Untouched by the iconoclastic fervour of the Turkish invaders, Orissa preserves the history of her temple architecture without any major break. Yet a number of facets of architectural history remain in the dark in the absence of an exhaustive inventory of the temples of Orissa. One such facet is constituted by a group of temples of western Orissa. While the bada deula of these temples along with similar such deulas in the Lower Mahanadi valley display a significant phase in the evolution Orissan temple architecture, their mukhasalas reveal an architectural trend, extra-Orissan in origin and individualistic in development. The present work surveys various aspects of this form of Orissan temple architecture.
The author, a member of the teaching staff in the Department of Ancient Indian History & Culture, also teaches. architecture in the Departments of Archaeology, Museuology and Islamic History & Culture of the same University. Presently engaged in surveying the temples of eastern India, he has published a book entitled Economic History of the Deccan. His research papers on various aspects of east Indian temple architecture appear regularly in journals of India and abroad. He has also contributed learned articles to volumes felicitating distinguished scholars. For sometime he served on the panel of experts constituted by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, for evaluating books written in regional languages.
Sustained efforts of scholars have reconstructed, in broad outlines, the picture of Orissan temple architecture. Certain periods. of the history of this architecture have also been treated in great details. But there still remains many little or inadequately known facets of the temple architecture of this region. One such facet is constituted by a group of temples of western Orissa. I became vaguely aware of this fact when in 1971 I, along with Sri T.P. Santra and late lamented David McCutchion, explored various parts of the Balangir and the Phulbani Districts. This tour enabled us to visit the Kosalesvara temple at Baidyanath in the Balangir District before it was taken by the Orissa State Archaeological Department for what it means as conservation. This temple suggested to me that in Orissa the temple architecture did not develop along a unilinear track. In the succeeding years, I made further probings in western Orissa for tracing the origin and evolution of the architectural style exemplified by the Kosaleśvara. The present work is the outcome of these investigations.
David McCutchion, while accompanying me in my first tour in western Orissa, contacted an unidentified disease and died shortly after returning to Calcutta. In his untimely death, not only the scholarly world was deprived of a pioneer in the field of east Indian art and architecture but also I lost a very good and valuable friend.
In Orissa, temples generally conform to two principal types, which the local canons describe as the rekha and the bhadra deulas respectively. Often the rekha and the bhadra are juxtaposed with the former becoming the sanctuary and the latter the forward hall. The precedence for such a composition in Orissa may be found in some 7th-8th century temples in which the sanctuary is preceded by a rectangular hall. Apart from the rectangular and the bhadra types of forward hall, described commonly as the mukhakala in this region,' another type is also known. The mukhasala of this variety has a square plan with two openings, one providing entry to the hall and the other, opposite the former, leading to the garbha-grha (sanctum chamber). A row of pilasters or engaged pillars at the sides and a group of four pillars standing in a square formation in the centre of the hall support a frame of architraves. Slabs of stone, laid side by side on this frame, provide the necessary cover for the hall. In a few instances, iron bars are placed on the architraves to give additional support to the ceiling slabs. Sometimes the square frame of architraves on the four central pillars is superimposed by one or two courses of masonry. As a result, the ceiling in the centre of the hall rises to a higher level than that of the ceiling at the sides. The consequent lifting of the central section of the roof above its sides facilitates easy drainage of rain-water. An elaboration in the scheme of such halls, noticed at least in two cases, provides in the centre of the hall a raised dais with four pillars at its four corners and two balconied windows projecting from its two side walls.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Art & Culture (797)
Emperor & Queen (492)
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend