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Temple Construction During The Vijayanagra Period

Temple Construction During The Vijayanagra Period
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Item Code: NAN716
Author: Dr. P. Subramani Sthapathi
Publisher: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9788180903991
Pages: 120 (29 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 11.0 inch X 9.0 inch
weight of the book: 670 gms
About the Book

This book entitled Text and traditions: Technical aspects of Temple construction during the Vijayangara period in Andhradesa’s consists of five chapters. Chapter I- Introduction, chapter II-Architectural features of Vijayangara temples, chapter II text and traditions: techniques of temple construction during the Vijayangara Period Chapter IV –Techniques of Temple construction. In chapter II the discussion on the architectural features of vijayangara temples began with plan a brief description on the, elevation, Individual shirines, mandapas, gopuras, prakaras and rathas (stone Cars) of the vijayanagara period, chapter III, portrays information on Texts and Traditions: Techniques of temple construction during the vijayanagara perod is mentioned in the classical literature such as the Epics, Puranas Agamas and Silpa Sastras. The Agamas, incidentally deal with architectural subjects; their contributions to the silpa-sastra are, however, more extensive and valuable. Some of the Agamas deal with very technical matters, which are not met with in the Puranas. Moreover some Agamas to all intents and purposes are but architectural treatises. In chapter IV entitled techniques of temple construction: A case study of Madana Gopala Swamy Temple, Jetprolu, it is detailed on the location of the village historical background, architecture, on plan and elevation of the temple, techniques of the temple construction, right from selection of site till its completion. The last and penultimate chapter IV is termed as conclusion. This chapter draws conclusions of the research scholar and recapitulates the entire study right from setting the agenda for research till fulfilling the objective of study through substantial data culled from the field survey, The chapter also highlights the major achievements of the study and it is for the first time that such a rare attempt is made on enquiring into the Silpa and agamatexts and testing with the actual traditions and techniques that the silpins followed.

About the Author

Dr. P. Subramani born on 1.6.1955 underwent a 4 years course in traditional sculpture and architecture at S V institute for Traditional sculpture and Architecture Tipurati. He did M.A. from Andhra University Visakhapatnam and M.A (Jyotisham) and received M. Phil and and Ph.D Degree from P S Telugu University, Hyderabad Receved 2 gold medals for contribution in the field of Art and Architecture from His Excellency the governor of Andhra Pradesh. He is Associated with many academic bodies like The AP History congress, Vashthu Vedic Research foundation, Indian History Congress. Indian Art History Congress and Participated in many seminars. Worked as Sthapati in endowments Department and later taught traditional sculpture and architecture at SV Institute for Traditional Sculpture and architecture, Tirupati for 32 years . He wrote books-viz. Prasad Lakshanam and Mana Devalayalu. He has built many temples all over India. He is the recipient of Hamsa Devlok. He is the recipient of Hemsa Kalaratna Award and a of Rs. 50,000 from Government of Andhra Pradesh for excellence.


Adequate stress on the Study of temple architecture of in Telugu speaking areas was not given however, it must be stated that descriptions of monuments, their line drawings measurements have been in some of the earliest writings, aurhored by pioneers in the field of archaeology in India. It is necessary to begin the present description of the subject with a review of the works done by earlier scholars even though these do not emphasize on aspects of technology involved in temple construction. For convenience of the present study, they have been divided and described and described as those written in the pre-independent period and those after it. This division has been primarily made on the basis of the difference in the methodological approaches and the dominant issues, tackled by the scholars writing on monuments of historical importance. During the pre-Independent period preliminary studies were published mainly in the Annual Reports of the Archaeological Survey of India. Today, this kind of literature is indispensable, as it gives valuable information regarding the structural remains of ancient Andhradesa and lays the empirical foundation for all types of historical research. Since there are no known 'Indian' or indigenous accounts about surviving buildings and their descriptions, these surveys were infect the first constructions of knowledge about particular ancient buildings and can be considered as the beginnings of a new awareness in India to document ancient remains. The pioneering archaeologists, both excavators and conservationists, collected and wrote about the archaeological artifact and structure with an exactitude nurtured by scientific positivism. This became such a powerful method of analysis that future generations of scholars on Indian art studies could shed it off. In the post-independent period though these methodological paradigms continued, it can be seen that a greater emphasis was given to an interpretation of the remains found in various regional contexts. Further, emphasis on the use of ancient literary texts to understand concepts in Indian architecture and identifying major technological achievements in this regard also began to be increasingly written about. We next turn to outline these broad trends in the writings on buildings of different types.

A major trend that emerged from the 18th century onwards was to look at the archaeological site as a whole, rather than at only the individual temple. There was no clear cut method in this regard to study the techniques used to construct the different buildings located at these sites. However, architectural styles were vividly described. In fact most of these early scholars did not think that study of technology was central to any analysis of the buildings that they described. It was apparently accepted as a tacit factor which must have existed to produce the monumental art and architecture.

Colonel James Tod in 1870 tried to explain the origin of the Indian Rock-cut caves'. He was the first scholar to cite a reference the Silpa Sastram, i.e., the indigenous texts on ancient technology and crafts. According to him, "The architecture and sculpture of India present a wide and interesting filed for research, and much valuable information on these subjects may be expected from the translations of the Silpa Sastram, which is said to contain the principles of them and of other arts and science of the Hindus". From this statement it can be gleaned that such knowledge was not readily available to western scholars though they were known keen to use it and link it to their observations on the existing monuments. It is significant to note that an Indian Judge, Ramraz had in 1834 written a theoretical papers on Indian architecture'. Ramraz's essay was announced as marking a significant step in writing about the history of the science of architecture in India. Ramarz had drawing information from contemporary workmen in temples and the priests in order to be able to explain the famous Silpa text, the Manasara, To make the meaning of text clear, he further utilized 48 plate of neatly made and lithographed drawing of temples.

Fergusson in 1843, presented a paper on the Rock-cut temples of Indian at systematic preservations, drawing and copying of antiquities. Later in 1845, he published his first work, Rock-cut Temples of India with the explicit aim of attempting to bring architecture within the domain of the sciences. His Hand Book of Architecture was published in 1855 which is considered as the first illustrated history of Indian and Eastern Architecture which consists of a description of the architecture of famous Buddhist monuments and that of the Dravidian and Chalukyan styles of temples. With all his emphasis on scientific precision, Fergusson however, made no attempt to focus on the technological skills involved in the construction of these buildings. The post mutiny period gained momentum for the listing and systematization of derails on buildings to understand thier outward manifestion .

Alexander Cunningham, basically a military surveyor and engineer who was a close associate of Princep, stressed the need of a systematic archaeological investigation at Government initiatives. This culminated in the establishment of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1861 under his charge. The 23 volumes of his reports were published from 1863-67 which are now considered as indispensable source materials for the students of Indian architecrure.

A greater stress on building activity of ancient South Indian and the Deccan rather then on only a study of its temples, is noticed in the writings of Burgess. One can also suggest that with his taking over the Directorship of the Archaeological Survey of India, a concerted effort at the documentation of different styles of architecture began. Burgess came to India as a Professor of Mathematics in 1855 and subsequently got interested in the study of Indian architecture. In 1874 he was appointed as Archeological Surveyor and reporter to Government for Western India. During this phase he published his report on the Antiquities of Belgam and Kaladgi Districts in 1874. Report on the Antiquities of Kathiawad and Kachch in 1876, and Antiquities of Bidar and Auragabad District in 1878. In 1880 Burgess published, jointly with Fergusson, a monumental work on the Cave Temples of India and in 1881 he was appointed as Architectural Surveyor and Reporter for South India. His tenure as Director General of Archaeological Survey of Indian. Alexander Rea published a monograph on Chalukayan Architecture in 1896 with plans and drawings of the temples. Robert Sewell's24 , List of Antiquarian Remains in the Madras Presidency published in 1882 and List of Inscriptions and Sketches of Dynasties of South India in 1884 are other important works of the later half of the nineteenth century, focusing on individual monuments of South India. In this regard it must be mentioned here that these also happened to be the first detailed studies of monuments of ancient Andhradesa.

As a policy matter of surveying ancient remains and monuments at a regional and local level, different States of British India began to establish their own Departments of Archaeology. The Hyderabad Archaeological Department was constituted in 1914 to study the ancient monuments and sites in the former Nizam's Dominions. Since its inception, a large number of temples and Buddhist sites have been systematically studied and described in detail in the Annual Report of the Department. The first report was published in 1916. Yazdani as the Director of the Department surveyed the monuments of the Nizam's Dominions and offered remarks on their architectural features. In particular, he surveyed and studied the temples at Pillalamarri, Palampet, Warangal, Dichpally, Nagulapudu, Alampur and so on. Principal forts in the Dominons like Elgandal, Warangal and Koyalkonda were also studied, with details on such aspects as trenches, trap doors, draw bridges, ramparts, walls, gates bastions, cellars and secret passages. However, like other surveyor of the time, he did not discuss aspects of the technological skills involved in making either temples or fort buildings.

G.Jouveau-Dubreuil's contribution to the study ofIndian architecture, particularly in South India is most significant. He combined the first hand knowledge of the actual monuments and living traditions of the Silpins by subjecting to a logical and systematic application of an appropriate methodology. This study was published as A History of Dravidian Architectur in 1917. it excelled previous achievements from a stylistic point of view, by thus interpreting every aspect of Indian Architecture. The concern to understand of important texts bearing on architecture being brought to light, edited and published. Among these, the Isanasiva Gurudevapadhati published from Trivandram between 1920-24, the Silparatna also from Trivandrum in 1922, the Samarangana Sutradhara from Baroda in 1923, the Manasollasa form Mysore in 1926 and the Vastuvidya from Trivandrum in 1940 are signification to mention as they facilitated researchers co understand the relevant terminology of architecture within the Indian tradition. They had another far reaching impact in that it opened the door to appreciating Indian technological achievements along with appealing to the aesthetic sensibilities of the art that went along with the building.

According to Pramod Chandra," "many of the shortcomings of the scholarship of Indian temples architecture such as the failure to explore Indian sources and understand the inner meaning of the monuments, the purely literary studies of the Silpa texts, without reference to the surviving monuments of its living practitioners, the study of style conceived only in terms of the development of ornamental motifs and without a grounding in architectural or religious history, were all largely overcome in the works of Ananda Coomaraswamy". Coomaraswamy's writings on Indian architecture reflect this characteristic yearning to known the conceptual frame work and the multifarious manifestations of Indian architecture through the ages. His first important work was History of Indian and Indonesian Art published in 1927. His Early Indian Architecture was published in 1930 which is indeed a masterpiece? We find in it a brilliant discussion examples, which were integrated to the architectural form, for the first time. In another context he described the various parrs and components of the palace, the walls, gateways, different quarters and apartments, pillars, windows, ect. Like a professional architect, he further examined the material in the construction of the multi-storied prasadas and the development of Gavaksha or the arched window which was a characteristic feature of Indian architecture.

Coomaraswamay's work left an indelible mark on writings of later scholars. His work also opened up avenues for serious research on the Silpa texts. The ethos of his work in portraying these essence of ancient Indian buildings was carried forward by Stella Kramrisch. Her authoritative work on the meaning and symbolism of the Hindu Temples'' in two volumes, was published in 1946. This contains valuable information on the principles and methods of constructions of temples with direct focus on South India. Her scholarly endeavors took pains to describe all aspects of temple building from the selection of site to laying of its foundation, the spatial organization of temple layout, the construction of the Upapitba, Adhistana and other aspects of the superstructure. In given these details, she heavily depended on ancient Silpa Texts which were utilized so as to supplement her views on the description of extant temples. From our point of view it is pertinent to mote that her work is one of the first to embody discussions on technical details of building temple complexes and information on building materials and bye-laws necessary to build structures which thus enable us to have a holistic view of the inter-relationship between architecture and technology. Necessary details for the latter and the terminology used for it was brought out in a systematic way by P.K. Acharya. His, An Encyclopedia of Hindu Architectur! was also published in 1946 and provided detailed notes on the temple building activity according to the ancient Manasara Silpa Sastra. This was supplemented by making drawing to illustrate the relevant terminology used to describe various facets of temple building. This ranged from soil testing before executing the building to plastering which ultimately lent finishing touches to the buildings such as common dwellings, palaces, roads and defense structures have also been elaborated upon and critically discussed. What is significant from our point of view is that aspects of building technology such as procurement of materials for construction, dressing of stone, erection, joining of beams and providing roofs have been fully explained based on information provided by the Manasara.

Just before Independence, many scholars in their writings lay emphasis on the use of literary sources. H.D. an article entitled "Regional and Dynastic Study of South Indian Monuments' Published in 1941 was primarily concerned with methodological questions and heavily dependent on Dubreuil's work on A History of Dravidain Architecture published earlier. Sankalia's basic aim was to develop a more comprehensive classification of South Indian monuments on a regional level, since the dynastic knowledge about them was often incomplete. Percy Brown's first volume on Indian Architecture was mainly a compilation from previous work but with its numerous photographs and drawings it became a useful text book on Indian Architecture for a study of both Buddhist and Hindu monuments. His focus, like other scholars before him, was primarily on religious buildings.

The Archaeological Survey of India too lunched an Architectural Survey of Indian Temples with Krishnadeva and K.R. Srinivasan in-charge of North and South India, respectively. This was intended to conduct a detailed survey of regional styles in architecture and to distinguish their similarities and variations. We list below some of these descriptive studies pertaining to Andhradesa. P. Sreenivasachar of the Hyderabad Archaeological Department published a small book, The Ramappa and other Temples at Palampet, in 1953 in which he described the location, history and salient features of temples and sculptures of Palampet, which had been constructed during the Kakatiya times. Ground plan of the main temple and some illustrations of temples and sculptures were also included in this work. Like many other works for the different regions of Indian, it lacks the details on the techniques used for the construction of the temple building activity of the Kakatiyas. K.V. Soundarajan published his monumental work on the Architecture of the Early Hindu Temples in 1965. This was followed by two other works, namely, Indian temple styles in 1982 and Early Kalinga Art and Architecture in 1984. In the first one, the Brahmanical temples at Nagarjunakonda, the rock-cut caves at Vijayawada and Bhairavakonda and the temples at important places like Chejarla, Alampur were studied with their plan, elevation and measurements. His Indian Temple Styles subsequently became a standard text on the Indian temple as it encapsulated neatly classified temple styles and described salient features of the architecture developed during various centuries with some of the typical examples. It was however, in his work on Early Kalinga Art and Architecture that he made an attempt to study the building materials used for building activity and, to some extent, the mechanics of temple construction. On the other hand, M. Rama Rao'sl4 select Kakatiya Temples in 1962, Early Chalukyan Temples of Andhradesa in 1964, and M. Radhakrishna Sarma' Temples of Telangana published in 1972 focused mainly on describing the form of architecture and did not at all mention the technology that lay behind these monumental edifices. These micro-level studies were valuable since they tapped an hitherto unknown material about the extent temples in the different sub- regions of Andhradesa, but they hardly differed from each other, in their mode of presentation and analysis of the new data. Such a method became typical of temple based studies and continues to be a standard format, identified for topics of research in the various universities of Andhra Pradesh.

At the same time we continue to note an interest in the publication of many Silpa texts. Some of these like Aparajita Prichcha, Visvakarma Vastu Sastra, Pramana Manjari and Tantra Samuchchaya affected the study of art history, as they provided information on hitherto unknown details, extremely valuable for preparing technical reports on the extant monumental buildings. The appearance of these publications by Sompura 17 and others have strongly influenced our current understanding of the traditional methods of temple construction and the terminology used for doing so. For instance, Bruno Dagens critical edition of the Mayamata gives a comparative study of temple architecture. It is a useful work for scholars to acquaint themselves with the terminology used in the methods of construction with special reference to South Indian temples. Chapter XlI of this book exclusively deals with techniques on which the foundations of the temples were made. Sompura in an article entitled The Vastuvidya of Viswakarma presents briefly the terminology which was used for the construction methods of temples to the construction of the Vimanas. The prescriptions of the texts comply with the methods probably used for construction of the medieval temples. The Kakatiya temples in particular, most certainly used some of these works on ancient architecture.

H. Sarakar, 19 in an article, 'A study of Adhisthanas in Early Temples of Andhradesa, traces the origin of the adhisthana or the basement of the temple to differentiate the individual types employed in the rock-cut and structural temples of early medieval temples in Andhra Pradesh. However, barring the description of the decorative elements he does not mention the technical aspects of how these basements were made and how important they were to the building as a whole.

R.Subrahmanyam's article 'Brahmanincal Structures at Nagarjunakonda on the other hand, provide information regarding the Brahmancial temples constructed during the 3rd century A.D. along with a discussion on materials used to make them and the development of plans and engineering skills of the period.


  Acknowledgement vii
  Abbreviations viii
  List of Figures ix
  List of Plates ix
1 Introduction 1
2 Architectural Features of the Vijayanagara Temples 19
3 Texts and Traditions: Techniques of Temple construction During the Vijayanagara Period 36
4 Techniques of Temple Constructions: A case Study of Madana Gopala Swamy Temple, Jetprole 57
5 Conclusions 75
  Bibliography 85
  Glossary of Technical Terms 90
  Index 92


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