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World Monuments Fund

The Temples of Ashapuri

World Monuments Fund (WMF) has signed a contract with Cardiff University for PRASADA to carry out feasibility studies for the recovery, conservation and presentation of some twenty-six ruined medieval temples at Ashapuri (Dist. Raisen, MP, India). This work is part of the Madhya Pradesh Monuments Project, a partnership between the WMF and the Government of Madhya Pradesh. PRASADA is also carrying out a parallel study, funded by the INTACH-UK Trust, of the significance of Ashpuri in the architectural history of central India.

The temple remains at Ashapuri, under the protection of the Directorate of Archaeology, Archives and Museums, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh, testify to a flourishing city during the Pratihara and Paramara periods, and an important cult centre with continuous activity in temple construction from at least the 9th to 12th centuries. A decade ago only a small group of ruined medieval temples was apparent, and a small museum exhibiting sculpture and architectural fragments, of startlingly fine quality for such a little-known site. Since then many more temples have been located and excavated, the majority on a hill outside the village and overlooking a tank. The cause of their destruction is still uncertain. As a result of recent excavations, hundreds of architectural and sculptural fragments have been laid out across the site, while many still lie in heaps.

There are numerous ruined temples in central India, but there is probably no site where the remains so many fine and varied temples lie scattered. Not one of these temples survives intact. Only a couple have some pillars and beams still erect. Ashapuri therefore represents a rare challenge as to how to protect, and how to give due value and meaning, to the vestiges of an important centre of medieval Indian temple art.