The Gupta temple at Deogarh has always attracted attention since the time of General Cunningham. In 1917-18 Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni, the then Superintendent of the Hindu and Buddhist Monuments, Northern Circle, excavated its terraced plinth which was buried in debris and also exposed the remains of a few other shrines within the rubble enclosure constructed round it by the Public Works Department. At each corner of the plinth round the main temple was recovered a small shrine, the five together constituting one of the earliest examples of a paiichayatana. It was already known to contain litchi representations from the Ramayana, and I have now been able to recover a number of panels connected with the life of Sri Krishna a and a few legends from the I Mahabharata. Originally, a large number of sculptures in two tiers were built into the plinth, but, of these, only a small fraction has survived. 'The present collection has been got together from the temple com- pound, some houses in the village, or exhumed from the sloping ground at the foot of the adjoining hill and also from a piled up heap under a banyan tree in front of the Forest Rest House at Deogarh. The excellence of the temple struck me on my first visit in 1927-28, and to rescue the sculptures I resolved to build here a small go down to its east. Accordingly, the go down was erected. in the year 1928, but the heavy architectural pieces of this and other later shrines within the compound Were arranged round the temple itself.
The Gupta temple, which contains some of the finest sculptures, is a gem of architecture ; its intrinsic merit and beauty will, I am sure, be greatly appreciated by all lovers of art. It embodies the most vivid and virile expression of early Gupta art which did not lose its vitality till the end of the 6th century A. D. Moreover, it is a very important example of the beginning of sikhara, which was evolved by building a multi-storied, straight-edged pyramid in receding tiers. At this stage it was ponderous and heavy and had not yet developed that graceful, tall, curvilinear spire which was perfected in the early mediaeval period. I had long cherished the desire of writing on this temple, but the late Mr. Sahni, who had excavated here, intended publishing a Memoir on it. For a number of years after his death I had nothing to do with Deogarh and, therefore, could not begin writing. The drawings have necessarily taken time. Much of the conjectural restoration given in PI. V is based on what actually survives on one or another side of the temple facade and for the rest I had to draw upon the profiles of contemporary temples given on either side of its own door-frame. It may, therefore, be hoped that the restoration, based as it is mostly on internal evidence, will be found to give a close approximation of a sikrhara temple of the Early Gupta Period.
I have great pleasure in recording my grateful thanks to Dr. V.S. Agarwala superintendent central Asian antiquities Museum and Mr. C. Sivaramamurti Superintendent Archaeological section Indian museum Calcutta for several valuable suggestions which I have incorporated to Mr. A. Ghosh for help in making the plates and reading through the manuscript to messrs. Satkauri Biswas murarilal arora and rama Krishna conservation assistants who assisted me in the conservation of the temple to Mr. Gaurishankar draftsman for the excellent drawings prepared by him and to messres. Devi Dayal Mathur Mangat Rai Mehta and S.G. Tewari for the photographs.
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