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Temples of Kashmir and Western Himalayas

Between the 7th and 13th centuries temple architecture in India falls largely under the categories of Nagara and Dravida. The temples of Kashmir during this period, as surviving at sites such as Martand and Avantipur, follow a tradition of their own: their pent roof form is not unlike contemporary Phamsana shrines in western India, but their architectural details are descended from the architecture of the greater Gandharan region from the early centuries AD.

The significance of the 'Kashmiri' form in the western Himalayas is attested to in miniature depictions on carved wooden doorframes and in mural paintings, found in Buddhist and Hindu temples, and Buddhist monasteries. Examples include Ribba (Kinnaur), Udaipur (Lahul), Alchi and Kanji (Ladakh), and Kojarnath (western Tibet).

This piece of research is being pursued by Adam Hardy in collaboration with Dr Verena Widorn of the University of Vienna. It surveys the formal variations that can be deduced from surviving remains in Kashmir, and trace their continuation and transformations in the western Himalayan representations, while exploring the interaction that took place between the Kasmiri and Nagara traditions. Our work will show that the temple forms explained in Vishnudharmottarapurana, the c. 7th-century canonical text, are primarily of the Kashmiri kind.

An opportunity to visit sites in Ladakh arose through an international seminar on 'Buddhist Art of the Western Himalayan Region' at Leh in August 2012, conducted by the The History of Art Department, National Museum Institute of History of Art, Museology and Conservation (NMI). Adam Hardy presented a paper on 'The Kashmiri' Temple Form and its Diffusion in the Western Himalayas'.

Mirkula Devi Temple, Udaipur, Lahul (Himachal Pradesh)

Adam was appointed as consultant to the project 'Cultural History of the Western Himalaya', based at the University of Vienna and was invited by the project to study wooden temples in Himachal Pradesh (Aug.-Sept. 09). He made a measured survey of the Mirkula Devi temple (mostly 10th century) at Udaipur in Lahul, and will contribute an architectural chapter to a monograph on the temple by Verena Widorn.

http://athene.geo.univie.ac.at/project/cirdis/

Publication:

  • "Kashmiri Temples: a Typological and Aedicular Analysis", in Gerd Mevissen and Vinay Gupta (edss), a volume of essays in honour of Doris M. Srinivasan (New Delhi: Aryan Books International, forthcoming)