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Bhumija temples

The Bhumija mode appeared in the eleventh century as an alternative composite form to the Shekhari, and is also clearly an extrapolation from the earlier Latina. It is recognisable by its radiating chains of kuta-stabmhas (spires on pillars) between the bhadras (central projections), and can be built on an orthogonal or a stellate (rotated square) plan. Bhumija temples are especially relevant to The Indian Temple project as this was the temple form favoured by the Paramara dynasty in Malwa. Here and elsewhere there seem, on the basis of style, to have been guilds of temple builders specialised in this form. Bhoja’s unfinished temple at Bhojpur, and the surrounding drawings and fragments, belong to this tradition. It is likely that the temple was intended to be a Bhumija structure of vast proportions, of which the giant cube visible today would have been merely the inner sanctum.

Aspects being explored include the geometry of orthogonal and stellate plans and, once again, the questions of diminution and curvature in the superstructure. Here we are lucky to be able to compare measurements of actual temples directly with drawings and textual prescriptions. At Bhojpur a large drawing survives on the stone platform directly in front of the sanctum. As might be expected of a text attributed to the same patron, Chapter 64 of the Samaranganasutradhara, the chapterconcerned with Bhumija temples, contains vital insights into their theoretical typology and proportions.

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