History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2015: Q.5 (a)

Q.5(a) Give a brief account of the early medieval temple architecture of kashmir.


The architecture of medieval Kashmir may be said to begin at the seventh centuries A.D. It almost ended with the transfer of the kingdom from Hindu to Muslim hands in A.D. 1337.

The buildings which represent Medieval Kashmiri Architecture, may be divided into two classes: The Buddhist architecture and the Hindu architecture.
In point of materials, ornament, and technique, there is practically no difference between the two, but the religious needs of the two communities being in certain essentials different, they differ widely in plan and elevation.

Influence of Buddhist Architecture

The Buddhists, who inherited a long artistic tradition, naturally adhered to their old models, though they employed better materials and somewhat elaborated the decoration. The material brought into use was a beautiful grey limestone, which was easy to carve, and presented a very smooth surface when properly dressed.

There was a great influence of the Buddhist architecture on Hindu Temples of Kashmir.

Though the religious needs of the Hindus did not necessitate their borrowing stupas and sangharamas from the Buddhists, such considerations did not lie in the way of their taking advantage of the experience the latter had gained in temple-building.
The needs of the two communities were the same in two respects: a chamber was required for installation of a divine image (whether of the Buddha and the Bodhisattva or of Vishnu and any other Hindu deity is of little importance), and accommodation was required for worshippers.

Parihasapura is the only surviving example of a Buddhist chaitya, or temple. The roof of the shrine was probably pyramidal which influenced the Hindu temples.

The main architectural features of the temples of the kashmir are summarised as follows:-

(1) The earlier temple architecture of Kashmir were simpler, and that art progressed step by step, up to a certain point, from the simple to the more elaborate.

(2) The temples face east or west.

(2)The temples have  straight-edged pyramidal roofs in two tiers instead of the curvilinear superstructure of the southern temples.
This was influnced by early Budhist architecture in Kashmir.

(3)The triangular pediment enclosing trefoil niches is on all the four sides of the main shrine.

(4)The cellular layout with the row of pillars is also a peculiar style. In some temples, fluted pillars are found which is quite unique.

(5)The double chambered gateway matches the central shrine in scale and design.

Some examples of the temples of the early medieval time

(1) Martand temple:

This is among the earliest example of the Hindu temple in Kashmir, which is also the greatest and one of the most finished of all the Kashmir temples.

It was built by Lalitaditya of the karkota dynasty. Dedicated to the sun god this magnificent edifice is located on a karewa temple land.

The temple stands in the middle of a large courtyard enclosed by a cellular peristyle, once having 86 fluted columns.

The temple proper contains grabhagriha, anatrala and closed mandapa, approached by a grand flight of steps.

Exteriorly, the sanctum is three ratha in plan. The quadrangular peristyle is among the largest in Kashmir. It is entered on the west with a double chambered gateway that shares the width of the main temple.
The temple built of huge limestone ashlars is the one of the greatest monuments of Kashmir.

(2) Avantishvara temple:

It was built by Avantivarman of the utpala dynasty.  It is dedicated to lord shiva.

The temple is of panchayatana type. The gateway of the temple is double chambered and is devoid of any ornamentation. The main sanctum is raised on a high platform.

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