Monday, November 7, 2016

Kedareshwar cave temple (Ahmednagar)- Ancient prediction concealed in four columns


Kedareshwar cave temple (Ahmednagar) - an ancient prediction concealed in four columns
Kedareshwar cave temple is a small but very unusual shrine located in an underground cavern (on the banks of a sacred river known under the name Malganga) at Harishchandragad fort that is situated in Ahmednagar district.
This holy place is most remarkable and popular for its lingam (12 feet high Shiv ling) - a symbol of Lord Shiva, placed in the center upon a circular base that is surrounded by four stone columns and ice - cold water (4 feet deep).
According to the Indian legends, each of these columns is a queer representation of the four periods of development of the world within a four age cycle - the four Yugas, namely Satya Yuga (सत्य युग - epoch of truth), Treta Yuga (त्रेता युग - age of morality), Dwapar Yuga (aeon of understanding, love, mercy, kindness and truthfulness) and Kali Yuga (कलियुग - characterized as the era of darkness, vice and lies * this Yuga is our present time).
The duration of each Yuga decreases from the previous to the next (amount of years is shortened - they have a different length of time) - moral qualities such as knowledge, truth and goodness are reduced and negative virtues such as ignorance and evil increase.
Taken together, the four Yugas form a Mahayuga and seventy-one Mahayugas form a Manvantara - it is claimed that Manvantara is the period of the first man and legislator - Manu. Each Manvantara has its own king of the Devas - Indra, its specific Manu, its several deities and seven sages.
Fourteen Manvantaras create a Kalpa, after which the whole world approaches to its periodic destruction called Pralaya. The Yuga is regarded as a certain era or epoch, before which there is a period of twilight - Sandhi and after that a period of partial twilight - Sandhyansa.
There is a belief which states that at the end of each Yuga one of the columns breaks off - now there is only one pillar that is still intact - the one of Kali Yuga. The people in India believe that when this final pillar breaks, then the end of the world will come to pass. The walls of the cave are enriched with beautiful stone sculptures and various wall carvings depicting mythological scenes.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Indian rock-cut architecture-Kailasha Temple

An Outstanding Indian Skill: Solid Rock Cut And Carvings, Great Architecture. The Best And Unique In The World.


Indian rock-cut architecture is more various and found in greater abundance than any other form of rock-cut architecture around the world. Rock-cut architecture is the practice of creating a structure by carving it out of solid natural rock. Rock that is not part of the structure is removed until the only rock left is the architectural elements of the excavated interior. Indian rock-cut architecture is mostly religious in nature.
There are more than 1,500 known rock cut structures in India. Many of these structures contain artwork of global importance, and most are adorned with exquisite stone carvings. These ancient and medieval structures represent significant achievements of structural engineering and craftsmanship.
In India, caves have long been regarded as places of sanctity. Caves that were enlarged or entirely man-made were felt to hold the same sanctity as natural caves. In fact, the sanctuary in all Indian religious structures, even free-standing ones, retains the same cave-like feeling of sacredness, being small and dark without natural light. The oldest rock-cut architecture is found in the Barabar caves, Bihar built around the 3rd century BC. Other early cave temples are found in the western Deccan, mostly Buddhist shrines and monasteries, dating between 100 BC and 170 AD. Originally, they were probably accompanied by wooden structures, which would have deteriorated over time. Historically, rock-cut temples have retained a wood-like theme in adornment; skilled craftsmen learned to mimic timber texture, grain, and structure. The earliest cave temples include the Bhaja Caves, the Karla Caves, the Bedse Caves, the Kanheri Caves, and some of the Ajanta Caves. Relics found in these caves suggest a connection between the religious and the commercial, as Buddhist missionaries often accompanied traders on the busy international trading routes through India. Some of the more sumptuous cave temples, commissioned by wealthy traders, included pillars, arches, and elaborate facades during the time maritime trade boomed between the Roman Empire and south-east Asia.
Although free standing structural temples were being built by the 5th century, rock-cut cave temples continued to be built in parallel. Later rock-cut cave architecture became more sophisticated as in the Ellora Caves, culminating ultimately in the monolithic Kailash Temple. Although cave temples continued to be built until the 12th century, rock-cut architecture became almost totally structural in nature, made from rocks cut into bricks and built as free standing constructions. Kailash was the last spectacular rock-cut excavated temple. There are also a number of rock reliefs, relief sculptures carved into rock faces, outside caves, or another sites.
The earliest caves employed by humans were natural caves used by local inhabitants for a variety of purposes, such as shrines and shelters. Evidence suggests that the caves were first occupied and altered during the Mesolithic period (6000 BC). Early examples included overhanging rock decorated with rock-cut designs. The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, a World Heritage Site, are located on the edge of the Deccan Plateau, where dramatic erosion has left massive sandstone outcrops. The area's many caves and grottos have yielded primitive tools and decorative rock paintings, reflections of the ancient tradition of human interaction with the landscape.
When Buddhist missionaries arrived, they naturally gravitated to caves for use as temples and abodes, in accord with their religious ideas of asceticism and the monastic life. The Western Ghats topography, with its flat-topped basalt hills, deep ravines, and sharp cliffs, was suited to their cultural inclinations. The earliest of the Kanheri Caves were excavated in the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C., as were those at Ajanta, which were occupied continuously by Buddhist monks from 200 BCE to 650 AD. As the Buddhist ideology encouraged involvement in trade, monasteries often became stopovers for inland traders and provided lodging houses along trade routes. As mercantile and royal endowments grew, cave interiors became more elaborate, with interior walls decorated in paintings, reliefs, and intricate carvings. Facades were added to the exteriors while the interiors became designated for specific uses, such as monasteries (viharas) and worship halls (chaityas). Over the centuries, simple caves began to resemble free-standing buildings, needing to be formally designed and requiring highly skilled artisans and craftsmen to complete. Theses artisans had not forgotten their timber roots and imitated the nuances of a wooden structure and the wood grain in working with stone.
Badami Cave Temples - Sanctum sanctorum inside Cave No.1
Early examples of rock cut architecture are the Buddhist and Jain cave basadi, temples and monasteries, many with chandrashalas. The ascetic nature of these religions inclined their followers to live in natural caves and grottos in the hillsides, away from the cities, and these became enhanced and embellished over time. Although many temples, monasteries and stupas had been destroyed, by contrast cave temples are very well preserved as they are both less visible and therefore less vulnerable to vandalism as well as made of more durable material than wood and masonry. There are around 1200 cave temples still in existence, most of which are Buddhist. The residences of monks were called Viharas and the cave shrines, called Chaityas, were for congregational worship. The earliest rock-cut garbhagriha, similar to free-standing ones later, had an inner circular chamber with pillars to create a circumambulatory path (pradakshina) around the stupa and an outer rectangular hall for the congregation of the devotees.
The Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, a World Heritage Site, are 30 rock-cut cave Buddhist temples carved into the sheer vertical side of a gorge near a waterfall-fed pool located in the hills of the Sahyadri mountains. Like all the locations of Buddhist caves, this one is located near main trade routes and spans six centuries beginning in the 2nd or 1st century B.C. A period of intense building activity at this site occurred under the Vakataka king Harisena between 460 and 478 A profuse variety of decorative sculpture, intricately carved columns and carved reliefs are found, including exquisitely carved cornices and pilaster. Skilled artisans crafted living rock to imitate timbered wood (such as lintels) in construction and grain and intricate decorative carving, although such architectural elements were ornamental and not functional in the classical sense.
Later many Hindu kings from southern India patronize many cave temples dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses. One such prominent example of cave temple architecture are the Badami Cave Temples at Badami, the early Chalukya capital, carved out in the 6th century. There are four cave temples hewn from the sides of cliffs, three Hindu and one Jain, that contain carved architectural elements such as decorative pillars and brackets as well as finely carved sculpture and richly etched ceiling panels. Nearby are many small Buddhist cave shrines.
The Pallava architects started the carving of rock for the creation of a monolithic copies of structural temples. A feature of the rock-cut cave temple distribution until the time of the early Pallavas is that they did not move further south than Aragandanallur, with the solitary exception of Tiruchitrapalli on the south bank of the Kaveri River, the traditional southern boundary between north and south. Also, good granite exposures for rock-cut structures were generally not available south of the river.
A rock cut temple is carved from a large rock and excavated and cut to imitate a wooden or masonry temple with wall decorations and works of art. Pancha Rathas is an example of monolith Indian rock cut architecture dating from the late 7th century located at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ellora cave temple 16, the Kailash Temple, is singular in that it was excavated from the top down rather than by the usual practice of carving into the scarp of a hillside. The Kailash Temple was created through a single, huge top-down excavation 100 feet deep down into the volcanic basaltic cliff rock. It was commissioned in the 8th century by King Krishna I and took more than 100 years to complete. The Kailash Temple, or cave 16 as it is known at Ellora Caves located at Maharashtra on the Deccan Plateau, is a huge monolithic temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are 34 caves built at this site, but the other 33 caves, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain, were carved into the side of the plateau rock. The effect of the Kailash Temple is that of a free-standing temple surrounded by smaller cave shrines carved out of the same black rock. The Kailash Temple is carved with figures of gods and goddesses from the Hindu Puranas, along with mystical beings like the heavenly nymphs and musicians and figures of good fortune and fertility. Ellora Caves is also a World Heritage Site.
There is no time line that divides the creation of rock-cut temples and free-standing temples built with cut stone as they developed in parallel. The building of free-standing structures began in the 5th century, while rock cut temples continued to be excavated until the 12th century.

The Ram Raja Temple in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India.

The Ram Raja Temple in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India.

This is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage and receives devotees in large numbers regularly and is also commonly known as Orchha Temple. The annual domestic tourist number is around 650,000 and the foreign tourist number is around 25,000. The daily number of visitors to the temple range from 1500 to 3000 and on certain important Hindu festivals like the Makar Sankranti, Vasant Panchami, Shivratri, Ram Navami, Kartik Purnima and Vivaha Panchami the number of devotees who throng to Orchha range in thousands. In India this is the only temple where Lord Ram is worshiped as a king and that too in a palace. A Guard of Honour is held everyday, police personnel have been designated as Guards at the temple, much in the manner of a king The food and other amenities provided to the deity at the temple are a royal repast. Armed salutation is provided to Lord Ram every day.
In the temple Raja Ram is accompanied by Sita (on the left), brother Laxman (on the right), Maharaj Sugreev and Narsingh Bhagwan (on the right). Durga Maa is also present in the darbaar on the right side. Hanumaan ji and Jamwant ji are praying just below Sita. The speciality of this temple is that Lord Ram has a sword in his right hand and a shield in the other. Shri Ram is sitting in Padmasan, with the left leg crossed over the right thight
The story of Ram Raja Temple according to many local people goes like this: The King of Orchha Madhukar Shah Ju Dev (1554 to 1592) (मधुकर शाह जू देव) was a devotee of Banke Bhihari (Lord Krishna) of Brindavan while his wife Queen Ganesh Kunwari (गणेश कुंवरि), also called Kamla Devi, was a devotee of Lord Ram. One day the King and the Queen (गणेश कुंवरि) went to Lord Krishna’s temple but the temple had closed by that time. The queen urged the king to go back but the king wanted to stay. So both the king and queen decided to stay back. They joined a group of devotees who were singing and dancing in praise of Lord Krishna outside the temple. The king and queen also joined in the prayers and started to sing and dance. It is believed that Lord Krishna and Radha personified and danced with them and golden flowers were showered from the heavens at that moment.
After that incident the king asked the queen to accompany him to Braj-Mathura the land of Lord Krishna, but the queen wanted to go to Ayodhya. The king got annoyed and told the queen to stop praying child form of lord Ram and accompany him to Braj. But the queen was adamant, after which the king said that “You keep praying to Ram but Ram never appears in front of us, unlike Lord Krishna who danced with us along with Radha the other day. If you are so adamant to go to Ayodhya then go, but return only when you have the child form of Ram with you. Only then will I accept your true devotion.” The queen took a vow that she would go to Ayodhya and return with the child form of Ram or else she would drown herself in Ayodhya's Sarayu river. The queen left the palace and started the long journey to Ayodhya on foot to bring Lord Ram with her to Orchha. She didn’t tell the King before leaving that she had ordered her servants to start building a temple (Chaturbhuj Temple) when she brings Lord Ram with her.
On reaching Ayodhya, the Queen started praying to Lord Ram close to Laxman Fort near Sarayu river. She ate only fruits, then she gave up fruits and ate only leaves, and eventually she gave up all food. The Queen fasted and prayed for about a month but Lord Ram did not appear, so eventually in despair, she jumped into the river at midnight. Just then something magical happened and Lord Ram appeared in child form in the Queen’s lap.
Lord Ram told the queen that he was happy with her prayers and she could ask for a boon, at which the queen asked Ram to come with her in child form to Orchha. Ram agreed to go but he put forth three conditions: “I will travel only in Pukh Nakshatra. When Pukh Nakshatra will end I will stop and resume only when Pukh Nakshatra sets in again. In this manner I will travel from Ayodhya to Orchha on foot along with a group of sages. Secondly, once I reach Orchha, I will be the King of Orchha and not your husband. Thirdly, (since the child form of Ram would travel in the queen’s lap), the first place you seat me will be my final place of stay and will be famous by the name of Ramraj." The Queen agreed and started her journey to Orchha with baby Ram in her lap. Since the queen travelled only in Pukh Nakshtra it took 8 months and 27 days for the queen to reach Orchha from Ayodhya on foot (between 1574 to 1575).
King Madhukar Shah meanwhile had a dream where Lord Banke Bihari scolded him on discriminating between Lord Ram and himself. Lord Banke Bihari reminded the King that Lord Ram and he are one and the same, there is no difference. King was very apologetic when he woke up and found out that the queen was returning from Ayodhya. The King went to receiver the queen with horses, elephants, servants, food, etc. and apologized to the queen. The queen did not accept king’s apology and refused the comforts offered to her by the King. The Queen claimed that she now possessed everything one could ever ask for (Lord Ram in child form). On returning to Orchha, the queen went back to her palace with baby Ram and retired in her room for the night, only to take Lord Ram to the Chaturbhuj Temple the next day. But according to Lord Ram’s conditions he took the first place where he was seated, hence Lord Ram transformed into an idol and got transfixed in the queen's palace itself. To this day the Ram Raja Temple is in the queen's palace (Ranivaas or Rani Mahal) and not in the Chaturbhuj Temple (Orchha) which is right next to the palace. Originally, lord Ram was standing position and the queen was serving Him 3–4 hours everyday in standing position and used to get tired. Lord Rama requested to serve Him siting only but queen replied that Your Lordship is standing then how she can sit . The deity of Lord Rama sat down on hearing this from queen (source Bhaktmal by Nabhadasji Maharaj) . Additionally, as promised by the queen, Lord Ram is the King (Raja) of Orchha, hence the name Ram Raja Temple.

Murugan temple unearthed at Saluvankuppam.

Sangam period (3rd century) Murugan temple unearthed at Saluvankuppam.


"The temple was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the ASI based on clues found in a rock inscription left exposed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Initially, excavations revealed an 8th-century Pallava-era shrine. Further excavations revealed that the 8th-century shrine had been built on the brick foundation of an earlier shrine. The brick shrine has been dated to the Sangam period."
The Subrahmanya Temple at Saluvankuppam, Tamil Nadu, is a shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Murugan. Archaeologists believe that the shrine, unearthed in 2005, consists of two layers: a brick temple constructed during the Sangam period (the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD) and a granite Pallava temple dating from the 8th century AD and constructed on top of the brick shrine. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team which conducted the excavation believes that brick temple could be the oldest of its kind to be discovered in Tamil Nadu. However, noted Indian archaeologist R. Nagaswamy is critical of this claim owing to lack of references to the shrine in the popular literature of the period.
Sangam period Murugan temple unearthed at Saluvankuppam
"The temple was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the ASI based on clues found in a rock inscription left exposed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Initially, excavations revealed an 8th-century Pallava-era shrine. Further excavations revealed that the 8th-century shrine had been built on the brick foundation of an earlier shrine. The brick shrine has been dated to the Sangam period."
The Subrahmanya Temple at Saluvankuppam, Tamil Nadu, is a shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Murugan. Archaeologists believe that the shrine, unearthed in 2005, consists of two layers: a brick temple constructed during the Sangam period (the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD) and a granite Pallava temple dating from the 8th century AD and constructed on top of the brick shrine. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team which conducted the excavation believes that brick temple could be the oldest of its kind to be discovered in Tamil Nadu. However, noted Indian archaeologist R. Nagaswamy is critical of this claim owing to lack of references to the shrine in the popular literature of the period.
The temple was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the ASI based on clues found in a rock inscription left exposed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Initially, excavations revealed an 8th-century Pallava-era shrine. Further excavations revealed that the 8th-century shrine had been built on the brick foundation of an earlier shrine. The brick shrine has been dated to the Sangam period.
The temple faces north, unlike most Hindu temples. Artifacts from two phases, the Sangam phase as well as the Pallava phase, have been found. The temple is Tamil Nadu's oldest shrine to Murugan. It is also believed to be one of only two pre-Pallava temples to be discovered in the state, the other being the Veetrirundha Perumal Temple at Veppathur.
Discovery
After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami had subsided, archaeologists discovered rock inscriptions which had been exposed by the tsunami waves close to the hamlet of Saluvankuppam, near the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram. The inscriptions by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III and the Chola kings Parantaka I and Kulothunga Chola I spoke of a Subrahmanya Temple at Thiruvizhchil (the present day Saluvankuppam). S. Rajavelu, epigraphist with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), identified a nearby mound as the site of the temple. In 2005, archaeologists unearthed an 8th-century Pallava temple under the mound. G. Thirumoorthy, ASI Assistant Archaeologist, believed that the shrine could be the oldest Subrahmanya temple to be excavated in Tamil Nadu. There were speculations on whether the temple could be one of the "Seven Pagodas".
Sangam period Murugan temple unearthed at Saluvankuppam
"The temple was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the ASI based on clues found in a rock inscription left exposed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Initially, excavations revealed an 8th-century Pallava-era shrine. Further excavations revealed that the 8th-century shrine had been built on the brick foundation of an earlier shrine. The brick shrine has been dated to the Sangam period."
The Subrahmanya Temple at Saluvankuppam, Tamil Nadu, is a shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Murugan. Archaeologists believe that the shrine, unearthed in 2005, consists of two layers: a brick temple constructed during the Sangam period (the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD) and a granite Pallava temple dating from the 8th century AD and constructed on top of the brick shrine. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team which conducted the excavation believes that brick temple could be the oldest of its kind to be discovered in Tamil Nadu. However, noted Indian archaeologist R. Nagaswamy is critical of this claim owing to lack of references to the shrine in the popular literature of the period.
The temple was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the ASI based on clues found in a rock inscription left exposed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Initially, excavations revealed an 8th-century Pallava-era shrine. Further excavations revealed that the 8th-century shrine had been built on the brick foundation of an earlier shrine. The brick shrine has been dated to the Sangam period.
The temple faces north, unlike most Hindu temples. Artifacts from two phases, the Sangam phase as well as the Pallava phase, have been found. The temple is Tamil Nadu's oldest shrine to Murugan. It is also believed to be one of only two pre-Pallava temples to be discovered in the state, the other being the Veetrirundha Perumal .
After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami had subsided, archaeologists discovered rock inscriptions which had been exposed by the tsunami waves close to the hamlet of Saluvankuppam, near the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram. The inscriptions by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III and the Chola kings Parantaka I and Kulothunga Chola I spoke of a Subrahmanya Temple at Thiruvizhchil (the present day Saluvankuppam). S. Rajavelu, epigraphist with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), identified a nearby mound as the site of the temple. In 2005, archaeologists unearthed an 8th-century Pallava temple under the mound. G. Thirumoorthy, ASI Assistant Archaeologist, believed that the shrine could be the oldest Subrahmanya temple to be excavated in Tamil Nadu. There were speculations on whether the temple could be one of the "Seven Pagodas".
However, further excavations revealed that the 8th-century temple was constructed over the remains of an older brick temple. According to Thirumoorthy, the garbhagriha or sanctum Sanctorum of the brick temple was filled with sand and covered with granite slabs upon which the newer temple was constructed. Sathyamurthy, Superintendent, ASI Chennai Circle, said that the brick temple could be dated to the Sangam period as the shrine faced north unlike modern temples which face either east or west. This proved conclusively that the temple was constructed before the 6th or 7th century AD when the shilpa shastras, the canonical texts of temple architecture, were written. It has been estimated that the age of the brick shrine range from 1700 to 2200 years.
Archaeologists believe that the brick shrine was destroyed either by a cyclone or a tsunami which took place 2,200 years ago. The Pallavas built a granite temple on the brick foundation in the 8th century AD, which also was likely to have been destroyed by a tsunami. Archaeologists believe that the second tsunami must have occurred in the 13th century AD as the latest inscriptions which speak of the shrine have been dated to 1215.
The remains of a brick temple, dating back to the late Tamil Sangam period [circa 1st century B.C. to 2nd century A.D.], have been discovered on the seafront near the Tiger Cave at Saluvankuppam, a few km ahead of the world-famous Mamallapuram monuments.
"The brick temple is the most ancient temple discovered so far in Tamil Nadu. There is no doubt that it is about 2,000 years old," said T. Sathyamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle. Twenty-seven courses of bricks with a square garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) that made the Sangam age temple form the center piece of the discovery. The temple is dedicated to Muruga, the presiding deity of "Kurinji" [hill] tracts. The sanctum measures 2 metres by 2.2 metres. The bricks measure 40 cm x 20 cm x 7 cm. They are still sturdy.
The big-sized bricks are typical of the period and are similar to those found at Kaveripoompattinam near Thanjavur; Uraiyur in Tiruchi district — Uraiyur was the capital of the Cholas of the Sangam age; Mangudi near Tirunelveli; and Arikkamedu near Pondicherry.
Dr. Sathyamurthy was sure the brick temple was built before the canonical period because it faced north. "Agama" texts, which came into existence in the sixth or seventh century A.D., and "shilpa shastras”, had prescribed rules for construction of temples including the directions they should face. Normally, temples faced east or west. But this one did not follow "agama" texts and hence looked north. Tsunami or tidal waves that occurred twice had pulled down the entire temple complex. There is telltale evidence of wave action from the excavation. Deposits of shells and debris of the temple have been found on the eastern side of the complex, towards the shoreline. "What is interesting is not the discovery of the brick temple but that we can record stratigraphically the remains of palaeo-tsunami deposits. The impact of the tidal wave is seen on the eastern side of the temple, close to the sea. Such a feature is absent on the western side," Dr. Sathyamurthy said.
Sangam period Murugan temple unearthed at Saluvankuppam
"The temple was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the ASI based on clues found in a rock inscription left exposed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Initially, excavations revealed an 8th-century Pallava-era shrine. Further excavations revealed that the 8th-century shrine had been built on the brick foundation of an earlier shrine. The brick shrine has been dated to the Sangam period."
The Subrahmanya Temple at Saluvankuppam, Tamil Nadu, is a shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Murugan. Archaeologists believe that the shrine, unearthed in 2005, consists of two layers: a brick temple constructed during the Sangam period (the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD) and a granite Pallava temple dating from the 8th century AD and constructed on top of the brick shrine. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team which conducted the excavation believes that brick temple could be the oldest of its kind to be discovered in Tamil Nadu. However, noted Indian archaeologist R. Nagaswamy is critical of this claim owing to lack of references to the shrine in the popular literature of the period.
The temple was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the ASI based on clues found in a rock inscription left exposed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Initially, excavations revealed an 8th-century Pallava-era shrine. Further excavations revealed that the 8th-century shrine had been built on the brick foundation of an earlier shrine. The brick shrine has been dated to the Sangam period.
The temple faces north, unlike most Hindu temples. Artifacts from two phases, the Sangam phase as well as the Pallava phase, have been found. The temple is Tamil Nadu's oldest shrine to Murugan. It is also believed to be one of only two pre-Pallava temples to be discovered in the state, the other being the Veetrirundha Perumal Temple at Veppathur.
After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami had subsided, archaeologists discovered rock inscriptions which had been exposed by the tsunami waves close to the hamlet of Saluvankuppam, near the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram. The inscriptions by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III and the Chola kings Parantaka I and Kulothunga Chola I spoke of a Subrahmanya Temple at Thiruvizhchil (the present day Saluvankuppam). S. Rajavelu, epigraphist with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), identified a nearby mound as the site of the temple. In 2005, archaeologists unearthed an 8th-century Pallava temple under the mound. G. Thirumoorthy, ASI Assistant Archaeologist, believed that the shrine could be the oldest Subrahmanya temple to be excavated in Tamil Nadu. There were speculations on whether the temple could be one of the "Seven Pagodas".
However, further excavations revealed that the 8th-century temple was constructed over the remains of an older brick temple. According to Thirumoorthy, the garbhagriha or sanctum Sanctorum of the brick temple was filled with sand and covered with granite slabs upon which the newer temple was constructed. Sathyamurthy, Superintendent, ASI Chennai Circle, said that the brick temple could be dated to the Sangam period as the shrine faced north unlike modern temples which face either east or west. This proved conclusively that the temple was constructed before the 6th or 7th century AD when the shilpa shastras, the canonical texts of temple architecture, were written. It has been estimated that the age of the brick shrine range from 1700 to 2200 years.
Archaeologists believe that the brick shrine was destroyed either by a cyclone or a tsunami which took place 2,200 years ago. The Pallavas built a granite temple on the brick foundation in the 8th century AD, which also was likely to have been destroyed by a tsunami. Archaeologists believe that the second tsunami must have occurred in the 13th century AD as the latest inscriptions which speak of the shrine have been dated to 1215.
The remains of a brick temple, dating back to the late Tamil Sangam period [circa 1st century B.C. to 2nd century A.D.], have been discovered on the seafront near the Tiger Cave at Saluvankuppam, a few km ahead of the world-famous Mamallapuram monuments.
"The brick temple is the most ancient temple discovered so far in Tamil Nadu. There is no doubt that it is about 2,000 years old," said T. Sathyamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle. Twenty-seven courses of bricks with a square garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) that made the Sangam age temple form the center piece of the discovery. The temple is dedicated to Muruga, the presiding deity of "Kurinji" [hill] tracts. The sanctum measures 2 metres by 2.2 metres. The bricks measure 40 cm x 20 cm x 7 cm. They are still sturdy.
The big-sized bricks are typical of the period and are similar to those found at Kaveripoompattinam near Thanjavur; Uraiyur in Tiruchi district — Uraiyur was the capital of the Cholas of the Sangam age; Mangudi near Tirunelveli; and Arikkamedu near Pondicherry.
Dr. Sathyamurthy was sure the brick temple was built before the canonical period because it faced north. "Agama" texts, which came into existence in the sixth or seventh century A.D., and "shilpa shastras”, had prescribed rules for construction of temples including the directions they should face. Normally, temples faced east or west. But this one did not follow "agama" texts and hence looked north. Tsunami or tidal waves that occurred twice had pulled down the entire temple complex. There is telltale evidence of wave action from the excavation. Deposits of shells and debris of the temple have been found on the eastern side of the complex, towards the shoreline. "What is interesting is not the discovery of the brick temple but that we can record stratigraphically the remains of palaeo-tsunami deposits. The impact of the tidal wave is seen on the eastern side of the temple, close to the sea. Such a feature is absent on the western side," Dr. Sathyamurthy said.
G. Thirumoorthy, Assistant Archaeologist, ASI, said the temple belonged to two periods: the late Sangam age and the Pallava period. After the brick temple collapsed, the Pallava kings of the 8th and 9th century A.D., built another temple over it, using granite slabs. This temple too collapsed.
Artifacts found at the site include broken stucco figurines, obviously under worship; a painted hand portion with a bangle of a stucco figurine, simple-looking terracotta lamps, beads, roofing tiles made of terracotta, spinning whorls, a broken animal terracotta figurine and hop-scotches. A "prakara" (compound) wall of the same period has been excavated.
From the evidences like temple orientation, brick size and artifacts collected from this site, the ASI team concluded that this structure immediately antedates the Pallavas. They are also of the opinion that this one is the earliest brick temple in Tamil Nadu identified as of now. Further to this they also infer that no other temple of such nature is reported from south India.
Presence two evidences granite spear and the plaque depicting women dancing 'Kuravai Koothu' allow the ASI experts to conclude this one as Lord Subrahmanya temple.
The Reach foundation, Chennai conducted carbon - 14 dating on the paleo-tsunami evidences (sea shells and other debris) proved that they got deposited in different periods between 405 A.D. and 564 A.D. and between 1019 A.D. and 1161 A.D.
According to T.Sathyamurthy, Superintendent, ASI Chennai Circle, (now Reach foundation trustee) conclude that the shrine belongs to Sangam period since it faces northwards. The modern temples built according to Shilpa Shastras (written between 6th or 7th century A.D.) are facing either east or west. This fact encouraged him to conclude that the temple was constructed before the 6th or 7th century A.D. He also estimated the age of the brick shrine ranging between 1700 and 2200 years.
However, noted Indian archaeologist R. Nagaswamy is critical of this claim due to lack of references to the shrine in the popular literature of the period.
Historical background
Although the city of Mahabalipuram was constructed by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century AD, there is evidence that a small port might have functioned at the site even earlier. Megalithic burial urns dating to the very dawn of the Christian era have been discovered near Mahabalipuram. The Sangam age poem Perumpānattuppadai describes a port called Nirppeyyaru which some scholars identify with the present-day Mahabalipuram. Sadras near Mahabalipuram has been identified as the site of the port of Sopatma mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.
Number of rock inscriptions is found near the shrine. The specific three granite pillars, which lead for the discovery of the shrine, bears inscriptions of grants offered to this shrine (Ref. 1-3). Later five more inscriptions discovered (Ref. 4-8). Now three more inscriptions identified Ref. (9-11).
Ø Kirarpiriyan of Mamallapuram made grants of ten 'kazhanjus' (small sized gold balls) First pillar inscription
Ø Vasanthanar, a Brahmin woman offered a grant of 16 kazhanjus Second pillar inscription which can be dated back to 813 A.D.
Ø Raja Raja Chola I (985–1014 A.D.) Third pillar inscription is about the grant
Ø Pallava king Dantivarman (795 to 846 A.D.) Fourth pillar inscriptions which can be dated back to 813 A.D.
Ø Pallava kings Nandivarman III (846 to 869 A.D.) Fifth pillar inscriptions which can be dated back to 858 A.D.
Ø Pallava kings Kambavarman (9th century A.D) sixth pillar inscriptions
7. Krishna III (939-68 A.D) Rashtrakuta king Seventh pillar inscriptions which can be dated back to 976 AD,
Ø Pallava king Kambavarman (9th century A.D) Eighth pillar inscriptions
Ø Krishna III (939-68 A.D) Rashtrakuta king Ninth pillar which can be dated back to 971 A.D. in his 21st regnal year
Ø Rajendra III Chola (1216–1256 A.D) Tenth pillar inscriptions
Ø Kulothunga Chola III (1178–1218 A.D.) which can be dated back to 1215 A.D.
All the inscriptions in ancient Tamil script record about the donations of land and gold for the maintenance of the Subrahmanya temple at Thiruvizhchil and it continuously received grants. All these inscriptions mention the village as Thiruvizhchil.
While the thin, tabular bricks at the top were laid by the Pallavas, the larger bricks underneath date from the Sangam period
The temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Murugan and faces north. The garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum is 2 metres long and 2.2 metres wide and is made of 27 courses of bricks. The bricks used are similar to the ones used in other Sangam age sites such as Puhar, Uraiyur, Mangudi and Arikkamedu.
A stone Vel is positioned at the entrance of the shrine. During the excavations, a terracotta plaque depicting a Kuravai Koothu, a dance which is mentioned in the 1st century AD Tamil epic Silappadikaram, was discovered. Sathyamurthy feels that there may not have been any idol in the square garbhagriha as it is too small to house one. The temple is surrounded by a prakara or a compound wall dating from the Sangam period. According to Thirumoorthy, the shrine is "the biggest brick temple complex dating to the pre-Pallava period".
The temple is built on a cushion of alluvium on which a layer of man-made bricks were laid. On top of this were another four layers of man-made bricks separated by four layers of laterite. There were two types of bricks used: large-sized laterite bricks of the Sangam period and thin, tabular bricks of a later age. The bricks were plastered together with lime.
A terracotta Nandi (the bull of the god Shiva – father of Murugan), head of a woman, terracotta lamps, potsherds and a shivalinga (aniconic symbol of Shiva) made of green stone are some of the important artifacts found at the site. The Nandi is the first one made of terracotta to be found. While most of the items unearthed belong to the Sangam period, artifacts of a later period including a Chola copper coin have also been found.
Posted by ilamurugan
Courtesy: tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.in with special thanks to Ravi M.

Gondeshwar Temple A.blackstone temple of the Hemantpadi style of architecture

Gondeshwar Temple A.blackstone temple of the Hemantpadi style of architecture.
Ancient temples are treasure troves of history. These shrines were not merely religious sanctums but were pivotal centres for sharing knowledge and research on regional history, sociology, good governance and tradition.
Weathered by the wind and sun for centuries, one such splendid black-stone temple is Sri Gondeshwar at the north east of Sinnar town. The place is 26 kms Nashik and 190 kms from Mumbai. According to Cunningham's report, the earliest historical mention of Sinnar appears to be in a copperplate grant of 1069 A. D.
The temple is in the Hemadpanthi style of architecture, which was popularized by Hemadri Pandit, also known as Hemadpant, a minister during the Yadav Dynasty. The most striking feature of the construction was the use of locally available black stone and lime, glorifying the local craftsmanship.The degree of skill that went into making the carved panels and the entire design of the temple is awesome.
Lying around the crumbling remains of the temple walls and the entrance gate, this stone wonder is still the largest, most complete and the best-preserved example of the mediaeval temples of the Deccan of the Indo-Aryan style. It is a Shaiva Panchayatan, or a group of five temples within a large enclosure. The central shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the remaining four around it are temples to Sri Parvati, Sri Ganapati, Surya Bhagwan and Lord Vishnu. The temple is truly unique in design, perfect in proportion and the stone carvings are exquisitely beautiful.
At its peak, the Seuna or Yadava dynasty (850 - 1334) ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada Rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka and parts of Madhya Pradesh. The capital was at Devagiri, now known as Daulatabad in Maharashtra. The reign of the Yadava dynasty declined after the conquest of the Daulatabad Fort by Alauddin Khilji in 1294. Further conquest by Malik Kafur, Alauddin's general, in 1312 resulted in the killing of the members of the Yadava clan ending this illustrious dynasty. The contribution of Sevunas to architecture and art are significant. They opted for continuation of Dakhan.
Some sources claim that Raj Govinda of Yadava dynasty built this great temple. Yet another tradition assigns the building to Govindaraja, another Yadava king who ruled about the beginning of the twelfth century A. D.
The central shrine consists of a congregation hall or Sabhamandap and the inner sanctum Gabhara Griha, crowned by a tower-like Shikara enshrines the Shiva lingam. It is beautifully proportioned and bounded by three imposing pillared porches. Inside, the temple is profusely decorated. These black stone pillars are such that they appear to have been turned on a lathe. Similarly ceiling carvings are carved out of single stones.
The temple in the Deccan style is different from north Indian temples. Here, the shikhara does not have turrets grouped around the lower part of the structure. Instead the shikhara has a distinct vertical band rising upwards along each of its angles and taking the form of a spine or quoin. The space in between is filled with smaller reproductions of the shikhara. The pillared hall carved with tortoise, the Kurma Avatar of Lord Vishnu, on the ground, is small, elegant and unique in this part of the country.
Facing the main entrance is a Nandi pavillion housing a stone
stone bull which is the vahan or vehicle of Lord Shiva. Gondeshwar templeThe striking feature of the Gondeshwar temple is the deep projections and the alcove on the wall surfaces. Rising upwards, these catch the natural light, or fall in deep shade. To counter this effect, a series of horizontal moldings have been laid across the entire composition. The entire temple was built on a raised platform to facilitate pradakhshina or circumambulation and provide a wonderful view of the sculptures all around the walls of the shrine. Even today, so many years after it was built, it is regarded as an adobe of Lord Shiva by worshippers.
Restoration work by Archaeological Survey of India has brought back the past glory of this architectural wonder and it acts as an eloquent reminder of our heritage.
indiatravelog.com
Photo Credit: Dhruba Banerjee

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

History of Mahasthangarh

History of Mahasthangarh :-
Mahasthangarh (Bengali: মহাস্থানগড় Môhasthangôṛ) is one of the earliest urban archaeological sites so far discovered in Bangladesh. The village Mahasthan in Shibganj thana of Bogra District contains the remains of an ancient city which was called Pundranagara or Paundravardhanapura in the territory of Pundravardhana. A limestone slab bearing six lines in Prakrit in Brahmi script, discovered in 1931, dates Mahasthangarh to at least the 3rd century BC. The fortified area was in use till the 18th century AD. Together with the ancient and medieval ruins, the mazhar (holy tomb) of Shah Sultan Balkhi Mahisawar built at the site of a Hindu temple is located at Mahasthangarh. He was a dervish (holy person devoted to Islam) of royal lineage who came to the Mahasthangarh area, with the objective of spreading Islam among non-Muslims. He converted the people of the area to Islam and settled there.