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Temples of the Pratihara Period in Central India

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Foreword Detailed surveys and studies on temple architecture were taken up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the year 1955 and two Temple Survey Project Offices were established at Bhopal and Madras headed by well-known art historians, Sarvashri Krishna Deva and K. R. Srinivasan respectively. Documentation of those groups of northern and southern temples, which have not been studied in detail. The survey has already brought out (1) Cave Temples of the Pallavas by K. R. Sriniv...


Detailed surveys and studies on temple architecture were taken up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the year 1955 and two Temple Survey Project Offices were established at Bhopal and Madras headed by well-known art historians, Sarvashri Krishna Deva and K. R. Srinivasan respectively. Documentation of those groups of northern and southern temples, which have not been studied in detail. The survey has already brought out (1) Cave Temples of the Pallavas by K. R. Srinivasan, 1964, (2) An Architectural Survey of Temples of Kerala by H. Sarkar, 1978, (3) Cave Temples of the Deccan by K. V. Soundara Rajan, 1981, under the Architectural Survey of Temples Series of ASI. The latest in this series is the present volume Temples of Pratiharas by Shri R. D. Trivedi, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India. The Gurjara-Pratiharas were known to be a powerful dynasty which ruled Central and North India between 8th and 10th century. In terms of the architectural development, the Pratihara art and architecture is a logical successor to the tradition of Gupta art with stylistic ramification and the structural and decorative format.

The artistic remains of Pratihara period are available in an extensive area comprising Haryana and central India and covering whole of Uttar Pradesh, part of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan and Rajastha. A notable feature of temple art and architecture raised under the Pratiharas is its decorative idiom showing harmony with the structural medium employed. Apart from the skill of the carver it has drawn inspiration from already existing cultural and artistic traditions. On an area besides religious propensities of the period. In the present volume Shri Trivedi has studied temples of the Pratiharas of the central India particularly those at Gwalior in all possible details including iconography and structural art. The present work illustrates the continuity of the architectural and sculptural attainment of the Gupta period under a logically developed and elaborate form with many additions and delitions. In its last phase, the Pratihara period presents a well-developed architecture covering a major part of north and central India. During the Pratihara period the simple plan and elevation of the temples of earlier phases changed into a well elaborate format consisting of a mukha-mandapa, antarala and garbha-griha and an elevation having profusely carved adhisthana, jangha and sikhara.. This architectural tradition was closely followed by Chandelas, Parmaras and Kachchhapaghatas and other regional schools.

I hope this volume would be welcomed by those interested in the early medieval Indian temple architecture and sculptural art. I take this opportunity to thank besides the author all those associated with the production of this volume especially Sarvashri K. N. Dikshit, Director (Publication), J. C. Gupta, Production Officer and K. P. Padhi, Senior Technical Assistant in the Publications Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India. M/s. Vap Enterprises, New Delhi, deserve appreciation for publishing this volume.


At the time of his posting in the Temple Survey Project (Northern Region), Bhopal, survey and study the temple architecture of the Pratihara period. The present monograph on the Temples of the Pratihara period in Central India, in the series of the Architectural Survey of Temples, is the result of the same survey. A brief summary of some of the outstanding examples of the temples included here has been published in various annual issues of the Indian Archaeology-A Review.

In the present survey, the temples of Central India have been incorporated and discussed in detail. The relevant temples of other regions, particularly those datable to the Pratihara period, have also been referred to for comparison, wherever necessary. The present work is a step towards further architectural study of the temples of early medieval period, coinciding with the Pratihara period, in other parts of the country as well.

The author acknowledges his grateful thanks to all the members of the Temple Survey Project (Northern Region), Bhopal, for their help and co-operation in the accomplishment of the present work, particularly to mention some of them: to the Photographers Sarvashri M. C. Jhabak, Ahlad Vyas and Satya Prakash and to the Draughtsmen Sarvashri Raghuraj Kishor, A. L. Verma, M. D. Peshwani, Lakhan Kumar and L. P. Dhakar. Shri R. Venkatachalam, Stenographer, Temple Survey Project (Northern Region), Bhopal, helped in the field and typed out the report material, Shri M. S. Mani of the Headquarters Office finalized the drawings for publication and Shri Daljit Singh of the Building Survey Project, New Delhi, prepared the Index. Shri J. C. Gupta, Production officer, of the Directorate Office offered his valuable help in finally correcting the proofs and organizing the Plates. The author is indeed grateful to all of them.



In the present survey of the temples of the Pratihara period in central India, the temples located in the Districts of Bhind, Morena, Gwalior, Shivpuri, Guna, Vidisha, Tikamgarh and Panna in Madhya Pradesh and the Districts of Jhansi and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh have been included (Fig. 1). As it is clear from the place-names already enumerated, the temples sur- veyed here do not conform to a single well-defined geographical nomenclature. This has necessi- tated the dynastic appellation of the Pratiharas given to the study, as the region was under their control. The Pratihara empire was vast and it extended during its heyday from Saurashtra in the west to undivided Bengal in the east and from Himachal Pradesh in the north to the Narmada river in the south. The unwieldiness in covering such a vast region in a single survey, even if pertaining to only one period, has led to take up at first the survey of the temples of the Pratihara period in central India which abounds with a maximum number of relevant examples surviving now. The contemporary temples of other regions, for instance, those of Osia and Buchkala (District Jodhpur, Rajasthan), have been referred to in order to point out the characteristics of the temples of the Pratihara period. It is really unfortunate that Kanauj, the capital city of the Pratiharas, has no extant temple to illumine our way for the study of the temple architecture of the Pratiharas. The main reason for this is evidently the vast scale of plundering effected at the hands of Muslim invaders right from the early eleventh century A.D. when Sultan Mahmud repeatedly attacked Kanauj and destroyed a very large number of temples.

Out of the temples included in this survey, only two temples, namely, the Santinatha temple (Temple No. 12) at Deogarh (District Lalitpur) and the Chaturbhuja temple in Gwalior fort, bear dated inscriptions of the time of the Pratihara king Bhojadeva (circa A.D. 836-885). Other temples are datable to the Pratihara period on stylistic and circumstantial grounds. As a prelude to them, certain temples at Naresar (District Morena), Mahua (District Shivpuri),Amrol (District Gwalior), and Dang (District Bhind), assignable to the period of Yasovarrnan and Amaraja of Kanauj, form part of the survey. The temples under study have been divided into three phases: the first phase (circa A.D. 725-800), the second phase (circa A.D. 800-850), and the third phase (circa A.D. 850-950). Most of the temples are not precisely datable. Hence, this division is based on the architectural characteristics of the temples. From the architectural discussion and the description of the temples given in the 'Chapters III and V, it would appear how the temples of the first phase with a simple plan, elevation and sculptural decoration grew into more elaborate forms with elaborate sculptural and architectural details by the end of the third phase. Similarly, in each phase a process of change is discernible. The position of temples in a chronological order has been fixed on the basis of architectural and sculptural comparison with the other temples of the region with a special reference to the dated temples as far as possible. As such, a course of arranging the temples in a chronological order is naturally beset with difficulties and cannot be claimed to be final.

The art of the temples of the Pratihara period in central India serves as a transition between the post-Gupta art and the medieval dynastic art of the major part of northern and central India. It has preserved to an appreciable extent the qualities of the post-Gupta art mingled with its own distinguished contribution and, on its decline, passed on a sound and well-established architectural tradition to the succeeding medieval dynasties in the region, such as the Chandellas of jejakabhukti, the Kachchhapaghatas of Gwalior, the Paramaras of Malwa and the Kalachuris of Tripuri jabalpur) being the major ones. The early temples of the first phase, for instance.the temples of Naresar, the Siva temple at Mahua and the Ramesva- ra Mahadeva temple at Amrol with their simple plan, adhishthana, janghas and decorative scheme are reminiscent of the Gupta art as noticed in the Dasavatara temple at Deogarh (District Lalitpur) , and the brick temple at Bhitaragaon (District Kanpur). On the other hand, the later temples of the third phase such as the Gadarmal temple at Badoh, the Maladevi temple at Gyaraspur (both in District Vidisha), the Sun temple at Sesai (District Shivpuri), and the Jarai Math temple at Barwasagar (District Jhansi), in their plan, architectural components and decorative elements, appear to be immediate antecedents of the temples of the succeeding dynasties in the region. The Gadarmal temple at Badoh andthe Maladevi temple at Gyaraspur have all the members of the plan of a developed medieval temple, e.g. the mukha-mandap a, the mandapa, the antarala and the garbha-griha, the former being a nirandhara (without ambulatory) example while the latter is a sandhara (with ambulatory) one. The kakshasana balconies, so common in the later temples, make their appearance in both of them. In the Sun temple at Sesai and the Jarai Math temple at Barwasagar,all the decorative details of the jangha portion, the doorway and the ceilings closely anticipate a fully ornamented medieval temple of central India.

The geographical situation of central India, whose temples have been surveyed, is such that it is prone to transmit influences to different parts of the country. In other words, it is a link between the north and the south, and between the east and west. Consequently, the architectural activity of the region was in contact with that of the areas situated in different directions. The impact of the temples of the Pratihara period is notable on the temples as far north as in Himachal Pradesh, for instance, the rock-cut temple complex at Masrur (District Kangra), the Visvesvara Mahadeva temple at Bajaura, the Gayatri temple and the Siva temple at Jagatsukh and certain shrines at Nagar (all in District Kulu), and certain temples at Mandi. In the south; likewise, a conspicuous similarity is noticed in the Pratihara temples of central India and the group of Nava-Brahma temples at Alampur (District Mahbubnagar Andhra Pradesh). In the general layout, architectural ornamentation and decorative details, these temples of the, Chalukyan times are quite similar to the temples of the first phase of the Pratihara period described here.

During the survey of the temples at the sites, it was found that certain images and architectural members of the temples were damaged or even displaced from their original positions in the course of time. In such cases, earlier photographic records preserved in the office of the Temple Survey Project, Northern Region, Bhopal, have been utilized to give as complete a picture of the temples as possible.

The architectural terminology as used to describe the temples is another aspect which needs mention. Unlike the regions of Orissa and Gujarat, there is no silpa-text which exclusive- ly deals with the central Indian temples of the Pratihara period. Nor do the contemporary inscriptions provide us with any comprehensive terminology. Therefore, the architectural terms used in various silpa-texts, such as the Samarangana Sutradhara and the Aparajitapri chchha, and generally used to describe the north Indian temples have been utilized.




  List of Plates (v)
Chapter I: Introduction 1
Chapter II: Historical Background 5
  Yasovarman and Amaraja 5
  The Pratiharas (circa A. D. 805-833) 6
  Ramabhadra (circa A. D. 833-836) 7
  Mihira Bhoja (circa A. D. 836-885) 7
  Mahendrapala I (circa A D. 885-910) 9
  Mahipala (circa A. D. 912-944) 9
  Mahendrapala II (circa A. D. 944-947) and his successors 12
Chapter III Architecture 14
1 The Plan 14
  A. First phase 14
  B. Second Phase 15
  C. Third phase 15
2 The Adhishthana 16
3 The Jangha 17
  Bhadra 17
  Prati-ratha 17
  Karna and of the jangha 18
4 The Varandika 18
5 The Sikhara 19
6 The Suka-nasika 20
7 The Mukha-mandapa 22
8 The Mandapa 23
9 The Doorway 24
  Udumbara. 24
  River-Goddesses 25
  Sakhas 25
  Lintels 26
10 The Garbha-griha 26
Chapter IV Art and Iconography 28
  Siva 28
  Kalyanasundara or Vaivahika-murti 28
  Lakulisa 28
  Gajasurasamhara-murti 29
  Siva Mahadeva 30
  Nataraja 30
  Bhikshatana-murti 30
  Ardhanarisvara 31
  Parvati in Panchagni-tapa in seated position 32
  Parvati in Panchagni-tapa in standing position 32
  Parvati godhasana 33
  Parvati lanked by plants 33
  Sapta-matrikas 34
  Simha-vahini Durga 34
  Annapurna 35
  Dasavatara (ten incarnations) 35
  Krishna-lila 36
  Garudasina Vishnu 37
  Vishnu with ayudha-purushas 37
  Vishnu with consorts 38
  Harihara 38
  Sarasvati 38
  Gaja-lakshmi 38
  SURYA 39
  Seated images in Surya 39
  Standing images of Surya 39
  Dvadasadityas (Twelve Adityas) 40
  Asvinikumaras 40
  Nava-grahas 40
  Brahma 41
  Ganesa 41
  Karttikeya 42
  Ashta-dikpalas 42
  Ganas 44
  Tirthankaras 45
  Yakshis 45
  Ambika 45
  Chakresvari 45
  Other deities 46
1 First Phase 47
  Naresar: Group of temples 47
  General 47
  Temple No. 18 47
  Temple No. 17 51
  Temple No. 19 53
  Temple No. 20 54
  Temple No. 22 57
  Temple No. 23 59
  Temple No. 17,18,19 and 22 63
  Temples No. 20 and 23 63
  Mahua: Siva temple 65
  Amrol 67
  Ramesvara Mahadeva temple 70
  Dang: Siva temple 70
  Batesara: Group of temples 75
  Bhutesvara Mahadeva temple 79
  Temple to the west of the Bhutesvara Mahadeva temple 82
  Remains of temples to the north-east of the Bhutesvara Mahadeva temple 84
  Amrol: Danebaba temple 86
  Gwalior fort: Tell-ka-Mandir 89
  Indor 95
  Gargaja Mahadeva temple 96
  Deogarh 100
  Santinatha temple (Temple No. 12) 100
  Temple No. 15 105
  Temple No. 16 107
  Temple No. 19 108
  Kuraiya Bir temple 108
  Keldhar 111
  Siva temple 112
  Umri: Sun temple 115
  Mahua: Chamunda temple 119
  Terahi: Siva temple 121
  Nachna Kuthara: Chaturmukha Mahadeva temple 125
  Badoh Pathari 129
  Pathari: Siva temple near Bhimagaja 129
  Pathari: Kutakesvara temple 132
  Gwalior fort: Chaturbhuja temple 135
  Markhera: Sun temple 143
  Badoh: Gadarmal temple 148
  Gyaraspur: Maladevi temple 155
  Sesai: Sun temple 161
  Sesai: Small shrine 168
  Barwasagar: Jarai Math temple 168
  Select Bibliography 176
  Glossary of Indian Architectural Terms 177
  Index 182
  Plates 193


Sample Pages

Item Code: IDJ478 Author: R D. Trivedi Cover: Hardcover Edition: 1990 Publisher: Archaeological Survey of India Size: 10.7 X" 8.5" Pages: 344 (B/W Plates: 207, B/W Figures: 37) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 1.245 Kg
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