On behalf of the American Institute of Indian Studies, I am delighted to launch yet another volume in the important on-going project of the Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support for many years of the Smithsonian Institution, National Endowment for the Humanities and, more recently, the Ford Foundation. Without this generosity the everyday workings of the Center for Art and Archaeology would have been greatly diminished and the production of these volumes would not have been possible.
Years ago when the project was initiated, skeptics doubted whether a single volume would ever be produced, much less the multiple ones proposed; now we are close to concluding the South India portion of the series. Originally this volume, South India: Dravidadesa, Later Phase, c. A.D. 1289-1798, that is, Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture, Vol. I, Part 4-A was to have included material from Tamilnadu; however, it was decided in the end that the extensive and very rich material from the Vijayanagara dynasty and from Kerala merited their own binding. These two bindings are the result of this decision. In the near future we will issue a subsequent binding dedicated solely to the temple architecture of Tamilnadu from the 15th to the 18th centuries authored by the Center for Art and Archaeology's Joint Director, Dr. U.S. Moorti. We anticipate that the Glossary volume pertaining to the South Indian Temple Architecture also will appear soon, thus completing this part of the project. Moreover, the Center for Art and Archaeology is in the process of posting all the images in this volume, as well as the Center's entire photographic holdings on the World Wide Web, thus making it possible not only to see these images in greater detail, but also many more that we were unable to publish here.
Many thanks must go to Dr. George Michell, who wrote the lion's share of this volume, for his hard work and tireless drive. He agreed to complete the text for the American Institute of Indian Studies even when he was busy concurrently with other publications and projects. We consider ourselves fortunate to have access to Michell's unique knowledge of Indian architecture, especially the many temples of South India published here for the first time. Contributing along with Dr. Michell in the project was Mr. Jayaram Poduval, an expert on the architecture of Kerala. Dr. U.S. Moorti of the American Institute of Indian Studies' Center for Art and Archaeology served as the Coordinator for the project, responsible for the many details and overall vision which went to making this volume the success it is. Mr. V.K. Venkata Varadhan, Center's Assistant Project Officer, as done diligently with all the previous EITA volumes, took on his shoulders of word-processing efficiently a flawless manuscript for printing. The Center's Senior Draftsmen, Mr. S. Pandian and Mr. N. Ravi, produced nearly all the plans, many of them published here for the first time. Thanks also goes to Mr. D.P. Nanda, the Center's Chief Photographer responsible for the unparalleled quality of the photographic images. Many other people, too numerous to be named, played roles in the production of this volume. But three people need to be acknowledged: Prof. Pramod Chandra, who first conceived the project some thirty years ago; Dr. Pradeep Mehendiratta, Director-General and Vice-President of the American Institute of Indian Studies, who continues to work miracles. He found money to continue the project when there was none, and through his own enthusiasm continues to inspire the Center's entire staff; and Prof. M.A. Dhaky who is the real force behind the success of the entire Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture Project. Without his intimate knowledge of all forms of Indian architecture and Sanskrit literature, this project never would have taken shape. I thank Prof. Dhaky, a long time friend and colleague, from the bottom of my heart for the years he has put into this massive project.
Of all phases of South Indian temple architecture, it is that coinciding with the Vijayanagara empire and its successor states, a period spanning the 14th to 18th centuries, that has been the most neglected in terms of scholarly research and publication. From this point of view, the chapters in this set of volumes of the Encyclopaedia, together with their accompanying drawings and photographs, represent a pioneering attempt to describe and analyze the religious monuments that are assigned to this era. However, the descriptions offered here should not be considered definitive. In spite of the considerable pains that have been taken, certain art historical problems remain unresolved, not the least of which are the foundation dates of many of the buildings, and their individual and often complex building histories. Nor are the relationships between the different regional styles fully understood, or the roles of the prevailing ruling dynasties in the formation and promotion of these styles. Much future study is needed before such difficulties can be overcome.
Only a selection of the innumerable South Indian temples belonging to the centuries under review here appears in these volumes. They are distributed according to four principal geographical zones: Karnata and Andhra in the Deccan heartland, Kanada and Malnad in western Karnata, the Tamil country, and finally Kerala, This division is justified by the historical circumstances that dictated local architectural developments in the different regions of South India.
Vijayanagara temple architecture has its mixed origins in both the Deccan and Tamil traditions, as is clear from the temples dating from the Sangama period which tend to repeat features derived from earlier styles in both these zones (Chapters 50, 51 and 55). The situation changes markedly during the rule of the Tuluvas, whose patronage led to the construction of ever larger and more elaborate monuments in a distinctive Tamil-inspired manner (Chapter 52). The essentially revivalist nature of this architectural manner was expressed through repeated references to Cola prototypes. That this era was by no means devoid of artistic quality is demonstrated by the richly-embellished mandapas with which the larger temples were provided.
The norms established under the Tuluvas were of consequence for the later evolution of Hindu and Jaina shrines, both in Karnata under a series of lesser kings (Chapters 53 and 54), and in the Kanada and Malnad zones during the period of Vijayanagara domination, followed by the rule of a local line of Nayakas (Chapters 57 and 58).
For the culmination of the Vijayanagara idiom, however, it is necessary to turn to the Tamil country, beginning with the projects of the Aravidu kings whose reigns bridged the second half of the 16th and early decades of the 17th centuries (Chapter 56). The Aravidu religious monuments attained an unprecedented scale and elaboration, as did those erected by the Nayaka governors of Tamilnadu who achieved autonomy by the beginning of the 17th century. Nor does this late Vijayanagara style in Tamilnadu come to an end with the decline of the Aravidus and the extinction of the Nayaka kingdoms, as can be seen in the projects sponsored by a series of minor rulers during the 18th-19th centuries. (These later, post-Vijayanagara period monuments, however, fall outside the scope of these present volumes.)
As in earlier centuries, Kerala religious architecture maintains its indigenous character through the use of sloping tiled roofs and intricately-carved woodwork (Chapters 59-61). Even so, attributes from neighbouring Tamilnadu were sometimes introduced, thereby bringing Kerala temples within the orbit of the larger Vijayanagara tradition.
Note on Spellings and Dates
The transliteration system adopted here for place names, temple deities; patrons, and architectural terms reflects the mix of Sanskrit and Dravidian spellings that is common in South India. This conforms to the scheme employed in the other volumes of the Encyclopaedia.
Dates throughout are given in the Christian Era (A.D.), even though this is not the chronological system employed in the original epigraphical and historical records. These documents are mostly in the Saka era for temples in Karnata, Andhra, and Tamilnadu, and the Kollam era for temples in Kerala.
Art & Culture (777)
Emperor & Queen (488)
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend