with the different schools of art, the knowledge of which is essential to understand the nature of the art forms of the region of our study. These are explained chronologically than geographically, so that the study gives a clear picture of the development of the art forms and also the architectural forms found in the temples.

Contents

  Preface ix
  Acknowledgements xi
  Chart of Diacritical Marks xiii
  Abbreviations xiv
  List of Figures xv
  List of Plates xvii
  Introduction xxiii
1 Historical background 1
2 Ground Plan 12
3 Constructional Methodology 38
4 Adhisthana / Plinth 46
5 Bhitti / Wall 72
6 Prastara / Entablaure 89
7 Prasada / Superstructure 100
8 Stambha / Pillars 108
9 Other Architectural Members 129
10 Prakara / Enclosure and Gopura/Gateway tower 145
11 Sculptures 151
12 Description of Select Temples 175
  Conclusion 191
  Appendices  
1 List of Temples in chronological orders 197
2 Glossary of Technical Terms 201
3 Select Bibliography 206
  Index 210
















Temple Architecture of South India (Salem Region)

Item Code:
NAN719
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2017
ISBN:
9788180903977
Language:
English
Size:
11.0 inch X 9.0 inch
Pages:
359 (Throughout Color and B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 1.5 kg
Price:
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Temple Architecture of South India (Salem Region)

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About the Author

A Researcher on temple architecture, Dr. G. Manoj is an Archaeologist by profession. He carned his M.A. and Ph.D. Degrees in Ancient Hisory & Archaeology from manasa Gangotri, University of Mysore. Currently a research Associate with Maharani lakshmi ammani Research Foundation, Banagalore, Dr. Manoj is also resource person with the Archaeological Survey of Indian Dr. Manoj is also a resource work focuses on the study of ancient Dravidian temple archieture based on traditional agamas and vastugranthas besides the study of sculptures and iconograpy based on ancient Sanskrit text. He has presented more than 50 research papers both in English and Kannada at various seminars and symposia. He has delivered lectures on Archaeology, Music and Mythology to students of th e Universities of Guelph, Mt Allison, and concordia besides various universities and and colleges of Karnataka. One of his books, Devalaya Vastu vijnana, is a reference book on Dravidian temple architecture for post graduate students of History and Archaeology. Dr. Manoj's interests include Kannada and Sanskrit literature, Inscriptions and Manuscripts, Amulti linguist, he has several compositions in sanskrit ,Kannada, Telugu and tamil to his credit. Planet Prayers, a trilingual commentary on navagraha krithis of Muthuswami Dikshitar and siddhivinayakam Sada Bhajeham, and exposition in English and Muthuswami Dikshitar Krithison Mahaganapati are among his well-acclaimed books.

Preface

Inclination and inquisitiveness towards temple architecture inspired me to undertake research on Temples of Salem Region for my doctoral dissertation. Salem region, in the context of my research, includes the old Salem district before its bifurcation and it encompasses the present day Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts in Tamil Nadu. There are innumerable temples of great antiquity and aesthetic value in this region. Unfortunately, many of them are in total neglect while a few are renovated to the extent that they have lost their original form and character. Though extensive epigraphical survey has been done since the last decade of the 19th century, no serious attempt has been made so far to study and analyze the temples and their art and architectural traditions. In 1961, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department, Government of Tamil Nadu documented all the temples of this region prior to its division into Dharmapuri and Salem districts. But, this documentation is based only on local beliefs and versions and not on their historical and cultural intricacies.

Salem region, being a buffer Zone, has its own historical and cultural perspectives. It was ruled by both the Kannada and Tamil imperial powers. Frequent political hegemony between these two great powers over this region witnessed the influence of both the cultural idioms. The northern region even now is dominated by Kannada cultural traits while the southern region manifests a mixture of both Kannada and Tamil cultures.

The earliest edifices in the northern area are the temples erected by the Nolambas. Many sculptures exhibiting Gangal / Nolamba traits and innumerable inscriptions of both these dynasties found here suggest the supremacy of the Kannada monarchs over this region. In 10th century, the Cholas held their sway over the entire region and raised many temples. Later on, the Hoysalas established their sovereignty over this area in 12th century. Devarakundani, a small hamlet of Sinna-kottur Village in Krishnagiri district is identified as one of the regional capitals of the Hoysalas. The Vijayanagara Empire which encompassed entire south India brought this region under their direct rule.

The Southern Salem region, as mentioned earlier, was dominated by the influence of both the Tamil and Kannada cultures wherein the former dominated the latter. The earliest edifices are the rock-cut shrines excavated by the Adigamans. These shrines date back to circa 7th century CE and exhibit Pallava features in their sculptural renderings. The Sheshasayi sculpture possesses a striking resemblance to a similar theme found in the Mahishamardini cave at Mamallapuram. Aragaluru, a village in Attur taluk, was the royal seat of the Bana chiefs. Cholas, as mentioned earlier, had controlled this region and consecrated innumerable temples. When Hoysalas overpowered the Cholas, the boundaries of their kingdom extended towards south beyond Tiruchanapalli, the neighbouring district, where the second capital of Hoysalas viz. Vikramapura (modern Kannanur) was built. The Hoysalas also consecrated many temples and patronized the existing ones. This tradition was continued by the Nayakas during the Vijayanagara and post Vijayanagara periods who also caused many temples to be built and renovated or enlarged a few edifices. The temples in the Salem region exhibit the culmination of both Tamil and Kannada architectural idioms.All the temples belong to the Dravida style. Surprisingly, not a single temple built in the Nagara or Vesara style is found here. Many of these temples morphologically possess Chola-Dravida features, while the intricate decoration on them is, undoubtedly, a Hoysala influence. Due to the influence of Karnataka- Dravida idiom, many changes were introduced in the ground plan, the carving of pillars, in the decoration of the plinths and in the Surface treatment of the walls. In plan, the original Chola temples were very simple, having a garbhagriha and an antarala/ ardhamantapa. But in many temples a gudhamantapa, was introduced, a feature that penetrated to this region from Karnataka. Pillar forms also are greatly influenced by the Hoysala style. The decoration of the plinth and surface treatment of the wall with reliefs are also the influence of Karnataka-Dravida style and these features appear more prominently during the Vijayanagara and post Vijayanagara periods. For instance, the use of padmakesara adishthana during the late Chola / Hoysala and early Vijayanagara temples is prominently seen in this region, which was not introduced, prodigally by the Vijayanagara builders in the heart land at Hampi. The use of sribandha adhishthana and sribhoga adhishthana appears from 14th century onwards and continues on a large scale till the mid-17th century. The effort put in by the sculptors for the crisp and intricate carvings on a hard medium like granite stone is really astounding. The various pillar forms, especially of the transition period, display a renewed concept of the existing forms.

Eminent scholars like Percy Brown and others, while describing the development of architectural features, have related/ affiliated the architectural features with the contemporary ruling dynasties. But it is interesting to note that these developments appear even earlier to their Supposed time of development. Such aspects are clearly discernible in the modelling of corbels, pillars, cornices etc.,that were used earlier during the imperial Chola period. The present study conducted in the buffer zone has revealed such developments in temples and its architectural members.

For a better understanding of morphological features of temples and their adjuncts, Sanskrit texts on ancient building technology are essential. The present study based on classical texts on vastu explains thoroughly several architectural members, their definition, their meaning, purpose and functions. Though some of the terms used for various architectural components were already in Vogue, the present work attempts to discuss their etymology, meaning and synonyms on the basis of their forms and functions. This emphasizes how important are classical texts for a better analyses of the science of Indian temple architecture. This does not imply that everything and anything mentioned in the texts are to be relied upon as the final Verdict. Analyses of textual prescriptions, in the light of the available architectural members, is the need of the day for the clear understanding of the description of ancient texts. This method of application of traditional texts with an archaeological approach is found always highly rewarding.

In studying classical texts, a glance at some literary works also has helped in identifying the symbolism of certain architectural members- This source has been utilized to understand the metaphysical aspects of the symbolism of kumbhapanjara, a decorative member found on the outer walls of the temples. Interestingly, epigraphical evidences supporting these embellishments are also available.

The sculptures of the region, found in abundance, are also studied with their textual background. Stylistic traits, termed on dynastic affiliation are analyzed along with their textual bearings. Rare sculptures are studied with the help of their mythological citations. It is interesting to note that sculptures of four major creeds i.e. Shaiva, Vaishnava, Jain and Bauddha are found in this region. Of these, the Shaiva sculptures dominate in number followed by the Vaishnava images. Of the few Buddhist sculptures noticed, two images found at Tyaganur are noteworthy for their features and size. Majority of the Jaina and Bauddha sculptures are housed in the museums and are not under worship.

To conclude, this work attempts to delineate the salient features of Dravidian temple architecture of the Salem region based upon archaeological evidence supported by important classical texts. This study throws light on the lesser known temples of great aesthetic value. This also shows the importance of the knowledge of temple architecture in buffer zones where also notable features of various styles are noticed. A study of this type, many a times, results in fresh categorization of distinct local styles that help for the understanding of major architectural styles.

Introduction

The present work is an attempt to study the various aspects of temple architecture in the Salem region. Salem region is situated in the northwestern part of Tamilnadu comprising of the present day districts of Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Namakkal and Salem. Of the four districts, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts form the northern part, and Salem and Namakkal districts form the Southern part of the region. This region is situated between 10030' and 140 north latitude and 77.28oand 78.50oeast longitude. In the present work, for the easy understanding of the subject, the land described above is addressed by the name 'Salem region'. Salem region is a 'buffer' land between the present day Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu. Therefore, this region, from the beginning, experienced the political and cultural impacts of the three different states. Salem region is a land where the people of three languages live. Geographical location of the Salem region made it a politically strategic point between the Tamil and Karnataka powers. Political vicissitudes often changed the fortunes of this land.

The northern part of this region is adjacent to both Karnataka and Andhrapradesh. To the west is the Coimbatore district. To the south, Trichy and to the east, North and South Arcot districts are situated. Total area of this Salem region is about 18,262.6 sq. kms i.e. 7051.2 sq miles.

The Salem region, in the present context, comprises of the old Salem district, i.e., the region before its partition into Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Namakkal districts, which were previously taluk headquarters of old Salem district. Dharmapuri was separated in the mid 1960s and Namakkal in the 90s. Krishnagiri became a district in 2002. For the purpose of a thorough study of temples, these regions are included under one head, i.e., the Salem Region.

Salem Region is geographically divided into three parts. The first part is the Balaghat, which is a part of the Deccan tableland. It constitutes a large portion of Krishnagiri and about half of the western Hosur taluk. To its south and west are dense forests and the average elevation of this region is about 3000 feet above sea level. Baramahal, which is about 1300 feet above the sea level, comprising roughly the taluks of Dharmapuri, Harur, northeastern part of Krishnagiri and the eastern part of Hosur, form the second part. The third part is the Talaghat and it differs from the above two. It is a plain region and is about 1200 feet above sea level. Taluks of Attur, Rasipuram and Namakkal are in the east and Salem, Omalur and Tiruchengodu are in the west of this division.

Salem region, geographically, is also varied in its nature. Hilly regions rising up to 3,000 ft and plain tableland rising up to 1,300 ft and also plain regions of lesser altitude are found. The land of this region is fertile and the climate is very salubrious for human habitation. The Cauvery river is the only major river that flows through a part of this region. Apart from this, the region is full of rivulets, tanks and lakes. Therefore, this region was commercially very prosperous. The main connecting route between Karnataka and Tamilnadu passed through this region. Military invasions of the powers of these two states used to pass through this land.

In this context, it is necessary to explain Salem, as a "buffer zone". Buffer region is a geographical region, which lies between two Imperial seats of political powers. Consequently, the region experiences the shift of powers. Whenever one Imperial dynasty becomes powerful than the other, this buffer zone experiences its influence and gets included into its boundary. This, many a times, results in the change of cultural and social milieu of the society of the buffer region, which are best reflected in the temples of that region. Variants of the known art styles, hybridization of different architectural motifs and decorative members and sometimes even the emergence of the new forms and motifs can be noticed in the monuments and relics of the buffer region.

Political supremacy of various rulers over this region influenced the socio-cultural development of this region. Therefore, a tasteful blend of the two distinctly different traditions is clearly discernible in the art forms of the Salem region. This factor makes the present study more interesting.

The Salem region, as stated above, was a buffer state during the different periods of its history. The political powers of Karnataka and Tamilnadu tried to establish their supremacy over this region. The Tamil political powers that ruled over this region were the Adhigamans, Pallavas, Banas, Cholas and the Pandyas. Likewise, the Kannada powers that ruled over this region were the western Gangas, Nolambas, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara rulers. The impact-of different cultures on this land resulted in the development of a cultural idiom that possessed the characteristic features of the Tamil and Kannada cultures. Though the general architectural pattern of the entire south India was basically Dravidian in character, the influence of the local tradition, beliefs, customs and manners played an important role in the formation of local idioms of the Dravidian style. This is very clearly discernible in the art forms of this region.

Religious edifices built under the patronage of many of these ruling powers are found in this region. The earliest shrines of the region are the rock-cut shrines at Namakkal. This was excavated by an Adhigaman ruler, as evidenced by an inscription there. Though it was excavated by an Adhigaman ruler, the influence of the Pallava School of art is explicit in the execution of these rock-cut shrines. Even the sculptures found here exhibit the traits of the sculptural art of the Pallavas. Therefore the beginnings of the architectural and sculptural art of the region may be traced to the Pallava period.

Structural temple art begins from the days of the Nolamba rule and shows a continuous development under the patronage of the succeeding ruling dynasties. About a hundred temples, ascribed to the period between 9th century and 16th century A.D., are noticed, spread all over the Salem region. All these temples are built in the dravidian style. As this region was a buffer zone between the Tamil and Kannada powers, hybridised form of art can be noticed here. These hybridised features are not generally noticed in their respective heartlands. Therefore, a study of the art forms of this buffer region is not only interesting but also highly informative from the point of view of hybridization and development of new forms.

The period of the present study begins from 7th century CE, i.e., from the time of the Pallavas to 17th century CE, i.e., the end of the Vijayanagara period. The beginning of temple architecture can be traced to the middle of 7th century in this region. However, an uninterrupted progress in the development is discernible from the 9th century onwards. During the Vijayanagara period, the temple architecture reached its zenith and the same declined in a short period, after the fall of Vijayanagara Empire in 1565. By the middle of 17th century, clear traces of deterioration and stagnation in the temple art can be noticed all over the region. Therefore, this study is limited up to the middle of 17th century.

Now, coming to the study of the subject done already by scholars and historians, they may be listed as follows:

Extensive archeological and epigraphical surveys have been conducted and recorded in this region, yet not much study on temple architecture and sculpture has been done exclusively. Few works like 'Namakkal' by Ramaswamy and the 'Namakkal caves' by Vidya Daheja are published. These are handbooks on the subjects. Salem Cyclopedia, an encyclopedia edited by B. Rajannan, is a work general in nature and the description of temples given in this work is more mythological and traditional in nature. Hence, this study cannot be considered as a scientific study of the subject.

'The Kongu country' is a work by Arokiaswami. This work is one of the first research works on this region. But, there are many loopholes in this work. The statistics, the chronology and the dates given are not accurate. The survey of temples given by this author is very brief. 'The history of Kongu' is another work by V. Ramamurthy. This again, is a work mainly oriented towards the political history. 'Kongu Nadu' is a very recent research work by V Manikkam. This work concentrates on the political and economic history of the Kongu region. All the above-cited works concentrate more on the political, economical and administrative history and such other aspects, while importance given to art and architecture in them is negligible.

Several scholars have worked on the Mallikarjuna and Kamakshiamman temples at Dharmapuri. 'Nolambas' a research work by Prof. M. S. Krishna Murthy gives an illustrated description of these temples for the first time. Likewise, works on Nolamba architecture and sculpture by Scholars like K. Krishna Murthy and Andrew L Cohen give the description of these temples. The EIT A volume also describes these temples, but considers these temples as the temples consecrated by the Banas of Perumbanavadi.

'Hoysalas in Tamil country' is a work by K R Venkataraman, which concentrates on the political supremacy of the Hoysalas over the Tamil regions. In this work, mention of certain aspects of Salem is noticed, but it is very brief. In this work, the chapter on art and architecture concentrates only on the Hoysaleshwara Temple built in Kannanur, but no detailed study of the temples with the influence of Hoysala art in the region is made.

Research articles of various researchers are published in different journals and periodicals, highlighting new discoveries, such as inscriptions, sculptures, archaeological sites, etc., of the region.

All the works mentioned above are, no doubt, laudable in their own right. Yet, they do not give a clear, complete and comprehensive account of the development of the temple architecture of Salem region. The studies mentioned above, particularly with regard to the study of temples, are limited in their scope. They are descriptive studies of the monuments of the region or of a particular place. In this situation, the present work forms a concerted study of the temple architecture of the Salem region based on scientific study of the architectural members part by part of the temple, their textual affinity, their development, their variations and deviations from the textual prescription, hybridization, regional talents and also an overall analysis of the development of temple architecture of the region. Hence it is a work, first of its kind, dealing with all the aspects of temple architecture of the region.

In the beginning of the research programme by the author, the intention was to study the origin and development of the temple architecture in the Salem region beginning from 7th century A.D., to the beginning of the Vijayanagara rule. But after conducting a detailed survey of the region, it was found that the culmination of the development of temple architecture of the region is noticed only by the end of the Vijayanagara rule. Therefore, it was felt that the study would be incomplete if it ends at the beginning of Vijayanagara rule. Also majority of the developed and finer aspects of the architecture of the region begin to appear only during the Vijayanagara period. Majority of the temples of the region are not just isolated structures belonging to pre- Vijayanagara period, they, during the Vijayanagara period, continued to be in use with additions made to them during the Vijayanagara period. In that way, they become a part and parcel of Vijayanagara architecture also. Considering these aspects, it was decided to include the Vijayanagara period also under the purview of this study, so that, a clear comprehensive development of all the aspects of temple architecture, from its beginning to the period of decline can be traced in one study.

The nature of art forms of this region is not only extensive in nature but also varied. This is because of the influence of various schools of art on the art of this region. A study conforming to the art of the heartland, generally, limits itself to one school of art. Therefore, knowledge of the aspects of that particular school of art is enough to understand the art of that region. Whereas, for the present type of study, a knowledge of the elements of different schools of art are necessary for the analysis of the temple art of this region. The temples of different schools appear with certain of their salient features in this region. The temples of the region not only continue the features of the earlier forms of art, but at the same time accept certain features of the newly arrived art forms. The art forms of such a transition period can be clearly observed here and the development of those forms, in the region, is also discernible.

The present study is an approach to analyse and understand the various scriptural definitions as well as, the morphological studies of the different architectural forms of the region. To make this study systematic, various parts of the temples of the region are classified and studied in a detailed manner. This study includes the definition, the purpose, the function and the importance of that particular part of the temple building. The vastu Texts on Hindu temple architecture are studied and the description given in them are taken into account. The descriptions of the vastu Texts are analysed and compared with the existing architectural forms and the existing forms are compared with the types of forms given in the Texts. In this effort, the etymology of the terms, used for such parts and types, are also taken into account for definition and proper identification. The meaning of the terms of the architectural forms and the types of motifs is also considered for their description. Sometimes, based on the appearance of the forms or the implied meaning of the terms used for them, they are identified.

This methodology is applied particularly in the identification of the different types of the adhisthanas, pillars and prasadas, for which different names are given in the Texts. The Texts, as such, do not give a clear picture of the nature of these architectural members, but they provide a number of types and sub- types of such members. Therefore, to identify the exact name of the type of such an existing member in the temple, the above said methodology is used.

A thorough study of vastu Texts and Agamas is made to understand the name, nature, function and significance of the different architectural members.

Vastu Texts available for the study of south Indian temple architecture are, mainly, the Mayamata, the Manasara, the Kasyapasilpa, the Silparatna, the Isanasivagurudevapaddati and the Tantrasamucchaya.

Agamas like Kamikagama, Ajitagama, Vimanarcanakalpa, Padmasamhita, Rauravagama, Karanagama, Suprabhedagama, etc., also deal with the aspects of temple architecture, to a certain extent.

Puranas like Agnipurana and Visnudharmottarapurana also furnish details regarding the temple architecture and sculpture. Samhitas like Brhatsamhita, Isvarasamhitha, Purusottarnasamhita, etc., contain a few references regarding temple architecture.

Apart from these, a vague idea of the terminology and application of certain architectural principles are to be seen in Kautilya's Arthasastra and the Amarakosa, In this work, Kirtanas of saints and great composers of music and verses are also used as source for the description of temples and the temple culture. Some of the literary works by ancient poets are also used as source material for the description of certain architectural motifs.

In the present study, the Texts referred to are mainly, Mayamata, Manasara, Nasyapasilpa, Silparatna, Isanasivagurudevapaddati and Kamikagama, as the prescriptions found in these Texts can be easily applied for the temples of our region. Therefore, the term 'Texts' in the body of this work implies these Texts only. Of these Texts Mayamata is very clear in its description and maintains consistency in its presentation. These Texts agree regarding the description and prescription, with a few exceptions. A feature invariably noticed in these Texts is the use of synonyms denoting the same architectural member mentioned in the other Text.

Though these Texts provide quite an amount of information regarding temple architecture, they are not free from inconsistencies. Certain descriptions and prescriptions in the Texts are quite confusing and not clear. It is also difficult to understand certain aspects of the Textual prescriptions. Different versions of the same Text make contradictory statements. Apart from these, the major difficulty while studying the Texts is the loss of certain parts of the Text itself. As these Texts were written in a perishable medium, i.e., palm leaves, due to the ravages of time and weather, some of the leaves would have got damaged, which has resulted in the loss of certain parts. Likewise, in ancient times the mode of preservation of these Texts was to make an eye copy of the earlier version. In this process, the chances of misspelling and misinterpretation of the original version, omissions, additions and alterations may occur. These again lead to contradictions and confusions.

In the reading of the original portions of some of the Texts, it gives the impression that those portions are a verbatim copy of the Text of an unknown source. Because, the same type of inconsistency, incongruity and vagueness appear uniformly in many of the Texts. Even some of the experts on Agamas and vastu of the present day have expressed their inability to understand or grasp the exact concepts explained in the Texts, in the discussions they had personally with the author. They have expressed the same opinion, as given earlier, regarding the reasons for the inconsistency and incongruity in the Texts.

In spite of these difficulties faced while studying the Texts, considerable information regarding the essential building components is available. This information is judiciously analysed and studied to cull out the essence of such descriptions, omitting unnecessary details. That means minor aspects are ignored and major aspects are analysed and applied. Texts give enormous information regarding the measurements of the major and minor mouldings of adhisihanas, application of which is difficult. Therefore, measurement aspect is not considered very important in this study. Likewise, mention and description of umpteen numbers of minor mouldings and motifs made in the Texts are also given less importance in this study.

Taking into consideration the etymological sense of the names of architectural members, the morphology of such architectural forms are analysed. This approach has given good results, particularly, in identification of the adhisihana types mentioned in the Texts. It is also to be noticed here that some Texts differ in naming the architectural members differently, though their etymology conveys the same meaning.

Other architectural terms are also explained through etymological approach and their functions, their characteristic feature, physical and aesthetic, the hidden technological factors behind the construction and provision of certain architectural members, are also analysed and explained.

While explaining the origin and development of certain art concepts or idioms and other associated ideas, examples from other areas of south India are also taken into account. The idea behind this is to establish that the same concepts and ideas regarding the general nature of building and sculptural art prevailed in the region of our study also.

The explanation regarding the constructional procedure to be followed in the beginning, is that given in Kasyapasilpa, Though other texts also mention about this aspect, these descriptions are unclear and ambiguous, whereas, the presentation of the same in Kasyapasilpa is easily understandable. The other architectural members that are visible to the eye, their technical aspects, their function, their necessity, their advantages and such other aspects, are explained with the help of modern civil engineering technology.

While dealing with certain members of the temple and other decorative motifs found in the region, the features of those parts as expressed both in Tamil and Kannada idioms are explained, the reason being, the area of our study is a buffer zone between Tamil and Kannada kingdoms. Therefore, to explain the presence of such motifs in the region, one has to know the place of their origin first and understand the reasons behind the presence of such traits in the temples of our region.

Regarding the use of terminology in the present study, the Sanskrit nomenclature is used first. Its English equivalent is also given there of. In the body of the Text simultaneous use of both Sanskrit and English terms are made to familiarize both the terminologies. Similarly synonymous terms are also used in the narration.

In the region of our study, the begining of structural temple architecture can be noticed from late 9th century CE onwards. The Nolambas laid the foundation for the temple building activity of this region. From this time onwards, a continuous activity of temple construction is observed. Increase in the number of constructions, as well as the patronage for temple construction in the succeeding centuries has been noticed. Though the architectural style of the region can be brought under the Dravidian school of architecture, influence of various sub-styles of the same architectural school, which have affiliation either to a particular dynasty or to a particular period, can be clearly observed. The same statement holds good for the sculptural art also. For example, the general outlay of the temple may be of Chola idiom, but, while studying the architectural members, their decoration and carving may reflect the traits of Hoysala school of art. Such factors are also analysed in this work.

Though the Texts give specific prescription for the carving of different architectural members and decorative motifs, artists of the region have executed them according to their own imagination and skill. This aspect proves that at all times, the Texts were not followed strictly and even the artists enjoyed freedom of expression. Such aspects have been noticed on various occasions while studying many architectural members and structural additions to the temples and such instances are highlighted in the present work.

Discussions and consultation with Sanskrit scholars and Agamic experts were held for the confirmation of the statements made and the conclusions drawn by the author about textual prescriptions and also their etymological meanings. Likewise, civil engineers were consulted for the understanding of certain aspects of constructional methodology.

In the present study analytical observations regarding the aspects, which are directly concerned with the development of temple architecture of the Salem region have been brought out. Analysis of factors like the availability of material, skilled labour, efficient architects, patronage and the adoption of changing technology have been made. The temples distributed throughout the region are not uniform in nature. Some of them are very simple in their execution and basically utilitarian. Likewise, some of the temples are highly ornate and grand. There are some more temples, which are a mixture of the two elements. These factors are the results of the change in the taste of the contemporary society, the availability of men, material and money, improvement in the technology, acceptance of new ideas, innovations and the change in the socio-religious attitude of the contemporary society.

Ground-plans and line-drawings presented in this work are prepared by the author himself. These drawings and plans are not to scale.

Regarding the use of diacritical marks to transliterate the Sanskrit and dravidian terms into Roman script diacritical marks given in the chart are used. While spelling the well-known names of persons, places and divinities, Roman script is used without diacritical marks. For unfamiliar and lesser-known names of persons and divinities Roman script with diacritical marks is used. For all non-English words and expressions Italics with diacritical marks are used. Generally, except at the beginning of the sentence, lower case is used for the first letter of the word in Italics, the reason being, that there is no use of lower and upper case in the writing of Sanskrit and Dravidian scripts.

Italics are used for all non-English names, which are also not familiar in the general context. For example, for names of Iilamurtis and the avataramurtis, Roman script with diacritical is used.

In the body of the thesis, while naming the nature of different architectural and sculptural traits, expressions like Nolamba school, Chola school, Hoysala school, etc., are used liberally. The 'school' in this context means the characteristic features and traits associated with the art forms produced by the artisans of that society, of that particular region, and under the rule of that dynasty.

Likewise, the expression 'idiom' is also used liberally in the Text. 'Idiom' in this context means the specific character or form of expression unique to that particular school or region, where that art form was widely prevalent.

After/explaining the nature of study and presentation of the subject, it is necessary here to explain some of the aspects connected with the different schools of art, the knowledge of which is essential to understand the nature of the art forms of the region of our study. These are explained chronologically than geographically, so that the study gives a clear picture of the development of the art forms and also the architectural forms found in the temples.

Contents

  Preface ix
  Acknowledgements xi
  Chart of Diacritical Marks xiii
  Abbreviations xiv
  List of Figures xv
  List of Plates xvii
  Introduction xxiii
1 Historical background 1
2 Ground Plan 12
3 Constructional Methodology 38
4 Adhisthana / Plinth 46
5 Bhitti / Wall 72
6 Prastara / Entablaure 89
7 Prasada / Superstructure 100
8 Stambha / Pillars 108
9 Other Architectural Members 129
10 Prakara / Enclosure and Gopura/Gateway tower 145
11 Sculptures 151
12 Description of Select Temples 175
  Conclusion 191
  Appendices  
1 List of Temples in chronological orders 197
2 Glossary of Technical Terms 201
3 Select Bibliography 206
  Index 210
















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Testimonials

I love your site and although today is my first order, I have been seeing your site for the past several years. Thank you for providing such great art and books to people around the World who can't make it to India as often as we would like.
Rupesh
Heramba Ganapati arrived safely today and was shipped promptly. Another fantastic find from Exotic India with perfect customer service. Thank you. Jai Ganesha Deva
Marc, UK
I ordered Padmapani Statue. I have received my statue. The delivering process was very fast and the statue looks so beautiful. Thank you exoticindia, Mr. Vipin (customer care). I am very satisfied.
Hartono, Indonesia
Very easy to buy, great site! Thanks
Ilda, Brazil
Our Nandi sculpture arrived today and it surpasses all expectations - it is wonderful. We are not only pleasantly surprised by the speed of international delivery but also are extremely grateful for the care of your packaging. Our sculpture needed to travel to an off-lying island of New Zealand but it arrived safely because of how well it had been packaged. Based upon my experience of all aspects of your service, I have no hesitation in recommending Exotic India.
BWM, NZ
Best web site to shop on line.
Suman, USA
Thank you for having such a great website. I have given your site to all the people I get compliments on your merchandise.
Pat, Canada.
Love the website and the breadth of selection. Thanks for assembling such a great collection of art and sculpture.
Richard, USA
Another three books arrived during the last weeks, all of them diligently packed. Excellent reading for the the quieter days at the end of the year. Greetings to Vipin K. and his team.
Walter
Your products are uncommon yet have advanced my knowledge and devotion to Sanatana Dharma. Also, they are reasonably priced and ship quickly. Thank you for all you do.
Gregory, USA
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