The Project Gutenberg EBook of History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, by 
James Fergusson

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Title: History of Indian and Eastern Architecture

Author: James Fergusson

Release Date: January 15, 2020 [EBook #61178]

Language: English

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Index: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, Z

Several minor typographical errors have been corrected. A number of names are spelled several different ways in the original. No attempt has been made to correct or normalize the various spellings.

List of Illustrations
(In certain versions of this etext [in certain browsers] clicking on the image will bring up a larger version.)

(etext transcriber's note)




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[Image unavailable.]
Tope at Manikyala.



The right of Translation is reserved.


ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE ROCK-CUT TEMPLES OF INDIA. 18 Plates in Tinted Lithography, folio: with an 8vo. volume of Text, Plans, &c. 2l. 7s. 6d. London, Weale, 1845.

PICTURESQUE ILLUSTRATIONS OF ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE IN HINDOSTAN. 24 Plates in Coloured Lithography, with Plans, Woodcuts, and explanatory Text, &c. 4l. 4s. London, Hogarth, 1847.

AN HISTORICAL INQUIRY INTO THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF BEAUTY IN ART, more especially with reference to Architecture. Royal 8vo. 31s. 6d. London, Longmans, 1849.

THE PALACES OF NINEVEH AND PERSEPOLIS RESTORED: An Essay on Ancient Assyrian and Persian Architecture. 8vo. 16s. London, Murray, 1851.

THE ILLUSTRATED HANDBOOK OF ARCHITECTURE. Being a Concise and Popular Account of the Different Styles prevailing in all Ages and all Countries. With 850 Illustrations. 8vo. 26s. London, Murray, 1859.

RUDE STONE MONUMENTS IN ALL COUNTRIES, THEIR AGE AND USES. With 234 Illustrations. 8vo. London, Murray, 1872.

TREE AND SERPENT WORSHIP, OR ILLUSTRATIONS OF MYTHOLOGY AND ART IN INDIA, in the 1st and 4th Centuries after Christ, 100 Plates and 31 Woodcuts. 4to. London, India Office; and W. H. Allen & Co. 2nd Edition, 1873.


AN ESSAY ON THE ANCIENT TOPOGRAPHY OF JERUSALEM; with restored Plans of the Temple, and with Plans, Sections, and Details of the Church built by Constantine the Great over the Holy Sepulchre, now known as the Mosque of Omar. 16s. Weale, 1847.

THE HOLY SEPULCHRE AND THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM. Being the Substance of Two Lectures delivered in the Royal Institution, Albemarle Street, on the 21st February, 1862, and 3rd March, 1865. Woodcuts. 8vo. 7s. 6d. London, Murray, 1865.

AN ESSAY ON A PROPOSED NEW SYSTEM OF FORTIFICATION, with Hints for its Application to our National Defences. 12s. 6d. London, Weale, 1849.


OBSERVATIONS ON THE BRITISH MUSEUM, NATIONAL GALLERY, and NATIONAL RECORD OFFICE; with Suggestions for their Improvement. 8vo. London, Weale, 1859.



During the nine years that have elapsed since I last wrote on this subject,[1] very considerable progress has been made in the elucidation of many of the problems that still perplex the student of the History of Indian Architecture. The publication of the five volumes of General Cunningham’s ‘Archæological Reports’ has thrown new light on many obscure points, but generally from an archæological rather than from an architectural point of view; and Mr. Burgess’s researches among the western caves and the structural temples of the Bombay presidency have added greatly not only to our stores of information, but to the precision of our knowledge regarding them.

For the purpose of such a work as this, however, photography has probably done more than anything that has been written. There are now very few buildings in India—of any importance at least—which have not been photographed with more or less completeness; and for purposes of comparison such collections of photographs as are now available are simply invaluable. For detecting similarities, or distinguishing differences between specimens situated at distances from one another, photographs are almost equal to actual personal inspection, and, when sufficiently numerous, afford a picture of Indian art of the utmost importance to anyone attempting to describe it.

These new aids, added to our previous stock of knowledge, are {vi}probably sufficient to justify us in treating the architecture of India Proper in the quasi-exhaustive manner in which it is attempted, in the first 600 pages of this work. Its description might, of course, be easily extended even beyond these limits, but without plans and more accurate architectural details than we at present possess, any such additions would practically contribute very little that was valuable to the information the work already contains.

The case is different when we turn to Further India. Instead of only 150 pages and 50 illustrations, both these figures ought at least to be doubled to bring that branch of the subject up to the same stage of completeness as that describing the architecture of India Proper. For this, however, the materials do not at present exist. Of Japan we know almost nothing except from photographs, without plans, dimensions, or dates; and, except as regards Pekin and the Treaty Ports, we know almost as little of China. We know a great deal about one or two buildings in Cambodia and Java, but our information regarding all the rest is so fragmentary and incomplete, that it is hardly available for the purposes of a general history, and the same may be said of Burmah and Siam. Ten years hence this deficiency may be supplied, and it may then be possible to bring the whole into harmony. At present a slight sketch indicating the relative position of each, and their relation to the styles of India Proper, is all that can well be accomplished.


Although appearing as the third volume of the second edition of the ‘General History of Architecture,’ the present may be considered as an independent and original work. In the last edition the Indian chapters extended only to about 300 pages, with 200 illustrations,[2] and though most of the woodcuts reappear in the present volume, more than half the original text has been cancelled, and consequently at least 600 pages of the present work are original matter, and 200 illustrations—and these by far the most important—have been added. These, with the new chronological and topographical details, present the subject to the English reader in a more compact and complete form than has been attempted in any work on Indian architecture hitherto published. It does not, as I feel only too keenly, contain all the information that could be desired, but I am afraid it contains{vii} nearly all that the materials at present available will admit of being utilised, in a general history of the style.


When I published my first work on Indian architecture thirty years ago, I was reproached for making dogmatic assertions, and propounding theories which I did not even attempt to sustain. The defect was, I am afraid, inevitable. My conclusions were based upon the examination of the actual buildings throughout the three Presidencies of India and in China during ten years’ residence in the East, and to have placed before the world the multitudinous details which were the ground of my generalisations, would have required an additional amount of description and engravings which was not warranted by the interest felt in the subject at that time. The numerous engravings in the present volume, the extended letterpress, and the references to works of later labourers in the wide domain of Indian architecture, will greatly diminish, but cannot entirely remove, the old objection. No man can direct his mind for forty years to the earnest investigation of any department of knowledge, and not become acquainted with a host of particulars, and acquire a species of insight which neither time, nor space, nor perhaps the resources of language will permit him to reproduce in their fulness. I possess, to give a single instance, more than 3000 photographs of Indian buildings, with which constant use has made me as familiar as with any other object that is perpetually before my eyes, and to recapitulate all the information they convey to long-continued scrutiny, would be an endless, if not indeed an impossible undertaking. The necessities of the case demand that broad results should often be given when the evidence for the statements must be merely indicated or greatly abridged, and if the conclusions sometimes go beyond the appended proofs, I can only ask my readers to believe that the assertions are not speculative fancies, but deductions from facts. My endeavour from the first has been to present a distinct view of the general principles which have governed the historical development of Indian architecture, and my hope is that those who pursue the subject beyond the pages of the present work, will find that the principles I have enunciated will reduce to order the multifarious details, and that the details in turn will confirm the principles. Though the vast amount of fresh knowledge which has gone on accumulating since I commenced my{viii} investigations has enabled me to correct, modify, and enlarge my views, yet the classification I adopted, and the historical sequences I pointed out thirty years since, have in their essential outlines been confirmed, and will continue, I trust, to stand good. Many subsidiary questions remain unsettled, but my impression is, that not a few of the discordant opinions that may be observed, arise principally from the different courses which inquirers have pursued in their investigations. Some men of great eminence and learning, more conversant with books than buildings, have naturally drawn their knowledge and inferences from written authorities, none of which are contemporaneous with the events they relate, and all of which have been avowedly altered and falsified in later times. My authorities, on the contrary, have been mainly the imperishable records in the rocks, or on sculptures and carvings, which necessarily represented at the time the faith and feelings of those who executed them, and which retain their original impress to this day. In such a country as India, the chisels of her sculptors are, so far as I can judge, immeasurably more to be trusted than the pens of her authors. These secondary points, however, may well await the solution which time and further study will doubtless supply. In the meanwhile, I shall have realised a long-cherished dream if I have succeeded in popularising the subject by rendering its principles generally intelligible, and can thus give an impulse to its study, and assist in establishing Indian architecture on a stable basis, so that it may take its true position among the other great styles which have ennobled the arts of mankind.


The publication of this volume completes the history of the ‘Architecture in all Countries, from the earliest times to the present day, in four volumes,’ and there it must at present rest. As originally projected, it was intended to have added a fifth volume on ‘Rude Stone Monuments,’ which is still wanted to make the series quite complete; but, as explained in the preface to my work bearing that title, the subject was not, when it was written, ripe for a historical treatment, and the materials collected were consequently used in an argumentative essay. Since that work was published, in 1872, no serious examination of its arguments has been undertaken by any competent authority, while every new fact that has come to light{ix}—especially in India—has served to confirm me more and more in the correctness of the principles I then tried to establish.[3] Unless, however, the matter is taken up seriously, and re-examined by those who, from their position, have the ear of the public in these matters, no such progress will be made as would justify the publication of a second work on the same subject. I consequently see no chance of my ever having an opportunity of taking up the subject again, so as to be able to describe its objects in a more consecutive or more exhaustive manner than was done in the work just alluded to.

[Image unavailable.]

Buddha preaching.
(From a fresco painting at Ajunta.)



One of the great difficulties that meets every one attempting to write on Indian subjects at the present day is to know how to spell Indian proper names. The Gilchristian mode of using double vowels, which was fashionable fifty years ago, has now been entirely done away with, as contrary to the spirit of Indian orthography, though it certainly is the mode which enables the ordinary Englishman to pronounce Indian names with the greatest readiness and certainty. On the other hand, an attempt is now being made to form out of the ordinary English alphabet a more extended one, by accents over the vowels, and dots under the consonants, and other devices, so that every letter of the Devanagari or Arabic alphabets shall have an exact equivalent in this one.

In attempting to print Sanscrit or Persian books in Roman characters, such a system is indispensable, but if used for printing Indian names in English books, intended principally for the use of Englishmen, it seems to me to add not only immensely to the repulsiveness of the subject, but to lead to the most ludicrous mistakes. According to this alphabet for instance, ḍ with dot under it represents a consonant we pronounce as r; but as not one educated Englishman in 10,000 is aware of this fact, he reads such words as Kattiwaḍ, Chîtoḍ, and Himaḍpanti as if spelt literally with a d, though they are pronounced Kattiwar, Chittore, and Himarpanti, and are so written in all books hitherto published, and the two first are so spelt in all maps hitherto engraved. A hundred years hence, when Sanscrit and Indian alphabets are taught in all schools in England, it may be otherwise, but in the present state of knowledge on the subject some simpler plan seems more expedient.

In the following pages I have consequently used the Jonesian system, as nearly as may be, as it was used by Prinsep, or the late Professor Wilson, but avoiding as far as possible all accents, except over vowels where they were necessary for the pronunciation. Over such words as Nâga, Râjâ, or Hindû—as in Tree and Serpent worship—I have omitted accents altogether as wholly unnecessary for the pronunciation. An accent, however, seems indispensable over the â in Lât, to prevent it being read as Lath in English, as I have heard done, or over the î in such words as Hullabîd, to prevent its being read as short bid in English.

Names of known places I have in all instances tried to leave as they are usually spelt, and are found on maps. I have, for instance, left Oudeypore, the capital of the Rajput state, spelt as Tod and others always spelt it, but, to prevent the two places being confounded, have taken the liberty of spelling the name of a small unknown village, where there is a temple, Udaipur—though I believe the names are the same. I have tried, in short, to accommodate my spelling as nearly as possible to the present state of knowledge or ignorance of the English public, without much reference to scientific precision, as I feel sure that by this means the nomenclature may become much less repulsive than it too generally must be to the ordinary English student of Indian history and art.{xi}



Chap.  Page
I.Introduction and Classification47
II.Stambhas or Lâts52
III.Stupas—Bhilsa Topes—Topes at Sarnath and in Behar—Amravati Tope—Gandhara Topes—Jelalabad Topes—Manikyala Tope57
IV.Rails—Rails at Bharhut, Muttra Sanchi, and Amravati84
V.Chaitya Halls—Behar Caves—Western Chaitya Halls, &c.105
VI.Viharas or Monasteries—Structural Viharas—Bengal and Western Vihara Caves—Nassick, Ajunta, Bagh, Dhumnar, Kholvi, and Ellora Viharas—Circular Cave at Junir133
VII.Gandhara Monasteries—Monasteries at Jamalgiri, Takht-i-Bahi, and Shah Dehri169

III.Northern Jaina Style—Palitana—Girnar—Mount Abu—Parisnath—Gualior—Khajurâho226
IV.Modern Jaina Style—Jaina Temple, Delhi—Jaina Caves—Converted Mosques255
V.Jaina Style in Southern India—Bettus—Bastis265

II.Nepal—Stupas or Chaityas—Wooden Temples—Thibet—Temples at Kangra{xii}298

II.Dravidian Rock-Cut Temples—Mahavellipore—Kylas, Ellora326
III.Dravidian Temples—Tanjore—Tiruvalur—Seringham—Chillambaram—Ramisseram—Mádura—Tinnevelly—Combaconum—Conjeveram—Vellore and Peroor—Vijayanagar340
IV.Civil Architecture—Palaces at Mádura and Tanjore—Garden Pavilion at Vijayanagar380

I.Introductory—Temple at Buchropully—Kirti Stambha at Worangul—Temples at Somnathpûr and Baillûr—The Kait Iswara at Hullabîd—Temple at Hullabîd386

I.Introductory—Dravidian and Indo-Aryan Temples at Badami—Modern Temple at Benares406
II.Orissa—History—Temples at Bhuvaneswar, Kanaruc, Puri, Jajepur, and Cuttack414
III.Western India—Dharwar—Brahmanical Rock-cut Temples437
IV.Central and Northern India—Temples at Gualior, Khajurâho, Udaipur, Benares, Bindrabun, Kantonuggur, Amritsur448
V.Civil Architecture—Cenotaphs—Palaces at Gualior, Ambêr, Deeg—Ghâts—Reservoirs—Dams470

II.Ghazni—Tomb of Mahmúd—Gates of Somnath—Minars on the Plain494
III.Pathan Style—Mosque at Old Delhi—Kutub Minar—Tomb of Ala-ud-dîn—Pathan Tombs—Ornamentation of Pathan Tombs498
IV.Jaunpore—Mosques of Jumma Musjid and Lall Durwaza520
V.Gujerat—Jumma Musjid and other Mosques at Ahmedabad—Tombs and Mosques at Sirkej and Butwa—Buildings in the Provinces526
VI.Malwa—The Great Mosque at Mandu540
VII.Bengal—Kudam ul Roussoul Mosque, Gaur—Adinah Mosque, Maldah{xiii}545
VIII.Kalburgah—The Mosque at Kalburgah552
IX.Bijapur—The Jumma Musjid—Tombs of Ibrahim and Mahmúd—The Audience Hall—Tomb of Nawab Amir Khan, near Tatta557
X.Mogul Architecture—Dynasties—Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus, Gualior—Mosque at Futtehpore Sikri—Akbar’s Tomb, Secundra—Palace at Delhi—The Taje Mehal—The Mûti Musjid—Mosque at Delhi—The Imambara, Lucknow—Tomb of late Nawab, Junaghur569
XI.Wooden Architecture—Mosque of Shah Hamadan, Srinugger608

I.Burmah—Introductory—Ruins of Thatún, Prome, and Pagan—Circular Dagobas—Monasteries611
II.Siam—Pagodas at Ayuthia and Bangkok—Hall of Audience at Bangkok—General Remarks631
III.Java—History—Boro Buddor—Temples at Mendoet and Brambanam—Tree and Serpent Temples—Temples at Djeing and Suku637
IV.Cambodia—Introductory—Temples of Nakhon Wat, Ongcor Thom, Paten ta Phrohm, &c.663

II.Pagodas—Temple of the Great Dragon—Buddhist Temples—Taas—Tombs—Pailoos—Domestic Architecture689
INDEX: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, Z749
Map of Buddhist and Jaina LocalitiesTo face 47
Map of Indo-Aryan, Chalukyan, and Dravidian LocalitiesTo face 279



No.  Page
1.Naga people worshipping the Trisul emblem of Buddha, on a fiery pillar46
2.Sri seated on a Lotus, with two elephants pouring water over her51
3.Lât at Allahabad53
4.Assyrian honeysuckle ornament from capital of Lât, at Allahabad53
5.Capital of Sankissa54
6.Capital of Lât in Tirhoot54
7.Surkh Minar, Cabul56
8.Relic Casket of Moggalana62
9.Relic Casket of Sariputra62
10.View of the Great Tope at Sanchi63
11.Plan of Great Tope at Sanchi63
12.Section of Great Tope at Sanchi63
13.Tee cut in the rock on a Dagoba at Ajunta64
14.Tope at Sarnath, near Benares66
15.Panel on the Tope at Sarnath68
16.Temple at Buddh Gaya with Bo-tree70
17.Representation of a Tope from the Rail at Amravati72
18.Tope at Bimeran78
19.Tope, Sultanpore78
20.Relic Casket from Tope at Manikyala80
21.View of Manikyala Tope81
22.Restored Elevation of the Tope at Manikyala81
23.Elevation and Section of portion of Basement of Tope at Manikyala82
24.Relic Casket, Manikyala82
25.Tree Worship: Buddh Gaya Rail86
26.Relic Casket: Buddh Gaya Rail86
27.Portion of Rail at Bharhut, as first uncovered88
28.Tree and Serpent Worship at Bharhut90
29.Rail at Sanchi92
30.Rail, No. 2 Tope, Sanchi93
31.Representation of Rail93
32.Rail in Gautamiputra Cave, Nassick94
33.* Northern Gateway of Tope at Sanchi96
34.Bas-relief on left-hand Pillar, Northern Gateway97
35.Ornament on right-hand Pillar, Northern Gateway97
36.External Elevation of Great Rail at Amravati100
37.Angle Pillar at Amravati101
38.Slab from Inner Rail, Amravati101
39.Dagoba (from a Slab), Amravati102
40.Trisul Emblem104
41.Plan of Chaitya Hall, Sanchi105
42.Nigope Cave, Sat Ghurba group108
43.Façade of Lomas Rishi Cave109
44.Lomas Rishi Cave109
45.Chaitya Cave, Bhaja110
46.Façade of the Cave at Bhaja111
47.Front of a Chaitya Hall111
48.Trisul. Shield. Chakra. Trisul112
49.Plan of Cave at Bedsa113
50.Capital of Pillar in front of Cave at Bedsa114
51.View on Verandah of Cave at Bedsa114
52.Chaitya Cave at Nassick115
53.Section of Cave at Karli117
54.Plan of Cave at Karli117
55.View of Cave at Karli118
56.View of Interior of Cave at Karli120
57.Interior of Chaitya Cave No. 10 at Ajunta123
58.Cross-section of Cave No. 10 at Ajunta123
59.Chaitya No. 19 at Ajunta124
60.View of Façade Chaitya Cave No. 19 at Ajunta125
61.Rock-cut Dagoba at Ajunta126
62.Small Model found in the Tope at Sultanpore126
63.Façade of the Viswakarma Cave at Ellora128
64.Rail in front of Great Cave, Kenheri130
65.Cave at Dhumnar131
66.Great Rath at Mahavellipore134
{xv}67.Diagram Explanatory of the Arrangement of a Buddhist Vihara of Four Storeys in Height134
68-69.Square and oblong Cells from a Bas-relief at Bharhut135
70.Ganesa Cave140
71.Pillar in Ganesa Cave, Cuttack140
72.Upper Storey, Rani Gumpha140
73.Tiger Cave, Cuttack143
74.Cave No. 11 at Ajunta145
75.Cave No. 2 at Ajunta146
76.Caveat Bagh146
77.Durbar Cave, Salsette147
78.Nahapana Vihara, Nassick149
79.Pillar in Nahapana Cave, Nassick150
80.Pillar in Gautamiputra Cave, Nassick150
81.Yadnya Sri Cave, Nassick151
82.Pillar in Yadnya Sri Cave152
83.Plan of Cave No. 16 at Ajunta154
84.View of Interior of Vihara No. 16 at Ajunta154
85.View in Cave No. 17 at Ajunta155
86.Pillar in Vihara No. 17 at Ajunta156
87.Great Vihara at Bagh160
88.Plan of Dehrwarra, Ellora163
89.Circular Cave, Junir167
90.Section of Circular Cave, Junir167
91.Round Temple and part of Palace from a bas-relief at Bharhut168
92.Plan of Monastery at Jamalgiri171
93.Plan of Monastery at Takht-i-Bahi171
94.Corinthian Capital from Jamalgiri173
95.Corinthian Capital from Jamalgiri173
96.Plan of Ionic Monastery, Shah Dehri176
97.Ionic Pillar, Shah Dehri176
98.Elevation of front of Staircase, Ruanwelli Dagoba190
99.View of Frontispiece of Stairs, Ruanwelli Dagoba191
100.Stelæ at the end of Stairs, Abhayagiri Dagoba192
101.Thuparamaya Tope192
102.Lankaramaya Dagoba, A.D. 221194
103.Pavilion with Steps at Anuradhapura197
104.Moon Stone at Foot of Steps leading to the Platform of the Bo-tree, Anuradhapura197
105.The Jayta Wana Rama—Ruins of Pollonarua201
106.Sat Mehal Prasada202
107.Round House, called Watté Dajê in Pollonarua203
108.View of City Gateway, Bijanagur211
109.Gateway, Jinjûwarra211
110.Radiating Arch213
111.Horizontal Arch213
112.Diagram of Roofing213
113-114.Diagrams of Roofing214
115.Diagram of Roofing214
116.Diagram of Indian construction215
117.Diagram of the arrangement of the pillars of a Jaina Dome216
118.Diagram Plan of Jaina Porch216
119.Diagram of Jaina Porch217
120.Old Temple at Aiwulli219
121.Temple at Aiwulli220
122.Plan of Temple at Pittadkul221
123.Restored Elevation of the Black Pagoda at Kanaruc222
124.Diagram Plan and Section of the Black Pagoda at Kanaruc223
125.The Sacred Hill of Sutrunjya, near Palitana227
126.Temple of Neminatha, Girnar230
127.Plan of Temple of Tejpala and Vastupala232
128.Plan of Temple at Somnath232
129.Temple of Vimala Sah, Mount Abu235
130.Temple of Vimala Sah, Mount Abu236
131.Pendant in Dome of Vimala Sah Temple at Abu237
132.Pillars at Chandravati238
133.Plan of Temple at Sadri240
134.View in the Temple at Sadri241
135.External View of the Temple at Sadri242
136.* Jaina Temple at Gualior244
137.Temple of Parswanatha at Khajurâho245
138.Chaonsat Jogini, Khajurâho246
139.The Ganthai, Khajurâho248
140.* Temple at Gyraspore249
141.Porch of Jaina Temple at Amwah, near Ajunta251
142.Jaina Tower of Sri Allat Chittore252
143.Tower of Victory erected by Khumbo Rana at Chittore253
144.* View of Jaina Temples Sonaghur, in Bundelcund256
145.View of the Temple of Shet Huttising at Ahmedabad257
146.Upper part of Porch of Jaina Temple at Delhi259
147.Entrance to the Indra Subha Cave at Ellora262
148.Colossal Statue at Yannûr268
149.Jaina Basti at Sravana Belgula270
150.Jaina Temple at Moodbidri271
151.Jaina Temple at Moodbidri271
152.Pillar in Temple, Moodbidri273
153.Pavilion at Gurusankerry274
{xvi}154.Tombs of Priests, Moodbidri275
155.Stambha at Gurusankerry276
156.Tomb of Zein-ul-ab-ud-din. Elevation of Arches281
157.Takt-i-Suleiman. Elevation of Arches282
158.Model of Temple in Kashmir283
159.Pillar at Srinagar284
160.Temple of Marttand286
161.View of Temple at Marttand287
162.Central Cell of Court at Marttand288
163.Niche with Naga Figure at Marttand290
164.Soffit of Arch at Marttand291
165.Pillar at Avantipore292
166.View in Court of Temple at Bhaniyar293
167.Temple at Pandrethan294
168.Temple at Payech295
169.Temple at Mûlot in the Salt Range296
170.Temple of Swayambunath, Nepal302
171.Nepalese Kosthakar303
172.Devi Bhowani Temple, Bhatgaon304
173.Temple of Mahadeo and Krishna, Patan306
174.Doorway of Durbar, Bhatgaon307
175.Monoliths at Dimapur309
176.Doorway of the Temple at Tassiding313
177.Porch of Temple at Pemiongchi314
178.Temples at Kiragrama, near Kote Kangra316
179.Pillar at Erun of the Gupta age317
180.Capital of Half Column from a Temple in Orissa317
181.Raths, Mahavellipore328
182.Arjuna’s Rath Mahavellipore330
183.Perumal Pagoda, Mádura331
184.Entrance to a Hindu Temple, Colombo332
185.Tiger Cave at Saluvan Kuppan333
186.Kylas at Ellora334
187.Kylas, Ellora335
188.Deepdan in Dharwar337
189.Plan of Great Temple at Purudkul338
190.Diagram Plan of Tanjore Pagoda343
191.View of the Great Pagoda at Tanjore344
192.* Temple of Soubramanya, Tanjore345
193.Inner Temple at Tiruvalur346
194.Temple at Tiruvalur346
195.* View of the eastern half of the Great Temple at Seringham349
196.Plan of Temple of Chillambaram351
197.View of Porch at Chillambaram353
198.Section of Porch of Temple at Chillambaram353
199.* Panned Temple or Pagoda at Chillambaram354
200.Plan of Great Temple at Ramisseram356
201.Central Corridor, Ramisseram358
202.Plan of Tirumulla Nayak’s Choultrie361
203.Pillar in Tirumulla Nayak’s Choultrie361
204.* View in Tirumulla Nayak’s Choultrie, Mádura363
205.Half-plan of Temple at Tinnevelly366
206.* Gopura at Combaconum368
207.Portico of Temple at Vellore371
208.Compound Pillar at Vellore372
209.Compound Pillar at Peroor372
210.View of Porch of Temple of Vitoba at Vijayanagar375
211.* Entrance through Gopura at Tarputry376
212.* Portion of Gopura at Tarputry377
213.Hall in Palace, Mádura382
214.Court in Palace, Tanjore383
215.Garden Pavilion at Vijayanagar384
216.Temple at Buchropully389
217.Doorway of Great Temple at Hammoncondah390
218.Kirti Stambha at Worangul392
219.Temple at Somnathpûr394
220.Plan of Great Temple at Baillûr395
221.View of part of Porch at Baillûr396
222.Pavilion at Baillûr397
223.Kait Iswara, Hullabîd398
224.Plan of Temple at Hullabîd399
225.Restored view of Temple at Hullabîd400
226.Central Pavilion Hullabîd, East Front402
227.Dravidian and Indo-Aryan Temples at Badami411
228.Modern Temple at Benares412
229.Diagram Plan of Hindu Temple412
230.Temple of Parasurameswara418
231.Temple of Mukteswara419
232.Plan of Great Temple at Bhuvaneswar421
233.View of Great Temple, Bhuvaneswar422
234.Lower part of Great Tower at Bhuvaneswar423
235.Plan of Raj Rani Temple424
236.Doorway in Raj Rani Temple425
237.Plan of Temple of Juganât at Puri430
238.View of Tower of Temple, of Juganât431
239.Hindu Pillar in Jajepur433
240.Hindu Bridge at Cuttack434
{xvii}241.View of Temple of Papanatha at Pittadkul438
242.Pillar in Kylas, Ellora443
243.Plan of Cave No. 3, Badami444
244.Section of Cave No. 3, Badami444
245.Dhumnar Lena Cave at Ellora445
246.Rock-cut Temple at Dhumnar446
247.Saiva Temple near Poonah446
248.Temple at Chandravati449
249.Temple at Barrolli450
250.Plan of Temple at Barrolli450
251.Pillar in Barrolli451
252.* Teli ka Mandir, Gualior453
253.* Kandarya Mahadeo, Khajurâho455
254.Plan of Kandarya Mahadeo, Khajurâho456
255.Temple at Udaipur457
256.Diagram explanatory of the Plan of Meera Baie’s Temple, Chittore458
257.* Temple of Vriji, Chittore459
258.Temple of Vishveshwar460
259.Temple of Scindiah’s Mother, Gualior462
260.Plan of Temple at Bindrabun463
261.View of Temple at Bindrabun464
262.Balcony in Temple at Bindrabun465
263.Temple at Kantonuggur467
264.* The Golden Temple in the Holy Tank at Amritsur468
265.* Cenotaph of Singram Sing at Oudeypore471
266.* Cenotaph in Maha Sâti at Oudeypore472
267.* Tomb of Rajah Baktawar at Ulwar474
268.* Palace at Duttiah477
269.* Palace at Ourtcha, Bundelcund478
270.Balcony at the Observatory, Benares481
271.Hall at Deeg482
272.View from the Central Pavilion in the Palace at Deeg483
273.Ghoosla Ghât, Benares485
274.Bund of Lake Rajsamundra487
275.Minar at Ghazni495
276.Ornaments from the Tomb of Mahmúd at Ghazni496
277.Plan of Ruins in Old Delhi501
278.Section of part of East Colonnade at the Kutub, Old Delhi503
279.Central Range of Arches at the Kutub504
280.Minar of Kutub505
281.Iron Pillar at Kutub507
282.Interior of a Tomb at Old Delhi509
283.Mosque at Ajmir511
284.Great Arch in Mosque at Ajmir512
285.Pathan Tomb at Shepree, near Gualior515
286.Tomb at Old Delhi516
287.Tomb of Shere Shah at Sasseram516
288.Tomb of Shere Shah517
289.Pendentive from Mosque at Old Delhi519
290.Plan of Western Half of Courtyard of Jumma Musjid, Jaunpore522
291.View of lateral Gateway of Jumma Musjid, Jaunpore522
292.Lall Durwaza Mosque, Jaunpore523
293.Plan of Jumma Musjid, Ahmedabad528
294.Elevation of the Jumma Musjid528
295.Plan of the Queen’s Mosque, Mirzapore529
296.Elevation of the Queen’s Mosque, Mirzapore529
297.Section of Diagram explanatory of the Mosques at Ahmedabad529
298.Plan of Tombs and Mosque at Sirkej531
299.Pavilion in front of tomb at Sirkej532
300.Mosque at Mooháfiz Khan532
301.Window in Bhudder at Ahmedabad533
302.Tomb of Meer Abu Touráb534
303.Plan and Elevation of Tomb of Syad Osmán534
304.Tomb of Kutub-ul-Alum, Butwa536
305.Plans of Tombs of Kutub-ul-Alum and his Son, Butwa536
306.Plan of Tomb of Mahmúd Begurra near Kaira538
307.Tomb of Mahmúd Begurra, near Kaira538
308.Plan of Mosque at Mandu542
309.Courtyard of Great Mosque at Mandu543
310.Modern curved form of Roof546
311.Kudam ul Roussoul Mosque, Gaur548
312.Plan of Adinah Mosque, Maldah549
313.Minar at Gaur550
314.Mosque at Kalburgah554
315.Half-elevation, half-section, of the Mosque at Kalburgah555
316.View of the Mosque at Kalburgah555
317.Plan of Jumma Musjid, Bijapur559
318.Plan and Section of smaller Domes of Jumma Musjid560
319.Section on the line A B through the Great Dome of the Jumma Musjid560
320.Tomb of Rozah of Ibrahim561
321.Plan of Tomb of Mahmúd at Bijapur562
{xviii}322.Pendentives of the Tomb of Mahmúd, looking upwards563
323.Section of Tomb of Mahmúd at Bijapur564
324.Diagram illustrative of Domical Construction565
325.Audience Hall, Bijapur566
326.Tomb of Nawab Amir Khan, near Tatta, A.D. 1640568
327.Plan of Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus, Gualior576
328.Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus, Gualior577
329.Carved Pillars in the Sultana’s Kiosk, Futtehpore Sikri579
330.Mosque at Futtehpore Sikri580
331.Southern Gateway of Mosque, Futtehpore Sikri581
332.Hall in Palace at Allahabad583
333.Plan of Akbar’s Tomb at Secundra584
334.Diagram Section of one-half of Akbar’s Tomb at Secundra, explanatory of its Arrangements585
335.View of Akbar’s Tomb, Secundra586
336.Palace at Delhi592
337.* View of Taje Mehal596
338.Plan of Taje Mehal, Agra597
339.Section of Taje Mehal, Agra597
340.Plan of Mûti Musjid599
341.View in Courtyard of Mûti Musjid, Agra600
342.Great Mosque at Delhi from the N.E.601
343.Plan of Imambara at Lucknow605
344.Tomb of the late Nawab of Junaghur606
345.Mosque of Shah Hamadan, Srinugger609
346.Plan of Ananda Temple615
347.Plan of Thapinya615
348.Section of Thapinya616
349.View of the Temple of Gaudapalen617
350.Kong Madú Dagoba620
351.Shoëmadou Pagoda, Pegu621
352.Half-plan of Shoëmadou Pagoda621
353.View of Pagoda in Rangûn623
354.Circular Pagoda at Mengûn625
355.Façade of the King’s Palace, Burmah627
356.Burmese Kioum628
357.Monastery at Mandalé629
358.Ruins of a Pagoda at Ayuthia632
359.Ruins of a Pagoda at Ayuthia633
360.The Great Tower of the Pagoda Wat-ching at Bangkok634
361.Hall of Audience at Bangkok635
362.Half-plan of Temple of Boro Buddor645
363.Elevation and Section of Temple of Boro Buddor645
364.Section of one of the smaller Domes at Boro Buddor646
365.Elevation of principal Dome at Boro Buddor646
366.View of central entrance and stairs at Boro Buddor649
367.Small Temple at Brambanam652
368.Terraced Temple at Panataram655
369.View of the Maha Vihara, Anuradhapura657
370.Plan of Temple of Nakhon Wat668
371.Elevation of the Temple of Nakhon Wat670
372.Diagram Section of Corridor, Nakhon Wat671
373.View of Exterior of Nakhon Wat671
374.View of Interior of Corridor, Nakhon Wat672
375.General view of Temple of Nakhon Wat675
376.Pillar of Porch, Nakhon Wat676
377.Lower Part of Pilaster Nakhon Wat677
378.One of the Towers of the Temple at Ongcor Thom680
379.Temple of the Great Dragon690
380.Monumental Gateway of Buddhist Monastery, Pekin693
381.Temple at Macao694
382.Porcelain Tower, Nankin695
383.Pagoda in Summer Palace, Pekin696
384.Tung Chow Pagoda697
385.Chinese Grave699
386.Chinese Tomb699
387.Group of Tombs near Pekin700
388.Pailoo near Canton701
389.Pailoo at Amoy702
390.Diagram of Chinese Construction703
391.Pavilion in the Summer Palace, Pekin705
392.Pavilion in the Summer Palace, Pekin706
393.View in the Winter Palace, Pekin707
394.Archway in the Nankau Pass709

Note.—Those woodcuts in the above list marked with an asterisk are borrowed from ‘L’Inde des Rajahs,’ published by Hachette et Cie, Paris, translated and republished in this country by Messrs. Chapman and Hall.






It is in vain, perhaps, to expect that the Literature or the Arts of any other people can be so interesting to even the best educated Europeans as those of their own country. Until it is forced on their attention, few are aware how much education does to concentrate attention within a very narrow field of observation. We become familiar in the nursery with the names of the heroes of Greek and Roman history. In every school their history and their arts are taught, memorials of their greatness meet us at every turn through life, and their thoughts and aspirations become, as it were, part of ourselves. So, too, with the Middle Ages: their religion is our religion; their architecture our architecture, and their history fades so insensibly into our own, that we can draw no line of demarcation that would separate us from them. How different is the state of feeling, when from this familiar home we turn to such a country as India. Its geography is hardly taught in schools, and seldom mastered perfectly; its history is a puzzle; its literature a mythic dream; its arts a quaint perplexity. But, above all, the names of its heroes and great men are so unfamiliar and so unpronounceable, that, except a few of those who go to India, scarcely any ever become so acquainted with them, that they call up any memories which are either pleasing or worth dwelling upon.

Were it not for this, there is probably no country—out of Europe at least—that would so well repay attention as India. None, where all the problems of natural science or of art are presented to us in so distinct and so pleasing a form. Nowhere does nature show herself in such grand and such luxurious features, and nowhere does humanity exist in more varied and more pleasing conditions. Side by side with the intellectual Brahman caste, and the chivalrous Rajput, are found the wild Bhîl and the naked Gond, not antagonistic and warring{4} one against the other, as elsewhere, but living now as they have done for thousands of years, each content with his own lot, and prepared to follow, without repining, in the footsteps of his forefathers.

It cannot, of course, be for one moment contended that India ever reached the intellectual supremacy of Greece, or the moral greatness of Rome; but, though on a lower step of the ladder, her arts are more original and more varied, and her forms of civilisation present an ever-changing variety, such as are nowhere else to be found. What, however, really renders India so interesting as an object of study is that it is now a living entity. Greece and Rome are dead and have passed away, and we are living so completely in the midst of modern Europe, that we cannot get outside to contemplate it as a whole. But India is a complete cosmos in itself; bounded on the north by the Himalayas, on the south by the sea, on the east by impenetrable jungle, and only on the west having one door of communication, across the Indus, open to the other world. Across that stream, nation after nation have poured their myriads into her coveted domain, but no reflex waves ever mixed her people with those beyond her boundaries.

In consequence of all this, every problem of anthropology or ethnography can be studied here more easily than anywhere else; every art has its living representative, and often of the most pleasing form; every science has its illustration, and many on a scale not easily matched elsewhere. But, notwithstanding all this, in nine cases out of ten, India and Indian matters fail to interest, because they are to most people new and unfamiliar. The rudiments have not been mastered when young, and, when grown up, few men have the leisure or the inclination to set to work to learn the forms of a new world, demanding both care and study; and till this is attained, it can hardly be hoped that the arts and the architecture of India will interest a European reader to the same extent as those styles treated of in the previous volumes of this work.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, it may still be possible to present the subject of Indian architecture in such a form as to be interesting, even if not attractive. To do this, however, the narrative form must be followed as far as is compatible with such a subject. All technical and unfamiliar names must be avoided wherever it is possible to do so, and the whole accompanied with a sufficient number of illustrations to enable its forms to be mastered without difficulty. Even if this is attended to, no one volume can tell the whole of so varied and so complex a history. Without preliminary or subsequent study it can hardly be expected that so new and so vast a subject can be grasped; but one volume may contain a complete outline of the whole, and enable any one who wishes for more information to know where to look for it, or how to appreciate it when found.{5}

Whether successful or not, it seems well worth while that an attempt should be made to interest the public in Indian architectural art; first, because the artist and architect will certainly acquire broader and more varied views of their art by its study than they can acquire from any other source. More than this, any one who masters the subject sufficiently to be able to understand their art in its best and highest forms, will rise from the study with a kindlier feeling towards the nations of India, and a higher—certainly a correcter—appreciation of their social status than could be obtained from their literature, or from anything that now exists in their anomalous social and political position.

Notwithstanding all this, many may be inclined to ask, Is it worth while to master all the geographical and historical details necessary to unravel so tangled a web as this, and then try to become so familiar with their ever-varying forms as not only to be able to discriminate between the different styles, but also to follow them through all their ceaseless changes?

My impression is that this question may fairly be answered in the affirmative. No one has a right to say that he understands the history of architecture who leaves out of his view the works of an immense portion of the human race, which has always shown itself so capable of artistic development. But, more than this, architecture in India is still a living art, practised on the principles which caused its wonderful development in Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries; and there, consequently, and there alone, the student of architecture has a chance of seeing the real principles of the art in action. In Europe, at the present day, architecture is practised in a manner so anomalous and abnormal that few, if any, have hitherto been able to shake off the influence of a false system, and to see that the art of ornamental building can be based on principles of common sense; and that, when so practised, the result not only is, but must be, satisfactory. Those who have an opportunity of seeing what perfect buildings the ignorant uneducated natives of India are now producing, will easily understand how success may be achieved, while those who observe what failures the best educated and most talented architects in Europe are constantly perpetrating, may, by a study of Indian models, easily see why this must inevitably be the result. It is only in India that the two systems can now be seen practised side by side—the educated and intellectual European always failing because his principles are wrong, the feeble and uneducated native as inevitably succeeding because his principles are right. The Indian builders think only of what they are doing, and how they can best produce the effect they desire. In the European system it is considered more essential that a building, especially in its details, should be a correct copy of something else,{6} than good in itself or appropriate to its purpose; hence the difference in the result.

In one other respect India affords a singularly favourable field to the student of architecture. In no other country of the same extent are there so many distinct nationalities, each retaining its old faith and its old feelings, and impressing these on its art. There is consequently no country where the outlines of ethnology as applied to art can be so easily perceived, or their application to the elucidation of the various problems so pre-eminently important. The mode in which the art has been practised in Europe for the last three centuries has been very confusing. In India it is clear and intelligible. No one can look at the subject without seeing its importance, and no one can study the art as practised there without recognising what the principles of the science really are.

In addition, however, to these scientific advantages, it will undoubtedly be conceded by those who are familiar with the subject that for certain qualities the Indian buildings are unrivalled. They display an exuberance of fancy, a lavishness of labour, and an elaboration of detail to be found nowhere else. They may contain nothing so sublime as the hall at Karnac, nothing so intellectual as the Parthenon, nor so constructively grand as a mediæval cathedral; but for certain other qualities—not perhaps of the highest kind, yet very important in architectural art—the Indian buildings stand alone. They consequently fill up a great gap in our knowledge of the subject, which without them would remain a void.


One of the greatest difficulties that exist—perhaps the greatest—in exciting an interest in Indian antiquities arises from the fact, that India has no history properly so called, before the Mahomedan invasion in the 13th century. Had India been a great united kingdom, like China, with a long line of dynasties and well-recorded dates attached to them, the task would have been comparatively easy; but nothing of the sort exists or ever existed within her boundaries. On the contrary, so far as our knowledge extends, India has always been occupied by three or four different races of mankind, who have never amalgamated so as to become one people, and each of these races have been again subdivided into numerous tribes or small nationalities nearly, sometimes wholly, independent of each other—and, what is worse than all, not one of them ever kept a chronicle or preserved a series of dates commencing from any well-known era.[4]{7}

The absence of any historical record is the more striking, because India possesses a written literature equal to, if not surpassing in variety and extent, that possessed by any other nation, before the invention, or at least before the adoption and use, of printing. The Vedas themselves, with their Upanishads and Brahmanas, and the commentaries on them, form a literature in themselves of vast extent, and some parts of which are as old, possibly older, than any written works that are now known to exist; and the Puranas, though comparatively modern, make up a body of doctrine mixed with mythology and tradition such as few nations can boast of. Besides this, however, are two great epics, surpassing in extent, if not in merit, those of any ancient nation, and a drama of great beauty, written at periods extending through a long series of years. In addition to those we have treatises on law, on grammar, on astronomy, on metaphysics and mathematics, on almost every branch of mental science—a literature extending in fact to some 10,000 or 11,000 works, but in all this not one book that can be called historical. No man in India, so far as is known, ever thought of recording the events of his own life or of repeating the previous experience of others, and it was only at some time subsequent to the Christian Era that they ever thought of establishing eras from which to date deeds or events.

All this is the more curious because in Ceylon we have, in the ‘Mahawanso,’ and other books of a like nature, a consecutive history of that island, with dates which may be depended upon within very narrow limits of error, for periods extending from B.C. 250 to the present time. At the other extremity of India, we have also in the Raja Tarangini of Kashmir, a work which Professor Wilson characterised as “the only Sanscrit composition yet discovered to which the title of History can with any propriety be applied.”[5] As we at present, however, possess it, it hardly helps us to any historical data earlier than the Christian Era, and even after that its dates for some centuries are by no means fixed and certain.

In India Proper, however, we have no such guides as even these, but for written history are almost wholly dependent on the Puranas. They do furnish us with one list of kings’ names, with the length of their reigns, so apparently truthful that they may, within narrow limits, be depended upon. They are only, however, of one range{8} of dynasties—probably, however, the paramount one—and extend only from the accession of Chandragupta—the Sandrocottus of the Greeks—B.C. 325, to the decline of the Andra dynasty, about A.D. 400 or 408. It seems probable we may find sufficient confirmation of these lists as far back as the Anjana era, B.C. 691, so as to include the period marked by the life and labours of Sakya Muni—the present Buddha—in our chronology, with tolerable certainty. All the chronology before that period is purposely and avowedly falsified by the introduction of the system of Yugs, in order to carry back the origin of the Brahmanical system into the regions of the most fabulous antiquity. From the 5th century onwards, when the Puranas began to be put into their present form, in consequence of the revival of the Brahmanical religion, instead of recording contemporary events, they purposely confused them so as to maintain their prophetic character, and prevent the detection of the falsehood of their claim to an antiquity equal to that of the Vedas. For Indian history after the 5th century we are consequently left mainly to inscriptions on monuments or on copper-plates, to coins, and to the works of foreigners for the necessary information with which the natives of the country itself have neglected to supply us. These probably will be found eventually to be at least sufficient for the purposes of chronology. Already such progress has been made in the decipherment of inscriptions and the arrangement of coins, that all the dynasties may be arranged consecutively, and even the date of the reigns of almost all the kings in the north of India have been already approximately ascertained. In the south of India so much has not been done, but this is more because there have been fewer labourers in the field than from want of materials. There are literally thousands of inscriptions in the south which have not been copied, and of the few that have been collected only a very small number have been translated; but they are such as to give us hope that, when the requisite amount of labour is bestowed upon them, we shall be able to fix the chronology of the kings of the south with a degree of certainty sufficient for all ordinary purposes.[6]

It is a far more difficult task to ascertain whether we shall ever recover the History of India before the time of the advent of Buddha, or before the Anjana epoch, B.C. 691. Here we certainly will find no coins or inscriptions to guide us, and no buildings to illustrate the arts, or to mark the position of cities, while all ethnographic traces have become so blurred, if not obliterated, that they serve us little as guides through the labyrinth. Yet on the other hand there is so large{9} a mass of literature—such as it is—bearing on the subject, that we cannot but hope that, when a sufficient amount of learning is brought to bear upon it, the leading features of the history of even that period may be recovered. In order, however, to render it available, it will not require industry so much as a severe spirit of criticism to winnow the few grains of useful truth out of the mass of worthless chaff this literature contains. But it does not seem too much to expect even this, from the severely critical spirit of the age. Meanwhile, the main facts of the case seem to be nearly as follows, in so far as it is necessary to state them, in order to make what follows intelligible.


At some very remote period in the world’s history—for reasons stated in the Appendix I believe it to have been at about the epoch called by the Hindus the Kali Yug, or B.C. 3101—the Aryans, a Sanscrit-speaking people, entered India across the Upper Indus, coming from Central Asia. For a long time they remained settled in the Punjab, or on the banks of the Sarasvati, then a more important stream than now, the main body, however, still remaining to the westward of the Indus. If, however, we may trust our chronology, we find them settled 2000 years before the Christian Era, in Ayodhya, and then in the plenitude of their power. It was about that time apparently that the event took place which formed the groundwork of the far more modern poem known as the ‘Ramayana.’ The pure Aryans, still uncontaminated by admixture with the blood of the natives, then seem to have attained the height of their prosperity in India, and to have carried their victorious arms, it may be, as far south as Ceylon. There is, however, no reason to suppose that they at that time formed any permanent settlements in the Deccan, but it was at all events opened to their missionaries, and by slow degrees imbibed that amount of Brahmanism which eventually pervaded the whole of the south. Seven or eight hundred years after that time, or it may be about or before B.C. 1200, took place those events which form the theme of the more ancient epic known as the ‘Mahabharata,’ which opens up an entirely new view of Indian social life. If the heroes of that poem were Aryans at all, they were of a much less pure type than those who composed the songs of the Vedas, or are depicted in the verses of the ‘Ramayana.’ Their polyandry, their drinking bouts, their gambling tastes, and love of fighting, mark them as a very different race from the peaceful shepherd immigrants of the earlier age, and point much more distinctly towards a Tartar, trans-Himalayan origin, than to the cradle of the Aryan stock in Central Asia. As if to mark the difference of which they themselves felt the existence, they distinguished themselves, by name, as belonging to a Lunar race,{10} distinct from, and generally antagonistic to, the Solar race, which was the proud distinction of the purer and earlier Aryan settlers in India.

Five or six hundred years after this, or about B.C. 700, we again find a totally different state of affairs in India. The Aryans no longer exist as a separate nationality, and neither the Solar nor the Lunar race are the rulers of the earth. The Brahmans have become a priestly caste, and share the power with the Kshatriyas, a race of far less purity of descent. The Vaisyas, as merchants and husbandmen, have become a power, and even the Sudras are acknowledged as a part of the body politic; and, though not mentioned in the Scriptures, the Nagas, or Snake people, had become a most influential part of the population. They are first mentioned in the ‘Mahabharata,’ where they play a most important part in causing the death of Parikshit, which led to the great sacrifice for the destruction of the Nagas by Janemajaya, which practically closes the history of the time. Destroyed, however, they were not, as it was under a Naga dynasty that ascended the throne of Magadha, in 691, that Buddha was born, B.C. 623, and the Nagas were the people whose conversion placed Buddhism on a secure basis in India, and led to its ultimate adoption by Asoka (B.C. 250) as the religion of the State.[7]

Although Buddhism was first taught by a prince of the Solar race, and consequently of purely Aryan blood, and though its first disciples were Brahmans, it had as little affinity with the religion of the Vedas as Christianity had with the Pentateuch, and its fate was the same. The one religion was taught by one of Jewish extraction to the Jews and for the Jews; but it was ultimately rejected by them, and adopted by the Gentiles, who had no affinity of race or religion with the inhabitants of Judæa. Though meant originally, no doubt, for Aryans, the Buddhist religion was ultimately rejected by the Brahmans, who were consequently utterly eclipsed and superseded by it for nearly a thousand years; and we hear little or nothing of them and their religion till they reappeared at the court of the great Vicramaditya (490-530), when their religion began to assume that strange shape which it now still retains in India. In its new form it is as unlike the pure religion of the Vedas as it is possible to conceive one religion being to another; unlike that, also, of the older portions of the ‘Mahabharata’; but a confused mess of local superstitions and imported myths, covering up and hiding the Vedantic and Buddhist doctrines, which may sometimes be detected as underlying it. Whatever it be, however, it cannot be the religion of an Aryan, or even of a purely Turanian people, because it was invented by and for as{11} mixed a population as probably were ever gathered together into one country—a people whose feelings and superstitions it only too truly represents.


Although, therefore, as was hinted above, there might be no great difficulty in recovering all the main incidents and leading features of the history of the Aryans, from their first entry into India till they were entirely absorbed into the mass of the population some time before the Christian Era, there could be no greater mistake than to suppose that their history would fully represent the ancient history of the country. The Dravidians are a people who, in historical times, seem to have been probably as numerous as the pure Aryans, and at the present day form one-fifth of the whole population of India. As Turanians, which they seem certainly to be, they belong, it is true, to a lower intellectual status than the Aryans, but they have preserved their nationality pure and unmixed, and, such as they were at the dawn of history, so they seem to be now.

Their settlement in India extends to such remote pre-historic times, that we cannot feel even sure that we should regard them as immigrants, or, at least, as either conquerors or colonists on a large scale, but rather as aboriginal in the sense in which that term is usually understood. Generally it is assumed that they entered India across the Lower Indus, leaving the cognate Brahui in Belochistan as a mark of the road by which they came, and, as the affinities of their language seem to be with the Ugrians and northern Turanian tongues, this view seems probable.[8] But they have certainly left no trace of their migrations anywhere between the Indus and the Nerbudda, and all the facts of their history, so far as they are known, would seem to lead to an opposite conclusion. The hypothesis that would represent what we know of their history most correctly would place their original seat in the extreme south, somewhere probably not far from Madura or Tanjore, and thence spreading fan-like towards the north, till they met the Aryans on the Vindhya Mountains. The question, again, is not of much importance for our present purposes, as they do not seem to have reached that degree of civilisation at any period anterior to the Christian Era which would enable them to practise any of the arts of civilised life with success, so as to bring them within the scope of a work devoted to the history of art.

It may be that at some future period, when we know more of the ancient arts of these Dravidians than we now do, and have become familiar with the remains of the Accadians or early Turanian in{12}habitants of Babylonia, we may detect affinities which may throw some light on this very obscure part of history. At present, however, the indications are much too hazy to be at all relied upon. Geographically, however, one thing seems tolerably clear. If the Dravidians came into India in historical times, it was not from Central Asia that they migrated, but from Babylonia, or some such southern region of the Asiatic continent.


In addition to these two great distinct and opposite nationalities, there exists in India a third, which, in pre-Buddhist times, was as numerous, perhaps even more so, than either the Aryans or Dravidians, but of whose history we know even less than we do of the two others. Ethnologists have not yet been even able to agree on a name by which to call them. I have suggested Dasyus,[9] a slave people, as that is the name by which the Aryans designated them when they found them there on their first entrance into India, and subjected them to their sway. Whoever they were, they seem to have been a people of a very inferior intellectual capacity to either the Aryans or Dravidians, and it is by no means clear that they could ever of themselves have risen to such a status as either to form a great community capable of governing themselves, and consequently having a history,[10] or whether they must always have remained in the low and barbarous position in which we now find some of their branches. When the Aryans first entered India they seem to have found them occupying the whole valley of the Ganges—the whole country in fact between the Vindhya and the Himalayan Mountains.[11] At present they are only found in anything like purity in the mountain ranges that bound that great plain. There they are known as Bhîls, Coles, Sontals, Nagas, and other mountains tribes. But they certainly form the lowest underlying stratum of the population over the whole of the Gangetic plain.[12] So far as their affinities have been ascertained, they are with{13} the trans-Himalayan population, and it either is that they entered India through the passes of that great mountain range, or it might be more correct to say that the Thibetans are a fragment of a great population that occupied both the northern and southern slope of that great chain of hills at some very remote pre-historic time.

Whoever they were, they were the people who, in remote times, were apparently the worshippers of Trees and Serpents; but what interests us more in them, and makes the inquiry into their history more desirable, is that they were the people who first adopted Buddhism in India, and they, or their congeners, are the only people who, in historic times, as now, adhered, or still adhere to, that form of faith. No purely Aryan people ever were, or ever could be, Buddhist, nor, so far as I know, were any Dravidian community ever converted to that faith. But in Bengal, in Ceylon, in Thibet, Burmah, Siam, and China, wherever a Thibetan people exists, or a people allied to them, there Buddhism flourished and now prevails. But in India the Dravidians resisted it in the south, and a revival of Aryanism abolished it in the north.

Architecturally, there is no difficulty in defining the limits of the Dasyu province: wherever a square tower-like temple exists with a perpendicular base, but a curvilinear outline above, such as that shown in the woodcut on the following page, there we may feel certain of the existence, past or present, of a people of Dasyu extraction, retaining their purity very nearly in the direct ratio to the number of these temples found in the district. Were it not consequently for the difficulty of introducing new names and obtaining acceptance to what is unfamiliar, the proper names for the style prevailing in northern India would be Dasyu style, instead of Indo-Aryan or Dasyu-Aryan which I have felt constrained to adopt. No one can accuse the pure Aryans of introducing this form in India, or of building temples at all, or of worshipping images of Siva or Vishnu, with which these temples are filled, and they consequently have little title to confer their name on the style. The Aryans had, however, become so impure in blood before these temples were erected, and were so mixed up with the Dasyus, and had so influenced their religion and the arts, that it may be better to retain a name which sounds familiar, and does not too sharply prejudge the question. Be this as it may, one thing seems tolerably clear, that the regions occupied by the Aryans in India were conterminous with those of the Dasyus, or, in other words,{14} that the Aryans conquered the whole of the aboriginal or native tribes who occupied the plains of northern India, and ruled over them to such an extent as materially to influence their religion and their arts, and also very materially to modify even their language. So much so, indeed, that after some four or five thousand years of domination we should not be surprised if we have some difficulty in recovering traces of the original population, and could probably not do so, if some fragments of the people had not sought refuge in the hills on the north and south of the great Gangetic plain, and there have remained fossilised, or at least sufficiently permanent for purposes of investigation.

[Image unavailable.]

Hindu Temple, Bancorah.

Sisunaga Dynasty, B.C. 691 TO 325.

Leaving these, which must, for the present at least, be considered as practically pre-historic times, we tread on surer ground when we approach the period when Buddha was born, and devoted his life to rescue man from sin and suffering. There seems very little reason for doubting that he was born in the year 623, in the reign of Bimbasara, the fifth king of this dynasty, and died B.C. 543, at the age of eighty years, in the eighth year of Ajattasatru, the eighth king. New sources of information are opening out so rapidly regarding these times, that there seems little doubt we shall before long be able to recover a perfectly authentic account of the political events of that period, and as perfect a picture of the manners and the customs of those days. It is too true, however, that those who wrote{15} the biography of Buddha in subsequent ages so overlaid the simple narrative of his life with fables and absurdities, that it is now difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff; but we have sculptures extending back to within three centuries of his death, at which time we may fairly assume that a purer tradition and correcter version of the Scriptures must have prevailed. From what has recently occurred, we may hope to creep even further back than this, and eventually to find early illustrations which will enable us to exercise so sound a criticism on the books as to enable us to restore the life of Buddha to such an extent, as to place it among the authentic records of the benefactors of mankind.

Immense progress has been made during the last thirty or forty years in investigating the origin of Buddhism, and the propagation of its doctrines in India, and in communicating the knowledge so gained to the public in Europe. Much, however, remains to be done before the story is complete, and divested of all the absurdities which subsequent commentators have heaped upon it; and more must yet be effected before the public can be rendered familiar with what is so essentially novel to them. Still, the leading events in the life of the founder of the religion are simple, and sufficiently well ascertained for all practical purposes.[13]

The founder of this religion was one of the last of a long line of kings, known as the Solar dynasties, who, from a period shortly subsequent to the advent of the Aryans into India, had held paramount sway in Ayodhya—the modern Oude. About the 12th or 13th century B.C. they were superseded by another race of much less purely Aryan blood, known as the Lunar race, who transferred the seat of power to capitals situated in the northern parts of the Doab. In consequence of this, the lineal descendants of the Solar kings were reduced to a petty principality at the foot of the Himalayas, where Sakya Muni was born about 623 B.C. For twenty-nine years he enjoyed the pleasures, and followed the occupations, usual to the men of his rank and position; but at that age, becoming painfully impressed by the misery incident to human existence, he determined to devote the rest of his life to an attempt to alleviate it. For this purpose he forsook his parents and wife, abandoned friends and all the advantages of his position, and, for the following fifty-one years, devoted himself steadily to the task he had set before himself. Years were spent in the meditation and mortification necessary to fit himself{16} for his mission; the rest of his long life was devoted to wandering from city to city, teaching and preaching, and doing everything that gentle means could effect to disseminate the doctrines which he believed were to regenerate the world, and take the sting out of human misery.

He died, or, in the phraseology of his followers, obtained Nirvana—was absorbed into the deity—at Kusinara, in northern Behar, in the 80th year of his age, 543 years[14] B.C.

With the information that is now fast accumulating around the subject, there seems no great difficulty in understanding why the mission of Sakya Muni was so successful as it proved to be. He was born at a time when the purity of the Aryan races in India had become so deteriorated by the constant influx of less pure tribes from the north and west, that their power, and consequently their influence, was fast fading away. At that time, too, it seems that the native races had, from long familiarity with the Aryans, acquired such a degree of civilisation as led them to desire something like equality with their masters, who were probably always in a numerical minority in most parts of the valley of the Ganges. In such a condition of things the preacher was sure of a willing audience who proclaimed the abolition of caste, and taught that all men, of whatever nation or degree, had an equal chance of reaching happiness, and ultimately heaven, by the practice of virtue, and by that only. The subject races—the Turanian Dasyus—hailed him as a deliverer, and it was by them that the religion was adopted and proclaimed, and that of the Aryan Brahmans was for a time obliterated, or at least overshadowed and obscured.

It is by no means clear how far Buddha was successful in converting the multitude to his doctrines during his lifetime. At his death, the first synod was held at Rajagriha, and five hundred monks of a superior order, it is said, were assembled there on that occasion,[15] and if so they must have represented a great multitude. But the accounts of this, and of the second convocation, held 100 years afterwards at Vaisali, on the Gunduck, have not yet had the full light of recent investigation brought to bear upon them. Indeed the whole annals of the Naga dynasty, from the death of Buddha, B.C. 543, to the accession of Chandragupta, 325, are about the least satisfactory of the period. Those of Ceylon were purposely falsified in order to carry back the landing of Vyjya, the first conqueror from Kalinga, to a period coincident with the date of Buddha’s death, while a period{17} apparently of sixty years at least elapsed between the two events. All this may, however, be safely left to future explorers. We have annals and coins,[16] and we may recover inscriptions and sculptures belonging to this period, and, though it is most improbable we shall recover any architectural remains, there are evidently materials existing which, when utilised, may suffice for the purpose.

The kings of this dynasty seem to have been considered as of a low caste, and were not, consequently, in favour either with the Brahman or, at that time, with the Buddhist; and no events which seem to have been thought worthy of being remembered, except the second convocation, are recorded as happening in their reigns, after the death of the great Ascetic—or, at all events, of being recorded in such annals as we possess.

Maurya Dynasty, B.C. 325 TO 188.

The case was widely different with the Maurya dynasty, which was certainly one of the most brilliant, and is fortunately one of the best known, of the ancient dynasties of India. The first king was Chandragupta, the Sandrocottus of the Greeks, to whom Megasthenes was sent as ambassador by Seleucus, the successor of Alexander in the western parts of his Asiatic empire. It is from his narrative—now unfortunately lost—that the Greeks acquired almost all the knowledge they possessed of India at that period. The country was then divided into 120 smaller principalities, but the Maurya residing in Palibothra—the modern Patna—seems to have exercised a paramount sway over the whole. It was not, however, this king, but his grandson, the great Asoka (B.C. 272 to 236), who raised this dynasty to its highest pitch of prosperity and power. Though utterly unknown to the Greeks, we have from native sources a more complete picture of the incidents of his reign than of any ancient sovereign of India. The great event that made him famous in Buddhist history was his conversion to that faith, and the zeal he showed in propa{18}gating the doctrines of his new religion. He did, in fact, for Buddhism, exactly what Constantine did for Christianity, and at about the same distance of time from the death of the founder of the faith. From a struggling sect he made it the religion of the State, and established it on the basis on which it lasted supreme for nearly 1000 years. In order to render his subjects familiar with the doctrines of his new faith, he caused a series of edicts embodying them to be engraved on rocks near Peshawur, in Gujerat, in the valley of the Dhoon under the Himalayas, in Cuttack, and in several intermediate places. He held the third and greatest convocation of the faithful in his capital at Patna, and, on its dissolution, sent missionaries to spread the faith in the Yavana country, whose capital was Alexandria, near the present city of Cabul. Others were despatched to Kashmir and Gandhara; one was sent to the Himawanta—the valleys of the Himalaya, and possibly part of Thibet; others were despatched to the Maharatta country, and to three other places in Central and Western India which have not yet been identified with certainty. Two missionaries were sent to the Souverna Bhumi, a place now known as Thatun on the Sitang river, in Pegu, and his own son and daughter were deputed to Ceylon.[17] All those countries, in fact, which might be called foreign, but which were inhabited by races who might in any way be supposed to be allied to the Dasyus of Bengal, were then sought to be converted to the faith. He also formed alliances with Antiochus the Great, Antigonus, and with Ptolemy Philadelphus, and Magas of Cyrene, for the establishment of hospitals and the protection of his co-religionists in their countries. More than all this, he built innumerable topes and monasteries all over the country; and, though none of those now existing can positively be identified as those actually built by him, there seems no reason whatever for doubting that the sculptured rails at Buddh Gaya and Bharhut, the caves at Bharabar in Behar, some of those at Udyagiri in Cuttack, and the oldest of those in the Western Ghâts were all erected or excavated during the existence of this dynasty, if not by him himself. These, with inscriptions and coins, and such histories as exist, make up a mass of materials for a picture of India during this dynasty such as no other can present; and, above all, they offer a complete representation of the religious forms and beliefs of the kings and people, which render any mistake regarding them impossible. It was Buddhism, but without a personal Buddha, and with Tree and Serpent worship cropping up in every unexpected corner.

There is certainly no dynasty in the whole range of ancient Indian{19} history that would better repay the labour of an exhaustive investigation than that of these Maurya kings. Not only were they the first in historical times who, so far as we know, united the whole of India into one great kingdom, but they were practically the first who came in contact with European civilisation and Western politics. More than even this, it is probably owing to the action of the third king of this dynasty that Buddhism, from being the religion of an obscure sect, became, at one time, the faith of a third of the human race, and has influenced the belief and the moral feelings of a greater number of men than any other religion that can be named.

Fortunately, the materials for such a monograph as is required are abundant, and every day is adding to them. It is to this dynasty, and to it only, that must be applied all those passages in classical authors which describe the internal state of India, and they are neither few nor insignificant. Though the Hindus themselves cannot be said to have contributed much history, they have given us, in the ‘Mudra Rakshasa,’[18] a poetical version of the causes of the revolution that placed the Mauryas on the throne. But, putting these aside, their own inscriptions give us dates, and a perfectly authentic contemporary account of the religious faith and feelings of the period; while the numerous bas-reliefs of the rails at Buddh Gaya and Bharhut afford a picture of the manners, customs, and costumes of the day, and a gauge by which we can measure their artistic status and judge how far their art was indigenous, how far influenced by foreign elements. The dates of the kings of this dynasty are also perfectly well known,[19] and the whole framework of their history depends so completely on contemporary native monuments, that there need be no real uncertainty regarding any of the outlines of the picture when once the subject is fairly grasped and thoroughly handled.

It is the firmest standpoint we have from which to judge of Indian civilisation and history, whether looking to the past or to the future, and it is one that gives a very high idea of the position at which the Hindus had arrived before they came practically into contact with the civilisation of the West.

Sunga Dynasty, B.C. 188 TO 76.
Kanwa Dynasty, B.C. 76 TO 31.

History affords us little beyond the dates of the kings’ reigns for the next two dynasties, but there seems no reason to doubt the general{20} correctness with which these are recorded in the Puranas, and by degrees we are collecting inscriptions and finding caves that certainly belong to their time, so that we may hope to breathe life into what has hitherto appeared only a dry list of names. Such inscriptions as bear their names have yet only been discovered on the western caves at Karli, Nassick, and similar places, but there seems no reason for doubting that they reigned also in Magadha, and, if so, over Orissa, so that we may look for further information regarding them on the eastern as well as on the western side of India. These dynasties were not, however, apparently known to the Greeks, and, being Buddhist, are passed over in comparative silence in the Puranas. It is thus only from their monuments that we can hope to recover their history. Up to the present time, those identified as belonging to them are few and far between, but they have not yet been systematically searched for, and till this is done there is no reason to despair of ultimate success.

Andra Dynasty, B.C. 31 TO A.D. 429.

The dynasty that succeeded to these Rois fainéants is—after the Mauryas—the most important of all those about this period of Indian history. To the classical authors they are known as the Andræ, in the Puranas as Andrabrityas, and in the inscriptions as Satakarnis or Satavahanas; but under whatever name, notwithstanding occasional periods of depression, they played a most important part in the history of India, during more than four centuries and a half. Latterly they have been very much overlooked in consequence of their leaving no coins behind them, while it is from numismatic researches, principally, that precision has been given to much of the history of the period. The dynasties in India, however, who practically introduced coinage within her limits, all came across the Indus as strangers bringing with them an art they had learnt from the Bactrians, or those who succeeded them in the north-west. The Andras, being a native dynasty of Central India, had no coinage of importance, and have consequently no place in these numismatic researches; they have, however, left many and most interesting inscriptions in the western caves, and traces of their existence occur in many parts of India.

Architecturally, their history begins with the gateways of the Tope at Sanchi; the southern or oldest of these was almost certainly erected during the reign of the first Satakarni in the first quarter of the 1st century—while Christ was teaching at Jerusalem—and the other three in the course of that century. It ends with the completion of the rail at Amravati, which with almost equal certainty was com{21}menced in the first quarter of the 4th century, and completed about A.D. 450.[20]

Between these two monuments there is no great difficulty in filling up the architectural picture from the caves, at Nassick and Ajunta, and other places in western India, and more materials will no doubt eventually be discovered.

The history of this dynasty is more than usually interesting for our purposes, as it embraces nearly the whole period during which Buddhism reigned almost supreme in India. It became the state religion, it is true, two centuries earlier under Asoka, but there is no reason for believing that the Vedic religion or Brahmanism vanished immediately. During the first four centuries, however, of the Christian Era we have not a trace of a Hindu building or cave, and, so far as any material evidence goes, it seems that Buddhism at the time was the religion of the land. It cannot, of course, be supposed that the Hindu faith was wholly obliterated, but it certainly was dormant, and in abeyance, and, to use a Buddhist expression, the yellow robes shone over the length and breadth of the land.

It was during the reign of these Andras, though not by them, that the fourth convocation was held by Kanishka, in the north of India, and the new doctrine, the Mahayana, introduced by Nagárjuna—a change similar to that made by Gregory the Great when he established the Church, as opposed to the primitive forms of Christianity, at about the same distance of time from the death of the founder of the religion. My impression is, that this convocation was held in the last quarter of the first century of our era, probably 79. Certain at least it is, that it was about that time that Buddhism was first practically introduced into China, Thibet, and Burmah, and apparently by missionaries sent out from this as they were from the third convocation.

It was towards the end of the reign of the Andras that Fa Hian visited India (A.D. 400). As his objects in doing so were entirely of a religious nature, he does not allude to worldly politics, nor give us a king’s name we can identify; but the picture we gather from his narrative is one of peace and prosperity in so far as the country is concerned, and of supremacy for his religion. Heretics are, it is true, mentioned occasionally, but they are few and far between. Buddhism was then certainly the religion of the north, especially in the north-west of India; but even then there were symptoms of a change, in the central provinces and outlying parts of the country.{22}

Guptas, 319 TO 465.
Ballabhis, 465 TO 712 (?).

At the time when Fa Hian was visiting the sacred places in India, the power of the Andra dynasty was passing away. It had culminated with Gautamiputra (312 to 333), and they were fast sinking into a second-class position among Indian princes. The dynasty that superseded them was that of the Guptas, who, at the end of the fourth century of our era, seem to have attained to the position of lords paramount in northern India. They date their inscriptions, which are numerous and interesting, from an era established by the Andra king Gautamiputra, four cycles of 60 years each, or 240 years after the Saka era of A.D. 79, or in 319; but it was not apparently till under the third king, Samudra, about 380, that they really obtained the empire of northern India, which they retained till the death of Skandagupta, about the year 465, or it may be a little later.

It is during their reign that we first perceive in high places the germs of that change which was gradually creeping over the religious system of India. That the Guptas were patrons of Buddhism is evident from the gifts Chandragupta II. made to the tope at Sanchi in the year 400, and recorded on the rail of that Monument, but their other inscriptions, on the lâts at Allahabad and Bhitari, show a decided tendency towards Hinduism, but a class of Hinduism which was still far removed from the wild extravagances of the Puranas. There seems little doubt that the boar at Erun, and the buildings there, belong to this dynasty, and are consequently among the earliest if not the very oldest temples in India, dedicated to the new religion, which was then raising its head in defiance to Buddhism.

From their coins and inscriptions, we may feel certain that the Guptas possessed when in the plenitude of their power the whole of northern India with the province of Gujerat, but how far the boasts of Samudra Gupta on the Allahabad pillar were justified is by no means clear. If that inscription is to be believed, the whole of the southern country as far as Ceylon, together with Assam and Nepal, were subject to their sway. However brilliant it may have been, their power was of short duration. Gujerat and all the western provinces were wrested from them by the Ballabhis, about the year 465, and a new kingdom then founded by a dynasty bearing that name, which lasted till the great catastrophe, which about two and a half centuries afterwards revolutionised India.

Ujjain Dynasty.

Although it was becoming evident in the time of the Guptas that a change was creeping over the religious belief of India, it was not{23} then that the blow was struck which eventually proved fatal, but by a dynasty which succeeded them in Central India. Being Hindus, we know less that is authentic about their history than about the Buddhist dynasties, who lived to inscribe their names on rocks and in caves; but there seems very little doubt that the great Vicramaditya reigned in Malwa from 495 to 530, though the Hindus, in order to connect his name with an era they thought fit to establish 56 years B.C., have done all they can to mystify and obscure the chronology of the period. Notwithstanding this, it seems perfectly clear that about this time there reigned in central India a king who, by his liberality and magnificence, acquired a renown among the Hindus, only second to that obtained by Solomon among the Jews. By his patronage of literature and his encouragement of art, his fame spread over the length and breadth of the land, and to this day his name is quoted as the symbol of all that is great and magnificent in India. What is more to our present purpose, he was an undoubted patron of the Brahmanical religion, a worshipper of Siva and Vishnu, and no tradition associates his name directly or indirectly with anything connected with Buddhism. Unfortunately we have no buildings which can be attributed to him, and no inscriptions. But the main fact of a Brahmanical king reigning and acquiring such influence in Central India at that time is only too significant of the declining position of the Buddhist religion at that period.

His successor, Siladitya, seems to have returned to the old faith, and during his long reign of sixty years to have adhered to the Buddhist doctrines.

In the beginning of the next century, after a short period of anarchy, we find a second Siladitya seated on the throne of Canouge as lord paramount in India, and, during a prosperous reign of thirty-eight to forty years, exercising supreme sway in that country. It was during his reign that the Chinese pilgrim, Hiouen Thsang visited India, and gave a much more full and graphic account of what he saw than his predecessor Fa Hian. Nothing can be more characteristic of the state of religious feeling, and the spirit of toleration then prevailing, than the fête given by this king at Allahabad in the year 643, at which the kings of Ballabhi and Kamarupa (Assam) were present. The king being himself a Buddhist, the first days were devoted to the distribution, among the followers of that religion, of the treasures accumulated during the previous five years, but then came the turn of the Brahmans, who were treated with equal honour and liberality; then followed the fête of the other sects, among whom the Jains appear conspicuous. All were feasted and fêted, and sent away laden with gifts and mementos of the magnificence and liberality of the great king.

Pleasant as this picture is to look upon, it is evident that such a state of affairs could hardly be stable, and it was in vain to expect{24} that peace could long be maintained between a rising and ambitious sect, and one which was fast sinking into decay; apparently beneath the load of an overgrown priesthood. Accordingly we find that ten years after the death of Siladitya troubles supervened as prophesied,[21] and the curtain soon descends on the great drama of the history of northern India, not to be raised again for nearly three centuries. It is true, we can still follow the history of the Ballabhis for some little time longer, and it would be satisfactory if we could fix the date of their destruction with precision, as it was the event which in the Hindu mind is considered the closing act of the drama. If it was destroyed by a foreign enemy, it must have been by the Moslem, either before or during the time Mohammed Kasim, A.H. 712, 713. It was a flourishing city in 640, when visited by Hiouen Thsang, and from that time, till the death of Kasim, the Moslems were in such power on the Indus, and their historians tell us the events of these years in such detail, that no other foreigner could have crossed the river during that period. If it perished by some internal revolution of convulsion, which is more probable, it only shared the fate that overtook all northern India about this period. Strange to say, even the Moslems, then in the plenitude of their power during the Khalifat of Bagdad, retired from their Indian conquests, as if the seething cauldron were too hot for even them to exist within its limits.

The more southern dynasty of the Chalukyas of Kalyan seem to have retained their power down to about 750, and may, up to that time, have exercised a partial sway to the north of the Nerbudda, but after that we lose all sight of them; while, as a closing act in the great drama, the Raja Tarangini represents the King of Kashmir—Lalitaditya—as conquering India from north to south, and subjecting all the five kingdoms, into which it was nominally divided, to his imperious sway.

We need not stop now to inquire whether this was exactly what happened or not. It is sufficient for present purposes to know that about the middle of the 8th century a dark cloud settled over the north of India, and that during the next two centuries she was torn to pieces by internal troubles, which have left nothing but negative evidence of their existence. During that period no event took place of which we have any record; no dynasty rose to sufficient distinction to be quoted even in the lists of the bard; no illustrious name appears whose acts have been recorded; no buildings were erected of which we have a trace;[22] and but few inscriptions engraved. Dark{25} night seems to have settled over the land, and whether we shall ever be able to penetrate into its mysteries seems more than doubtful.

When light again appears in the middle of the 10th century the scene is wonderfully changed. Buddhism had practically disappeared in the north and west at least, though it still lingered on in Bengal, and Jainism had supplanted it in most places; but the mass of the people had become followers of Vishnu or Siva. New dynasties had arisen which, though they try to trace their lineage back to the troublous times when Ballabhi fell, were new to Indian history. Old India had passed away, and the history of modern India was about to open. The old dynasties had become extinct, and the Rajput races were gaily stepping forward to assume their places—too soon, alas! to be engaged in a life or death struggle with the most implacable foe to their race and religion that India has ever known. It was a cruel Nemesis that their victories over the Buddhists should soon have been followed by the fatal siege at Somnath in 1024, and the fight on the banks of the Ghaghar in 1193, which practically laid India at the feet of the Moslem invader, and changed the whole course of her subsequent career. But, as hinted above, with the appearance of the Moslem on the scene, our chronological difficulties cease, and the subject need not therefore be further pursued in this introduction.


From the above brief sketch of ancient Indian history it may be gathered that it is doubtful whether we shall ever be able to clothe with solid flesh the skeleton of history which is all we possess anterior to the advent of Buddha. It is also possible that pious frauds may have so confused the sequence of events between his death and the rise of the Mauryas, that there will be great difficulty in restoring that period to anything like completeness. But for the thousand years that elapsed between “the revenge of Chanakya” and the fall of Ballabhi the materials are ample, and when sufficient industry is applied to their elucidation there is little doubt that the whole may be made clear and intelligible. It does not fall within the scope of this work to attempt such a task; but it is necessary to endeavour to make its outlines clear, as, without this being done, what follows will be utterly unintelligible; while, at the same time, one of the principal objects of this work is to point out how the architecture, which is one important branch of the evidence, may be brought to bear on the subject.

No direct evidence, however, derived only from events that occurred in India itself, would suffice to make the phenomena of her history clear, without taking into account the successive migrations of tribes{26} and peoples who, in all ages, so far as we know, poured across the Indus from the westward to occupy her fertile plains.

As mentioned above, the great master fact that explains almost all we know of the ancient history of India is our knowledge that two or three thousand years before the birth of Christ a Sanscrit-speaking nation migrated from the valleys of the Oxus and Jaxartes. They crossed the Indus in such numbers as to impress their civilisation and their language on the whole of the north of India, and this to such an extent as practically to obliterate, as far as history is concerned, the original inhabitants of the valley of the Ganges, whoever they may have been. At the time when this migration took place the power and civilisation of Central Asia were concentrated on the lower Euphrates, and the Babylonian empire never seems to have extended across the Carmanian desert to the eastward. The road, consequently, between Bactria and India was open, and nations might pass and re-pass between the two countries without fear of interruption from any other people.

If any of the ancient dynasties of Babylonia extended their power towards the East, it was along the coast of Gedrosia, and not in a north-easterly direction. It is, indeed, by no means improbable, as hinted above, that the origin of the Dravidians may be found among the Accadian or in some of the Turanian peoples who occupied southern Babylonia in ancient times, and who may, either by sea or land, have passed to the western shores of India. Till, however, further information is available, this is mere speculation, though probably in the direction in which truth may hereafter be found.

When the seat of power was moved northward to Nineveh, the Assyrians seem to have occupied the country eastward of the Caspian in sufficient force to prevent any further migration. At least, after that time—say B.C. 1000—we have no further trace of any Aryan tribe crossing the Indus going eastward, and it seems mainly to have been a consequence of this cutting off of the supply of fresh blood that the purity of their race in India was so far weakened as to admit of the Buddhist reform taking root, and being adopted to the extent it afterwards attained.

During the period of the Achemænian sway, the Persians certainly occupied the countries about the Oxus in sufficient strength to prevent any movement of the peoples. So essentially indeed had Bactria and Sogdiana become parts of the Persian empire, that Alexander was obliged to turn aside from his direct route to conquer them, as well as the rest of the kingdom of Darius, before advancing on India.

Whether it were founded for that purpose or not, the little Greek kingdom of Bactria was sufficiently powerful, while it lasted, to keep the barbarians in check; but when about the year 127-126 B.C.,{27} the Yuechi and other cognate tribes invaded Sogdiana, and finally about 120 B.C. conquered the whole of Bactria,[23] they opened a new chapter in the history of India, the effects of which are felt to the present day.

It is not yet quite clear how soon after the destruction of the Bactrian kingdom these Turanian tribes conquered Cabul, and occupied the country between that city and the Indus. Certain it is, however, that they were firmly seated on the banks of that river before the Christian Era, and under the great king Kanishka had become an Indian power of very considerable importance. The date of this king is, unfortunately, one of those small puzzles that still remain to be solved. Generally, it is supposed he reigned till about twenty to forty years after Christ.[24] Evidence, however, has lately been brought to light, which seems to prove that he was the founder of the Saka era, A.D. 79, and that his reign must be placed in the last quarter of the first century of our era, instead of in the earlier half.[25]

Be this as it may, it seems quite certain that the power of these Turuska kings spread over the whole Punjab, and extended as far at least as Muttra on the Jumna, in the first century of the Christian Era.

At the same time another horde, known to us only from the coins and inscriptions in which they call themselves Sahs or Sah kings, crossed the Indus lower down, and occupied the whole of the province of Gujerat. It is not quite clear whether the first of them, Nahapana, was only the Viceroy of one of these northern kings—probably of Kanishka himself—though he and his successors afterwards became independent, and founded a kingdom of their own. They seem to date their coins and inscriptions from the Saka era, A.D. 79, and the series extends from that date to A.D. 349, or at latest to 371.[26] It thus happens that though Gautamiputra, the Andra king (312-333), boasts of having humbled them,[27] they were only in fact finally disposed of by the rise of the Guptas.

No other foreign race, so far as we know, seems to have crossed the Lower Indus into India. But the whole external history of northern India, from the time of Kanishka to that of Ahmed Shah Durani (1761) is a narrative of a continuous succession of tribes of Scythian origin,{28} pouring across the Upper Indus into India, each more Turanian than the one that preceded it, till the whole culminated in the Mogul conquest of India, in the 15th century, by a people as distinct in blood from the Aryans as any that exist.

Of the older races, it seems probable that the Yavanas must be distinguished from the Turanians. It will hardly now be contended that they were pure Greeks, though their name may be merely a mispronunciation of Ionian. The term seems to have been applied by Indian authors to any foreign race coming from the westward who did not belong to one of the acknowledged kingdoms known to them. As such it would apply to any western adventurers, who during the existence of the Bactrian kingdom sought to establish settlements in any part of India, and would also apply to the expatriated Bactrians themselves when driven from their homes by the Yuechi, 120 or 130 years B.C. It is only in this sense that we can explain their presence in Orissa before and about the Christian Era, but in the west the term may have been more loosely applied. The Cambojas seem to have been a people inhabiting the country between Candahar and Cabul, who, when the tide was setting eastward, joined the crowd, and sought settlements in the more fertile countries within the Indus.

The Sakas were well known to classical authors as the Sacæ, or Scythians. They pressed on with the rest, and became apparently most formidable during the first four centuries of the Christian Era. It was apparently their defeat by the great Vicramaditya in the battle at Korûr, on the banks of the Indus, A.D. 524 or 544, that raised the popularity of that monarch to its highest pitch, and induced the Hindus at a subsequent age to institute the era known by his name 600 years before his time, and another called by his other name, Sri Harsha, 1000 years before the date of the battle of Korûr.[28]

Another important horde were the Ephthalites, or White Huns, who came into India apparently in the 4th century, and one of whose kings, if we may trust Cosmas Indicopleustes, was the head of a powerful state in northern India, about the year 535. They, too, seem to have been conquered about the same time by the Hindus, and, as both the Sakas and Hunas were undoubtedly Buddhists, it may have been their destruction that first weakened the cause of that religion, and which led to its ultimate defeat a little more than a century afterwards.

During the dark ages, 750 to 950, we do not know of any horde passing the Indus. The Mahomedans were probably too strong on{29} the frontier to admit of its being done, and after that age they—and they only—conducted the various invasions which completely changed the face and character of northern India. For seven centuries they were continued, with only occasional interruptions, and at last resulted in placing the Mahomedan power supreme, practically, over the whole of India, but only to fall to pieces like a house of cards, before the touch of Western civilisation. All this, however, is written, and written so distinctly, in so many books, that it need not be recapitulated here.

Southern India.

If the records of the ancient history of northern India are unsatisfactory and untrustworthy, those of the southern part of the peninsula are at least ten times more so. The Dravidians have no ancient literature like that of the Vedas. They have no traditions which point to any seat of their race out of India, or of their having migrated from any country with whose inhabitants they can claim any kindred. So far as they know, they are indigenous and aboriginal. The utmost extent to which even their traditions extend is to claim for their leading race of kings—the Pandyas—a descent from Arjuna, one of the heroes of the ‘Mahabharata.’ He, it is said, when on his travels, married a princess of the land, and she gave birth to the eponymous hero of their race, and hence their name. It is true, indeed, that they produce long lists of kings, which they pretend stretch back till the times of the Pandus. These were examined by the late Professor Wilson in 1836, and he conjectured that they might extend back to the 5th or 6th century before our era.[29] But all that has since come to light has tended to show that even this may be an over-estimate of their antiquity. If, however, as Dr. Kern believes, the Choda, Pada, and Keralaputra of the second edict of Asoka do really represent the Cholas, Pandyas, Cheras, of modern times, this triarchy existed in the third century B.C.; but there are difficulties in the way of this identification which have not yet been removed. In fact, all we really do know is that, in classical times, there was a Regio Pandionis in the country afterwards known as the Pandyan kingdom of Madura, and it has been conjectured that the king who sent an embassy to Augustus in 27 B.C.[30] was not a Porus, which would indicate a northern race, but this very king of the south. Be{30} this, however, as it may, we do know, by the frequent mention of this country by classical authors, that it was at least sufficiently civilised in the early centuries of our era to carry on a considerable amount of commerce with the western nations, and there is consequently no improbability that at least one powerful dynasty may then have been established in the south. If so, that dynasty was certainly the Pandyan. The Chola and the Chera became important states only at a much later date.

When we turn to their literature we find nothing to encourage any hope that we may penetrate further back into their history than we have hitherto been able to do. Dr. Caldwell, the best and latest authority on the subject, ascribes the oldest work in the Tamil, or any southern language, to the 8th or 9th century of our era,[31] and that even then can hardly be called native, as it undoubtedly belongs to the Jains, who are as certainly a northern sect. According to the same authority, it was superseded by a Vaishnava literature about the 12th or 13th century, and that again made way for one of Saiva tendency about the latter date. There is no trace of any Buddhist literature in the south, and nothing, consequently, that would enable us to connect the history of the south with the tolerably well-ascertained chronology of Ceylon or Northern India, nor am I aware of the existence of any ancient Buddhist monuments in the south which would help us in this difficulty.[32]

Not having passed through Bactria, or having lived in contact with any people making or using coins, the Dravidians have none of their own, and consequently that source of information is not available. Whatever hoards of ancient coins have been found in the Madras Presidency have been of purely Roman origin, brought there for the purpose of trade, and buried to protect them from spoliation.

The inscriptions, which are literally innumerable all over the Presidency, are the one source from which we can hope that new light may be thrown on the history of the country, but none of those hitherto brought to light go further back than the 5th or 6th century, and it is not clear that earlier ones may be found.[33] It is, at all events, the most hopeful field that lies open to future explorers in these dark domains. There is nothing, however, that would lead us to expect to find any Tamil or native inscription in the country extending so far{31} back as the age of Constantine. Those on the raths at Mahavellipore, or the caves at Badami, which may be as old as the age of Justinian, are in Sanscrit, and consequently look more like an evidence of the northern races pushing southward than of the southern races extending themselves northward, or being sufficiently advanced in civilisation to erect for themselves the monuments on which these inscriptions are found.

From a study of the architecture of the south we arrive at precisely the same conclusions as to the antiquity of Dravidian civilisation that Dr. Caldwell arrived at from a study of their literature. The only important Buddhist monument yet discovered in the Presidency is that at Amravati, on the Kistnah,[34] but that is avowedly a foreign intrusion. It was a colony or settlement formed by the northern Buddhists at or near their port of departure for Java and their eastern settlements. The rock-cut temples at Mahavellipore and Badami seem to be the works of northern Hindus advancing southward in the 5th or 6th century, and engraving the evidence of their religion on the imperishable rock. So far as is yet known, no indigenous native temple has been brought to light, built by any native king, or with inscriptions in any southern tongue, whose date can be carried further back than the 8th century. From that time forward their building activity was enormous. The style culminated in the 16th and 17th centuries, to perish in the 18th, under the influence of a foreign and unsympathetic invader. It is, however, by no means impossible that future investigation may enable us to fill up a portion at least of the gap that exists between the 5th and the 8th century. There may be buildings yet undescribed which are older than any we now know. But if they do carry us back to the 5th century, which is more than can reasonably be expected, they are still seven or eight centuries behind what we know for certainty to have existed in the north. There we have buildings and caves certainly, extending back to B.C. 250, and it seems by no means impossible that with sculptures, coins, and inscriptions, and written documents, we may some day be able to bridge over the gulf that exists between the death of Buddha and the accession of the Mauryas. In other words, the materials for history in the North of India carry us back with the same relative degree of certainty for more than a thousand years beyond what those found in the south enable us to trace of her history or her arts.{32}

When the history of the south does acquire something like consistency it takes the form of a triarchy of small states. The eldest and most important, that of Mádura—so called after Muttra on the Jumna—was also the most civilised, and continued longest as a united and independent kingdom.

The Chola rose into power on the banks of the Cauvery, and to the northward of it, about the year 1000, though no doubt they existed as a small state about Conjeveram for some centuries before that time. The third, the Chera, were located in the southern Mysore country, and probably extending to the coast as early as the 4th or 5th century, and gradually worked their way northward, and became so powerful that there is reason for believing that during the dark ages of the north (750 to 950) their power extended to the Nerbudda, and it may be to them that we owe the Kylas and other excavations at Ellora, erected in the southern style about that time. They were, however, superseded, first by the Cholas, about A.D. 1000, and finally eclipsed by the Hoisala Bellalas, a century or so afterwards. These last became the paramount power in the south, till their capital—Hullabîd—was taken, and their dynasty destroyed by the Mahomedan, in the year 1310.

With the appearance of the Mahomedans on the scene the difficulties of Indian chronology disappear in the south, as well as in the north. From that time forward the history of India is found in such works as those written by Ferishta or Abul Fazl, and has been abstracted and condensed in numerous works in almost every European language. There are still, it must be confessed, slight discrepancies and difficulties about the sequence of some events in the history of the native principalities. These, however, are not of such importance as at all to affect, much less to invalidate, any reasoning that may be put forward regarding the history or affinities of any buildings, and this is the class of evidence which principally concerns what is written in the following pages.


In order to render the subject treated of in the following pages quite complete, it ought, no doubt, to be preceded by an introduction describing first the sculpture and then the mythology of the Hindus in so far as they are at present known to us. There are in fact few works connected with this subject more wanted at the present day than a good treatise on these subjects. When Major Moor published the ‘Hindu Pantheon’ in 1810, the subject was comparatively new, and the materials did not exist in this country for a full and satisfactory illustration of it in all its branches. When, in 1832, Coleman published his ‘Mythology of the Hindus,’ he was enabled from the{33} more recent researches of Colebroke and Wilson, to improve the text considerably, but his illustrations are very inferior to those of his predecessor. Moor chose his from such bronzes or marbles as existed in our museums. Coleman’s were generally taken from modern drawings, or the tawdry plaster images made for the Durga puja of Bengali Babus. By the aid of photography any one now attempting the task would be able to select perfectly authentic examples from Hindu temples of the best age. If this were done judiciously, and the examples carefully engraved, it would not only afford a more satisfactory illustration of the mythology of the Hindus than has yet been given to the public, but it might also be made a history of the art of sculpture in India, in all the ages in which it is known to us. It is doubtful, however, whether such a work could be successfully carried through in this country at the present day. The photographs that exist of the various deities have generally been taken representing them only as they appear as ornaments of the temples, without special reference to their mythological character. They are sufficient to show what the sculptor intended, but not so detailed as to allow all their emblems or characteristics being distinctly perceived. To be satisfactory as illustrations of the mythology, it is indispensable that these points should all be made clear. At the same time it is to be feared that there is hardly any one in this country so familiar with all the details of emblems and symbols as to be able to give the exact meaning of all that is represented. It would require the assistance of some Pandit brought up in the faith, and who is familiar with the significance of all the emblems, to convey to others the true meaning of these innumerable carvings. In India it could easily be accomplished, and it is consequently hoped it may before long be attempted there.


From its very nature, it is evident that sculpture can hardly ever be so important as architecture as an illustration of the progress of the arts, or the affinities of nations. Tied down to the reproduction of the immutable human figure, sculpture hardly admits of the same variety, or the same development, as such an art as architecture, whose business it is to administer to all the varied wants of mankind and to express the multifarious aspirations of the human mind. Yet sculpture has a history, and one that can at times convey its meaning with considerable distinctness. No one, for instance, can take up such a book as that of Cicognara,[35] and follow the gradual development of the art as he describes it, from the first rude carvings of the Byzantine school, till it returned in the present day to the mechanical perfection of the old Greek art, though without its ennobling spirit, and not{34} feel that he has before him a fairly distinct illustration of the progress of the human mind during that period. Sculpture in India may fairly claim to rank, in power of expression, with mediæval sculpture in Europe, and to tell its tale of rise and decay with equal distinctness; but it is also interesting as having that curious Indian peculiarity of being written in decay. The story that Cicognara tells is one of steady forward progress towards higher aims and better execution. The Indian story is that of backward decline, from the sculptures of the Bharhut and Amravati topes, to the illustrations of Coleman’s ‘Hindu Mythology.’

When Hindu sculpture first dawns upon us in the rails at Buddh Gaya, and Bharhut, B.C. 200 to 250, it is thoroughly original, absolutely without a trace of foreign influence, but quite capable of expressing its ideas, and of telling its story with a distinctness that never was surpassed, at least in India. Some animals, such as elephants, deer, and monkeys, are better represented there than in any sculptures known in any part of the world; so, too, are some trees, and the architectural details are cut with an elegance and precision which are very admirable. The human figures, too, though very different from our standard of beauty and grace, are truthful to nature, and, where grouped together, combine to express the action intended with singular felicity. For an honest purpose-like pre-Raphaelite kind of art, there is probably nothing much better to be found elsewhere.

The art certainly had declined when the gateways at Sanchi were executed in the first century of the Christian Era. They may then have gained a little in breadth of treatment, but it had certainly lost much in delicacy and precision. Its downward progress was then, however, arrested, apparently by the rise in the extreme north-west of India of a school of sculpture strongly impregnated with the traditions of classical art. It is not yet clear whether this arose from a school of art implanted in that land by the Bactrian Greeks, or whether it was maintained by direct intercourse with Rome and Byzantium during the early centuries of the Christian Era. Probably both causes acted simultaneously, and one day we may be able to discriminate what is due to each. For the present it is sufficient to know that a quasi-classical school of sculpture did exist in the Punjab, and to the west of the Indus during the first five centuries after Christ, and it can hardly have flourished there so long, without its presence being felt in India.

Its effects were certainly apparent at Amravati in the 4th and 5th centuries, where a school of sculpture was developed, partaking of the characteristics of both those of Central India and of the west. Though it may, in some respects, be inferior to either of the parent styles, the degree of perfection reached by the art of sculpture at{35} Amravati may probably be considered as the culminating point attained by that art in India.

When we meet it again in the early Hindu temples, and later Buddhist caves, it has lost much of its higher æsthetic and phonetic qualities, and frequently resorts to such expedients as giving dignity to the principal personages by making them double the size of less important characters, and of distinguishing gods from men by giving them more heads and arms than mortal man can use or understand.

All this is developed, it must be confessed, with considerable vigour and richness of effect in the temples of Orissa and the Mysore, down to the 13th or 14th century. After that, in the north it was checked by the presence of the Moslems; but, in the south, some of the most remarkable groups and statues—and they are very remarkable—were executed after this time, and continued to be executed, in considerable perfection down to the middle of the last century.

As we shall see in the sequel, the art of architecture continues to be practised with considerable success in parts of India remote from European influence; so much so, that it requires a practised eye to discriminate between what is new and what is old. But the moment any figures are introduced, especially if in action, the illusion vanishes. No mistake is then possible, for the veriest novice can see how painfully low the art of sculpture has fallen. Were it not for this, some of the modern temples in Gujerat and Central India are worthy to rank with those of past centuries; but their paintings and their sculptured decorations excite only feelings of dismay, and lead one to despair of true art being ever again revived in the East.

To those who are familiar with the principles on which these arts are practised, the cause of this difference is obvious enough. Architecture being a technic art, its forms may be handed down traditionally, and its principles practised almost mechanically. The higher phonetic arts, however, of sculpture and painting admit of no such mechanical treatment. They require individual excellence, and a higher class of intellectual power of expression, to ensure their successful development. Architecture, may, consequently, linger on amidst much political decay; but, like literature, the phonetic arts can only be successfully cultivated where a higher moral and intellectual standard prevails than, it is feared, is at present to be found in India.


Whenever any one will seriously undertake to write the history of sculpture in India, he will find the materials abundant and the sequence by no means difficult to follow; but, with regard to mythology, the case is different. It cannot, however, be said that the materials are not abundant for this branch of the inquiry also; but{36} they are of a much less tangible or satisfactory nature, and have become so entangled, that it is extremely difficult to obtain any clear ideas regarding them; and it is to be feared they must remain so, until those who investigate the subject will condescend to study the architecture and the sculpture of the country as well as its books. The latter contain a good deal, but they do not contain all the information available on the subject, and they require to be steadied and confirmed by what is built or carved, which alone can give precision and substance to what is written.

Much of the confusion of ideas that prevails on this subject no doubt arises from the exaggerated importance it has of late years been the fashion to ascribe to the Vedas, as explaining everything connected with the mythology of the Hindus. It would, indeed, be impossible to over-estimate the value of these writings from a philological or ethnological point of view. Their discovery and elaboration have revolutionised our ideas as to the migrations of races in the remote ages of antiquity, and establish the affiliation of the Aryan races on a basis that seems absolutely unassailable; but it cannot be too strongly insisted upon that the Aryans are a race of strangers in India, distinct from the Indian people themselves. They may, as hinted above, have come into India some three thousand years before Christ, and may have retained their purity of blood and faith for two thousand years; but with the beginning of the political Kali Yug—or, to speak more correctly, at the time of the events detailed in the ‘Mahabharata,’ say 1200 years B.C.—they had lost much of both; while every successive wave of immigration that has crossed the Indus during the last three thousand years has impaired the purity of their race. From this cause, and from their admixture with the aborigines, it may probably be with confidence asserted that there is not now five per cent.—perhaps not one—of pure Aryan blood in the present population of India, nor, consequently, does the religion of the Vedas constitute one-twentieth part of the present religion of the people.

Though this may be absolutely so, it must not be overlooked that there are few things more remarkable, as bearing on this subject, than the extraordinary intellectual superiority of the Aryans over the Dasyus, or whatever we may call the people they found in India when they entered it. This superiority was sufficient to enable them to subdue the country, though they were probably infinitely inferior in numbers to the conquered people, and to retain them in subjection through long ages of time. Even now, when their purity of blood has become so diluted that they are almost lost among the people, their intellect, as embalmed in their writings, has left its impress on every corner of the land, and is still appealed to as a revelation of the will of God to man.

With the Vedas, however, we have very little to do in the present{37} work. The worship they foreshadow is of a class too purely intellectual to require the assistance of the stonemason and the carver to give it expression. The worship of the Aryans was addressed to the sun and moon. The firmament and all its hosts; the rain-bearing cloud; the sun-ushering dawn; all that was beautiful in the heavens above or beneficent on earth, was sung by them in hymns of elevated praise, and addressed in terms of awe or endearment as fear or hope prevailed in the bosom of the worshipper.[36] Had this gone on for some time longer than it did, the objects worshipped by the Aryans in India might have become gods, like those of Greece and Rome, endowed with all the feelings and all the failings of humanity. In India it was otherwise; the deities were dethroned, but never were degraded. There is no trace in Vedic times, so far as at present known, of Indra or Varuna, of Agni or Ushas, being represented in wood or stone, or of their requiring houses or temples to shelter them. It is true indeed that the terms of endearment in which they are addressed are frequently such as mortals use in speaking of each other; but how otherwise can man express his feeling of love or fear, or address his supplication to the being whose assistance he implores?

The great beauty of the Veda is, that it stops short before the powers of nature are dwarfed into human forms, and when every man stood independently by himself and sought through the intervention of all that was great or glorious on the earth, or in the skies, to approach the great spirit that is beyond and above all created things.

Had the Aryans ever been a numerical majority in India, and consequently able to preserve their blood and caste in tolerable purity, the religion of India never could have sunk so low as it did, though it might have fallen below the standard of the Veda. What really destroyed it was, that each succeeding immigration of less pure Aryan or Turanian races rendered their numerical majority relatively less and less, while their inevitable influence so educated the subject races as to render their moral majority even less important. These processes went on steadily and uninterruptedly till, in the time of Buddha, the native religions rose fairly to an equality with that of the Aryans, and afterwards for a while eclipsed it. The Vedas were only ultimately saved from absolute annihilation in India, by being embedded in the Vaishnava and Saiva superstitions, where their inanimate forms may still be recognised, but painfully degraded from their primitive elevation.

When we turn from the Vedas, and try to investigate the origin of those religions that first opposed and finally absorbed the Vedas in their abominations, we find our means of information painfully scanty{38} and unsatisfactory. As will appear in the sequel, all that was written in India that is worth reading was written by the Aryans; all that was built was built by the Turanians, who wrote practically nothing. But the known buildings extend back only to the 3rd century B.C., while the books are ten centuries earlier, or possibly even more than that, while, as might be expected, it is only accidentally and in the most contemptuous terms that the proud Aryans even allude to the abject Dasyus or their religion. What, therefore, we practically know of them is little more than inferences drawn from results, and from what we now see passing in India.

Notwithstanding the admitted imperfection of materials, it seems to be becoming every day more and more evident, that we have in the north of India one great group of native or at least of Turanian religions, which we know in their latest developments as the Buddhist, Jaina, and Yaishnava religions. The first named we only know as it was taught by Sakya Muni before his death in 543 B.C., but no one I presume supposes that he was the first to invent that form of faith, or that it was not based on some preceding forms. The Buddhists themselves, according to the shortest calculation, admit of four preceding Buddhas—according to the more usual accounts, of twenty-four. A place is assigned to each of these, where he was born, and when he died, the father and mother’s name is recorded, and the name, too, of the Bodhi-tree under whose shade he attained Buddhahood. The dates assigned to each of these are childishly fabulous, but there seems no reason for doubting that they may have been real personages, and their dates extend back to a very remote antiquity.[37]

The Jains, in like manner, claim the existence of twenty-four Tirthankars, including Mahavira the last. Their places of birth and death are equally recorded, all are in northern India, and though little else is known of them, they too may have existed. The series ends with Mahavira, who was the contemporary—some say the preceptor—of Sakya Muni.

The Vaishnava series is shorter, consisting of only nine Avatars, but it too, closes at the same time, Buddha himself being the ninth and last. Its fifth Avatur takes us back to Rama, who, if our chronology is correct, may have lived B.C. 2000; the fourth,—Narasinha, or man lion—points to the time the Aryans entered India. The three first deal with creation and events anterior to man’s appearance on earth. In this respect the Vaishnava list differs from the other two.{39} They only record the existence of men who attained greatness by the practice of virtue, and immortality by teaching the ways of God to man. The Vaishnavas brought God to earth, to mix and interfere in mundane affairs in a manner that neither the Aryan nor the Buddhist ever dreamt of, and so degraded the purer religion of India into the monstrous system of idolatry that now prevails in that country.

No attempt, so far as I know, has been made to explain the origin of the Saiva religion, or even to ascertain whether it was a purely local superstition, or whether it was imported from abroad. The earliest authentic written allusion to it seems to be that of the Indian ambassador to Bardasanes (A.D. 218, 222), who described a cave in the north of India which contained an image of a god, half-man, half-woman.[38] This is beyond doubt the Ardhanari form of Siva, so familiar afterwards at Elephanta and in every part of India. The earliest engraved representations of this god seem to be those on the coins of Kadphises (B.C. 80 to 100[39]), where the figure with the trident and the Bull certainly prefigure the principal personage in this religion. Curiously enough, however, he or she is always accompanied by the Buddhist trisul emblem, as if the king, or his subjects at least, simultaneously professed both religions. Besides all this, it seems now tolerably well ascertained, that the practice of endowing gods with an infinity of limbs took an earlier, certainly a greater development in Thibet and the trans-Himalayan countries than in India, and that the wildest Tantric forms of Durga are more common and more developed in Nepal and Thibet than they are even in India Proper. If this is so, it seems pretty clear, as the evidence now stands, that Saivism is a northern superstition introduced into India by the Yuechi or some of the northern hordes who migrated into India, either immediately before the Christian Era, or in the early centuries succeeding it.

It does not seem at first to have made much progress in the valley of the Ganges, where the ground was preoccupied by the Vaishnava group, but to have been generally adopted in Rajputana, especially among the Jats, who were almost certainly the descendants of the White Huns or Ephthalites, and it seems also to have been early carried south by the Brahmans, when they undertook to instruct the Dravidians in the religion of the Puranas. That of the Vedas never seems to have been known in the south, and it was not till after the Vedas had been superseded by the new system, that the Brahmanical religion was introduced among the southern people. It is also, it is to be feared, only too true that no attempt has yet been made to ascertain what the religion of the Dravidians was before the northern Brahmans induced them to adopt either the Jaina or the{40} Vaishnava or Saiva forms of faith. It is possible that among the Pandu Kolis, and other forms of ‘Rude Stone Monuments’ that are found everywhere in the south, we may find the fossil remains of the old Dravidian faith before they adopted that of the Hindus. These monuments, however, have not been examined with anything like the care requisite for the solution of a problem like this, and till it is done we must rest content with our ignorance.[40]

In the north we have been somewhat more fortunate, and enough is now known to make it clear that, so soon as the inquirers can consent to put aside personal jealousies, and apply themselves earnestly to the task, we may know enough to make the general outline at least tolerably clear. When I first published my work on ‘Tree and Serpent Worship,’ seven years ago, no one suspected, at least no one had hinted in type, that such a form of religion existed in Bengal. Since that time, however, so much has been written on the subject, and proof on proof has accumulated with such rapidity, that few will now be bold enough to deny that Trees were worshipped in India in the earliest times, and that a Naga people did exist, especially in the north-west, who had a strange veneration for snakes. It may be too bold a generalisation to assert, at present, that no people became Buddhists who had not previously been serpent worshippers, but it certainly is nearer the truth than at first sight appears. It is, at all events, quite certain that underlying Buddhism we everywhere find evidence of a stratum of Tree and Serpent Worship. Sometimes it may be repressed and obscured, but at others it crops up again, and, to a certain extent, the worship of the Tree and the Serpent, at some times and in certain places, almost supersedes that of the founder of the religion himself.

The five, or seven, or one thousand-headed Naga is everywhere present in the temples of the Jains, and pervades the whole religion of the Vaishnavas. In the great act of creation the Naga performs the principal part in the churning of the ocean, and in almost every representation of Vishnu he appears either as supporting and watching over him, or as performing some subsidiary part in the scene. It is, in fact, the Naga that binds together and gives unity to this great group of religions, and it is the presence of the Tree and Serpent worship underlying Buddhism, Jainism, and Vishnuism that seems to prove almost incontestably that there existed a people in the north of India, whether we call them Dasyus, Nishadhas, or by any other name, who were Tree and Serpent worshippers, before they{41} adopted any of the Hindu forms of faith. Nothing can be more antagonistic to the thoughts and feelings of any Aryan race than such forms of worship, and nothing more completely ante-Vedic than its rites. It seems also to have no connection with Saivism.[41] Nor is there any trace of it found among the Dravidians. There appears, in fact, no solution of the riddle possible, but to assume that it was an aboriginal superstition in the north of India, and it was the conversion of the people to whom it belonged that gave rise to that triarchy of religions that have succeeded each other in the north during the last two thousand years.

This solution of the difficulty has the further advantage that it steps in at once clearly to explain what philology is only dimly guessing at, though its whole tendency now seems in the same direction. If this view of the mythology be correct, it seems certain that there existed in the north of India, before the arrival of the Aryans, a people whose affinities were all with the Thibetans, Burmese, Siamese, and other trans-Himalayan populations, and who certainly were not Dravidians, though they may have been intimately connected with one division at least of the inhabitants of Ceylon.

Both the pre-Aryan races of India belonged, of course, to the Turanian group; but my present impression is, as hinted above, that the Dravidians belong to that branch of the great primordial family of mankind that was developed in Mesopotamia and the countries to the westward of the Caspian. The Dasyus, on the contrary, have all their affinities with those to the eastward of that sea, and the two might consequently be called the Western and the Eastern, or the Scythian and Mongolian Turanians. Such a distinction would certainly represent our present knowledge of the subject better than considering the whole as one family, which is too often the case at the present day.

These, however, are speculations which hardly admit of proof in the present state of our knowledge, and would consequently be quite out of place here, were it not that some such theory seems indispensable to explain the phenomena of the architectural history of India. That of the north is so essentially different from that of the south that they cannot possibly belong to the same people. Neither of them certainly are Aryan; and unless we admit that the two divisions of the country{42} were occupied by people essentially different in blood, though still belonging to the building races of mankind, we cannot possibly understand how they always practised, and to the present employ, styles so essentially different. Until these various ethnographical and mythological problems are understood and appreciated, the styles of architecture in India seem a chaos without purpose or meaning. Once, however, they are grasped and applied, their history assumes a dignity and importance far greater than is due to any merely æsthetic merits they may possess. Even that, however, is in many respects remarkable, and, when combined with the scientific value of the styles, seem to render them as worthy of study as those of any other people with whose arts we are acquainted.


It would add very much to the clearness of what follows if it were possible to compile any statistical tables which would represent with anything like precision the mode in which the people of India are distributed, either as regards their religious beliefs or their ethnographical relations. The late census of 1871-72 has afforded a mass of new material for this purpose, but the information is distributed through five folio volumes, in such a manner as to make it extremely difficult to abstract what is wanted so as to render it intelligible to the general reader. Even, however, if this were done, the result would hardly, for several reasons, be satisfactory. In the first place, the census is a first attempt, and the difficulty of collecting and arranging such a mass of new materials was a task of the extremest difficulty. The fault of any shortcomings, however, lay more with the enumerated than with the enumerators. Few natives know anything of ethnography, or can give a distinct answer with regard to their race or descent; and even with regard to religion their notions are equally hazy. Take for instance the table, page 93 of the Bombay Report. The compilers there divide the Hindus of that Presidency into three classes:—


The mixed class they proceed to define as “all who simply worship some god or goddess, without knowing anything of theology”—a description that probably applies with equal truth to two-thirds of the Hindu population of the other presidencies. The upper and educated classes do know now what sect they belong to, and the sects{43} are so distinctly marked as to admit of no doubt; but even that was not so clear in former days.

The great defect, however, of the census is, that it does not include the population of the Native States, estimated at 46,245,000, or one-fifth of the whole population of India; and, though it may be fair to assume that the proportions of races and their beliefs are the same as those of the adjacent states under British rule, this is only an assumption, and as such must vitiate any attempt at precision in statements regarding the whole of India.

Notwithstanding these difficulties or defects, it may be useful to state here that the population of the whole of India—exclusive, of course, of British Burmah—was ascertained by the late census to amount to 235,000,000 of souls. Of these, about 7-10ths—or, more nearly, 15-20ths—or 175,000,000, belonged to the various branches of the Hindu religion; more than 1-5th or 4-20ths or 50,000,000, professed the Mahomedan faith; and the remaining 1-20th was made up principally of the uncivilised hill tribes, and various minor sects which cannot correctly be classified with the followers of Siva and Vishnu. In this last group of 11,000,000 are the Jains and the Christians, who, though so influential from their wealth or intellect, form numerically but a very small fraction of the entire population.

The tables of the census, unfortunately, afford us very little information that is satisfactory with regard to the distribution of races among the people. From the new edition of Caldwell’s ‘Dravidian Grammar,’ we learn that upwards of 45,000,000 are Dravidian or speak Tamil, or languages allied to that dialect.[42] This may be somewhat of an over-estimate, but, taking it as it stands, it accounts for only 1-5th of the population; and what are we to say regarding the other 4-5ths, or 190,000,000 of souls? Four or five millions may be put on one side as Koles, Bhîls, Sontals, Nagas, &c.—hill tribes of various classes, whose affinities are not yet by any means settled, but whose ethnic relations are of very minor importance compared with those of the 185,000,000 remaining.

As the census leaves us very much in the dark on this subject, supposing we assume that one-half, or 90,000,000 more or less, of the inhabitants of northern India are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the country—Dasyus, Nishadhas, or whatever we may call them. Let us further divide the remaining 90,000,000 into three parts, and assume that one-third are lineal descendants of the Aryans who entered India before the time of Buddha; one-third the descendants of Yavanas, Sakas, Hunas, and other Scythian tribes who crossed the Indus between the Christian Era and the time of the{44} Mahomedan invasion; and that the remainder are the Moslem races, or their descendants, who have entered India during the last 800 years. Such a scheme may nearly represent the facts of the case; but it seems almost certainly to exaggerate the importance of the foreign immigrant element. Taking, for instance, the last, about which we know most, it seems hardly probable that since the time of Mahmood of Guzni any such number of tribes professing the Mahomedan religion could have entered India so as to be able to procreate a population of 30,000,000 of souls, even supposing they had brought their women with them—which they certainly did not, except in the most exceptional cases. Two or three millions of warriors may have crossed the Indus in that time and settled in India, and, marrying the females of the country, may have had a numerous progeny; but thirty millions is a vast population by direct descent, especially as we know how many of the Moslems of India were recruited from slaves purchased and brought up in the faith of their masters. In Bengal especially, where they are most numerous, they are Bengalis pure and simple, many, perhaps most, of whom have adopted that faith quite recently from motives it is not difficult to understand or explain. Though there may consequently be 50,000,000 of Mussulmans in India at the present day, we may feel quite certain that not one-half of this number are immigrants or the descendants of emigrants who entered India during the last eight centuries.

The same is probably true of the Turanian races, who entered India in the first ten centuries after our era. It is most improbable that they were sufficiently numerous to be the progenitors of thirty millions of people, and, if they were so, the mothers, in nine cases out of ten, were most probably natives of India.

Of the Aryans we know less; but, if so great a number as thirty millions can trace anything like a direct descent from them at the present day, the amount of pure Aryan blood in their veins must be infinitesimally small. But, though their blood may be diluted, the influence of their intellect remains so powerfully impressed on every institution of the country that, had they perished altogether, their previous presence is still an element of the utmost importance in the ethnic relations of the land.

Another census may enable us to speak with more precision with regard to these various divisions of the mass of the people of Hindustan, but meanwhile the element that seems to be most important, though the least investigated hitherto, is the extent of the aboriginal race. It has hitherto been so overlooked, that putting it at ninety millions may seem to many an exaggeration. Its intellectual inferiority has kept it in the background, but its presence everywhere seems to me the only means of explaining most of the phenomena we{45} meet continually, especially those connected with the history of the architecture of the country. Except on some such hypothesis as that just shadowed forth, I do not know how we are to account for the presence of certain local forms of buildings we find in the north, or to explain the persistence with which they were adhered to.

When from these purely ethnographic speculations we turn to ask how far religion and race coincide, we are left with still less information of a reliable character. As a rule, the Dravidians are Saiva, and Saiva in the exact proportion of the purity of their blood. In other words, in the extreme south of India they are immensely in the majority. In Tanjore, 7 to 1 of the followers of Vishnu; in Mádura, 5 to 1; in Trichinopoly, 4 to 1; and Salem, and generally in the south, 2 to 1;[43] but as we proceed northward they become equal, and in some of the northern districts of the Madras Presidency the proportions are reversed.

In Bengal, and wherever Buddhism once prevailed, the Vaishnava sects are, as might be expected, the most numerous. Indeed if it were not that so much of the present Hindu religion is an importation into the south, and was taught to the Dravidians by Brahmans from the north, it would be difficult to understand how the Vaishnava religion ever took root there, where Buddhism itself only existed to a slight extent, and where it, too, was an importation. If, however, it is correct to assume that Saivism had its origin to the northward of the Himalayas, among the Tartar tribes of these regions, there is no difficulty in understanding its presence in Bengal to the extent to which it is found to prevail there. But, on the other hand, nothing can be more natural than that an aboriginal Naga people, who worshipped trees and serpents, should become Buddhists, as Buddhism was originally understood, and, being Buddhists, should slide downwards into the corruptions of the present Vaishnava form of faith, which is avowedly that most fashionable and most prevalent in the north of India.

One of the most startling facts brought out by the last census, is the discovery that nearly one-third of the population of Eastern Bengal are Mahomedan—20,500,000 out of 66,000,000—while in the north-west provinces the Mahomedans are less than 1-6th—4,000,000 among 25,000,000; and in Oude little more than 1-10th. It thus looks more like a matter of feeling than of race; it seems that as the inhabitants of Bengal were Buddhists, and clung to that faith long after it had been abolished in other parts of India, they came in contact with the Moslem religion before they had adopted the modern form of Vishnuism, and naturally preferred a faith which acknowledged no caste, and freed them from the exactions and{46} tyranny of a dominant priesthood. The Mahomedan religion is in fact much more like Buddhism than are any of the modern Hindu forms, and when this non-Aryan casteless population came in contact with it, before they had adopted the new faith, and were free to choose, after the mysterious evaporation of their old beliefs, they naturally adopted the religion most resembling that in which they had been brought up. It is only in this way that it seems possible to account for the predominance of the Moslem faith in Lower Bengal and in the Punjab, where the followers of the Prophet outnumber the Hindus, in the proportion of 3 to 2, or as 9,000,000 to 6,000,000.

Where Buddhism had prevailed the choice seemed to lie between Vishnu or Mahomet. Where Saivism crept in was apparently among those races who were Turanians, or had affinities with the Tartar races, who immigrated from the north between the Christian era, and the age of the Mahomedan conquest.

To most people these may appear as rash generalisations, and at the present stage of the inquiry would be so in reality, if no further proof could be afforded. After reading the following pages, I trust most of them at least will be found to rest on the firm basis of a fair induction from the facts brought forward. It might, consequently, have appeared more logical to defer these statements to the end of the work, instead of placing them at the beginning. Unless, however, they are read and mastered first, a great deal that is stated in the following pages will be unintelligible, and the scope and purpose of the work can be neither understood nor appreciated.

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1. Naga people worshipping the Trisul emblem of Buddha, on a fiery pillar.
(From a bas-relief at Amravati.)

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Map of


Showing the Principal








It may create a feeling of disappointment in some minds when they are told that there is no stone architecture in India older than two and a half centuries before the Christian Era; but, on the other hand, it adds immensely to the clearness of what follows to be able to assert that India owes the introduction of the use of stone for architectural purposes, as she does that of Buddhism as a state religion, to the great Asoka, who reigned from B.C. 272 to 236.

It is not, of course, meant to insinuate that the people of India had no architecture before that date; on the contrary it can be proved that they possessed palaces and halls of assembly, perhaps even temples, of great magnificence and splendour, long anterior to Asoka’s accession; but, like the buildings of the Burmese at the present day, they were all in wood. Stone, in those days, seems to have been employed only for the foundations of buildings, or in engineering works, such as city walls and gates, or bridges or embankments; all else, as will appear from the sequel, were framed in carpentry. Much as we may now regret this, as all these buildings have consequently perished, it is not so clear, as it may at first appear, that the Indians were wrong in this, inasmuch as, in all respects, except durability, wood is a better building material than stone. It is far more easily cut and carved, larger spaces can be covered with fewer and less cumbrous points of support than is possible with stone, and colour and gilding are much more easily applied to wood than to stone. For the same outlay twice the space can be covered, and more than twice the splendour obtained by the use of the more perishable material, the one great defect being that it is ephemeral. It fails also in producing that impression of durability which is so essential to architectural effect; while, at the same time, the facility with which it can be carved and adorned tends to produce a barbaric splendour far less satisfactory than the more sober forms necessitated by the employment of the less tractable material.{48}

Be this as it may, it will, if I mistake not, become quite clear when we examine the earliest “rock-cut temples” that, whether from ignorance or from choice, the Indians employed wood, and that only in the construction of their ornamental buildings, before Asoka’s time.[44] From this the inference seems inevitable that it was in consequence of India being brought into contact with the western world, first by Alexander’s raid, and then by the establishment of the Bactrian kingdom in its immediate proximity, that led to this change. We do not yet know precisely how early the Bactrian kingdom extended to the Indus, but we feel its influence on the coinage, on the sculpture, and generally on the arts of India, from a very early date, and it seems as if before long we shall be able to fix with precision not only the dates, but the forms in which the arts of the Western world exerted their influence on those of the East. This, however, will be made clearer in the sequel. In the meanwhile it may be sufficient to state here that we know absolutely nothing of the temples or architecture of the various peoples or religions who occupied India before the rise of Buddhism,[45] and it is only by inference that we know anything of that of the Buddhists before the age of Asoka. From that time forward, however, all is clear and intelligible; we have a sufficient number of examples whose dates and forms are known to enable us to write a perfectly consecutive history of the Buddhist style during the 1000 years it was practised in India, and thence to trace its various developments in the extra Indian countries to which it was carried, and where it is still practised at the present day.[46]

If our ethnography is not at fault, it would be in vain to look for any earlier architecture of any importance in India before Asoka’s time. The Aryans, who were the dominant people before the rise of{49} Buddhism, were essentially a non-artistic race. They wrote books and expressed their ideas in words like their congeners all the world over, but they nowhere seem successfully to have cultivated the æsthetic arts, or to have sought for immortality through the splendour or durability of their buildings. That was always the aspiration of the less intellectual Turanian races, and we owe it to this circumstance that we are enabled to write with such certainty the history of their rise and fall as evidenced in their architectural productions.

There is no à priori improbability that the Dravidian races of the south of India, or the indigenous races of the north, may not have erected temples or other buildings at a very early date, but if so, all that can be said is that all trace of them is lost. When we first meet the Buddhist style it is in its infancy—a wooden style painfully struggling into lithic forms—and we have no reason to suppose that the other styles were then more advanced. When, however, we first meet them, some six or seven centuries afterwards, they are so complete in all their details, and so truly lithic in their forms, that they have hitherto baffled all attempts to trace them back to their original types, either in the wood or brick work, from which they may have been derived. So completely, indeed, have all the earlier examples been obliterated, that it is now doubtful whether the missing links can ever be replaced. Still, as one single example of a Hindu temple dating before the Christian Era might solve the difficulty, we ought not to despair of such being found, while the central provinces of India remain so utterly unexplored as they now are. Where, under ordinary circumstances, we ought to look for them, would be among the ruins of the ancient cities which once crowded the valley of the Ganges; but there the ruthless Moslem or the careless Hindu have thoroughly obliterated all traces of any that may ever have existed. In the remote valleys of the Himalaya, or of Central India, there may, however, exist remains which will render the origin and progress of Hindu architecture as clear and as certain as that of the Buddhist; but till these are discovered, it is with the architecture of the Buddhist that our history naturally begins. Besides this, however, from the happy accident of the Buddhists very early adopting the mode of excavating their temples in the living rock, their remains are imperishably preserved to us, while it is only too probable that those of the Hindu, being in less durable forms, may have disappeared. The former, therefore, are easily classified and dated, while the origin of the latter, for the present, seems lost in the mist of the early ages of Indian arts. Meanwhile, the knowledge that the architectural history of India commences B.C. 250, and that all the monuments now known to us are Buddhist for at least five or six centuries after that time, are cardinal facts that cannot be too strongly insisted upon by{50} those who wish to clear away a great deal of what has hitherto tended to render the subject obscure and unintelligible.


For convenience of description it will probably be found expedient to classify the various objects of Buddhist art under the five following groups, though of course it is at times impossible to separate them entirely from one another, and sometimes two or more of them must be taken together as parts of one monument.

1st. Stambhas, or Lâts.—These pillars are common to all the styles of Indian architecture. With the Buddhists they were employed to bear inscriptions on their shafts, with emblems or animals on their capitals. With the Jains they were generally Deepdans, or lamp-bearing pillars; with the Vaishnavas they as generally bore statues of Garuda or Hunaman; with the Saiva they were flag-staffs; but, whatever their destination, they were always among the most original, and frequently the most elegant, productions of Indian art.

2nd. Stupas, or Topes.—These, again, may be divided into two classes, according to their destination: first, the true Stupas or towers erected to commemorate some event or mark some sacred spot dear to the followers of the religion of Buddha: secondly, Dagobas, or monuments containing relics of Buddha, or of some Buddhist saint.[47] If it were possible, these two ought always to be kept separate, but no external signs have yet been discovered by which they can be distinguished from one another, and till this is so, they must be considered, architecturally at least, as one.

3rd. Rails.—These have recently been discovered to be one of the most important features of Buddhist architecture. Generally they are found surrounding Topes, but they are also represented as enclosing sacred trees, temples, and pillars, and other objects. It may be objected that treating them separately is like describing the peristyle of a Greek temple apart from the cella. The Buddhist rail, however, in early ages at least, is never attached to the tope, and is used for so many other, and such various purposes, that it will certainly tend to the clearness of what follows if they are treated separately.

4th. Chaityas,[48] or Assembly Halls.—These in Buddhist art cor{51}respond in every respect with the churches of the Christian religion. Their plans, the position of the altar or relic casket, the aisles, and other peculiarities are the same in both, and their uses are identical, in so far as the ritual forms of the one religion resemble those of the other.

5th. Viharas, or Monasteries.—Like the Chaityas, these resemble very closely the corresponding institutions among Christians. In the earlier ages they accompanied, but were detached from, the Chaityas or churches. In later times they were furnished with chapels and altars in which the service could be performed independently of the Chaitya halls, which may or may not be found in their proximity.

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2. Sri seated on a Lotus, with two Elephants pouring water over her.
(From a modern sculpture from Indore.)




It is not clear whether we ought to claim a wooden origin for these, as we can for all the other objects of Buddhist architecture. Certain it is, however, that the lâts of Asoka, with shafts averaging twelve diameters in height, are much more like wooden posts than any forms derived from stone architecture, and in an age when wooden pillars were certainly employed to support the roofs of halls, it is much more likely that the same material should be employed for the purposes to which these stambhas were applied, than the more intractable material of stone.

The oldest authentic examples of these lâts that we are acquainted with, are those which King Asoka set up in the twenty-seventh year after his consecration—the thirty-first of his reign—to bear inscriptions conveying to his subjects the leading doctrines of the new faith he had adopted. The rock-cut edicts of the same king are dated in his twelfth year, and convey in a less condensed form the same information—Buddhism without Buddha—but inculcating respect to parents and priests, kindness and charity to all men, and, above all, tenderness towards animals.[49]

The best known of these lâts is that set up by Feroze Shah, in his Kotila at Delhi, without, however, his being in the least aware of the original purpose for which it was erected, or the contents of the inscription. A fragment of a second was recently found lying on{53}

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3. Lât at Allahabad.

the ground near Hindu Rao’s house, north of Delhi.[50] Two others exist in Tirhoot at Radhia, and Mattiah, and a fragment of another was recognised utilised as a roller for the station roads, by an utilitarian member of the Bengal Civil Service. The most complete, however, is that which, in 1837, was found lying on the ground in the fort at Allahabad, and then re-erected with a pedestal, from a design by Captain Smith.[51] This pillar is more than usually interesting, as in addition to the Asoka inscriptions it contains one by Samudra Gupta (A.D. 380 to 400), detailing the glories of his reign, and the great deeds of his ancestors.[52] It seems again to have been thrown down, and was re-erected, as a Persian inscription tells us, by Jehangir (A.D. 1605), to commemorate his accession. It is represented without the pedestal (Woodcut No. 3). The shaft, it will be observed, is more than 3 ft. wide at the base, diminishing to 2 ft. 2 in. at the summit, which in a length of 33 ft.[53] looks more like the tapering of the stem of a tree—a deodar pine, for instance—than anything designed in stone. Like all the others of this class, this lât has lost its crowning ornament, which probably was a Buddhist emblem—a wheel or the trisul ornament[54]—but the necking still remains (Woodcut No. 4), and is almost a literal

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4. Assyrian honeysuckle ornament from capital of Lât, at Allahabad.

copy of the honeysuckle ornament we are so familiar with as used by the Greeks with the Ionic order. In this instance, however, it is hardly probable that it was introduced direct by the Greeks, but is more likely to{54} have been borrowed from its native country Assyria, whence the Greeks also originally obtained it. The honeysuckle ornament, again, occurs as the crowning member of a pillar at Sankissa, in the Doab, half-way between Muttra and Canouge (Woodcut No. 5), and this time surmounting a capital of so essentially Persepolitan a type, that there can be little doubt that the design of the whole capital came from Central Asia. This pillar, which is of a much stouter and shorter proportion than the edict lâts, is surmounted by an elephant, but so mutilated that even in the 7th century the Chinese traveller Hiouen Thsang mistook it for a lion, if this is indeed the effigy he was looking at, as General Cunningham supposes,[55] which, however, is by no means so clear as might at first sight appear.

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5. Capital at Sankissa.
(From a Drawing by Gen. Cunningham.)

6. Capital of Lât in Tirhoot.
(From a Drawing by the late Capt. Kittoe.)

Another capital of a similar nature to that last described crowns a lât at Bettiah in Tirhoot—this time surmounted by a lion of bold and good design (Woodcut No. 6). In this instance, however, the honeysuckle ornament is replaced by the more purely Buddhist ornament of a flock of the sacred hansas or geese. In both instances there are cable ornaments used as neckings, and the bead and reel so familiar to the student of classical art. The last named form is also, however, found at Persepolis. These features it may be remarked are only found on the lâts of Asoka, and are never seen afterwards in India, though common in Gandhara and in the Indus for long afterwards, which seems a tolerably clear indication that it was from Persia, though probably on a suggestion from the Greeks, that he obtained those{55} hints which in India led to the conversion of wooden architecture into stone. After his death, these classical features disappear, and wooden forms resume their sway, though the Persian form of capital long retained its position in Indian art.

It is more than probable that each of these Asoka lâts stood in front of, or in connection with some stupa, or building of some sort; but all these have disappeared, and the lâts themselves have—some of them at least—been moved more than once, so that this cannot now be proved. So far, however, as can now be ascertained, one or two stambhas stood in front of, or beside each gateway of every great tope, and one or two in front of each chaitya hall. At least we know that six or seven can now be traced at Sanchi, and nearly an equal number at Amravati,[56] and in the representation of topes at the latter place, these lâts are frequently represented both outside and inside the rails.

At Karli, one still stands in front of the great cave surmounted by four lions, which, judging from analogy, once bore a chakra or wheel, probably in metal.[57] A corresponding pillar probably once stood on the opposite side of the entrance bearing some similar emblem. Two such are represented in these positions in front of the great cave at Kenheri, which is an exact but debased copy of the great Karli cave.[58]

The two lâts at Erun and the iron pillar at Delhi, though similar in many respects to those just described, seem certainly to belong to the era of the Guptas at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century of our era, and to be dedicated to the Vaishnava faith, and in consequence belong to a subsequent chapter. That at Pathari is not inscribed or is at least unedited, and though it looks old, may also be of the Gupta times.

This is a meagre account, it must be confessed, of Buddhist lâts, which probably at one time could be counted by hundreds in the important Buddhist localities in Bengal; but it is feared we shall hardly be able to add many more to our list. They are so easily overthrown and so readily utilised in populous localities, that all trace of most of them has probably been irrecoverably lost, though one or two more examples may probably be found in remote, out-of-the-way places.{56}

There is no instance, so far as I am aware, of a built monumental pillar now standing in India. This is sufficiently accounted for by the ease with which they could be thrown down and their materials removed, when they had lost the sanctity which alone protected them. There are, however, two such pillars among the topes of Cabul, and evidently coeval with them, now called the Surkh Minar (Woodcut No. 7), and the Minar Chakri. These are ascribed by the traditions of the place to Alexander the Great, though they are evidently Buddhist monuments, meant to mark some sacred spot, or to commemorate some event, the memory of which has passed away. There can be little doubt that their upper members are meant to be copies of the tall capitals of the Persepolitan pillars, which were probably common also in Assyria, and throughout this part of Asia, but their shape and outline exhibit great degeneracy from the purer forms with which that architecture commenced in India, and which were there retained in their purity to a much later period than in this remote province. No reliable data seem to exist for ascertaining what the age of these monuments may be. It probably was the third or fourth century of our era, or it may be even earlier.

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7. Surkh Minar, Cabul.
(From a Drawing by Mr. Masson, in Wilson’s ‘Ariana Antiqua.’)





Bhilsa Topes—Topes at Sarnath and in Behar—Amravati Tope—Gandhara Topes—Jelalabad Topes—Manikyala Tope.

There are few subjects of like nature that would better reward the labour of some competent student than an investigation into the origin of Relic Worship and its subsequent diffusion over the greater part of the old world. So far as is at present known, it did not exist in Egypt, nor in Greece or Rome in classical times, nor in Babylon or Assyria. In some of these countries the greatest possible respect was shown to the remains of departed greatness, and the bones and ashes of persons who were respected in life were preserved with care and affection; but there was no individual so respected that a hair of his head, a tooth, or a toe-nail, even a garment or a utensil he had used, was considered as a most precious treasure after his death. In none of these countries does it appear to have occurred to any one that a bone or the begging-pot of a deceased saint was a thing worth fighting for; or that honour done to such things was a meritorious act, and that prayers addressed to them were likely to be granted. Yet so ingrained do these sentiments appear to be among the followers of Buddha, that it is difficult to believe that the first occasion on which this sentiment arose, was at the distribution of his remains on his attaining Nirvana at Kusinagara, B.C. 543. On that occasion, eight cities or kingdoms are said to have contended for the honour of possessing his mortal remains, and the difficulty was met by assigning a portion to each of the contending parties, who are said to have erected stupas to contain them in each of their respective localities.[59] None of these can now be identified with certainty—everything in future ages being ascribed to Asoka, who, according to{58} popular tradition, is said to have erected the fabulous number of 84,000 relic shrines, or towers to mark sacred spots.[60] Some of these may be those we now see, or are encased within their domes; but if so, they, like everything else architectural in India, are the earliest things we find there. It is true, the great pagoda—the Shewé Dagon—at Rangoon is said to contain relics of all the four Buddhas of the present Kalpa, the staff of Kakasanda; the water-dipper of Konagamma; the bathing garment of Kasyapa, and eight hairs from the head of Gautama Buddha;[61] but supposing this to be true, we only now see the last and most modern, which covers over the older erections. This is at least the case with the great Dagoba at Bintenne, near Kandy, in Ceylon, in which the thorax-bone of the great ascetic lies enshrined. The ‘Mahawanso,’ or great Buddhist history of Ceylon, describes the mode in which this last building was raised, by successive additions, in a manner so illustrative of the principle on which these relic shrines arrived at completion, that it is well worth quoting:—“The chief of the Devos, Sumano, supplicated of the deity worthy of offerings for an offering. The Vanquisher, passing his hand over his head, bestowed on him a handful of his pure blue locks from the growing hair of the head. Receiving and depositing it in a superb golden casket, on the spot where the divine teacher had stood, he enshrined the lock in an emerald dagoba, and bowed down in worship.

“The thero Sarabhu, at the demise of the supreme Buddha, receiving at his funeral pile the Thorax-bone, brought and deposited it in that identical dagoba. This inspired personage caused a dagoba to be erected 12 cubits high to enshrine it, and thereon departed. The younger brother of King Devenampiatisso (B.C. 259), having discovered this marvellous dagoba, constructed another encasing it, 30 cubits in height. King Duttagamini (B.C. 161), while residing there, during his subjugation of the Malabars, constructed a dagoba, encasing that one, 80 cubits in height.” This was the “Mahiyangana dagoba completed.”[62] It is possible that at each successive addition some new deposit was made; at least most of the topes examined in Afghanistan and the Punjab, which show signs of these successive increments, seem also to have had successive deposits, one above the other.

Of all the relics of Buddha, the most celebrated is the left canine tooth. At the original distribution it is said to have fallen to the lot of Orissa, and to have been enshrined in a town called from that circumstance “Dantapura.” This, most probably, was the modern town of Puri, and the celebrated temple of Juggernath, which now{59} flourishes there, not only in all probability occupies the same spot, but the worship now celebrated there is the same, mutato nomine, as that which was once performed in honour of this tooth. Be this as it may, it seems to have remained there in peace for more than eight centuries, when the king of the country, being attracted by some miracles performed by it, and the demeanour of the priests, became converted from the Brahmanical faith, to which he had belonged, to the religion of Buddha. The dispossessed Brahmans thereon complain to his suzerain lord, resident at Palibothra, in the narrative called only by his title Pandu, but almost certainly the Gautamiputra of the Andrabhitya dynasty. He ordered the tooth to be brought to the capital, when, from the wonders it exhibited, he was converted also; but this, and the excitement it caused, led to its being ultimately conveyed surreptitiously to Ceylon, where it arrived about the year 311;[63] and in spite of various vicissitudes still remains in British custody, the Palladium of the kingdom, as it has done during the last fifteen centuries and a half.[64]

About the same time (A.D. 324[65]) another tooth of Buddha was enshrined in a tope on the island of Salsette, in Bombay harbour, apparently in the time of the same Gautamiputra, but what its subsequent fate was is not known.[66] When the tope was opened for Dr. Bird, it was not there, but only a copper plate, which recorded its enshrinement, by a noble layman called Pushyavarman.[67]

Almost as celebrated as these was the begging-pot of Sakya Muni, which was long kept in a dagoba or vihara erected by Kanishka at Peshawur, and worshipped with the greatest reverence.[68] After paying a visit to Benares,[69] it was conveyed to Kandahar, and is still said to be preserved there by the Mussulmans, and looked upon even by them as a most precious relic.[70]{60}

All this will become plainer as we proceed, for we shall find every Buddhist locality sanctified by the presence of relics, and that these were worshipped apparently from the hour of the death of the founder of the religion to the present day. Were this the place to do it, it would be interesting to try and trace the path by which, and the time when, this belief in the efficacy of relics spread towards the west, and how and when it was first adopted by the early Christian Church, and became with them as important an element of worship as with the Buddhists. That would require a volume to itself; meanwhile, what is more important for our present purpose is the knowledge that this relic-worship gave rise to the building of these great dagobas, which are the most important feature of Buddhist architectural art.


No one can, I fancy, hesitate in believing that the Buddhist dagoba is the direct descendant of the sepulchral tumulus of the Turanian races, whether found in Etruria, Lydia, or among the Scyths of the northern steppes. The Indians, however, never seem to have buried, but always to have burnt, their dead, and consequently never, so far as we know, had any tumuli among them. It may be in consequence of this that the dagobas, even in the earliest times, took a rounded or domical form, while all the tumuli, from being of earth, necessarily assumed the form of cones. Not only out of doors, but in the earliest caves, the forms of dagobas are always rounded; and no example of a straight-lined cone covering a dagoba has yet been discovered. This peculiarity, being so universal, would seem to indicate that they had been long in use before the earliest known example, and that some other material than earth had been employed in their construction; but we have as yet no hint when the rounded form was first employed, nor why the conical form of the tumulus was abandoned when it was refined into a relic shrine. We know, indeed, from the caves, and from the earliest bas-reliefs, that all the roofs of the Indians were curvilinear; and if one can fancy a circular chamber with a domical roof—not in stone, of course—as the original receptacle of the relic, we may imagine that the form was derived from this.[71]

Bhilsa Topes.

The most extensive, and taking it altogether, perhaps the most interesting, group of topes in India is that known as the Bhilsa{61} Topes, from a town of that name in the kingdom of Bhopal, near which they are situated. There, within a district not exceeding ten miles east and west and six north and south, are five or six groups of topes, containing altogether between twenty-five and thirty individual examples. The principal of these, known as the great tope at Sanchi, has been frequently described, the smaller ones are known from General Cunningham’s descriptions only;[72] but altogether they have excited so much attention that they are perhaps better known than any group in India. We are not however, perhaps, justified in assuming, from the greater extent of this group, as now existing, that it possessed the same pre-eminence in Buddhist times. If we could now see the topes that once adorned any of the great Buddhist sites in the Doab or the Behars, the Bhilsa group might sink into insignificance. It may only be, that situated in a remote and thinly-peopled part of India, they have not been exposed to the destructive energy of opposing sects of the Hindu religion, and the bigoted Moslem has not wanted their materials for the erection of his mosques. They consequently remain to us, while it may be that nobler and more extensive groups of monuments have been swept from the face of the earth.

Notwithstanding all that has been written about them, we know very little that is certain regarding their object and their history. Our usual guides, the Chinese Pilgrims, fail us here. Fa Hian never was within some hundreds of miles of the place; and if Hiouen Thsang ever was there, it was after leaving Ballabhi, when his journal becomes so wild and curt that it is always difficult, sometimes impossible, to follow him. He has, at all events, left no description by which we can now identify the place, and nothing to tell us for what purpose the great tope or any of the smaller ones were erected. The ‘Mahawanso,’ it is true, helps us a little in our difficulties. It is there narrated that Asoka, when on his way to Ujjéni (Ujjain), of which place he had been nominated governor, tarried some time at Chétyagiri, or, as it is elsewhere called, Wessanagara, the modern Besnagar, close to Sanchi. He there married Devi, the daughter of the chief, and by her had twin sons, Ujjenio and Mahindo, and afterwards a daughter, Sanghamitta. The two last named entered the priesthood, and played a most important part in the introduction of Buddhism into Ceylon. Before setting out on this mission, Mahindo visited his royal mother at Chétyagiri, and was{62} lodged in “a superb vihara,” which had been erected by herself.[73] In all this there is no mention of the great tope, which may have existed before that time; but till some building is found in India which can be proved to have existed before that age, it will be safe to assume that this is one of the 84,000 topes said to have been erected by him. Had Sanchi been one of the eight cities which obtained relics of Buddha at the funeral pyre, the case might have been different; but it has been dug into, and found to be a stupa, and not a dagoba. It consequently was erected to mark some sacred spot or to commemorate some event, and we have no reason to believe that this was done anywhere before Asoka’s time.

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8. Relic Casket of Moggalana.

9. Relic Casket of Sariputra.

On the other hand two smaller topes on the same platform contained relics of an undoubted historical character. That called No. 2 Tope contained those of ten Buddhist teachers who took part in the third great convocation held under Asoka, and some of whom were sent on missions to foreign countries, to disseminate the doctrines then settled, and No. 3 Tope contained two relic caskets, represented in the accompanying woodcuts (Nos. 8 and 9). One of these contained relics of Maha Moggalana, the other of Sariputra, friends and companions of Buddha himself, and usually called his right and left hand disciples.[74] It does not of course follow from this that this dagoba is as old as the time of Buddha; on the contrary, some centuries must elapse before a bone or rag belonging to any mortal becomes so precious that a dome is erected to enshrine it. The great probability seems to be that these relics were deposited there by Asoka himself, in close proximity to the sacred spot, which the great tope was erected to commemorate. The tope containing relics of his contemporaries must of course be much more modern, probably contemporary with the gateways, which are subsequent to the Christian Era.[75]{63}

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10. View of the great Tope at Sanchi.

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11. Plan of great Tope at Sanchi.

Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

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12. Section of great Tope at Sanchi.

Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The general appearance of the Sanchi Tope will be understood from the view of it on Woodcut No. 10, and its shape and arrangement from the plan and section, Nos. 11 and 12. From these it will be observed that the principal building consists of a dome{64} somewhat less than a hemisphere, 106 ft. in diameter, and 42 ft. in height.[76]

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13. Tee cut in the rock on a Dagoba at Ajunta.

On the top of the tope is a flat space about 34 ft. in diameter, formerly surrounded by a stone railing, some parts of which are still lying there; and in the centre of this once stood a feature known to Indian archæologists as a Tee. The woodcut (No. 13), from a rock-cut example at Ajunta, represents the usual form at this age. The lower part is adorned with the usual Buddhist rail (to be described hereafter), the upper by the conventional window, two features which are universal. It is crowned by a lid of three slabs, and no doubt either was or simulated a relic casket. No tope, and no representation of a tope—and we have hundreds—are without this feature, and generally it is or was surmounted by one or more discs representing the umbrellas of state; in modern times by as many as nine of these. The only ancient wooden one now known to exist is that in the cave at Karli (Woodcut No. 56), but the representations of them in stone and painting are literally thousands in number.

The dome rests on a sloping base, 14 ft. in height by 120 ft. in diameter, having an offset on its summit about 6 ft. wide. This, to judge from the representations of topes on the sculptures, must have been surrounded by a balustrade, and was ascended by a broad double ramp on one side. It was probably used for processions round the monument, which seem to have been among the most common Buddhist ceremonials. The centre of this great mound is quite solid, being composed of bricks laid in mud; but the exterior is faced with dressed stones. Over these was laid a coating of cement nearly 4 inches in thickness, which was, no doubt, originally adorned either with painting or ornaments in relief.

Beside the group at Sanchi, which comprises six or seven topes, there are at Sonari, six miles distant, another group of eight topes. Two of these are important structures, enclosed in square courtyards, and one of these yielded numerous relics to the explorers.

At Satdhara, three miles further on, is a great tope 101 ft. in diameter, but which, like that at Sanchi, seems to have been a stupa, and yielded no relics. No. 2, however, though only 24 ft. in diameter, was found to contain relics of Sariputra and Moggalana, like No. 3 at{65} Sanchi. Besides these there are several others, all small, and very much ruined.

The most numerous group, however, is situated at Bhojpur, seven miles from Sanchi, where thirty-seven distinct topes are grouped together on various platforms. The largest is 66 ft. in diameter, but No. 2 is described as one of the most perfect in the neighbourhood, and, like several others in this group, contained important relics.

At Andher, about five miles west of Bhojpur, is a fine group of three small, but very interesting topes. With those above enumerated, this makes up about sixty distinct and separate topes, in this small district, which certainly was not one of the most important in India in a religious point of view, and consequently was probably surpassed by many, not only in the number but in the splendour of its religious edifices.[77]

Without more data than we at present possess, it is of course impossible to speak with certainty with regard to the age of this group of topes, but, so far as can be at present ascertained, there seems no reason for assuming that any of them are earlier than the age of Asoka, B.C. 250, nor is it probable that any of them can be of later date than the era of Salivahana, A.D. 79, or say after the first century of our era. Their rails may be later, but the topes themselves seem all to be included within these three centuries and a half.

Topes at Sarnath and in Behar.

Not only is there no other group of topes in India Proper that can be compared, either in extent or in preservation, to those of Bhilsa, but our knowledge of the subject is now so complete that it is probably safe to assert that only two, or at most three, topes exist between the Sutlej and the sea, sufficiently perfect to enable their form and architectural features to be distinguished. There are, of course, numerous mounds near all the Buddhist cities which mark the site, and many of which probably hide the remains, of some of the hundreds of stupas or dagobas mentioned by the Chinese Pilgrims, besides many that they failed to distinguish. All, however, with the fewest possible exceptions, have perished; nor is it difficult to see why this should be so. All, or nearly all, were composed of brick or small stones, laid either without mortar, or with cement that was little better than mud. They consequently, when desecrated and deserted, formed such convenient quarries for the villagers, that{66} nearly all have been utilised for building huts and houses of the Hindus, or the mosques of the iconoclastic Mussulmans. Their rails, being composed of larger stones and not so easily removed, have in some instances remained, and some will no doubt be recovered when looked for; and as these, in the earlier ages at least, were the iconostasis of the shrine, their recovery will largely compensate for the loss of the topes which they surrounded.

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14. Tope at Sarnath, near Benares.
(From a Photograph.)

The best known, as well as the best preserved of the Bengal topes, is that at Sarnath, near Benares (Woodcut No. 14). It was carefully explored by General Cunningham in 1835-36, and found to be a stupa: viz., containing no relics, but erected to mark some spot sanctified by the presence of Buddha, or by some act of his during{67} his long residence there. It is situated in the Deer Park, where he took up his residence with his five disciples when he first removed from Gaya on attaining Buddhahood, and commencing his mission as a teacher. What act it commemorates we shall probably never know, as there are several mounds in the neighbourhood, and the descriptions of the Chinese Pilgrims are not sufficiently precise to enable us now to discriminate between them.

The building consists of a stone basement, 93 ft. in diameter, and solidly built, the stones being clamped together with iron to the height of 43 ft. Above that it is in brickwork, rising to a height of 110 ft. above the surrounding ruins, and 128 ft. above the plain.[78] Externally the lower part is relieved by eight projecting faces, each 21 ft. 6 in. wide, and 15 ft. apart. In each is a small niche, intended apparently to contain a seated figure of Buddha, and below them, encircling the monument, is a band of sculptured ornament of the most exquisite beauty. The central part consists—as will be seen by the cut on the next page—of geometric patterns of great intricacy, but combined with singular skill; and, above and below, foliage equally well designed, and so much resembling that carved by Hindu artists on the earliest Mahomedan mosques at Ajmir and Delhi, as to make us feel sure they cannot be very distant in date.

The carvings round the niches and on the projections have been left so unfinished—in some instances only outlined—that it is impossible to guess what ultimate form it may have been intended to give them. The upper part of the tower seems never to have been finished at all, but from our knowledge of the Afghanistan topes we may surmise that it was intended to encircle it with a range of pilasters, and then some bold mouldings, before covering it with a hemispherical dome.

In his excavations, General Cunningham found, buried in the solid masonry, at the depth of 10½ ft. from the summit, a large stone on which was engraved the usual Buddhist formula, “Ye dharmma hetu,” &c., in characters belonging to the 7th century, from which he infers that the monument belongs to the 6th century. To me it appears so extremely improbable that men should carefully engrave such a formula on a stone, and then bury it ten or twelve feet in a mass of masonry which they must have hoped would endure for ever, that I cannot accept the conclusion. It seems to me much more probable that it may have belonged to some building which this one was designed to supersede, or to have been the pedestal of some statue which had been disused, but which from its age had become venerable, and was consequently utilised to sanctify this{68} new erection. I am consequently much more inclined to adopt the tradition preserved by Captain Wilford,[79] to the effect that the Sarnath monument was erected by the sons of Mohi Pala, and destroyed (interrupted?) by the Mahomedans, in 1017, before its completion.[80] The form of the monument, the character of its sculptured ornaments, the unfinished condition in which it is left, and indeed the whole circumstances of the case, render this date so much the most probable that I feel inclined to adopt it almost without hesitation.

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15. Panel on the Tope at Sarnath.
(From a Photograph.)

The other Bengal tope existing nearly entire is known as Jarasandha Ka Baithak. General Cunningham state its dimensions to{69} be 28 ft. in diameter by 21 ft. in height, resting on a basement 14 ft. high, so that its total height, when complete, may have been about 55 ft.[81] As it was not mentioned by Fa Hian, A.D. 400, and is by Hiouen Thsang, A.D. 640, its age is probably, as General Cunningham states, intermediate between these dates, or about A.D. 500.[82] It is a bold, fine tower, evidently earlier than that at Sarnath, and showing nothing of the tendency towards Hindu forms there displayed. It has, too, the remains of a procession-path, or extended basement, which is wholly wanting at Sarnath, but which is always found in the earlier monuments. It was erected, as Hiouen Thsang tells us, in honour of a Hansa—goose—who devoted itself to relieve the wants of a starving community of Bhikshus.[83]

The third stupa, if it may be so called, is the celebrated temple at Buddh Gaya, which stands immediately in front of the celebrated Bodhi-tree (Ficus religiosa)[84] under whose shade Buddha attained complete enlightenment in the thirty-fifth year of his age, B.C. 588. Its history is told in such detail by Hiouen Thsang[85] that there seems little doubt as to the main facts of the case. According to this authority, Asoka built a small vihara here, but long afterwards this was replaced by a temple 160 ft. high and 60 ft. (20 paces) wide, which are the exact dimensions of the present building, according to Cunningham,[86] and we are further told that it was erected by a Brahman, who was warned by Maheswara (Siva), in a vision, to execute this work. In this temple there was a cella corresponding with the dimensions of that found there, in which the Brahman placed a statue of Buddha, seated cross-legged, with one hand pointing to the earth. Who this Brahman was we learn from an inscription translated by Mr. Wilkins in vol. i. of the ‘Asiatic Researches’ (p. 284), for it can hardly be doubted that the Brahman of the Chinese pilgrim is identical with the Amara Deva of the inscription, who was one of the ornaments of the court of Vicramaditya of Malwa, A.D. 495-530. From a Burmese inscription on the spot, first translated by Colonel Burney, we further learn that the place, having fallen into decay, was restored by the Burmese in the year 1306-1309.[87]

From the data these accounts afford us we gather, with very tolerable certainty, that the building we now see before us (Woodcut No. 16) {70} is substantially that erected by Amara the Brahman, in the beginning of the 6th century, but the niches Hiouen Thsang saw, containing golden statues of Buddha, cannot be those now existing, and the sculptures he mentions find no place in the present design; and the amalakas of gilt copper that crowned the whole, as he saw it, have disappeared. The changes in detail, as well as the introduction of radiating arches in the interior, I fancy must belong to the Burmese restoration in the beginning of the 14th century. Though these, consequently, may have altered its appearance in detail, it is probable that we still have before us a straight-lined pyramidal nine-storeyed temple of the 6th century, retaining all its essential forms—anomalous and unlike anything else we find in India, either before or afterwards, but probably the parent of many nine-storeyed towers found beyond the Himalayas, both in China and elsewhere.

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16. Temple at Buddh Gaya with Bo-tree.
(From a Photograph by Mr. Peppe, C.E.)

Eventually we may discover other examples which may render{71} this noble tower less exceptional than it now appears to be; but perhaps its anomalous features may be due to the fact that it was erected by Brahmans for Buddhist purposes in an age of extremest toleration,[88] when it was doubtful whether the balance would incline towards Buddhist or Brahmanical supremacy. In less than a century and a half after its erection the storm burst (A.D. 648) which eventually sealed the fate of Buddhism in Central India, with only a fitful flickering of the lamp afterwards during lulls in the tempest.

At Keseriah, in Tirhoot, about 20 miles north of Bakra, where one of the pillars of Asoka mentioned above is found, are the ruins of what appears to have been a very large tope. It is, however, entirely ruined externally, and has never been explored, so that we cannot tell what was its original shape or purpose.[89] All along this line of country numerous Buddhist remains are found, all more or less ruined, and they have not yet been examined with the care necessary to ascertain their forms. This is the more to be regretted as this was the native country of the founder of the religion, and the place where his doctrines appear to have been originally promulgated. If anything older than the age of Asoka is preserved in India, it is probably in this district that it must be looked for.


Although not a vestige remains in situ of the central dagoba at Amravati, there is no great difficulty, by piecing together the fragments of it in the India Museum—as is done in Plate 93 of ‘Tree and Serpent Worship’—in ascertaining what its dimensions and general appearance were. It was small, only 30 ft. to 35 ft. in diameter, or about 100 ft. in circumference, and 50 ft. high. The perpendicular part, 34 ft. high, was covered with sculptures in low relief, representing scenes from the life of Buddha. The domical part was covered with stucco, and with wreaths and medallions either executed in relief or painted. No fragment of them remains by which it can be ascertained which mode of decoration was the one adopted.

Altogether, there seems no doubt that the representation of a tope on the following page (Woodcut No. 17), copied from the inner rail at Amravati, fairly represents the central building there. There were probably forty-eight such representations of dagobas on this rail. In each the subject of the sculpture is varied, but the general design is the same throughout; and, on the whole, the woodcut may be taken as representing the mode in which a Buddhist dagoba was ornamented in{72} the 4th or 5th century, which is the time at which the style seems to have reached its highest point of elaboration, in India at least.

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17. Representation of a Tope from the Rail at Amravati. (From a bas-relief in the India Museum.)

Gandhara Topes.

The extreme paucity of examples retaining their architectural form, in the valley of the Ganges, is, to some extent, compensated for by the existence of a very extensive range of examples in Afghanistan and the western Punjab. In his memoir of these topes, published by Professor Wilson, in his ‘Ariana Antiqua,’ Mr. Masson enumerates and describes, in more or less detail, some sixty examples, or almost exactly the same number which General Cunningham described as existing at Bhilsa. In this instance, however, they extend over a range of 200 miles, from Cabul to the Indus, instead of only 16 or{73} 17 miles from Sonari to Andher. To these must be added some fifteen or twenty examples, found at Manikyala or in its neighbourhood, and it is probable about the same number still exist undescribed, making altogether perhaps 100 stupas in this province.

Notwithstanding this wealth of examples, we miss one, which was probably the finest of all. When Fa Hian passed through the province in A.D. 400, he describes the dagoba which King Kanishka had erected at Peshawur as “more than 470 ft. in height, and decorated with every sort of precious substance, so that all who passed by, and saw the exquisite beauty and graceful proportions of the tower and the temple attached to it, exclaimed in delight that it was incomparable for beauty;” and he adds, “Tradition says this was the highest tower in Jambudwipa.”[90] When Hiouen Thsang passed that way more than two hundred years afterwards, he reports the tower as having been 400 ft. high, but it was then ruined—“the part that remained, a li and a half in circumference (1500 ft.) and 150 ft. high;” and he adds, in twenty-five stages of the tower there were a “ho”—10 bushels of relics of Buddha.[91] No trace of this monument now exists.

These north-western topes are so important for our history, and all have so much that is common among them, and are distinguished by so many characteristics from those of India Proper, that it would be extremely convenient if we could find some term which would describe them without involving either a theory or a geographical error. The term Afghanistan topes, by which they are generally designated, is too modern, and has the defect of not including Peshawur and the western Punjab. “Ariana,” as defined by Professor Wilson, describes very nearly the correct limits of the province; for, though it includes Bactria and the valley of the Upper Oxus, where no topes have yet been found, we know from the Chinese Pilgrims that in the 5th and 7th centuries these countries, as far as Khoten, were intensely Buddhist, and monuments must exist, and will, no doubt, be found when looked for. The name, however, has the defect that it seems to imply the existence in that region of an Aryan people, and consequently an Aryan religion. At the time to which he was referring, that was no doubt the case, and therefore from the Professor’s point of view the name was correctly applied.

When the Sanscrit-speaking races first broke up from their original settlements in the valley of the Oxus, they passed through the valley of the Cabul river on their way to India, and lingered, in all probability, both there and in the Punjab before reaching their first permanent position on the Saraswati—the true “Arya Varta{74}”—between the Sutlej and the Jumna. It is also nearly certain that they remained the dominant caste in these countries down to the time of Alexander’s invasion, and during the supremacy of the Bactrian kingdom. About 130 years, however, before the Christian Era, if we may trust the Chinese accounts,[92] the Yuechi, and other tribes of Tartar origin, were on the move in this direction. About that time they struck down the Bactrian monarchy, and appear from thenceforward to have permanently occupied their country. It is not clear whether they immediately, or at what interval they penetrated into the Cabul valley; but between that time and the Christian Era successive hordes of Yuechi, Sakas, Turuskas, and Hunas, had poured into the valley and the western Punjab to such an extent as to obliterate, or at least for the time supersede the Aryan population, and supplant it by one of Turanian origin, and with this change of race came the inevitable change of religion. Turania would therefore for our purposes be a more descriptive name than Ariana; but it is not sufficiently precise or well defined. No people, so far as is known, ever adopted and adhered to the Buddhist religion who had not a large proportion of Turanian blood in their veins, and the name would consequently include all the people who adopted this faith. Gandhara is, on the contrary, a local name, which certainly, in early times, included the best part of this province, and in Kanishka’s time seems to have included all he reigned over, and, if so, would be the most appropriate term we could find.

It has, moreover, this advantage, that it is essentially Buddhist. In the time of Asoka, it was Kashmir and Gandhara to which he sent his missionaries, and from that time forward Gandhara is the term by which, in all Buddhist books, that kingdom is described, of which Taxila was the capital, and which is, as nearly as can now be ascertained, conterminous with our architectural province.

It is not clear whether Kanishka was or was not the first Buddhist king of this country; but, so far as is at present known, he seems to have done for Buddhism in Gandhara exactly what Asoka did for that religion in central India. He elevated it from its position as a struggling sect to that of being the religion of the State. We know, however, that Asoka himself sent missionaries to this country;[93] and, more than this, that he engraved a complete set of his edicts on a rock at Kapurdigiri, 30 miles north-east from Peshawur, but we do not know what success they or he attained. Certain it is, as Professor Wilson remarks, that “no coin of a Greek prince of Bactria has ever been met with in any tope.”[94] The local coins that are found in them all belong to dynasties subsequent to the destruction of the{75} Bactrian kingdom, and, according to the same authority (p. 322), “were selected from the prevailing currency, which was not of any remotely previous issue;” “while the Greek Bactrian coins had long ceased to be current, though they had not, perhaps, become so scarce as to be enshrined as rarities” (p. 44). Under these circumstances, Professor Wilson arrives at the conclusion that the topes “are undoubtedly all subsequent to the Christian Era” (p. 322). It is true that some of the kings whose coins are found in the topes, such as Hermæus, Azes, Kadphises, and others, may have lived prior to that epoch, but none of their coins show a trace of Buddhism. On those of the last-named king, it is also true that we find the trisul emblem of the Buddhists on the reverse, but it is coupled with the bull and trident of Siva in so remarkable a manner that it can hardly be doubted that the monarch was a follower of the Hindu religion, though acknowledging the presence of Buddhism in his realm.[95] With Kanishka, however, all this is altered. He was a Buddhist, beyond all doubt; he held the convocation called the third by the northern Buddhists—the fourth according to the southern—at which Nagárjuna was apparently the presiding genius. From that time the Thibetans, Burmese, and Chinese date the introduction of Buddhism into their countries: not, however, the old simple Buddhism, known as the Hinayana, which prevailed before, but the corrupt Mahayana, which was fabled to have been preserved by the Nagas from the time of Buddha’s death, and from whom Nagárjuna received it, and spread it from Peshawur over the whole of northern and eastern Asia. It was precisely the same revolution that took place in the Christian Church, about the same time after the death of its founder. Six hundred years after Christ, Gregory the Great established the hierarchical Roman Catholic system, in supersession of the simpler primitive forms. Six hundred years after the Nirvana, Nagárjuna introduced the complicated and idolatrous Mahayna,[96] though, as we learn from the Chinese Pilgrims, a small minority still adhered in after times to the lesser vehicule, or Hinayana system.

Although, therefore, we are probably safe in asserting that none of the Gandhara topes date before the Christian Era, it is not because there is any inherent, à priori improbability that they should date before Kanishka, as there is that those of India Proper cannot extend beyond Asoka. There is no trace of wooden construction here. All is stone and all complete, and copied probably from Bactrian originals that may have existed two centuries earlier. Their dates depend principally on the coins, which are almost invariably found{76} deposited with the relics, in these topes. No coins so far as I know have been found in any Indian tope. They are found in hundreds in these north-western ones, and always fix a date beyond which the tope cannot be carried back, and generally enable us to approximate very nearly to the true date of the monument in question. If those of Kanishka are the earliest, which appears to be the case, the great one which he commenced, at Manikyala, is probably also the last to be finished in its present form, inasmuch as below 12 ft. of solid masonry, a coin of Yasoverma of Canouge was found, and his date cannot be carried back beyond A.D. 720. Between these dates, therefore, must be ranged the whole of this great group of Buddhist monuments.

There probably were no great Buddhist establishments in Gandhara before Kanishka, and as few, if any, after Yasoverma, yet we learn that between these dates this province was as essentially Buddhist as any part of India. Fa Hian tells us, emphatically, that the law of Buddha is universally honoured, and enumerates 500 monasteries,[97] and Hiouen Thsang makes no complaint of heretics, while both dilate in ecstasies on the wealth of relics everywhere displayed. Part of the skull, teeth, garments, staffs, pots of Buddha—impressions of his feet, even his shadow—was to be seen in this favoured district, which was besides sanctified by many actions which had been commemorated by towers erected on the spot where these meritorious acts were performed. Many of these spots have been identified, and more will no doubt reward the industry of future investigators, but meanwhile enough is known to render this province one of the most interesting of all India for the study of the traditions or art of Mediæval Buddhism.

The antiquities of the western part of the province were first investigated by Dr. Honigberger, in the years 1833-34,[98] and the result of his numismatic discoveries published in Paris and elsewhere; but the only account we have of the buildings themselves is that given by Mr. Masson, who, with singular perseverance and sagacity, completed what Dr. Honigberger had left undone.[99] Those of the eastern district and about Manikyala were first investigated by General Ventura and M. Court, officers in the service of Runjeet Sing, and the result of their researches published by Prinsep in the third volume of his ‘Journal’ in 1830; but considerably further light has been thrown on them by the explorations of General Cunningham, and published in his ‘Archæological Reports’ for 1863-1864.{77}

Jelalabad Topes.

The topes examined and described by Mr. Masson as existing round Jelalabad are thirty-seven in number, viz., eighteen distinguished as the Darunta group, six at Chahar Bagh, and thirteen at Hidda. Of these about one-half yielded coins and relics of more or less importance, which proved the dates of their erection to extend from the Christian Era, or it may be a few years before it, to the 7th or 8th century.

One of the most remarkable of these is No. 10 of Hidda, which contained, besides a whole museum of gems and rings, five gold solidi of the emperors Theodosius (A.D. 408), Marcian and Leo (474); two gold Canouge coins; and 202 Sassanian coins extending to, if not beyond, the Hegira.[100] This tope, therefore, must belong to the 7th century, and would be a most convenient landmark in architectural history, were it not that the whole of its exterior is completely peeled off, so that no architectural mouldings remain, and, apparently from the difficulty of ascertaining them, no dimensions are quoted in the text.[101] About one-half of the others contained relics, but none were found to be so rich as this.

In general appearance they differ considerably from the great Indian topes just described, being all taller in proportion to their breadth, and having a far more tower-like appearance, than any found in India, except the Sarnath example. They are also smaller, the largest at Darunta being only 160 ft. in circumference. This is about the usual size of the first-class topes in Afghanistan, the second class being a little more than 100 ft., while many are much smaller.

In almost every instance they seem to have rested on a square base, though in many this has been removed, and in others it is buried in rubbish. Above this rises a circular base or drum, crowned by a belt sometimes composed merely of two architectural string-courses, with different coloured stones disposed as a diaper pattern between them. Sometimes a range of plain pilasters occupies this space. More generally the pilasters are joined by arches sometimes circular, sometimes of an ogee form. In one instance—the Red Tope—they are alternately circular and three-sided arches. That this belt represents the enclosing rail at Sanchi and the pilastered base at Manikyala cannot be doubted.{78} It shows, however, a very considerable change in style to find it elevated so far up the monument as it here is, and so completely changed from its original purpose.

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18. Tope at Bimeran.
(From a Drawing by Mr. Masson, in Wilson’s ‘Ariana Antiqua.’)

Generally speaking, the dome or roof rises immediately above this, but no example in this group retains its termination in a perfect state. Some appear to have had hemispherical roofs, some more nearly conical, of greater or less steepness of pitch; and some (like that represented in Woodcut No. 18) were probably flat, or with only a slight elevation in the centre. It seems probable there may have been some connection between the shape of the roof and the purpose for which the tope was raised. But we have no evidence to lead us to any decision of this point.

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19. Tope, Sultanpore.
(From a Drawing by Mr. Masson, in Wilson’s ‘Ariana Antiqua.’)

One interesting peculiarity was brought to light by Mr. Masson in his excavation of the tope at Sultanpore, and is shown in the annexed section (Woodcut No. 19). It is proved that the monument originally consisted of a small tope on a large square base, with the relic placed on its summit. This was afterwards increased in size by a second tope being built over it.

Besides those already mentioned there are about twenty or thirty topes in the neighbourhood of Cabul, but all much ruined, and few of any striking appearance. So at least we are led to infer from Mr. Masson’s very brief notice of them. No doubt many others still remain in spots hitherto unvisited by Europeans.

In the immediate vicinity of all these topes are found caves and tumuli, the former being the residences of priests, the latter for the most part burying-places, perhaps in some instances smaller relic-shrines. Their exact destination cannot be ascertained without a careful investigation by persons thoroughly conversant with the{79} subject. There are still, however, many points of great interest which require to be cleared up by actual examination. When this has been done we may hope to be able to judge with some certainty of their affinity with the Indian buildings on the one hand, and those of Persia on the other.


The most important group, however, of the Gandhara topes is that at Manikyala in the Punjab, situated between the Indus and the Jelum or Hydaspes. Fifteen or twenty examples are found at this place, most of which were opened by General Ventura and M. Court about the year 1830, when several of them yielded relics of great value, though no record has been preserved of the greater part of their excavations. In one opened by M. Court, a square chamber was found at a height of 10 ft. above the ground level. In this was a gold cylinder enclosed in one of silver, and that again in one of copper. The inner one contained four gold coins, ten precious stones and four pearls. These were, no doubt, the relics which the tope was intended to preserve. The inscription has only partially been read, but certainly contains the name of Kanishka,[102] so that we may feel assured it was erected during his reign. Some Roman coins were found much worn, as if by long use,[103] before they reached this remote locality; and, as they extend down to a date 33 B.C.,[104] it is certain the monument was erected after that date. The gold coins were all those of Kanishka. This tope, therefore, could hardly have been erected earlier than twenty years before Christ; how much later, we will be able to say only when we know more of the date and history of the monarch to whom it owes its origin. To the antiquary the inquiry is of considerable interest, but less so to the architect, as the tope is so completely ruined that neither its form nor its dimensions can now be distinguished.

Another was recently opened by General Cunningham, in the relic chamber of which he found a copper coin, belonging to the Satrap Zeionises, who is supposed to have governed this part of the country about the Christian Era, and we may therefore assume that the tope was erected by him or in his time. This and other relics were enclosed in a glass stoppered vessel, placed in a miniature representation of the tope itself, 4½ in. wide at base, and 8½ in. high (Woodcut No. 20), which may be considered as a fair representation of what a tope was or was intended to be, in that day. It is, perhaps, taller, however,{80} than a structural example would have been; and the tee, with its four umbrellas, is, no doubt, exaggerated.

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20. Relic casket from Tope at Manikyala. (Found and drawn by Gen. Cunningham.[105]

The principal tope of the group is, perhaps, the most remarkable of its class in India, though inferior in size to several in Ceylon. It was first noticed by Mountstuart Elphinstone, and a very correct view of it published by him, with the narrative of his mission to Cabul in 1815. It was afterwards thoroughly explored by General Ventura, in 1830, and a complete account of his investigations published by Prinsep in the third volume of his ‘Journal.’ Since then its basement has been cleared of the rubbish that hid it to a depth of 12 ft. to 15 ft. all round by the officers of the Public Works Department. They also made careful plans and sections of the whole, manuscript copies of which are now before me.

From those it appears that the dome is an exact hemisphere, 127 ft. in diameter, and consequently, as nearly as may be, 400 ft. in circumference. The outer circle measures in like manner 159 ft. 2 in., or 500 ft. in circumference, and is ascended by four very grand flights of steps, one in each face, leading to a procession-path 16 ft. in width, ornamented both above and below by a range of dwarf pilasters, representing the detached rail of the older Indian monuments. It is, indeed, one of the most marked characteristics of these Gandhara topes, that none of them possess, or ever seem to have possessed, any trace of an independent rail; but all have an ornamental belt of pilasters, joined generally by arches simulating the original rail. This can hardly be an early architectural form, and leads to the suspicion that, in spite of their deposits, their outward casing may be very much more modern than the coins they contain.

The outward appearance of the Manikyala tope, in its present half-ruined state, may be judged of from the view (Woodcut No. 21). All that it really requires to complete its outline is the tee, which was an invariable adjunct to these buildings; no other feature has wholly disappeared. The restored elevation, half-section, half-elevation (Woodcut No. 22), to the usual scale, 50 ft. to 1 in., will{81} afford the means of comparison with other monuments; and the section and elevation of the base (Woodcut No. 23, next page) will explain its architectural details in so far as they can be made out.

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21. View of Manikyala Tope.
(From a Photograph.)

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22. Restored Elevation of the Tope at Manikyala. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

On digging into this monument, General Ventura found three separate deposits of relics, deposited at apparently equal distances of 25 ft. from the surface of the finished monument and from each other, and each apparently increasing in value or importance as it{82} descended. The first was at the base of a solid cubical mass of squared masonry, and contained, inter alia, some Sassanian coins and one of Yasoverma (A.D. 720), and one of Abdullah ben Hassim, struck at Merv A.H. 66, or A.D. 685.[106] The second, at a depth of 50 ft., contained no coins. The principal deposit, at a depth of 75 ft., was on the exact level of the procession-path outside. It consisted of a copper vessel, in which was a relic casket in brass, represented in the annexed woodcut (No. 24), containing a smaller vessel of gold, filled with a brown liquid, and with an inscription on the lid which has not yet been fully deciphered, but around it were one gold and six copper coins of the Kanishka type.

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23. Elevation and Section of Portion of Basement of Tope at Manikyala.

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24. Relic Casket, Manikyala.

If this were all, it would be easy to assert that the original smaller tope, as shown in the section (Woodcut No. 22), was erected by Kanishka, or in his age, and that the square block on its summit was the original tee, and that in the 8th century an envelope 25 ft. in thickness, but following the original form, was added to it, and with the extended{83} procession-path it assumed its present form, which is very much lower than we would otherwise expect from its age.

Against this theory, however, there is an ugly little fact. It is said that a fragment[107] or, as it is printed, three Sassanian coins were found at a depth of 64 ft. (69 ft. from the finished surface); and if this were so, as the whole masonry was found perfectly solid and undisturbed from the surface to the base, the whole monument must be of the age of this coin. As engraved, however, it is such a fragment[108] that it seems hardly sufficient to base much upon it. Unless the General had discovered it himself, and noted it at the time, it might so easily have been mislabelled or mixed up with other Sassanian fragments belonging to the upper deposits that its position may be wrongly described. If, however, there were three, this explanation will not suffice. It may, however, be that the principal deposit was accessible, as we know was sometimes the case[109] in this instance, at the bottom of an open well-hole or side gallery, before the time of the rebuilding in the 8th century, and was then, and then only, built up solid. If, however, neither of these explanations suffice, the Manikyala tope is a mystery and a riddle I cannot unravel. If we may disregard this deposit, its story seems self-evident as above explained. But whatever its internal arrangements may have been, it seems perfectly certain that its present external appearance is due to a rebuilding in the early part of the 8th century.

General Cunningham identifies M. Court’s tope as the Huta Murta, one of the most celebrated topes in the province, erected to commemorate Buddha, in a previous stage of existence, offering his body to appease the hunger of a tiger, and—according to another version—of its seven famishing cubs;[110] but, as before remarked, nothing of its exterior coating now remains. Unfortunately, the same is true of all the other fifteen topes at this place, and, what is worse, of all the fifty or fifty-five which can still be identified at Taxila. As General Cunningham remarks, of all these sixty or seventy stupas there is not one, excepting the great Manikyala tope, that retains in its original position a single wrought stone of its outer facing;[111] none, consequently, are entitled to a longer notice in a work wholly devoted to architecture.{84}




Rails at Bharhut, Muttra, Sanchi, and Amravati.

It is only recently that our rapidly-increasing knowledge has enabled us to appreciate the important part which Rails play in the history of Buddhist architecture. The rail of the great Tope at Sanchi has, it is true, been long known; but it is the plainest of those yet discovered, and without the inscriptions which are found on it, and the gateways that were subsequently added to it, presents few features to interest any one. There is a second rail at Sanchi which is more ornamented and more interesting, but it has not yet been published in such a manner as to render its features or its history intelligible. The same is at least partially true of the great rail at Buddh Gaya, though it is one of the oldest and finest of its kind. When, however, the Amravati sculptures were brought to light and pieced together,[112] it was perceived that the rail might, and in that instance did, become one of the most elaborate and ornamental features of the style. Since then General Cunningham has found two or three buried rails at Muttra, and his crowning discovery of the great rail at Bharhut, has made it clear that this was the feature on which the early Buddhist architects lavished all the resources of their art, and from the study of which we may consequently expect to learn most.

The two oldest rails of which we have any knowledge in India are those at Buddh Gaya and that recently discovered at Bharhut. The former, General Cunningham thinks, cannot be of much later date than Asoka.[113] The latter, in his ‘Memorandum,’[114] he ascribes to the age of that monarch. These determinations he founds principally on the form of the characters used in the inscriptions on them, which certainly are nearly identical with those used on the lâts. From them, and the details of the sculptures, it is quite evident they cannot be far removed in age from the dates so assigned to them.{85} On the whole, however, I am inclined to believe that the Buddh Gaya rail was really erected by Asoka, or during his reign. At all events, we know from the fifteenth chapter of the ‘Mahawanso’ that even if he did not worship this tree, he certainly reverenced it to such an extent that when he sent his daughter Sangamitta to aid in the conversion of Ceylon to the true faith, he cut off and entrusted her with a branch of this tree planted in a golden vessel. That tree was replanted with infinite ceremony at Anuradhapura, and it, or its lineal descendant, remains the principal numen of the island to this day. Hiouen Thsang tells us that Asoka built a small vihara to the east of the tree on the spot where the present temple stands;[115] and nothing is consequently more probable than he should have added this rail, which is concentric with his vihara, but not with the tree.

There certainly is no inherent improbability that he should have done so, for it seems hardly doubtful that this was the tree under whose shade Sakya Muni attained “complete enlightenment,” or, in other words, reached Buddhahood; and no spot consequently could be considered more sacred in the eyes of a Buddhist, or was more likely to be reverenced from the time forward.

The Bharhut rail, according to the inscription on it, was erected by a Prince Vâdha Pala, son of Raja Dhanabhuti,—a name we cannot recognise in any list, but hardly could have been contemporary with the all-powerful and all-pervading rule of Asoka, and must consequently have been subsequent, as no such works were, so far as we now know, erected in India before his day. The ultimate determination of the relative dates of these two monuments will depend on a careful comparison of their sculptures, and for that the materials do not exist in this country. I have, thanks to the kindness of General Cunningham, a nearly complete set of photographs of the Bharhut sculptures, but not one of the Buddh Gaya rail. It is true the drawings by Major Kittoe, in the India House Library, are very much better than those published by General Cunningham in his report;[116] but they do not suffice for this purpose. In so far, however, as the evidence at present available enables us to judge, it seems nearly certain that the Bharhut sculptures are half a century nearer those of the gateways at Sanchi than those at Buddh Gaya are; and consequently we may, for the present at least, assume the Buddh Gaya rail to be 250 B.C., that at Bharhut 200 B.C., and the gateways at Sanchi to range from 10 to say 70 or 80 A.D.[117]

The Buddh Gaya rail is a rectangle, measuring 131 ft. by 98 ft., and is very much ruined. Its dimensions were, indeed, only obtained{86} by excavation. The pillars are apparently only 5 ft. 11 in. in height, and are generally ornamented with a semi-disc top and bottom, containing a single figure, or a group of several. They have also a central circular disc, with either an animal or bust in the centre of a lotus. No part of the upper rail seems to have been recovered, and none of the intermediate rails between the pillars are sculptured. As the most ancient sculptured monument in India, it would be extremely interesting to have this rail fully illustrated,[118] not so much for its artistic merit as because it is the earliest authentic monument representing manners and mythology in India. Its religion, as might be expected, is principally Tree and Serpent worship, mingled with veneration for dagobas, wheels, and Buddhist emblems. The domestic scenes represent love-making, and drinking,—anything, in fact, but Buddha or Buddhism, as we afterwards come to understand the term.

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25. Tree Worship: Buddh Gaya Rail.

26. Relic Casket: Buddh Gaya Rail.


Whatever interest may attach to the rail at Buddh Gaya, it is surpassed ten times over by that of the newly-discovered rail at{87} Bharhut, which, taking it all in all, is perhaps the most interesting monument—certainly in a historical point of view—known to exist in India. The tope itself, which seems to have been 68 ft. in diameter, has entirely disappeared, having been utilised by the natives to build their villages; but about one-half of the rail, which was partly thrown down and buried in the rubbish, still remains. Originally it was 88 ft. in diameter, and consequently some 275 ft. in length. It was divided into four quadrants by the four entrances, each of which was guarded by statues 4½ ft. high, carved in relief in the corner pillars of Yakshas and Yakshinis, and Naga Rajas—the representatives, in fact, of those peoples who afterwards became Buddhists. The eastern gateway only seems to have been adorned with a Toran—or, as the Chinese would call it, a “Pailoo”—like those at Sanchi. One pillar of it is shown in the following woodcut, (No. 27), and sufficient fragments were found in the excavations to enable General Cunningham to restore it with almost absolute certainty. From his restoration it appears to have been 22 ft. 6 in. in height from the ground to the top of the chakra, or wheel, which was the central emblem on the top of all, supported by a honeysuckle ornament of great beauty. The beams had no human figures on them, like those at Sanchi. The lower had a procession of elephants, bringing offerings to a tree; the middle beam, of lions similarly employed; the upper beam has not been recovered, but the beam-ends are ornamented with conventional crocodiles, and show elevations of buildings so correctly drawn as to enable us to recognise all their features in the rock-cut edifices now existing.

The toran, most like this one, is that which surmounted the southern entrance at Sanchi, which, for reasons given elsewhere,[119] I believe to be not only the oldest of the four found there, but to have been erected in the first quarter of the first century of our era (A.D. 10 to 28). This one, however, is so much more wooden than even that and constructively so inferior, that I would, on architectural grounds alone, be inclined to affirm that it was at least a century older, and see no reason why it should not be two centuries more ancient. The age of the rail, however, does not depend on this determination, as the toran may have been added afterwards.

The rail was apparently 9 ft. in height, including the coping, and had three discs on intermediate rails. The inner side of the upper rail was ornamented by a continuous series of bas-reliefs, divided from each other by a beautiful flowing scroll. The inside also of the discs was similarly ornamented, and some of the pillars had bas-reliefs in three storeys on three of their sides. Altogether, I fancy not less than one hundred separate bas-reliefs have been{88} recovered, all representing some scene or legend of the time, and nearly all inscribed not only with the names of the principal persons represented, but with the title of the jataka or legend, so that they are easily recognised in the books now current in Buddhist countries.

It is the only monument in India that is so inscribed, and it is this that consequently gives it such value for the history not only of art but of Buddhist mythology.[120]

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27. Portion of Rail at Bharhut, as first uncovered.
(From a Photograph.)

If this work professed to be a history of Indian art, including sculpture, it would be necessary to illustrate this rail to a much{89} greater extent than is attempted; but as architecturally it is hardly more important than others, that task may well be left to its discoverer. Meanwhile, however, it cannot be too strongly insisted upon that the art here displayed is purely indigenous. There is absolutely no trace of Egyptian influence. It is, indeed, in every detail antagonistic to that art; nor is there any trace of classical art; nor can it be affirmed that anything here exhibited could have been borrowed directly from Babylonia or Assyria. The capitals of the pillars do resemble somewhat those at Persepolis, and the honeysuckle ornaments point in the same direction; but, barring that, the art, especially the figure-sculpture belonging to the rail, seems an art elaborated on the spot by Indians, and by Indians only.[121]

Assuming these facts to be as stated, they give rise to one or two inferences which have an important bearing on our investigations. First, the architecture of this rail, with its toran, are more essentially wooden than even those at Sanchi, and, so far as it goes, tends to confirm the conclusion that, at the period they were erected, the style was passing from wood to stone. On the other hand, however, the sculpture is so sharp and clean, and every detail so well and so cleverly expressed in the hard sandstone in which it is cut, that it is equally evident the carvers were perfectly familiar with the material they were using. It is far from being a first attempt. They must have had chisels and tools quite equal to carving the hardest stone, and must have been perfectly familiar with their use. How long it may have taken them to acquire this degree of perfection in stone carving, it is of course impossible to guess, without further data; but it must have been centuries. Though, therefore, we may despair of finding any architectural buildings older than the time of Asoka, it is by no means improbable that we may find images or bas-reliefs, and inscriptions of a much earlier date, and for the history of India and her arts they would be as useful as the larger examples. They, like this rail, are probably buried under some neglected mound or the ruins of some forsaken city, and will only be recovered by excavation or by accident.{90}

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28. Tree and Serpent Worship at Bharhut.
(From a Photograph.)

For the present we must be content with the knowledge, that we now know perfectly what the state of the arts was in India when the{91} Greeks first visited it. Neither the Buddh Gaya nor the Bharhut rails were, it is true, in existence in Alexander’s time; but both were erected within the limits of the century in which Megasthenes visited the country, as ambassador from Seleucus, and it is principally from him that we know what India was at that time. If he did not see these monuments he must have seen others like them, and at all events saw carvings executed in the same style, and wooden chaityas and temples similar to those depicted in these sculptures. But one of the curious points they bring out is, that the religious observances he witnessed at the courts of the Brahmanical king, Chandragupta, are not those he would have witnessed had he been deputed to his Buddhist grandson the great Asoka. There, as everywhere else at this age, everything is Buddhist, but it is Buddhism without Buddha. He nowhere appears, either as a heavenly person to be worshipped, or even as an ascetic. The nearest indication of his presence is in a scene where Ajatasatra—the king in whose reign he attained Nirvana—kneels before an altar in front of which are impressions of his feet. His feet, too, seem impressed on the step of the triple ladder, by which he descended from Heaven at Sankissa; Maya’s dream, and the descent of the white Elephant can be recognised, and other indications sufficient to convince an expert that Buddhism is the religion indicated. But, as at Sanchi, by far the most numerous objects to which worship is addressed in these sculptures, are trees, one of which, the inscription tells us, is the Bodhi-tree of Sakya Muni. Besides this, the Bo-trees of six or seven of his predecessors are represented in these sculptures, and both by their foliage and their inscriptions we can easily recognise them as those known at the present day as belonging to these previous Buddhas.[122]

Naga people, and kings with their five-headed serpent-hoods are common; but only one instance has yet been brought to light in which the serpent can be said to be worshipped. Making love and drinking are not represented here as at Sanchi—nor are females represented nude as they are at Muttra. All are decently clothed, from the waist downwards at least, and altogether the manners and customs at Bharhut are as much purer as the art is better than it is in the more modern example at Sanchi.


When excavating at Muttra, General Cunningham found several pillars of a rail, which, judging from the style, is most probably of about the same age as that at Bharhut, or it may be a little more modern, but still certainly anterior to the Christian Era. The pillars,{92} however, are only 4½ ft. high, and no trace of the top rail nor of the intermediate discs has been found. Each pillar is adorned by a figure of a naked female in high relief, singularly well executed, richly adorned with necklaces and bangles, and a bead belt or truss round their middles. Each stands on a crouching dwarf, and above each, in a separate compartment, are the busts of two figures, a male and female, on a somewhat smaller scale, either making violent love to each other, or drinking something stronger than water.[123]

Though the sculptures at Sanchi and Cuttack have made us familiar with some strange scenes, of what might be supposed an anti-Buddhistical tendency, this rail can hardly be Buddhist. We do not, indeed, know if it was straight or circular, or to what class of building it was attached. If part of a palace, it would be unobjectionable. But if it belonged to a temple, it ought to have been dedicated to Krishna, not to Buddha. It is not, indeed, impossible that a form of Vishnuism may have co-existed with Buddhism in the neighbourhood of Bindrabun, even at this early age. But these are problems, the existence of which is only just dawning upon us, and which cannot be investigated in a work like the present.


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29. Rail at Sanchi.
(From a Drawing by Gen. Cunningham.)

Though the rails surrounding the topes at Sanchi are not, in themselves, so interesting as those at Buddh Gaya and Bharhut, still they are useful in exhibiting the various steps by which the modes of decorating rails were arrived at, and the torans or gateways of the great rail are quite unequalled by any other examples known to exist in India. The rail that surrounds the great tope may be described as a circular enclosure 140 ft. in diameter, but not quite regular, being elliptical on one side, to admit of the ramp or stairs leading to the berm or procession-path surrounding the monument. As will be seen from the annexed woodcut (No. 29), it consists of octagonal pillars 8 ft. in height, and spaced 2 ft. apart. These are joined together at the top by a rail 2 ft. 3 in. deep, held in its position by a tenon cut{93} on the top of the pillars, as at Stonehenge; between the pillars are three intermediate rails, which are slipped into lens-shaped holes, on either side, the whole showing how essentially wooden the construction is. The pillars, for instance, could not have been put up first, and the rails added afterwards. They must have been inserted into the right or left hand posts, and supported while the next pillar was pushed laterally, so as to take their ends, and when the top rail was shut down the whole became mortised together as a piece of carpentry, but not as any stone-work was done, either before or afterwards.

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30. Rail, No. 2 Tope, Sanchi.
(From a Drawing by Colonel Maisey.)

The next stage in rail design is exemplified in that of No. 2 Tope, Sanchi (Woodcut No. 30); there circular discs are added in the centre of each pillar, and semicircular plates at top and bottom. In carpentry the circular ones would represent a great nail meant to keep the centre bar in its place; the half discs, top and bottom, metal plates to strengthen the junctions—and this it seems most probably may really have been the origin of these forms.

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31. Representation of Rail.
(From a Bas-relief at Amravati.)

If from this we attempt to follow the progress made in the ornamentation of these rails, it seems to have been arrived at by placing a circular disc in each of the intermediate rails, as shown in the woodcut (No. 31), copied from a representation of the outer face{94} of the Amravati rail, carved upon it. In the actual rail the pillars are proportionally taller and the spaces somewhat wider, but in all other respects it is the same—it has the same zöophorus below, and the same conventional figures bearing a roll above, both which features are met with almost everywhere.

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32. Rail in Gautamiputra Cave, Nassick.

A fourth stage was reached in that shown in the next woodcut (No. 32), from a representation of a rail in the Gautamiputra cave at Nassick, A.D. 312 to 333, where there are three full discs on the pillars as well as on the rails, and no doubt other variations may yet be found; but these are sufficient to show how the discs were multiplied till the pillars almost become evanescent quantities in the composition.

The greatest innovation, however, that took place, was the substitution of figure-sculpture for the lotus or water leaves of the discs, if that can be called an innovation, which certainly took place in the wooden age of architecture, before it was thought of translating these things into stone. The earliest rails we know, those at Buddh Gaya and Bharhut, show these changes already completed in the manner above described. The plainness of the rail, or the absence of figure-sculpture, is consequently no test of its greater or less antiquity, though the extreme multiplication of discs, as shown in the last example, seems only to have taken place just before their discontinuance.


To return, however, from this digression. The rail that surrounds the great tope at Sanchi was probably commenced immediately after its erection, which, as explained above, was probably in Asoka’s time, B.C. 250; but as each rail, as shown by the inscription on it, was the{95} gift of a different individual,[124] it may have taken 100 or 150 years to erect. The age of the torans is more easily ascertained. There is an inscription on the south gateway, which is certainly integral, which states that the gateway was erected during the reign of a Sat Karni king, and it is nearly certain that this applies to a king of that name who reigned A.D. 10 to 28. As this gateway is certainly the oldest of the four, it gives us a starting-point from which to determine the age of the others. The next that was erected was the northern. That was followed by the eastern—the one of which there is a cast at South Kensington—and the last erected was the western. The style and details of all those show a succession and a progress that could hardly have taken place in less than a century, and, with other reasons, enable us to assert without much hesitation, that the four gateways were added to the rail of the great tope during the first century of the Christian Era, and their execution spread pretty evenly over that period.[125] The northern gateway is shown in the general view of the building (Woodcut No. 10), but more in detail in the cut (No. 33) on the following page.

In design and dimensions these four gateways are all very similar to one another. The northern is the finest,[126] as well as somewhat larger than the others. Its pillars, to the underside of the lower beam, measure 18 ft., including the elephant capitals, and the total height to the top of the emblem is 35 ft. The extreme width across the lower beam is 20 ft. The other gateways are somewhat less in dimensions, the eastern being only 33 ft. in height. The other two having fallen, it is not easy to be sure what their exact dimensions may have been while standing.

All these four gateways, or torans as they are properly called, were covered with the most elaborate sculptures both in front and rear—wherever, in fact, their surface was not hidden by being attached to the rail behind them. Generally the sculptures represent scenes from the life of Buddha when he was the Prince Siddharta, rarely, if ever, after he became an ascetic, and nowhere is he represented in the conventional forms either standing or seated cross-legged, which afterwards became universal. In addition to these are scenes from the jatakas or legends, narrating events or actions that took place during the five hundred births through which Sakya Muni had passed before he became so purified as to reach perfect Buddhahood. One of{96}

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33. Northern Gateway of Tope at Sanchi.
(From a Photograph.)


these, the Wessantara, or “alms-giving Jataka,” occupies the whole of the lower beam of the northern gateway, and reproduces all the events of that wonderful tale exactly as it is narrated in Ceylonese books at the present day. Besides these historical scenes, the worship of trees is represented at least seventy-six times; of dagobas or relic shrines, thirty-eight times; of the chakra, or wheel, the emblem of Dharma—the law—ten times; and of Devi or Sri, the goddess, who afterwards, in the Hindu Pantheon, became the consort of Vishnu, ten times. The trisul or trident emblem which crowns the gateways may be, and I am inclined to believe does, represent Buddha himself. On the left-hand pillar of the north gateway it crowns a pillar, hung with wreaths and emblems, at the bottom of which are the sacred feet (Woodcut No. 34). The whole looking like a mystic emblem of a divinity, it was forbidden to represent it under a human form. The corresponding face of the opposite pillar is adorned with architectural scrolls, wholly without any esoteric meaning so far as can be detected, but of great beauty of design (Woodcut No. 35).

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34. Bas-relief on left-hand Pillar, Northern Gateway.

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35. Ornament on right-hand Pillar, Northern Gateway.

Other sculptures represent sieges and fighting, and consequent triumphs, but, so far as can be seen, for the acquisition of relics or subjects connected with the faith. Others portray men and women eating and drinking{98} and making love, and otherwise occupied, in a manner as unlike anything we have hitherto been accustomed to connect with Buddhism as can well be imagined. Be this as it may, the sculptures of these gateways form a perfect picture Bible of Buddhism as it existed in India in the first century of the Christian Era, and as such are as important historically as they are interesting artistically.[127]

The small tope (No. 3), on the same platform as the great tope at Sanchi, was surrounded by a rail, which has now almost entirely disappeared. It had, however, one toran, the pillars and one beam of which are still standing. It is only about half the size of those of the great tope, measuring about 17 ft. to the top of the upper beam, and 13 ft. across its lower beam. It is apparently somewhat more modern than the great gateways, and its sculptures seem to have reference to the acts of Sariputra and Moggalana, whose relics, as above mentioned, were deposited in its womb.

This tope was only 40 ft. in diameter, which is about the same dimension as No. 2 Tope, containing the relics of the ten apostles who took part in the third convocation under Asoka, and afterwards in the diffusion of the Buddhist religion in the countries bordering on India.

As above pointed out, the rails at Buddh Gaya and Bharhut afford a similar picture of Buddhism at a time from two to three centuries earlier. At first sight the difference is not so striking as might be expected, but on a closer examination it is only too evident that both the art and the morals had degenerated during the interval. There is a precision and a sharpness about the Bharhut sculptures which is not found here, and drinking and love-making do not occur in the earlier sculptures—they do, however, occur at Buddh Gaya—to anything like the extent they do at Sanchi. There is no instance at Bharhut of any figure entirely nude; at Sanchi nudity among the females is rather the rule than the exception. The objects of worship are nearly the same in both instances, but are better expressed in the earlier than in the later examples. Till, however, the Bharhut sculptures are published in the same detail as those of Sanchi, it is hardly fair to insist too strongly on any comparison that may be instituted between them. I believe I know nearly all, but till the publication of General Cunningham’s work the public will not have the same advantage.

Before leaving these torans, it may be well to draw attention again to the fact of their being, even more evidently than the rails, so little removed from the wooden originals out of which they were{99} elaborated. No one can look at them, however carelessly, without perceiving that their forms are such as a carpenter would imagine, and could construct, but which could not be invented by any process of stone or brick masonry with which we are familiar. The real wonder is that, when the new fashion was introduced of repeating in stone what had previously been executed only in wood, any one had the hardihood to attempt such an erection in stone; and still more wonderful is it that, having been done, three of them should have stood during eighteen centuries, till one was knocked down by some clumsy Englishmen, and that only one—the earliest, and consequently the slightest and most wooden—should have fallen from natural causes.

Although these Sanchi torans are not the earliest specimens of their class executed wholly in stone, neither are they the last. We have, it is true, no means of knowing whether those represented at Amravati[128] were in stone or in wood, but, from their different appearances, some of them most probably were in the more permanent material. At all events, in China and Japan their descendants are counted by thousands. The pailoos in the former country, and the toris in the latter, are copies more or less correct of these Sanchi gateways, and like their Indian prototypes are sometimes in stone, sometimes in wood, and frequently compounded of both materials, in varying proportions. What is still more curious, a toran with five bars was erected in front of the Temple at Jerusalem, to bear the sacred golden vine, some forty years before these Sanchi examples. It, however, was partly in wood, partly in stone, and was erected to replace one that adorned Solomon’s Temple, which was wholly in bronze, and supported by the celebrated pillars Jachin and Boaz.[129]


Although the rail at Bharhut is the most interesting and important in India in an historical sense, it is far from being equal to that at Amravati, either in elaboration or in artistic merit. Indeed, in these respects, the Amravati rail is probably the most remarkable monument in India. In the first place it is more than twice the dimensions of the rail at Bharhut, the great rail being 195 ft. in diameter, the inner 165 ft., or almost exactly twice the dimensions of that at Bharhut; between these two was the procession-path, which in the{100} earlier examples was on the tope itself. Externally, the total height of the great rail was about 14 ft.; internally, it was 2 ft. less, while the inner rail was solid, and only 6 ft. in height.

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36. External Elevation of Great Rail at Amravati.

The external appearance of the great rail may be judged of from the annexed woodcut (No. 36), representing a small section of it. The lower part, or plinth, was ornamented by a frieze of animals and boys, generally in ludicrous and comic attitudes. The pillars, as usual, were octagonal, ornamented with full discs in the centre, and half discs top and bottom, between which were figure sculptures of more or less importance. On the three rails were full discs, all most elaborately carved, and all different. Above runs the usual undulating roll moulding, which was universal in all ages,[130] but is here richly interspersed with figures and emblems. The inside of the rail was very{101} much more richly ornamented than the outside shown in the woodcut; all the central range of discs, both on the pillars and on the rails, being carved with figured subjects, generally of very great elaboration and beauty of detail, and the upper rail was one continuous bas-relief upwards of 600 ft. in length. At the returns of the gateways another system was

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37. Angle pillar at Amravati.


38. Slab from Inner Rail, Amravati.

adopted, as shown in the above woodcut (No. 37). The pillars being narrower, and the discs smaller, the principal sculpture was on the intermediate space: in this instance a king on his throne receives a messenger, while his army in front defends the walls; lower down{102} the infantry, cavalry, and elephants sally forth in battle array, while one of the enemy sues for peace, which is probably the information being communicated to the king.

The inner rail, though lower, was even more richly ornamented than the great rail, generally with figures of dagobas—apparently twelve in each quadrant—most elaborately carved with scenes from the life of Buddha or from legends. One of these dagobas has already been given (Woodcut No. 17). Between these were pillars and slabs ornamented, either as shown in Woodcuts Nos. 38 and 39, or with either Buddhist designs or emblems, but all as rich, at least, as these; the whole making up a series of pictures of Buddhism, as it was understood in the 4th and 5th centuries, unsurpassed by anything now known to exist in India. The slab represented in Woodcut No. 38 (p. 101), though now much ruined, is interesting as showing the three great objects of Buddhist worship at once. At the top is the dagoba with its rail, but with the five-headed Naga in the place usually occupied by Buddha. In the central compartment is the chakra or wheel, now generally acknowledged to be the emblem of Dharma, the second member of the Buddhist Trinity; below that the tree, possibly representing Sanga or the congregation; and in front of all a throne, on which is placed what I believe to be a relic, wrapt up in a silken cloth.

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39. Dagoba (from a Slab), Amravati.

This combination is repeated again and again in these sculptures, and may be almost designated as the shorter Buddhist catechism, or rather the confession of faith, Buddha, Dharma, Sanga. The last woodcut (No. 39) is also interesting, as showing, besides the three emblems, the form of pillars with its double animal capitals so common in structures of this and an earlier age.

The age of these rails does not seem doubtful.[131] The outer or{103} great rail seems to have been commenced about A.D. 319, at the time when the tooth relic paid this place a visit on its way from Puri to Ceylon, and its erection may have occupied the whole of the rest of that century. The inner rail is more modern, and seems to have been begun about A.D. 400, and, with some other detached fragments, carry the history of the monument down, it may be, to 500. At the same time it is clear that an older monument existed on the spot. The fragments that exist of the central tope are certainly of an earlier age, and some of the slabs of the inner rail exhibit sculptures of a much earlier date on their backs. It seems as if they had belonged to some disused earlier building, and been re-worked when fitted to their new places.

When Hiouen Thsang visited this place in the year 639 it had already been deserted for more than a century, but he speaks of its magnificence and the beauty of its site in more glowing terms than he applies to almost any other monument in India. Among other expressions he uses one not easily understood at first sight, for he says, “It was ornamented with all the magnificence of the palaces of Bactria”[132] (Tahia). Now, however, that we know what the native art of India was from the sculptures at Bharhut and Sanchi, and as we also know nearly what the art of Bactria was from those recently dug up near Peshawur, especially at Jamalgiri, we see at once that it was by a marriage of these two arts that the Amravati school of sculpture was produced, but with a stronger classical influence than anything of its kind found elsewhere in India. It is now also tolerably evident that the existence of so splendid a Buddhist establishment so far south must have been due to the fact of the mouths of the Kistnah and Godavery being ports of departure from which the Buddhists of the north-west and west of India, in early times, conquered or colonised Pegu and Cambodia, and eventually the island of Java.

All this will be clearer as we proceed. Meanwhile it seems probable that with this, which is certainly the most splendid specimen of its class, we must conclude our history of Buddhist rails. No later example is known to exist; and the Gandhara topes, which generally seem to be of this age or later, have all their rails attached to their sides in the shape of a row of pilasters. If they had any figured illustrations, they must have been in the form of paintings on plaster on the panels between the pilasters. This, indeed, was probably the mode in which they were adorned, for it certainly was not with sculptures, but we cannot understand any Buddhist monument existing anywhere, without the jatakas or legends being portrayed on its walls in some shape or other.

At Sarnath all reminiscences of a rail had disappeared, and a new{104} mode of ornamentation introduced, which bore no resemblance to anything found on the earlier topes.

Although, therefore, our history of the rails may finish about A.D. 500, it by no means follows that many examples may not yet be brought to light belonging to the seven and a half centuries that elapsed between that date and the age of Asoka. As they all certainly were sculptured to a greater or less extent, when they are examined and published we may hope to have an ancient pictorial history of India for those ages nearly as complete as that possessed by any other country in the world. At present, however, we only know of ten or twelve examples, but they are so easily thrown down and buried that we may hope to find many more whenever they are looked for, and from them to learn the whole story of Buddhist art.

Note.—The central crowning ornament in Woodcut No. 33, page 96, is a chakra or wheel in the centre, with trisul emblems right and left. On the upper beam, five dagobas and two trees are worshipped; on the intermediate blocks, Sri and a chakra; on the middle beam are seven sacred trees, with altars; on the intermediate blocks, Sri and the chakra again. The lower beam is wholly occupied by the early scenes in the Wessantara jataka, which is continued in the rear. The subjects on the pillars have all been described in ‘Tree and Serpent Worship,’ but are on too small a scale to be distinguishable in the woodcut.

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40. Trisul Emblem.
(From a sculpture at Amravati.)





Behar Caves—Western Chaitya Halls, &c.

Although, if looked at from a merely artistic point of view, it will probably be found that the rails are the most interesting Buddhist remains that have come down to our time, still, in an historical or architectural sense, they are certainly surpassed by the chaitya halls. These are the temples of the religion, properly so called, and the exact counterpart of the churches of the Christians, not only in form, but in use.

Some twenty or thirty of these are known still to exist in a state of greater or less preservation, but, with one exception, all cut in the rock. In so far as the interior is concerned this is of little or no consequence, but it prevents our being able to judge of their external form or effect,[133] and, what is perhaps worse, it hides from us entirely the mode in which their roofs were constructed. We know that they were formed with semicircular ribs of timber, and it is also nearly certain that on these ribs planks in two or three thicknesses were laid, but we cannot even guess what covered the planks externally. It could hardly have been metal, or any kind of felt, and one is unwilling to believe that they were thatched with grass, though I confess, as the evidence at present stands, this seems to me the most probable suggestion.[134]

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41. Plan of Chaitya Hall, Sanchi. Scale 30 ft. to 1 in.

The only structural one is at Sanchi, and is shown in plan in the accompanying woodcut (No. 41). It does not however, suffice to show us how the roofs of the aisles were supported externally. What it does show, which the caves do not, is that when the aisle which surrounded{106} the apse could be lighted from the exterior, the apse was carried up solid. In all the caves the pillars surrounding the dagoba are different from and plainer than those of the nave. They are, in fact, kept as subdued as possible, as if it was thought they had no business there, but were necessary to admit light into the circumambient aisle of the apse.


As almost all our information regarding these chaityas, as well as the viharas, which form the next group to be described, is derived from the rock-cut examples in Western India, it would be convenient, if it were possible, to present something like a statistical account of the number and distribution of the groups of caves found there. The descriptions hitherto published do not, however, as yet admit of this.

I have myself visited and described all the most important of them;[135] and in an interesting paper, communicated to the Bombay branch of the Asiatic Society by the Rev. Dr. Wilson, he enumerated thirty-seven different groups of caves, more or less known to Europeans.[136] This number is exclusive of those in Bengal and Madras, and new ones are daily being discovered; we may therefore fairly assume that certainly more than forty, and probably nearly fifty, groups of caves exist in India Proper.

Some of these groups contain as many as 100 different and distinct excavations, many not more than ten or a dozen; but altogether I feel convinced that not less than 1000 distinct specimens are to be found. Of these probably 100 may be of Brahmanical or Jaina origin; the remaining 900 are Buddhist, either monasteries or temples, the former being incomparably the more numerous class; for of the latter not more than twenty or thirty are known to exist. This difference arose, no doubt, from the greater number of the viharas being grouped around structural topes, as is always the case in Afghanistan and Ceylon; and, consequently, they did not require any rock-cut place of worship while possessed of the more usual and appropriate edifice.

The façades of the caves are generally perfect, and form an exception to what has been said of our ignorance of the external appearance of Indian temples and monasteries, since they are executed in the rock{107} with all the detail that could have graced the buildings of which they are copies. In the investigation of these objects, the perfect immutability of a temple once hewn out of the living rock is a very important advantage. No repair can add to, or indeed scarcely alter, the general features of what is once so executed; and there can be no doubt that we see them now, in all essentials, exactly as originally designed. This advantage will be easily appreciated by any one who has tried to grope for the evidence of a date in the design, afforded by our much-altered and often reconstructed cathedrals of the Middle Ages.

The geographical distribution of the caves is somewhat singular, more than nine-tenths of those now known being found within the limits of the Bombay Presidency. The remainder consist of two groups in Bengal; those of Behar and Cuttack, neither of which is important in extent; one only is known to exist in Madras, that of Mahavellipore; and two or three insignificant groups, which have been traced in Afghanistan and the Punjab.

At one time some were inclined to connect this remarkable local distribution with the comparative proximity of the west side of India to the rock-cutting Egyptians and Ethiopians. But the coincidence can be more simply accounted for by the existence in both countries of rocks perfectly adapted to such works. The great cave district of western India is composed of horizontal strata of amygdaloid and other cognate trap formations, generally speaking of very considerable thickness and great uniformity of texture, and possessing besides the advantage that their edges are generally exposed in perfectly perpendicular cliffs. No rock in any part of the world could either be more suited for the purpose or more favourably situated than these formations. They were easily accessible and easily worked. In the rarest possible instances are there any flaws or faults to disturb the uniformity of the design; and, when complete, they afford a perfectly dry temple or abode, singularly uniform in temperature, and more durable than any class of temple found in any other part of the world.

From the time of Asoka, who, two hundred and fifty years before Christ, excavated the first cave at Rajagriha, till the great cataclysm in the 8th century, the series is uninterrupted; and, if properly examined and drawn, the caves would furnish us with a complete religious and artistic history of the greater part of India during ten or eleven centuries, the darkest and most perplexing of her existence. But, although during this long period the practice was common to Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains, it ceased before the Mahomedan conquest. Hardly any excavations have been made or attempted since that period, except, perhaps, some rude Jaina monoliths in the rock at Gualior, and it may be one or two in southern India.{108}

Behar Caves.

As might be expected from what we know of the history of the localities, the oldest caves in India are situated in Behar, in the neighbourhood of Rajagriha, which was the capital of Bengal at the time of the advent of Buddha. There is, indeed, one cave there which claims to be the Satapanni cave, in front of which the first convocation was held B.C. 543. It is, however, only a natural cave very slightly improved by art, and of no architectural importance.

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Nigope Cave, Sat Ghurba group.

The most interesting group is situated at a place called Barabar, sixteen miles north of Gaya. One there, called the Karna Chopar, bears an inscription which records the excavation of the cave in the nineteenth year of Asoka (B.C. 245).[137] It is very simple, and, except in a doorway with sloping jambs, has no architectural feature of importance. A second, called the Sudama or Nigope cave (Woodcut No. 42), bears an inscription by Asoka in the twelfth year of his reign, the same year in which most of his edicts are dated, 260 or 264 B.C., and, consequently, is the oldest architectural example in India. It consists of two apartments: an outer, 32 ft. 9 in. in length, and 19 ft. 6 in. in breadth, and beyond this a circular apartment, 19 ft. in diameter, in the place usually occupied by the solid dagoba;[138] in front of which the roof hangs down and projects in a manner very much as if it were intended to represent thatch. The most interesting of the group is that called Lomas Rishi, which, though bearing no contemporary inscription, certainly belongs to the same age. The frontispiece is singularly interesting as representing in the rock the form of the structural chaityas of the age. These, as will be seen from the woodcut (No. 43), were apparently constructed with strong wooden posts, sloping slightly inwards, supporting a longitudinal rafter morticed into their heads, while three small blocks on each side are employed to keep the roof in form. Between the pillars was a framework of wood, which served to support five smaller rafters. Over these lies the roof, apparently{109} formed of three thicknesses of plank, or probably two of timber planks laid reverse ways, and one of metal or some other substance externally. The form of the roof is something of a pointed arch, with a slight ogee point on the summit to form a watershed. The door, like all those of this series, has sloping jambs[139]—a peculiarity arising, as we shall afterwards see, from the lines of the openings following, as in this instance, those of the supports of the roof.

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43. Façade of Lomas Rishi Cave.
(From a Photograph by Mr. Peppe, C.E.)

The interior, as will be seen from the annexed plan (No. 44), is quite plain in form, and does not seem to have been ever quite completed. It consists of a hall 33 ft. by 19 ft., beyond which is an apartment of nearly circular form, evidently meant to represent a tope or dagoba, but at that early age the architects had not quite found out how to accomplish this in a rock-cut structure.

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44. Lomas Rishi Cave.

Judging from the inscriptions on these caves, the whole were excavated between the date of the Nigope and that of the Milkmaid’s Cave, so called (which was excavated by Dasaratha, the grandson of Asoka), probably within fifty years of that date. They appear to range, therefore, from 260 to 200 B.C., and the{110} Lomas Rishi is probably the most modern[140]—it certainly is the most richly ornamented. No great amount of elaboration, however, is found in these examples, inasmuch as the material in which they are excavated is the hardest and most close-grained granite; and it was hardly to be expected that a people who so recently had been using nothing but wood as a building material would have patience sufficient for labours like these. They have polished them like glass in the interior, and with that they have been content.

Western Chaitya Halls.

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45. Chaitya Cave, Bhaja.
(From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

There are in the Western Ghâts in the Bombay Presidency five or six important chaitya caves whose dates can be made out, either from inscriptions, or from internal evidence, with very fair approximate certainty, and all of which were excavated, if I am not very much mistaken, before the Christian Era. The oldest of these is situated at a place called Bhaja, four miles south of the great Karli cave in the Bhore Ghât. There is no inscription upon it, but I have a plan and several photographs. From the woodcut (No. 45), it will be perceived that it is a chaitya hall of the usual plan, but of no great dimensions, being only 60 ft. from the back of the apse to the mortices (a a), in which the supports of the wooden screen once stood. From the woodcut (No. 46), taken from one of these photographs, it will be perceived that the pillars of the interior slope inwards at a considerable and most unpleasing angle. The rood-screen which closes the front of all other caves of this class is gone. In all other examples it is in stone, and consequently remains; but in this instance, being in wood, it has disappeared, though the holes to receive its posts and the mortices by which it was attached to the walls are still there. The ogee fronton was covered with wooden ornaments, which have disappeared; though the pin-holes remain by which they were fastened to the stone. The framework, or truss that filled the upper part of the great front opening, no longer exists, but what its appearance was may be judged of by the numerous representations of itself with which it is covered, or{111}

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46. Façade of the Cave at Bhaja.
(From a Photograph.)

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47. Front of a Chaitya Hall.
(From a Bas-relief at Buddh Gaya.)

from the representation of a chaitya façade from the contemporary rail at Buddh Gaya (Woodcut No. 47), and there are several others on the rail at Bharhut, which are not only correct elevations of such a façade as this, but represent the wooden carved ornaments which—according to that authority—invariably adorned these façades. The only existing example of this wooden screen is that at Karli, but the innumerable small repetitions of it, not only here but in all these caves, shows not only its form, but how universal its employment was. The rafters of the roof were of wood, and many of them, as may be seen in the woodcut, remain to the present{112} day. Everything, in fact, that could be made in wood remained in wood, and only the constructive parts necessary for stability were executed in the rock.

It is easy to understand that, the first time men undertook to repeat in stone forms they had only been accustomed to erect in wood, they should have done so literally. The sloping inwards of the pillars was requisite to resist the thrust of the circular roof in the wooden building, but it must have appeared so awkward in stone that it would hardly be often repeated. As, however, it was probably almost universal in structural buildings, the doorways and openings naturally followed the same lines, hence the sloping jambs. Though these were by no means so objectionable in practice, they varied with the lines of the supports, and, as these became upright, the jambs became parallel. In like manner, when it was done, the architects could hardly fail to perceive that they had wasted both time and labour in cutting away the rock to make way for their wooden screen in front. Had they left it standing, with far less expense they could have got a more ornamental and more durable feature. This was so self-evident that it never, so far as is known, was repeated, but it was some time before the pillars of the interior got quite perpendicular, and the jambs of the doors quite parallel.

There is very little figure-sculpture about this cave; none in the interior, and what there is on the façade seems to be of a very domestic character. But on the pillars in the interior at g and h in the plan (Woodcut No. 45), we find two emblems, and at a, e, and f three others are found somewhat rudely formed, but which occur again so frequently that it may be worth while to quote them here. They are known as the trisul, or trident, the central point being usually more important than here shown, the shield, and the chakra, or wheel. The two first are generally found in combination, as in Woodcut No. 33, and the wheel is frequently found edged with trisul ornaments, as in the central compartment of Woodcut No. 38 from Amravati. The fourth emblem here is the trisul, in combination with a face, and the fifth is one which is frequently repeated on coins and elsewhere, but to which no name has yet been given.

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48. Trisul. Shield. Chakra. Trisul.

The next group of caves, however, that at Bedsa, ten or eleven miles south of Karli, shows considerable progress towards lithic construction. The screen is in stone; the pillars are more upright,{113}

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49. Plan of Cave at Bedsa.
(From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

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50. Capital of Pillar in front of Cave at Bedsa.
(From a Photograph.)

though still sloping slightly inwards, the jambs more nearly parallel, and in fact we have nearly all the features of a well-designed chaitya cave. The two pillars in front, however, as will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 49), are so much too large in proportion{114} to the rest, that they are evidently stambhas, and ought to stand free instead of supporting a verandah. Their capitals (Woodcut No. 50, p. 113) are more like the Persepolitan than any others in India, and are each surmounted by horses and elephants bearing men

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51. View on Verandah of Cave at Bedsa.
(From a Photograph.)

and women of bold and free execution. From the view (Woodcut No. 51) it will be seen how much the surface is covered with the rail decoration, a repetition on a small scale of the rails described in the last section, and which it may here be mentioned is a fair test of the age of any building. It gradually becomes less and less used after the date{115}

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52. Chaitya Cave at Nassick.
(From a Photograph.)


of these two chaitya caves, and disappears wholly in the 4th or 5th centuries, but during that period its greater or less prevalence in any building is one of the surest indications we have of the relative age of any two examples. In this cave, as will be observed, nearly the whole of the ornamentation is made up of miniature rails, and repetitions of window fronts or façades. It has also a semicircular open-work moulding, like basket-work, which is only found in the very oldest caves, and is evidently so unsuited for stone-work that it is no wonder it was dropped very early. No example of it is known after the Christian Era. There is an inscription in this cave in an ancient form of letter, but not sufficiently distinct to fix its age absolutely without further evidence.

The third cave is the chaitya at Nassick. Its pillars internally are so nearly perpendicular that their inclination might escape detection, and the door jambs are nearly parallel.

The façade, as seen in the woodcut (No. 52, p. 115), is a very perfect and complete design, but all its details are copied from wooden forms, and nothing was executed in wood in this cave but the rafters of the roofs internally, and these have fallen down.

Outside this cave, over the doorway, there is an inscription, stating that the cave was the gift of a citizen of Nassick,[141] in the reign of King Krishna, the second of the Andrabritya kings, who reigned just before the Christian Era,[142] and inside, on the pillars, another in an older form of character, stating that it was excavated in honour of King Badrakaraka,[143] who was almost certainly the fifth king of the Sunga dynasty, and who ascended the throne about B.C. 129. It may be possible that a more critical examination of these inscriptions may render their testimony less absolute than it now appears, but, taking them in conjunction with the architecture, the age of this cave hardly seems doubtful. For myself, I see no reason for hesitating to accept B.C. 129 as the date of its inception, though its completion may be a century later, and, if this is so, it carries back the caves of Bhaja and Bedsa to a period considerably before that time, while, on the other hand, it as certainly is older than the Karli cave, which appears to come next to it in age.


The fourth cave mentioned above, known as that at Karli, is situated on the road between Bombay and Poonah, and is the finest of all—the finest, indeed, of its class. It is certainly the largest as well as the most complete chaitya cave hitherto discovered in India,{117} and was excavated at a time when the style was in its greatest purity. In it all the architectural defects of the previous examples are removed; the pillars of the nave are quite perpendicular. The screen is ornamented with sculpture—its first appearance apparently in such a position—and the style had reached a perfection that was never afterwards surpassed.

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53. Section of Cave at Karli. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

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54. Plan of Cave at Karli.

In this cave there is an inscription on the side of the porch, and another on the lion-pillar in front, which are certainly integral, and ascribe its excavation to the Maharaja Bhuti or Deva Bhuti,[144] who, according to the Puranas, reigned B.C. 78, and, if this is so, they fix the age of this typical example beyond all cavil.

The building, as will be seen by the annexed illustrations (Nos. 53, 54, 55), resembles, to a very great extent, an early Christian church in its arrangements: consisting of a nave and side-aisles, terminating in an apse or semidome, round which the aisle is carried. The general dimensions of the interior are 126 ft. from the entrance to the back wall, by 45 ft. 7 in. in width. The side-aisles, however, are very much narrower than in Christian churches, the central one being 25 ft. 7 in., so that the others are only 10 ft. wide, including the thickness of the pillars. As a scale for comparison, it may be mentioned that its{118}

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55. View of Cave at Karli.
(From a Drawing by Mr. Salt, corrected by the Author.)


arrangement and dimensions are very similar to those of the choir of Norwich Cathedral, or of the Abbaye aux Hommes at Caen, omitting the outer aisles in the latter buildings. The thickness of the piers at Norwich and Caen nearly corresponds to the breadth of the aisles in the Indian temple. In height, however, Karli is very inferior, being only 42 ft. or perhaps 45 ft. from the floor to the apex, as nearly as can be ascertained.

Fifteen pillars on each side separate the nave from the aisles; each pillar has a tall base, an octagonal shaft, and richly ornamented capital, on which kneel two elephants, each bearing two figures, generally a man and a woman, but sometimes two females, all very much better executed than such ornaments usually are. The seven pillars behind the altar are plain octagonal piers, without either base or capital, and the four under the entrance gallery differ considerably from those at the sides. The sculptures on the capitals supply the place usually occupied by frieze and cornice in Grecian architecture; and in other examples plain painted surfaces occupy the same space. Above this springs the roof, semicircular in general section, but somewhat stilted at the sides, so as to make its height greater than the semi-diameter. It is ornamented even at this day by a series of wooden ribs, probably coeval with the excavation, which prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the roof is not a copy of a masonry arch, but of some sort of timber construction which we cannot now very well understand.

Immediately under the semidome of the apse, and nearly where the altar stands in Christian churches, is placed the dagoba, in this instance a plain dome slightly stilted on a circular drum. As there are no ornaments on it now, and no mortices for woodwork, it probably was originally plastered and painted, or may have been adorned with hangings, which some of the sculptured representations would lead us to suppose was the usual mode of ornamenting these altars. It is surmounted by a Tee, the base of which is similar to the one shown on Woodcut No. 13, and on this still stand the remains of an umbrella in wood, very much decayed and distorted by age.

Opposite this is the entrance, consisting of three doorways, under a gallery exactly corresponding with our roodloft, one leading to the centre, and one to each of the side-aisles; and over the gallery the whole end of the hall is open as in all these chaitya halls, forming one great window, through which all the light is admitted. This great window is formed in the shape of a horseshoe, and exactly resembles those used as ornaments on the façade of this cave, as well as on those of Bhaja, Bedsa, and at Nassick described above, and which are met with everywhere at this age. Within the arch is a framework or centering of wood standing free (Woodcut No. 55). This, so far as we can judge, is, like the ribs of the interior, coeval with the{120} building;[145] at all events, if it has been renewed, it is an exact copy of the original form, for it is found repeated in stone in all the niches of the façade, over the doorways, and generally as an ornament everywhere, and with the Buddhist “rail,” copied from Sanchi, forms the most usual ornament of the style.

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56. View of Interior of Cave at Karli.
(From a Photograph.)

The presence of the woodwork is an additional proof, if any were wanted, that there were no arches of construction in any of these Buddhist buildings. There neither were nor are any in any Indian building anterior to the Mahomedan Conquest, and very few indeed in any Hindu building afterwards.

To return, however, to Karli, the outer porch is considerably wider{121} than the body of the building, being 52 ft. wide, and is closed in front by a screen composed of two stout octagonal pillars, without either base or capital, supporting what is now a plain mass of rock, but which was once ornamented by a wooden gallery forming the principal ornament of the façade. Above this a dwarf colonnade or attic of four columns between pilasters admitted light to the great window, and this again was surmounted by a wooden cornice or ornament of some sort, though we cannot now restore it, since only the mortices remain that attached it to the rock.

In advance of this screen stands the lion-pillar, in this instance a plain shaft with thirty-two flutes, or rather faces, surmounted by a capital not unlike that at Kesariah (Woodcut No. 6), but at Karli supporting four lions instead of one, and, for reasons given above (p. 55), they seem almost certainly to have supported a chakra or Buddhist wheel. A similar pillar probably stood on the opposite side, but it has either fallen or been taken down to make way for the little temple that now occupies its place.

The absence of the wooden ornaments of the external porch, as well as our ignorance of the mode in which this temple was finished laterally, and the porch joined to the main temple, prevents us from judging what the effect of the front would have been if belonging to a free-standing building. But the proportions of such parts as remain are so good, and the effect of the whole so pleasing, that there can be little hesitation in ascribing to such a design a tolerably high rank among architectural compositions.

Of the interior we can judge perfectly, and it certainly is as solemn and grand as any interior can well be, and the mode of lighting the most perfect—one undivided volume of light coming through a single opening overhead at a very favourable angle, and falling directly on the altar or principal object in the building, leaving the rest in comparative obscurity. The effect is considerably heightened by the closely set thick columns that divide the three aisles from one another, as they suffice to prevent the boundary walls from ever being seen, and, as there are no openings in the walls, the view between the pillars is practically unlimited.

These peculiarities are found more or less developed in all the other caves of the same class in India, varying only with the age and the gradual change that took place from the more purely wooden forms of these caves to the lithic or stone architecture of the more modern ones. This is the principal test by which their relative ages can be determined, and it proves incontestably that the Karli cave was excavated not very long after stone came to be used as a building-material in India.

There are caves at Ajunta and probably at Junir which are as old as the four just described, and, when the history of cave archi{122}tecture comes to be written in extenso, will supply details that are wanting in the examples just quoted. Meanwhile, however, their forms are sufficient to place the history on a firm basis, and to explain the origin and early progress of the style with sufficient distinctness.

From the inscriptions and literary evidence, it seems hardly doubtful that the date of the Karli cave is about 78 B.C., and that at Nassick about 129 B.C. We have no literary authority for the date of the two earlier ones, but the archæological evidence appears irresistible. The Bhaja cave is so absolutely identical in style with the Lomas Rishi cave at Behar (Woodcut No. 43) that they must be of very nearly the same age. Their pillars and their doorways slope so nearly at the same angle, and the essential woodenness—if the expression may be used—of both is so exactly the same, that, the one being of the age of Asoka, the other cannot be far removed from the date of his reign. The Bedsa cave exhibits a degree of progress so nearly halfway between the Bhaja and Nassick examples, that it may safely be dated 150 to 200 B.C., and the whole four thus exhibit the progress of the style during nearly two centuries in the most satisfactory manner, and form a basis from which we may proceed to reason with very little hesitation or doubt.


There are four chaitya caves in the Ajunta series which, though not so magnificent as some of the four just mentioned, are nearly as important for the purposes of our history. The oldest there (No. 9) is the lowest down on the cliff, and is of the smallest class, being only 45 ft. by 23 ft. in width. All its woodwork has perished, though it would not be difficult to restore it from the mortices left and the representations of itself on the façade. There are several inscriptions, but they do not seem integral. They are painted on the walls, and belong, from the form of their characters, to the 2nd or 3rd century of our era, when the frescoes seem to have been renewed, so that the real tests of its age are, first, its position in the series, which make it, with its accompanying vihara (No. 12), undoubtedly the oldest there; the other test is the architecture of its façade, which so much resembles that of the Nassick chaitya (B.C. 129) that it cannot be far off in date. It may, however, be somewhat earlier, as the pillars in the interior slope inwards at a somewhat greater angle, and, in so far as that is a test of age, it indicates a greater antiquity in the Ajunta example.{123}

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57. Interior of Chaitya Cave No. 10 at Ajunta.
(From a Sketch by the Author.)

The next chaitya (No. 10) is situated very near to the last, a little higher up in the rock, however, and of nearly twice its dimensions. It is 94 ft. 6 in. in depth by 41 ft. 3 in. in width internally. As may be seen from the annexed view (Woodcut No. 57), the nave is separated from the aisles by a range of plain octagonal shafts, perfectly upright, but without capitals or bases. The triforium belt is of unusual height, and was originally plastered and painted. Traces of this can still be seen, though the design cannot be made out (Woodcut No. 58). One of the most remarkable characteristics of the cave is that it shows signs of transition from wood to stone in its architectural details. The ribs of the aisle are in stone cut in rock, but copied from the wooden forms of previous examples. The vault of the nave was adorned with wooden ribs, the mortices for which are still there, and their marks can still be traced in the roof, but the wood itself is gone.

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58. Cross-Section of Cave No. 10 at Ajunta. No scale.

There are two inscriptions in this cave which seem to be integral, but unfortunately neither of them contain names that can be identified; but from the form of their characters a palæographist would{124} almost certainly place them anterior to the Christian Era.[147] Taking, however, all the circumstances of the case into consideration, and so as to avoid stretching any point too far, it would, perhaps, be better to assume for the present that the cave belongs to the 1st century of our era.

The façades of both these caves are so much ruined by the rock falling away that it is impossible to assert that there was no sculpture on the lower parts. None, certainly, exists in the interior, where everything depends on painting; and it is, to say the least of it, very improbable that any figure-sculpture ever adorned the oldest, while it seems likely that even No. 10 depended wholly on conventional architectural forms for its adornment.

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59. Chaitya No. 19 at Ajunta. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The next chaitya cave in this series (No. 19) is separated from these two by a very long interval of time. Unfortunately, no inscription exists upon it which would assist in assigning it any precise date; but it belongs to a group of viharas, Nos. 16 and 17, whose date, as we shall afterwards see, can be fixed with tolerable certainty as belonging to the 5th century of our era. The cave itself, as will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 59), is of the smallest size, nearly the same as No. 9, or 46 ft. 4 in. by 23 ft. 7 in., and its arrangements do not differ much, but its details belong to a totally different school of art. All trace of woodwork has disappeared, but wooden forms are everywhere repeated in stone, like the triglyphs and mutules of the Doric order, long after their original meaning was lost. More than this, painting in the interval had to a great extent become disused as a means of decoration, both internally and externally, and sculpture substituted for it in all monumental works; but the greatest change of all is that Buddha, in all his attitudes, is introduced everywhere. In the next woodcut (No. 60)—the view of the façade—it will be seen how completely figure-sculpture had superseded the plainer architectural forms of the earlier caves. The rail ornament, too, has entirely disappeared; the window heads have been dwarfed down to mere framings for masks; but, what is even more significant than these, is that from a pure theism or rather atheism we have passed to an overwhelming idolatry. At Karli, the eight figures that originally adorned the porch are chiefs with their wives, in pairs. All the figures of Buddha that appear there now are long{125} subsequent additions. None but mortals were sculptured in the earlier caves, and among these mortals Sakya Muni nowhere appears. Here, on the contrary, he is Bhagavat—the Holy One—the Deity—the object of worship, and occupies a position in the front of the dagoba or altar itself (Woodcut No. 61, p. 126), surmounted by the triple umbrella and as the Numen of the place.

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60. View of Façade, Chaitya Cave No. 19 at Ajunta.
(From a Photograph.)

At a future stage of our inquiries we may be able to fix more nearly the time in which this portentous change took place in Buddhist ritual. For the present it is sufficient to remark that images of Buddha, and their worship, were not known in India in the 1st century of our era, and that the revolution was complete in the 5th century.

Before leaving this cave, however, it may be well to remark on the change that had taken place in the form of the dagoba during these 500 years. If Woodcut No. 61 is compared with the dagobas in Nos. 56 and 57, it will be seen how much the low rounded form of the early examples had been conventionalised into a tall steeple-like object. The drum had become more important than the dome, and was ornamented with architectural features that have no meaning as applied. But more curious still is the form the triple umbrella{126} had assumed. It had now become a steeple reaching to the roof of the cave, and its original form and meaning would hardly be suspected by those who were not familiar with the intermediate steps.

I am not aware of more than three umbrellas being found surmounting any dagoba in the caves, but the annexed representation of a model of one found at Sultanpore, near Jelalabad (Woodcut No. 62), probably of about the same age, has six such discs; and in Behar numerous models are found with seven, making with the base and finial nine storeys,[148] which afterwards in China became the conventional number for the nine-storeyed towers of that land.

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61. Rock-cut Dagoba at Ajunta.
(From a Drawing by the Author.)

62. Small Model found in the Tope at Sultanpore.
(From Wilson’s ‘Ariana Antiqua.’)

The last chaitya at Ajunta (No. 26) is of a medium size, 66 ft. by 36, and has a long inscription, but which unfortunately contains nothing to enable us to fix its date with certainty. It is certainly more modern than the last-named, its sculptures are coarser, and their meaning more mythological. We shall probably not err in assuming that it was excavated towards the end of the 6th or beginning of the 7th century;{127} and that the year 600 is not far from its true date. Its chief interest is in showing how nearly Buddhism was approximating to Brahmanism when the catastrophe took place which expelled the former from the country of its birth.


The celebrated Viswakarma cave at Ellora is a chaitya of the first class, intermediate in age between the two last-described caves at Ajunta, or it may be as modern as the last. There are unfortunately no inscriptions nor any traditions[149] that would assist in fixing its age, which must consequently depend wholly on its position in the series and its architectural peculiarities.

The dimensions of this cave are considerable, 85 ft. by 43 ft., and the inner end is entirely blocked up by the dagoba which, instead of being circular as in all the older examples, has a frontispiece attached to it larger than that in cave No. 19 at Ajunta, which, as shown in Woodcut No. 60, makes it square in front. On this addition is a figure of Buddha seated with his feet down, and surrounded by attendants and flying figures in the latest style of Buddhist art. In the roof, all the ribs and ornaments are cut in the rock, though still copied from wooden prototypes, and the triforium has sculptured figures as in Nos. 19 and 26 of Ajunta. Its most marked characteristic, however, is the façade, where for the first time we miss the great horseshoe opening, which is the most marked feature in all previous examples. We can still trace a reminiscence of it in the upper part of the window in the centre (Woodcut No. 63, p. 128); but it was evidently considered necessary, in this instance, to reduce the size of the opening, and it is easy to see why this was the case. At Bedsa, Karli, Kenheri and elsewhere, there was a verandah or porch with a screen in front of the great window, which prevented the direct rays of the sun from reaching it, and all the older caves had wooden screens, as at Karli, from which curtains could be hung so as to modify the light to any desired extent. At Ellora, no screen could ever have existed in front, and wooden additions had long ceased to be used, so that it consequently became necessary to reduce the size of the opening. In the two later chaityas at Ajunta, this is effected by simply reducing their size. At Ellora it was done by dividing it. If we had the structural examples in which this change was probably first introduced, we might trace its progress; but, as this one is the only example we have of a divided window, we must{128} accept it as one of the latest modifications of the façades of these chaityas. Practically, it may be an improvement, as it is still sufficiently large to light the interior in a satisfactory manner; but artistically it seems rather to be regretted. There is a character and a grandeur about the older design which we miss in this more domestic-looking arrangement, though it is still a form of opening not destitute of beauty.

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63. Façade of the Viswakarma Cave at Ellora.
(From a Photograph.)

Owing to the sloping nature of the ground in which it is excavated this cave possesses a forecourt of considerable extent and of great elegance of design, which gives its façade an importance it is not entitled to from any intrinsic merit of its own.{129}


One of the best known and most frequently described chaityas in India is that on the island of Salsette, in Bombay Harbour, known as the great Kenheri cave. In dimensions it belongs to the first rank, being 88 ft. 6 in. by 39 ft. 10 in., and it has the advantage that its date is now almost absolutely fixed. In the verandah there is an inscription recording that the celebrated Buddhaghosha dedicated one of the middle-sized statues in the porch to the honour of the lord Bhagawan,[150] and in the same porch another inscription records the execution of the great statues of Buddha by “Gotamiputra’s imperial descendant Sri Yadnya Sat Karni.”[151] Now we know that the first-named, Buddhaghosha, went on his mission to Ceylon, B.C. 410,[152] and he is not known ever to have returned to India; and Yadnya Sri has always been assumed to have lived 408-428, generally it must be confessed on the mistaken etymology of confounding his name with that of Yuegai of the Chinese. That, however, is apparently only a translation of the “Moon beloved king,” and more applicable, consequently, to Chandra Sri or Chandragupta, who was his contemporary. The true basis for the determination of his date is the Puranic chronology, which, for this period seems indisputable.[153] Be all this as it may, the conjunction of these two names here in this cave settles their date, and settles also the age of the cave as belonging to the early years of the 5th century, at the time when Fa Hian was travelling in India.

This being so, one would naturally expect that the architecture of the cave should exhibit some stage of progress intermediate between cave(No. 10and cave No. 19 of Ajunta, but nothing of the sort is apparent here; the Kenheri cave is a literal copy of the great cave at Karli, but in so inferior a style of art that, when I first saw it, I was inclined to ascribe it to an age of Buddhist decrepitude, when the traditions of true art had passed away, and men were trying by spasmodic efforts to revive a dead art. This being now proved not to be the case, the architecture of this cave can only be looked upon as an exceptional anomaly, the principles of whose design are unlike anything else to be found in India, emanating probably from some individual caprice, the origin of which we may probably never now be able to recover.

Internally the roof was ornamented with timber rafters, and though these have fallen away, the wooden pins by which they were{130} fastened to the rock still remain; and the screen in front has all the mortices and other indications, as at Karli, proving that it was intended to be covered with wooden galleries and framework. What is still more curious, the figures of chiefs with their wives, which adorn the front of the screen at Karli, are here repeated literally, but copied so badly as not at first sight to be easily recognisable. This is the more strange as it occurred at an age when their place was reserved for figures of Buddha, and when, at Karli itself, they were cutting away the old sculptures and old inscriptions, to introduce figures of Buddha, either seated cross-legged, or borne on the lotus, supported by Naga figures at its base.[154]

In front of this cave is a dwarf rail which, with the knowledge we now have, would in itself be almost sufficient to settle the age, in spite of these anomalies (Woodcut No. 64). Unfortunately it is so weather-worn that it is difficult to make out all its details; but comparing it with the Gautamiputra rail (Woodcut No. 32) and the Amravati rail (Woodcut No. 36), it will be seen that it contains all those complications that were introduced in the 3rd and 4th centuries, but which were discontinued in the 5th and 6th, when the rail in any shape fell into disuse as an architectural ornament.[155]

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64. Rail in front of Great Cave, Kenheri.
(From a Drawing by Mr. West.)

The evidence in fact seems complete that this cave was excavated in the early years of the 5th century; but, admitting this, it remains an anomaly, the like of which only occurs once again so far as I know in the history of Indian architecture, and that in a vihara at Nassick of the same age, to be described hereafter.{131}


About half way between Kotah and Ujjain, in Rajputana, there exists a series of caves at a place called Dhumnar which are of considerable extent, but the interest that might be felt in them is considerably diminished by their being cut in a coarse laterite conglomerate, so coarse that all the finer architectural details had to be worked out in plaster, and that, having perished with time, only their plans and outlines can now be recognised. Among the sixty or seventy excavations here found one is a chaitya of some extent, and presenting peculiarities of plan not found elsewhere. It is practically a chaitya cella situated in the midst of a vihara (Woodcut No. 65). The cell in which the dagoba is situated is only 35 ft. by 13 ft. 6 in., but to this must be added the porch, or ante-chapel, extending 25 ft. further, making the whole 60 ft. On two sides, and on half the third, it is surrounded by an open verandah leading to the cells. The third side never was finished, but in two of the side cells are smaller dagobas—the whole making a confused mass of chambers and chaityas in which all the original parts are confounded, and all the primitive simplicity of design and arrangement is lost, to such an extent that, without previous knowledge, they would hardly be recognisable.

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65. Cave at Dhumnar.
(From a Plan by Gen. Cunningham.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

There are no exact dates for determining the age of this cave, but like all of the series it is late, probably between the years 500 and 600 A.D., or even later, and its great interest is that, on comparing{132} it with the chaitya and vihara at Bhaja or Bedsa (Woodcuts Nos. 46 and 49), we are enabled to realise the progress and changes that took place in designing these monuments during the seven or eight centuries that elapsed between them.


Not far from Dhumnar is another series of caves not so extensive, but interesting as being probably the most modern group of Buddhist caves in India. No very complete account of them has yet been published,[156] but enough is known to enable us to feel sure how modern they are. One, called Arjun’s House, is a highly ornamented dagoba, originally apparently some 20 ft. in height, but the upper part being in masonry has fallen away. Inside this is a cell open to the front, in which is a cross-legged seated figure of Buddha, showing an approach to the Hindu mode of treating images in their temples, which looks as if Buddhism was on the verge of disappearing.

The same arrangement is repeated in the only excavation here which can be called a chaitya hall. It is only 26 ft. by 13 ft. internally; but the whole of the dagoba, which is 8 ft. in diameter, has been hollowed out to make a cell, in which an image of Buddha is enshrined. The dagobas, in fact, here—there are three standing by themselves—have become temples, and only distinguishable from those of the Hindus by their circular forms.[157]

It is probably hardly necessary to say more on this subject now, as most of the questions, both of art and chronology, will be again touched upon in the next chapter when describing the viharas which were attached to the chaityas, and were, in fact, parts of the same establishments. As mere residences, the viharas may be deficient in that dignity and unity which characterises the chaityas, but their number and variety make up to a great extent for their other deficiencies; and altogether their description forms one of the most interesting chapters in our history.{133}




Structural Viharas—Bengal and Western Vihara Caves—Nassick, Ajunta, Bagh, Dhumnar, Kholvi, and Ellora Viharas—Circular Cave at Junir.

Structural Viharas.

We are almost more dependent on rock-cut examples for our knowledge of the Viharas or monasteries of the Buddhists than we are for that of their Chaityas or churches: a circumstance more to be regretted in this instance than in the other. In a chaitya hall the interior is naturally the principal object, and where the art of the architect would be principally lavished. Next would come the façade. The sides and apse are comparatively insignificant and incapable of ornament. The façades and the interior can be as well expressed in the rock as when standing free; but the case is different with the viharas. A court or hall surrounded with cells is not an imposing architectural object. Where the court has galleries two or three storeys in height, and the pillars that support these are richly carved, it may attain an amount of picturesqueness we find in our old hostelries, or of that class of beauty that prevails in the courts of Spanish monasteries.[159] Such was, I believe, the form many of the Indian structural viharas may have taken, but which could hardly be repeated in the rock; and, unless some representations are dis{134}covered among the paintings or sculptures, we shall probably never know, though we may guess, what the original appearances may have been.

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66. Great Rath at Mahavellipore.
(From a Photograph.)

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67. Diagram Explanatory of the Arrangement of a Buddhist Vihara of Four Storeys in Height.


There was, however, I believe, another form of Vihara even less capable of being repeated in the rock. It was pyramidal, and is the original of all the temples of southern India. Take, for instance, a description of one mentioned both by Fa Hian and Hiouen Thsang,[160] though neither of them, it must be confessed, ever saw it, which accounts in part for some absurdities in the description:—“The building,” says Fa Hian, “has altogether five storeys. The lowest is shaped into the form of an elephant, and has 500 stone cells in it; the second is in the form of a lion, and has 400 chambers; the third is shaped like a horse, and has 300 chambers; the fourth is in the form of an ox, and has 200 chambers; and the fifth is in the shape of a dove, and has 100 chambers in it”—and the account given of it by Hiouen Thsang is practically the same.[161] At first sight this looks wild enough; but if we substitute the assertion that the several storeys were adorned with elephants, lions, horses, &c., we get a mode of decoration which began at Karli, where a great range of elephants adorn the lower storey, and was continued with variations to Hullabîd, where, as we shall see further on, all these five animals are, in the 13th century, superimposed upon one another exactly as here recounted.

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68. 69.

Square and oblong Cells from a Bas-relief at Bharhut.

The opposite woodcut (No. 66), taken from one of the raths at Mahavellipore, probably correctly represents such a structure, and I believe also the form of a great many ancient viharas in India. The diagram (No. 67) is intended to explain what probably were the internal arrangements of such a structure. As far as it can be understood from the rock-cut examples we have, the centre was occupied by halls of varying dimensions according to height, supported by wooden posts above the ground-floor, and used as the common day-rooms of the monks. The sleeping-cells (Woodcuts Nos. 68, 69) were apparently on the terraces, and may have been such as are frequently represented in the bas-reliefs at Bharhut and elsewhere. Alternately they seem to have been square and oblong, and with smaller apartments between. Of course we must not take too literally a representation of a monastery, carried out solidly in the rock for a different purpose, as an absolutely correct representation of its original. The importance, however, of this form, as explaining the peculiarities of sub{136}sequent Buddhist and Dravidian architecture, is so great that it is well worth quoting here, though this will be more evident in the sequel than it can be at present. In construction the breadth, in a structural building, would probably have been greater in proportion to the height than in this example, but that is of little consequence for our present purposes.

It is, of course, always difficult, sometimes impossible, to realise the form of buildings from verbal descriptions only, and the Chinese Pilgrims were not adepts at architectural definitions. Still Hiouen Thsang’s description of the great Nalanda monastery is important, and so germane to our present subject that it cannot well be passed over.

This celebrated monastery, which was the Monte Cassino of India for the first five centuries of our era, was situated thirty-four miles south of Patna, and seven miles north of the old capital of Rajagriha. If not founded under the auspices of the celebrated Nagárjuna in the 1st century, he at all events resided there, introducing the Mahayana or great translation, and making it the seat of that school for Central India. After his time six successive kings had built as many viharas on this spot, when one of them surrounded the whole with a high wall, which can still be traced, measuring 1600 ft. north and south, by 400 ft., and enclosing eight separate courts. Externally to this enclosure were numerous stupas or tower-like viharas, ten or twelve of which are easily recognised, and have been identified, with more or less certainty, by General Cunningham, from the Pilgrim’s description.[162] The general appearance of the place may be gathered from the following:—“In the different courts the houses of the monks were each four storeys in height. The pavilions had pillars ornamented with dragons, and had beams resplendent with all the colours of the rainbow—rafters richly carved—columns ornamented with jade, painted red and richly chiselled, and balustrades of carved open work. The lintels of the doors were decorated with elegance, and the roofs covered with glazed tiles of brilliant colours, which multiplied themselves by reflection, and varied the effect at every moment in a thousand manners.” Or as he enthusiastically sums up:—“The Sangharamas of India are counted by thousands, but there are none equal to this in majesty or richness, or the height of their construction.”[163]

From what we know of the effects of Burmese monasteries at the present day this is probably no exaggeration; and with its groves of Mango-trees, and its immense tanks, which still remain, it must have been, as he says, “an enchanting abode.” Here there resided in his time—within and without the walls—10,000 priests and neophytes, and{137} religion and philosophy were taught from a hundred chairs, and here consequently our Pilgrim sojourned for five years, imbibing the doctrines of the Law of Buddha. What Cluny and Clairvaux were to France in the Middle Ages, Nalanda was to Central India, the depository of all true learning, and the foundation from which it spread over all the other lands of the faithful; but still, as in all instances connected with that strange parallelism which existed between the two religions, the Buddhists kept five centuries in advance of the Christians in the invention and use of all the ceremonies and forms common to both religions.

It would indeed be satisfactory if the architecture of this celebrated monastery could be restored and its arrangements made clear. Something has been done by Cunningham[164] towards this, and excavations have been made by Mr. Broadley and Captain Marshall. The former it is feared has destroyed more than he has restored, and his drawings are so imperfect as to be utterly unintelligible. The latter has not yet published his discoveries. Nothing, however, would probably better repay a systematic exploration than this celebrated spot, if undertaken by some one accustomed to such researches, and capable of making detailed architectural drawings of what is found.

If, however, it should turn out, as hinted above, that the whole of the superstructure of these viharas was in wood, either fire or natural decay may have made such havoc among all that remains of them, as to leave little to reward the labours of the explorer. What has been done in this direction certainly affords no great encouragement to hope for much. At Sultangunge, near Monghyr, a large vihara was cut through by the railway, but except one remarkable bronze statue of Buddha[165] nothing was found of importance. The monastery apparently consisted of two large courtyards surrounded by cells. What was found, however, could only have been the foundations, as there were no doorways to the apartments or means of communication between each other or with the exterior.[166]

The vihara excavated by Captain Kittoe and Mr. Thomas, at Sarnath, seems certainly to have been destroyed by fire. All that remained was a series of some twenty cells and four larger halls surrounding a pillared court 50 ft. square. On one side were three cells evidently forming a sanctuary, as is frequently found in the later rock-cut examples.[167]

The excavations conducted by General Cunningham, at the same place, are hardly more satisfactory in their result. The two buildings{138} he explored seem to bear the relation to one another of a vihara 60 ft. square over all, and a temple of little more than half these dimensions with a projecting porch on each face.[168] Only the foundation of these buildings now remains, and nothing to indicate how they were originally finished.

We may eventually hit on some representation which may enable us to form definite ideas on this subject, but till we do this we probably must be content with the interiors as seen in the rock-cut examples.

Bengal Caves.

None of the Behar caves can, properly speaking, be called viharas, in the sense in which the word is generally used, except perhaps the Son Bhandar, which, as before mentioned, General Cunningham identifies with the Sattapanni cave, in front of which the first convocation was held 543 B.C. It is a plain rectangular excavation, 33 ft. 9 in. long by 17 ft. wide, and 11 ft. 7 in. to the springing of the curved roof.[169] It has one door and one window, but both, like the rest of the cave, without mouldings or any architectural features that would assist in determining its age. The jambs of the doorway slope slightly inwards, but not sufficiently to give an idea of great antiquity. In front there was a wooden verandah, the mortice holes for which are still visible in the front wall.

The other caves, at Barabar and Nagárjuna, if not exactly chaityas in the sense in which that term is applied to the western caves, were at least oratories, places of prayer and worship, rather than residences. One Arhat or ascetic may have resided in them, but for the purpose of performing the necessary services. There are no separate cells in them, nor any division that can be considered as separating the ceremonial from the domestic uses of the cave, and they must consequently, for the present at least, be classed as chaityas rather than viharas.

The case is widely different when we turn to the caves in Orissa, which are among the most interesting, though at the same time the most anomalous, of all the caves in India. They are situated in two isolated hills of sandstone rock, about twenty miles from Cuttack and five from Bhuvaneswar. The oldest are in the hill called Udayagiri; the more modern in that portion designated Khandagiri. They became Jaina about the 10th or 11th century, and the last-named hill is crowned by a Jaina temple, erected by the Maharattas in the end of the last century.{139}

What we know of the age of the older caves is principally derived from a long inscription on the front of the oldest, known as the Hathi Gumpha, or Elephant Cave.[170] From it we learn that it was engraved by a king called Aira, who ascended the throne of Kalinga in his twenty-fourth year, and spread his power by conquest over neighbouring rajas. He seems at first to have vacillated between the Brahmanical and Buddhist faiths, but finally to have adopted the latter and distributed infinite alms. Among other good works, he is said “to have constructed subterranean chambers—caves containing a chaitya temple, and pillars.”

Palæographically, the forms of the letters used in this inscription are identical with those used by Asoka in the copy of his edicts on the Aswatama rock close by, and that recently found at Aska, near the northern corner of the Chilkya lake. The first presumption, therefore, is that they may be of about the same date. This is justified by the mention of Nanda in the past tense, while there seems no reason for doubting that he was one of the kings of that name who immediately preceded the revolution that placed Chandragupta on the throne. Beside these, there are other indications in this inscription which seem to make it almost certain that Aira was contemporary with the great Mauryan dynasty of Magadha; but whether he preceded or followed Asoka is not quite so clear. Still it appears unlikely that Asoka would have been allowed to set up two copies of his edicts in the dominions of such powerful kings as Aira and his father seem to have been, and as unlikely that Aira should make such a record without some allusion to the previously promulgated edicts, had they then existed. On the whole, I am inclined to believe that Aira lived before Asoka, and, if so, that this is the oldest inscription yet found in India. Be this as it may, the cave in which it is found is certainly the oldest here. It is a great natural cavern, the brow of which has been smoothed to admit of this inscription, but all the rest remains nearly in a state of nature. Close to it is a small cave, the whole “fronton” of which over the doorway is occupied by a great three-headed Naga, and may be as old as the Hathi cave. The inscription on it merely says that it is the unequalled chamber of Chulakarma, who seems also to have excavated another cave, here called the Pawan Gabha,[171] or Purification Cave.

Besides these, and smaller caves to be noticed hereafter, the great interest of the Udayagiri caves centres in two—the so-called Ganesa{140} cave, and that called the Raj Rani, or Rani Hanspur, from a tradition—Hindu—that it was excavated by the Rani of Lelat Indra Kesari, the celebrated builder of the Bhuvaneswar temple in the 7th century.

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70. Ganesa Cave.
(From a Plan by Mr. Locke.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The former is a small cave, consisting of two cells, together 30 ft. long by 10 ft. wide, in front of which is a verandah, slightly longer, that was once adorned with five pillars, though only three are now standing (Woodcut No. 70). There is an inscription on this cave in the Kutila characters, dedicating it to Jaganath; but this is evidently an addition in modern times.[172] The style of the architecture may be judged of from the annexed woodcut, representing one of its pillars (Woodcut No. 71). They are of extreme simplicity, being square piers, changing into octagons in the centre only, and with a slight bracket of very wooden construction on each face. The doorways leading into the cells are adorned with the usual horseshoe formed canopies copied from the fronts of the chaitya halls, and which we are now so familiar with from the Bharhut sculptures, and from the openings common to all wooden buildings of that age.

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71. Pillar in Ganesa Cave, Cuttack.
(From a Sketch by the Author.)

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72. Upper Storey, Rani Gumpha.
(From a Plan by H. H. Locke.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The other cave is very much larger, being two storeys in height, both of which were originally adorned by verandahs: the upper 62 ft. long, opening into four cells (Woodcut No. 72), the lower, 44 ft., opening into three. All the doors leading into these cells have jambs sloping slightly inwards, which is itself a sufficient indication that the cave is anterior to the Christian Era, it may be, by a century or thereabouts. Of the nine pillars of the upper verandah only{141} two remain standing, and these much mutilated, while all the six of the lower storey have perished. It seems as if from inexperience the excavators had not left sufficient substance to support the mass of rock above; and probably, in consequence of some slight shocks of an earthquake, the mass above fell in, bearing everything before it. Either then, or at some subsequent period, an attempt has been made to restore the lower verandah in wood, and for this purpose a chase has been cut through the sculptures that adorned its back wall, and they have been otherwise so mutilated that it is almost impossible to make out their meaning. Fortunately, those of the upper verandahs are tolerably entire, though in some parts they, too, have been very badly treated.

Besides this, which may be called the main body of the building, two wings project forward; that on the left 40 ft., that on the right 20 ft.; and, as these contained cells on both storeys, the whole afforded accommodation for a considerable number of inmates.

The great interest of these two caves, however, lies in their sculptures. In the Ganesa cave there are two bas-reliefs. The first represents a man asleep under a tree, and a woman watching over him. To them a woman is approaching leading a man by the hand, as if to introduce him to the sleeper. Beyond them a man and a woman are fighting with swords and shields in very close combat, and behind them a man is carrying off a naked female in his arms.[173]

The second bas-relief comprises fifteen figures and two elephants. There may be in it two successive scenes, though my impression is, that only one is intended, while I feel certain this is the case regarding the first. In the Raj Rani cave the second bas-relief is identical, in all essential respects, with the first in the Ganesa, but the reliefs that precede and follow it represent different scenes altogether. It is, perhaps, in vain to speculate what episode this rape scene represents, probably some local tradition not known elsewhere; its greatest interest for our present purposes is that the first named is singularly classical in design and execution, the latter wilder, and both in action and costume far more purely Indian. Before the discovery of the Bharhut sculptures, it is hardly doubtful that we would have pronounced those in the Ganesa cave the oldest, as being the most perfect. The Bharhut sculptures, however, having shown us how perfect the native art was at a very early date, have considerably modified our opinions on this subject; and those in the Rani cave,{142} being so essentially Indian in their style, now appear to me the oldest. Those in the Ganesa Gumpha, as more classical, may have been executed by some Yavana artist at a subsequent age, but still both seem anterior to the Christian Era.[174] The other bas-reliefs in the Raj Rani cave represent scenes of hunting, fighting, dancing, drinking, and love-making—anything, in fact, but religion or praying in any shape or form. From the sculptures at Sanchi and Bharhut, we were prepared to expect that we should not find any direct evidence of Buddhism in any sculptures anterior to the first century of the Christian Era; but those at this place go beyond these in that respect. Nothing here can be interpreted as referring to any scenes in the life of Sakya Muni, or to any known jataka, and it is by no means clear whether we shall ever discover the legends to which they refer. Besides these bassi-relievi, there is in the Rani cave a figure, in high relief, of a female (?) riding on a lion. Behind him or her, a soldier in a kilt, or rather the dress of a Roman soldier, with laced boots reaching to the calf of the leg—very similar, in fact, to those represented Plate 28, fig. 1, of ‘Tree and Serpent Worship,’ as strangers paying their addresses to the three-storeyed dagoba—and behind this, again, a female of very foreign aspect.

In another cave of the same group, called the Jodev Garbha, and of about the same age, between the two doorways leading to the cell, a sacred tree is being worshipped. It is surrounded by the usual rail, and devotees and others are bringing offerings.[175]

In another, probably older than either of the two last-mentioned, called Ananta Garbha, are two bassi-relievi over the two doorways: one is devoted, like the last, to Tree worship, the other to the honour of Sri (vide ante, p. 51). She is standing on her lotus, and two elephants, standing likewise on lotuses, are pouring water over her.[176] The same representation occurs once, at least, at Bharhut, and ten times at Sanchi, and, so far as I know, is the earliest instance of honour paid to god or man in Indian sculptures.

One other cave deserves to be mentioned before leaving Udayagiri. It is a great boulder, carved into the semblance of a tiger’s head, with his jaws open, and his throat, as it should be, is a doorway leading to a single cell (Woodcut No. 73). It is a caprice, but one that shows that those who conceived it had some experience in the{143} plastic arts before they undertook it. From the form of the characters which are engraved upon it, it is undoubtedly anterior to the Christian Era, but how much earlier it is difficult to say.


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73. Tiger Cave, Cuttack.

From whatever point of view they are looked at, these Orissan caves are so unlike anything that we have previously been in the habit of considering Buddhist, that it may well be asked whether we are justified in ascribing their excavation to the followers of that religion at all. Not only is there no figure of Buddha, in the conventional forms and attitudes by which he was afterwards recognised, but there is no scene which can be interpreted as representing any event in his life, nor any of the jatakas in which his future greatness was prefigured. There is no dagoba in the caves[177] or represented in the sculptures, no chaitya cave, no wheel emblem, nor anything in fact that is usually considered emblematical of that religion.

When we look a little more closely into it, however, we do detect the Swastica and shield emblem attached to the Aira inscription, and the shield and trisul ornament over the doorways in the older caves, and these we know, from what we find at Bharhut and Sanchi, and at Bhaja (ante, p. 112), were considered as Buddhist emblems in these places. But were they exclusively so? The trisul ornament is found on the coins of Kadphises, in conjunction with the bull and trident of Siva,[178] and we have no reason for assuming that the Swastica, and it may be even the shield, were not used by other and earlier sects.

The truth of the matter appears to be that hitherto our knowledge of Buddhism has been derived almost exclusively from books, which took their present form only in the fourth or fifth century of our era, or from monuments erected after the corruptions of the Mahayana introduced by Nagárjuna, and those who assisted at the fourth convocation held by Kanishka in the first century of our era. We now are able to realise from the sculptures of Bharhut, of these caves, and of the Sanchi gateways, and the older western caves, what Buddhism really was between the ages of Asoka and Kanishka, and it is a widely different thing from anything written in the books we possess, or{144} represented afterwards in sculptures or paintings. Whether we shall ever recover any traces of what Buddhism was between the death of Sakya Muni and Asoka, is more than doubtful. If found, it would probably be even more unlike the present Buddhism than that of the intermediate period. Judging from what we have hitherto found, it looks as if it would turn out to be a pure worship of trees by a Naga or serpent-reverencing race, on whose primitive faith Asoka engrafted the teachings of Sakya Muni. There were Buddhists, of course, in India before Asoka’s time, but it seems doubtful if they were sufficiently powerful to dig caves or erect monuments. None at least have yet been discovered, and till they are we must be content to stop our backward researches with such a group of monuments as these Udayagiri caves.

Western Vihara Caves.

There are at least four Viharas which we know for certainty were excavated before the Christian Era. There are probably forty, but they have not yet been edited with such care as to enable us to feel confident in affixing dates to them. The four that are known are those attached to the chaityas at Bhaja and Bedsa (Woodcuts Nos. 45, 49), and the two oldest at Ajunta, Nos. 12 and 11. Those at Karli are probably coeval with the great chaitya itself, but, strange to say, they have never been drawn or investigated, so that we really know little or nothing about them. At Junir there are several, which are very old, and at Sana and Tulaja, in Gujerat, there are several of very ancient date, but they, like those at Junir, are too imperfectly known to be quoted as authenticated examples of the period.

The oldest of these is that attached to the chaitya at Bhaja (ante, Woodcut No. 45). It is five-celled; three of these have single stone beds in them, one is double-bedded, and one, apparently the residence of the superior, is without that uncomfortable piece of furniture. In front of these are two long stone benches at either end of a hall 33 ft. in length. It is not clear whether this hall was always open as at present, but, if it was closed, it was by a wooden screen like the chaitya beside it, which is undoubtedly of the same age. They are indeed parts of one design. The same may be said of the Bedsa vihara, though placed a little further apart. In this case, however, there are three cells with stone beds in the verandah of the chaitya, and a fourth was commenced when apparently it was determined to remove the residence a little further off, and no instance, I believe, occurs afterwards in which they were so conjoined, till at least a very late date, when, as at Dhumnar (Woodcut No. 65), all the parts got again confounded together. As will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 49) it is exceptional in form, being apsidal like the chaitya itself.{145} It is not clear whether this is a copy of any existing wooden erection, or whether it was that, being the first attempt at an independent vihara in the rock, they thought it ought to resemble a chaitya in plan. My impression is that the latter is the true explanation; such an arrangement in a free-standing structure intended for a residence would be absurd, but we are here assisting at the “incunabula” of the style, and must not be surprised at anomalies.

Number 12 at Ajunta is merely a square hall, measuring 36 ft. 7 in. each way. It has no pillars, and its only ornament consists of seven horseshoe arches, four of which are over the doors of cells, the other three only ornamental. Unfortunately, the rock over its front has given way, and carried with it the façade, which probably was the most ornamental part of the design.

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74. Cave No. 11, at Ajunta.
(From a Plan by the Author.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

Number 11 is a step in advance of this one, there being four pillars in its centre (Woodcut No. 74). It has nine cells, but is without any sanctuary or ritual arrangement. In age, it seems to be contemporary with the chaitya No. 10, to which it evidently belongs, and like it may be considered as a transitional example, dating about the Christian Era, or rather before that time.

The most marked characteristic of these early viharas on the western side of India, is that unlike their eastern contemporaries, they are wholly devoid of figure-sculpture: no bassi-relievi, not even an emblem, relieves the severity of their simplicity. Over the doorways of the cells there are the usual horseshoe arches, copied from the windows of the great chaityas, and the invariable Buddhist rail repeated everywhere as a stringcourse, with an occasional pillar or pilaster to relieve the monotony.

There do not at present seem to exist any data sufficient to account satisfactorily for this curious difference between the exuberance of figure-sculpture in the east, and its total absence in the west in the pre-Christian Era caves, and the problem must be relegated for further inquiries. Looking, however, at the progress made of late years in these subjects, there is little doubt that its solution is not far off, and will, when reached, throw fresh light on the early history of Buddhism. Meanwhile, it may be worthy of remark, that the only living representation that is common to both sides of India, is the presence of the three-headed Naga on the façade of the Nassick chaitya (Woodcut No. 52), and its appearance in a similar position on the Chulakarma and Ananta caves at Udayagiri in Orissa. It points to an important feature in early Buddhist history, but not exactly{146} what we are now looking for. Besides this the three, five, or seven-headed Naga occurs so frequently at Bharhut, Sanchi and elsewhere, that his presence here can hardly be called a distinctive peculiarity.

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75. Cave No. 2, at Ajunta.
(From a Plan by the Author.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The next step after the introduction of four pillars to support the roof, as in cave No. 11 at Ajunta (Woodcut No. 74), was to introduce twelve pillars to support the roof, there being no intermediate number which would divide by four, and admit of an opening in the centre of every side. This arrangement is shown in the woodcut (No. 75), representing the plan of the cave No. 2 at Ajunta. Before this stage of cave architecture had been reached, the worship had degenerated considerably from its original purity; and these caves always possess a sanctuary containing an image of Buddha. There are frequently, besides this, as in the instance under consideration, two side chapels, like those in Catholic churches, containing images of subordinate saints, sometimes male, sometimes female.

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76. Cave at Bagh.
(From a Plan, by Captain Dangerfield, in the ‘Transactions of the Bombay Literary Society.’) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The next and most extensive arrangement of these square monastery-{147}caves is that in which twenty pillars are placed in the floor, so as to support the roof, six on each side, counting the corner pillars twice. There are several of these large caves at Ajunta and elsewhere; and one at Bagh, on the Tapty, represented in the last woodcut (No. 76), has, besides the ordinary complement, four additional pillars in the centre; these were introduced evidently in consequence of the rock not being sufficiently homogeneous and perfect to support itself without this additional precaution.

These—which might be classed, according to the terms used in Greek architecture, as astyle, when having no pillars; distyle, when with two pillars in each face; tetrastyle, with four; and hexastyle with six—form the leading and most characteristic division of these excavations, and with slight modification are to be found in all the modern series.

The forms, however, of many are so various and so abnormal, that it would require a far more extended classification to enable us to describe and include them all. In many instances the great depth of the cave which this square arrangement required was felt to be inconvenient; and a more oblong form was adopted, as in the Durbar cave at Salsette (Woodcut No. 77), where, besides, the sanctuary is projected forward, and assists, with the pillars, to support the roof. In some examples this is carried even further, and the sanctuary, standing boldly forward to the centre of the hall, forms in reality the only support. This, however, is a late arrangement, and must be considered more as an economical than an architectural improvement. Indeed by it the dignity and beauty of the whole composition are almost entirely destroyed.

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77. Durbar Cave, Salsette.
(From a Plan by the Author.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

Nassick Viharas.

The two most interesting series of caves for the investigation of the history of the later developments of the Vihara system, are those at Nassick and Ajunta. The latter is by far the most extensive, consisting of twenty-six first-class caves, four of which are chaityas. The latter group numbers, it is true, seventeen excavations, but{148} only six or seven of these can be called first-class, and it possesses only one chaitya. The others are small excavations of no particular merit or interest. Ajunta has also the advantage of retaining the greater portion of the paintings which once adorned the walls of all viharas erected subsequently to the Christian Era, while these have almost entirely disappeared at Nassick, though there seems very little doubt that the walls of all the greater viharas there were once so ornamented. This indeed was one of the great distinctions between them and the earlier primitive cells of the monks before the Christian Era. The Buddhist church between Asoka and Kanishka was in the same position as that of Christianity between Constantine and Gregory the Great. It was the last-named pontiff who inaugurated the Middle Ages with all their pomp and ceremonial. It might, therefore, under certain circumstances be expedient to describe the Ajunta viharas first; but they are singularly deficient in well-preserved inscriptions containing recognisable names. Nassick, on the other hand, is peculiarly rich in this respect, and the history of the series can be made out with very tolerable approximative certainty.[179]

The only difficulty is at the beginning of the series. If the chaitya cave was, as above stated, commenced 129 years before Christ, there ought to have been a vihara of the same age attached to it, but such does not seem to exist. There is indeed a small vihara close to it, and on a lower level than those now on each side of it, and consequently more likely to be what we are looking for, than they are. It is a simple square hall measuring 14 ft. each way, with two square cells in three of its sides, the fourth opening on a verandah with two octagon pillars in front. The only ornament of the interior is a horseshoe arch over each opening, connected with a simple Buddhist rail. In every detail it is in fact identical with the two old viharas Nos. 12 and 11 Ajunta, and certainly anterior to the Christian Era; but it bears an inscription of Krishna Raja, and he seems almost certainly to be the second of the Andrabritya race, and he ascended the throne B.C. 8, or 120 years after the time we are looking for.[180] But for this{149} the architectural details would accord perfectly with those of the chaitya, and the age ascribed to it; but the inscriptions may have been added afterwards. If this is not so, the only suggestion that occurs to me is that, as originally executed, the chaitya had a forecourt, and that the cells were in this, as at Bedsa and Sana, but that having fallen away, from some flaw in the rock, was entirely removed, and at a subsequent time that on the right was added at a height of 6 ft. above the level of the floor of the chaitya, that on the left at 12 ft., about the same datum,[181] which could hardly have been the case if they were part of the original conception.

Turning from these, which practically belong to the last chapter rather than to this, the interest is centred in three great viharas, the oldest of which bears the name of Nahapana (Woodcut No. 78), the second that of Gautamiputra, and the third that of Yadnya Sri—if my chronology is correct, their dates are thus fixed, in round numbers, as A.D. 100, 300, and 400.

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78. Nahapana Vihara, Nassick.
(From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The two principal viharas at Nassick, Nos. 3 and 8, are so similar in dimensions and in all their arrangements, that it is almost impossible to distinguish between their plans on paper. They are both square halls measuring more than 40 ft. each side, without any pillars in the centre, and are surrounded on three sides by sixteen cells of nearly the same dimensions. On the fourth side is a six-pillared verandah, in the one case with a cell at each end, in the other with only one cell, which is the most marked distinction between the two plans. The architecture, too, is in some respects so similar that we can hardly hesitate in assuming that the one is an intentional copy of the other. It is in fact the problem of the great cave at Kenheri, being a copy of that at Karli repeated here.[182] Only the difference in age between the two chaityas being five centuries, the degradation in style is greater than here, where it appears to be little more than two.

The pillars in the verandah of cave No. 8 (Woodcut No. 79, p. 150) are so similar to those in the great Karli chaitya, that if it should turn out, as Justice Newton[183] supposes, that Nahapana was the founder of the Samvat era, 56 B.C., there would be nothing in the architecture to contradict such a date. According to Mr. West, “the pillars are shorter{150} in proportion, and the human figures more rudely designed;”[184] but whether to such an extent as to justify an interval of nearly two centuries is not quite clear. On the other hand no vihara I know of on this side of India has a facade so richly ornamented as this. Those at Bhaja and Bedsa are quite plain, and those around Karli, though richer, are far inferior to this, so that on the whole the architectural evidence tends strongly to a date subsequent to the Christian Era.

The inscription on this cave says, that it was excavated by Ushavadata, son-in-law of Nahapana, viceroy under King Kshaharatra,[185] evidently a foreigner, whose proper name has not yet been discovered, but for reasons given in the Appendix, there seems little doubt but that the Saka era (A.D. 78-9) dates from his coronation, and as some years must have elapsed before the son-in-law of the viceroy could have been in a position to undertake such a work as this, I presume A.D. 100 is not far from the date of the cave.

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79. Pillar in Nahapana Cave, Nassick.
(From a Photograph.)

80. Pillar in Gautamiputra Cave, Nassick.
(From a Photograph.)

The pillars of the Gautamiputra cave No. 3 have, as will be seen{151} from the last woodcut (No. 80), lost much of the elegance of those last described. Instead of the graceful bell-shaped Persian capitals, we have the pudding forms that afterwards became so prevalent. The shafts are straight posts, and have no bases, and the whole shows an inferiority not to be mistaken. The richly carved and sculptured doorway also belongs to a much more modern age. Besides this, there are three things here which prove almost incontestably that it belongs to the same age as the Amravati tope erected in the 4th century—the rail in front, already given (Woodcut No. 36), the pilaster at the end of the verandah,[186] and the bas-relief of a dagoba, which occupies the same position on the back wall in this cave that the man with the club occupies in No. 8. It has the same attendants, and the same superfluity of umbrellas, as are found there,[187] so that altogether the age of the excavation can hardly be considered doubtful.

Cave No. 12 is a small vihara, the central hall being 30 ft. by 23 ft., and with only four cells on one side. Considerable alterations have been attempted in its interior at some date long subsequent to its first excavation, to adapt it apparently to Hindu worship. Its verandah, however, consisting of two attached and two free-standing columns, is undoubtedly of the same age as the Nahapana cave No. 8. An inscription upon it states that it was excavated by Indragnidatta, prince regnant under Patamitraka of the northern region.[188] None of these names can be recognised, but they point to an age when foreign kings, possibly of the Punjab, ruled this country by satraps.

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81. Yadnya Sri Cave, Nassick.
(From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The great vihara beyond the chaitya cave, and 12 ft. above its level, is one of the most important of the series, not only from its size, but from its ordinance and date (Woodcut No. 81). The hall is 60 ft. in depth by 40 ft. wide at the outer end, increasing to 45 ft. at the inner, and with eight cells on either side. The most marked peculiarity, however, is that it has a regular sanctuary at its inner end, with two richly-carved pillars in front (Woodcut No. 82, p. 152), and within, a colossal figure of Buddha, seated, with flying and standing attendants, dwarpals, dwarfs,{152} and all the usual accompaniments usually found in the fifth and subsequent centuries, but never, so far as I know, before.

Fortunately we have in this cave an inscription containing a well-known name. It is said to have been excavated by the wife of the commander-in-chief of the Emperor Yadnya Sri, Sat Karni, descendant of King Gautamiputra, in the seventh year.[189] We are not able to fix the exact year to which this date refers; probably it was only regnal, but it does not seem doubtful that this king reigned in the first quarter of the 5th century, and we consequently have in this cave a fixed point on which to base our calculations for the period about the time.

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82. Pillar in Yadnya Sri Cave.
(From a Drawing by Mr. Burgess.)

Beyond this there is still another excavation, No. 17—it can hardly be called a vihara—of very irregular shape, and covered with sculpture of a date at least a century more modern than that of the cave last described. Buddha is there represented in all his attitudes, standing or sitting, accompanied by chowrie bearers, flying figures, dwarfs, &c. On one side is a colossal recumbent figure of him attaining Nirvana, which is a sure sign of a very modern date. Besides these, there are Dyani Buddhas, Bodhisatwas, and all the modern pantheon of Buddhism, arranged in most admired confusion, as in all the most modern caves. There is no inscription, but from its sculpture and the form of its pillars we may safely ascribe it to the last age of Buddhist art, say about the year 600 or later. The pillars approximate closely in style to those found at Elephanta, and in the Brahmanical caves at Ellora, which from other evidence have been assigned to dates varying from 600 to 800 years of our era.

More has perhaps been said about the Nassick caves than their architectural importance would seem at first sight to justify, but they{153} are one of the most important of the purely Buddhist groups, and they have hardly yet been alluded to in European books. Their great merit, however, is that they belong to one of the most important of the older Indian dynasties, known as the Andrabrityas, Sata Karnis, or Satavahanas. Being of purely Indian extraction, they, however, did not coin money like the Punjab dynasties, nor their contemporaries and rivals the Sah kings of Gujerat, who brought the art with them when they came as conquerors from the north-west, where they had learnt the art from the Greeks. This dynasty has, consequently, been overlooked by numismatists and others, and can only be rehabilitated by their inscriptions and their architectural work, on which these are found inscribed.

Ajunta Viharas.

As before mentioned, the central group of the four oldest caves at Ajunta forms the nucleus from which the caves radiate north and south—eight in one direction, and fourteen in the other. It seems, however, that there was a pause in the excavation of caves after the first great effort, and that they were then extended, for some time at least, in a southern direction. Thus caves Nos. 13 to 20 form a tolerably consecutive series, without any violent break. After that, or it may be contemporaneously with the last named, may be grouped Nos. 8, 7, and 6; and, lastly, Nos. 21 to 26 at one end of the series, and(Nos. 1 to 5 at the other, form the latest and most ornate group of the whole series.[190]

As above explained of the central four, three are certainly anterior to the Christian Era. One, No. 10, being transitional in some of its features, may belong to the 1st century, and be consequently contemporary with the gateways at Sanchi. After this first effort, however, came the pause just alluded to, for Nos. 13, 14, and 15, which are the only caves we can safely assign to the next three centuries, are comparatively insignificant, either in extent or in richness of detail.

Leaving these, we come to two viharas, Nos. 16 and 17, which are the most beautiful here, and, taken in conjunction with their paintings, probably the most interesting viharas in India.

No. 16 is a twenty-pillared cave, measuring about 65 ft. each way (Woodcut No. 83, p. 154), with sixteen cells and a regular sanctuary, in which is a figure of Buddha, seated, with his feet down. The general appearance of the interior may be judged of by the following woodcut (No. 84) in outline, but only a coloured representation in much{154}

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83. Plan of Cave No. 16, at Ajunta.
(From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

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84. View of Interior of Vihara No. 16, at Ajunta.
(From a Sketch by the Author.)


greater detail could give an idea of the richness of effect produced by its decoration. All the walls are covered with frescoes representing scenes from the life of Buddha, or from the legends of saints, and the roof and pillars by arabesques and ornaments, generally of great beauty of outline, heightened by the most harmonious colouring.

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85. View in Cave No. 17, at Ajunta.
(From a Photograph.)

No. 17, which is very similar in plan, is generally known as the Zodiac cave, from the figure of a Buddhist chakra or wheel painted at one end of its verandah, which was mistaken by early visitors for a celestial emblem. The general effect of its architecture internally may be gathered from the above woodcut (No. 85) from a photograph, or from the next woodcut (No. 86) representing one of its pillars to a larger scale, from which the curiously wooden construction of the roof will be better observed than from the photograph. It is, in fact, the usual mode of forming flat or terraced roofs at the present day throughout India, and which consequently does not seem to have{156}

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86. Pillar in Vihara No. 17, at Ajunta.
(From a Sketch by the Author.)

varied from the 5th century at all events. As may be gathered from these illustrations the pillars in these caves are almost indefinitely varied, generally in pairs, but no pillars in any one cave are at all like those in any other. In each cave, however, there is a general harmony of design and of form, which prevents their variety from being unpleasing. The effect on the contrary is singularly harmonious and satisfactory. The great interest of these two caves lies, however, in their frescoes, which represent Buddhist legends on a scale and with a distinctness found nowhere else in India. The sculptures of Amravati—some of which may be contemporary, or only slightly earlier—are what most nearly approach them; but, as in most cases, painting admits of greater freedom and greater variety of incident than sculpture ever does, and certainly in this instance vindicates its claim to greater phonetic power. Many of the frets and architectural details painted on the roofs and pillars of these and in viharas are also of great elegance and appropriateness, and, when combined with the architecture, make up a whole un{157}rivalled in India for its ethnographic as well as for its architectural beauty.

Fortunately the age of these two caves is not doubtful; there is a long inscription on each, much mutilated it must be confessed, but of which enough can be made out to show that they were excavated by kings of the Vindhyasacti race, one of whom, Pravarasena, whose name appears in the inscription on No. 16, married a daughter of Maharaja Deva, alias Chandra-gupta.[191] We have inscriptions of the last king dated 82 and 93 of the Gupta era, or in A.D. 400 and 411, and his son-in-law may probably have reigned a few years later. We may consequently safely place these two caves in the first half of the 5th century. They are thus slightly more modern than the Yadnya Sri cave, No. 15, at Nassick, which is exactly the result we would expect to arrive at from their architecture and the form of their sanctuaries.

Their great interest, therefore, from a historical point of view, consists in their being almost unique specimens of the architecture and arts of India during the great Gupta period, when Theodosius II. was emperor of the East, and at a time when Bahram Gaur, the Sassanian, is said to have visited India. He reigned 420 to 440; if he did visit India, it must have been while they were in course of being excavated.[192]

Nos. 18, 19, and 20 succeed this group, both in position and in style, and probably occupied the remaining half of the 5th century in construction, bringing down our history to about A.D. 500.

Before proceeding further in this direction, the cave-diggers seem to have turned back and excavated Nos. 8, 7, and 6. The last named is the only two-storeyed cave at Ajunta, and would be very interesting if it were not so fearfully ruined by damp and decay, owing to the faulty nature of the rock in which it is excavated. No. 7 has a singularly elegant verandah, broken by two projecting pavilions.[193] Internally, it is small, and occupied by a whole pantheon of Buddhas. It resembles, in fact, in almost every respect, No. 17 at Nassick, with which it is, no doubt, contemporary.

There still remain the five first caves at the northern end, and the six last at the southern: one of these is a chaitya, the other ten are viharas of greater or less dimensions. Some are only commenced,{158} and two, Nos. 4 and 24, which were intended to have been the finest of the series, are left in a very incomplete state: interesting, however, as showing the whole process of an excavation from its commencement to its completion. Both these were intended to be 28-pillared caves, and the hall of No. 4 measures 84 ft. by 89 ft.

Caves Nos. 1 and 2 are among the most richly-sculptured of the caves. The façade, indeed, of No. 1 is the most elaborate and beautiful of its class at Ajunta, and with the corresponding caves at the opposite end conveys a higher idea of the perfection to which decorative sculpture had attained at that age than anything else at Ajunta. With the last chaitya, which belongs to this group, these caves carry our history down certainly into the 7th century. The work in the unfinished caves, I fancy, must have been arrested by the troubles which took place in Central India about the year 650, or shortly afterwards, when, I fancy, the persecution of the Buddhists commenced, and after which it is hardly probable that any community of that faith would have leisure or means to carry out any works, on such a scale at least, as these Ajunta viharas.


It is, of course, impossible, without a much greater amount of illustration than is compatible with the nature of this work, to convey to those who have not seen them any idea of the various points of interest found in these caves; but it is to be hoped that a complete series of illustrations of them may be one day given to the world. The materials for this nearly existed when the disastrous fire at the Crystal Palace, in 1860, destroyed Major Gill’s facsimiles of the paintings, which can hardly now be replaced.[194] A good deal, however, may be, and it is hoped will be, done, as they afford a complete series of examples of Buddhist art without any admixture from Hinduism, or any other religion extending from 200 years before Christ to 600 or 700 years after his era; and besides illustrating the arts and feelings of those ages, they form a chronometric scale by which to judge of, and synchronise other known series with which, however, they differ in several important particulars. For instance, at Ajunta there is no single example of those bell-shaped Persian capitals to pillars, with{159} waterpot bases; nor is there any example of animals with riders crowning the capitals, such as are found at Bedsa, Karli, Nassick, Salsette, and elsewhere in the Ghâts. These differences seem to point to a western influence, Persian, Saka, or Scythian, or by whatever name we like to designate it, which did not penetrate so far inland as Ajunta or Ellora, but was confined to those regions where we know the foreign influence prevailed.

These, and many more ethnographic distinctions in architecture will, no doubt, be brought out by careful examination and comparisons, from which, when made, it can hardly be doubted that the most important results will be derived.


At a distance about 150 miles a little west of north from Ajunta, and thirty miles west of Mandu, near a little village of the name of Bagh, there exists a series of viharas only little less interesting than the later series at Ajunta. They are situated in a secluded ravine in the side of the range of hills that bounds the valley of the Nerbudda on the north, and were first visited or at least first described by Lieutenant Dangerfield, in the second volume of the ‘Transactions of the Literary Society of Bombay.’ They have since been described more in detail by Dr. Impey in the fifth volume of the ‘Journal Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.’ Unfortunately the plates that were to accompany that paper were not published with it, but being deposited by the author in the library of the India Office, they are now before me, and from them and from this paper the principal details that follow have been gleaned.

The series consists of eight or nine viharas, some of them of the very first class, but no chaitya hall, nor does any excavation of that class seem ever to have been attempted here. On the other hand, the larger viharas seem to have had a shala or schoolroom attached to them, which may also have been employed for divine service. The fact, however, that the sanctuaries of the viharas generally have a dagoba in them, instead of an image of Buddha, points to a distinction which may hereafter prove of value. On the whole they are purer and simpler than the latest at Ajunta, though most probably of about the same age.

The plan of one has already been given, but it is neither so large nor architecturally so important as the great vihara, shown in plan, Woodcut No. 87. Its great hall is 96 ft. square, and would at Ajunta rank as a twenty-eight pillared cave, like No. 4 there, but inside this are eight pillars ranged octagonally; and at a later age, apparently in consequence of some failure of the roof, four structural pillars{160}—shaded lighter—were introduced. It is not clear from Dr. Impey’s description how the central octagon was originally roofed. He seems to have believed that a dagoba originally stood in the centre, and having been destroyed brought down the roof with it. As, however, there is a dagoba in the sanctuary, this is hardly probable, and it seems much more likely that it was a copy of a structural octagonal dome, such as we find the Jains invariably employing a few centuries afterwards. If this is so, it would be highly interesting that it should be examined by some architect capable of restoring it constructively from such indications as remain. We have hundreds, almost thousands, of these domes supported on eight pillars after the revival in the 10th century, but not one before. If this is one, it might help to restore a missing link in our chain of evidence.

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87. Great Vihara, at Bagh.
(From a Plan by Dr. Impey.)

The shala connected with this vihara measures 94 ft. by 44 ft., and the two are joined together by a verandah measuring 220 ft. in length, adorned by twenty free-standing pillars. At one time the whole of the back wall of this gallery was adorned with a series of frescoes, equalling in beauty and in interest those of Ajunta. As in those at Ajunta, the uninitiated would fail to trace among them any symptoms of Buddhism as generally understood. The principal subjects are processions on horseback, or on elephants. In the latter the number of women exceeds that of the men. Dancing and love-making are as usual prominently introduced, and only one small picture, containing two men, can be said to be appropriated to worship.

With one exception, no man or woman has any covering on their heads, and the men generally have the hair cropped short, and with only very small moustaches on the face. Some half-dozen are as{161} dark as the Indians of the present day. The rest are very much fairer, many as fair as Spaniards, and nearly all wear coloured dresses.

We are not at present in a position to say, and may not for a long time be able to feel sure, who the races are that are represented in these frescoes or in those at Ajunta. Negatively we may probably be justified in asserting that they are not the ancestors of the present inhabitants of Rajputana, nor of any of the native races—Bhîls, Gonds, or such like. Are they Sakas, Yavanas, or any of the trans-Indus tribes who, in the first centuries of the Christian Era flowed into India across that river, bringing with them their arts and religious forms? The style of art, especially at Bagh, is very similar to that of Persia at about the same date.

The date of this group of caves seems hardly doubtful. The earliest could not well have been commenced much before A.D. 500; the date of the latest, if our chronology is correct, could not well be carried down beyond 650 or 700, unless it was, that the troubles that convulsed the rest of India after that date did not reach those remote valleys in Rajputana till some time afterwards.


One of the most extensive, but one of the least satisfactory of all the groups of Indian caves, is that generally known as the Kenheri Caves on the Island of Salsette in Bombay Harbour. The great chaitya cave there, as mentioned above, is only a bad copy of the Karli cave, and was excavated in the beginning of the 5th century, and none of the viharas seem to be earlier. The place, however, must have had some sanctity at an earlier date, for there seems no doubt that a tooth of Buddha was enshrined here in the beginning of the 4th century, when these relics were revolutionising the Buddhist world at least at two diametrically opposite points of the coast of India, at Puri, and in this island.[195] It may have been in consequence of the visit of this relic that the island became holy, and it may have been because it was an island, that it remained undisturbed by the troubles of the mainland, and that the practice of excavating caves lasted longer here than in any series above described. Be this as it may, the caves here go straggling on till they fade by almost imperceptible degrees into those of the Hindu religion. The Hindu caves of Montpezir, Kundoty, and Amboli are so like them, and the change takes place so gradually, that it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between the two religions.

Although, therefore, we have not at Salsette any viharas that can compare with those of Nassick, Ajunta, or Bagh, and they nowhere{162} form a series which might assist us in guessing their dates, yet, just because they are so late, and because they do fade so gradually into the next phase, are they worthy of more attention than has been bestowed upon them.

As these caves are so near Bombay, and so easily accessible, it seems strange that they have lately been so much neglected, and no one seems to have visited, or at least described, the outlying groups. What we know of those of Montpezir or Amboli is derived from Daniell’s drawings,[196] made at the end of the last century, or from the travels of Lord Valentia or Niebuhr.[197] The Kenheri group is better known, and I can speak of them from personal knowledge.

A plan of one has already been given (Woodcut No. 77). It is a two-storeyed vihara, and one of the finest here, though it would not be considered remarkable anywhere else. Another, of which a representation is given in my ‘Rock-cut Temples,’ plate 19, represents Avalokiteswara with ten heads,—the only instance I know of in India, though it is common in Thibet in modern times.[198] The others are generally mere cells, or natural caverns slightly improved by art, and hardly worthy of illustration in a general history, though a monograph of these caves would be a most valuable addition to our scanty stock of knowledge.

Dhumnar and Kholvi.

There are no viharas at either of these places which can at all compare, either in dimensions or in interest, with those already described. The largest, at Dhumnar, is that already given in combination with the chaitya, Woodcut No. 65, and, though important, is evidently transitional to another state of matters. Next to this is one called the Great Kacheri; but it is only a six-celled vihara, with a hall about 25 ft. square, encumbered by four pillars on its floor; and near the chaitya above alluded to is a similar hall, but smaller and without cells. At Kholvi there is nothing that can correctly be called a vihara at all. There is, indeed, one large hall, called Bhim’s home, measuring 42 ft. by 22 ft.; but it has no cells, and is much more like what would be called a shala at Bagh than a vihara. The others are mere cells, of no architectural importance.[199]{163}

The fact seems to be that when these two groups of caves were being excavated Buddhism was fast losing its original characteristics, and fading into the bastard Brahmanism that succeeded it. When that took place, we cannot at present exactly say; but I cannot help fancying that this religion may have lingered on, and flourished in the remote wilds of Rajputana[200] or in the island of Salsette long after it had been driven from the neighbourhood of the great cities and from the populous and well-cultivated plains; and these caves, especially those of Kholvi, may have been excavated in the 8th or even in the 9th century of our era.


At Ellora there are numerous viharas attached to the Viswakarma, or the great chaitya above described (p. 128). Like it, however, they are all modern, but on that very account interesting, as showing more clearly than elsewhere the steps by which Buddhist cave-architecture faded into that of the Hindus. Every step of the process can be clearly traced here, though the precise date at which the change took place cannot yet be fixed with certainty.

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88. Plan of Dehrwarra, Ellora.
(From Daniel’s ‘Views.’) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The great vihara, which is also evidently contemporary with the chaitya, is known as the Dehrwarra, and, as will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 88), differs considerably from any of those illustrated above. Its dimensions are considerable, being 110 ft. in depth by 70 ft. across the central recesses, its great defect being the lowness of its roof. Its form, too, is exceptional. It looks more like a flat-roofed chaitya, with its three aisles, than an ordinary vihara; and such it probably was intended to be, and, if so, it is curious to observe that at Bedsa (Woodcut No. 49) we had one of the earliest{164} complete viharas, looking like a chaitya in plan; and here we have one of the latest, showing the same confusion of ideas; a thing very common in architectural history, where a new style or a new arrangement generally hampers itself with copying some incongruous form, which it casts off during its vigorous manhood, but to which it returns in its decrepitude—a sure sign that it is passing away.

Close to the Viswakarma is a small and very pretty vihara, in which the sanctuary stands free, with a passage all round it, as in some of the Saiva caves further on; and the appearance of the warders on each side of the door would lead one rather to expect an image of Siva inside than the Buddha which actually occupies it. The details, however, of its architecture are the same as in the great cave.

Communicating with this one is a small square vihara, the roof of which is supported by four pillars of the same detail as the Dookya Ghur, which is the cave next it on the north; but though surrounded by cells it has no sanctuary or images.

Higher up the hill than these are two others containing numerous cells, and one with a very handsome hall, the outer half of which has unfortunately fallen in; enough, however, remains to show not only its plan, but all the details, which very much resemble those of the last group of viharas at Ajunta.

In the sanctuaries of most of these caves are figures of Buddhas sitting with their feet down. On each side of the image in the principal one are nine figures of Buddhas, or rather Bodhisatwas, seated cross-legged, and below them three and three figures, some cross-legged, and others standing, probably devotees, and one of them a woman.

Neither of these caves have been entirely finished.

There is still another group of these small viharas, called the Chumarwarra, or (if I understand correctly) the Chumars’ (or ‘shoe-makers’) quarter. The first is square, with twelve pillars on the same plan as those at Ajunta, though the detail is similar to the Viswakarma. There are cells, and in the sanctuary Buddha sitting with the feet down; it never has been finished, and is now much ruined.

The second is similar in plan, though the pillars are of the cushion form of Elephanta and the Dehrwarra, but the capitals are much better formed than in the last example, and more ornamented; the lateral galleries here contain figures of Buddha, all like the one in the sanctuary, sitting with their feet down, and there are only two cells on each side of the sanctuary.

The last is a small plain vihara with cells, but without pillars, and much ruined.


The whole of the caves in this group resemble one another so much in detail and execution that it is difficult to make out any succession among them, and it is probable that they were all excavated within the same century as the Viswakarma.

The next three temples are particularly interesting to the antiquarian, as pointing out the successive steps by which the Buddhistical caves merged into the Brahmanical.

The first is the Do Tal, or Dookya Ghur, a Buddhist vihara of two storeys; most of its details are so similar to those above described that it may be assumed to be, without doubt, of the same age. It is strictly Buddhistic in all its details, and shows no more tendency towards Brahmanism than what was pointed out in speaking of the Viswakarma. It apparently was intended to have had three storeys, but has been left unfinished.

The next, or Teen Tal, is very similar to the last in arrangement and detail, and its sculptures are all Buddhistical, though deviating so far from the usual simplicity of that style as almost to justify the Brahmans in appropriating them as they have done.

The third, the Das Avatar, is another two-storeyed cave, very similar in all its architectural details to the two preceding, but the sculptures are all Brahmanical. At first sight, it seems as if the excavation had been made by the Buddhists, and appropriated and finished by their successors. This may be true to a certain extent, but on a more careful examination it appears more probable that we owe it entirely to the Brahmans. It is evidently the earliest Brahmanical temple here, and it is natural to suppose that when the Saivites first attempted to rival their antagonists in cave-temples they should follow the only models that existed, merely appropriating them to their own worship. The circumstance, however, that makes this most probable, is the existence of a pseudo-structural mantapa, or shrine of Nundi, in the courtyard; this evidently must have been a part of the original design, or the rock would not have been left here for it, and it is a model of the usual structural building found in Saiva temples in different parts of India. This is a piece of bad grammar the Buddhists never were guilty of; their excavations always are caves, whilst the great characteristic of Brahmanical excavations, as distinguished from that of their predecessors, is that they generally copied structural buildings: a system that rose to its greatest height in the Kylas, to be described further on. The Buddhist excavations, on the contrary, were always caves and nothing else.

It is not easy, in the present state of our knowledge, to determine whether the Ellora Buddhist group is later or earlier than those of Dhumnar and Kholvi. It is certainly finer than either, and conforms more closely with the traditions of the style in its palmiest days; but that may be owing to local circumstances, of which we have no precise knowledge. The manner, however, in which it fades into the Hindu{166} group is in itself sufficient to prove how late it is. If we take A.D. 600 as the medium date for the Viswakarma and its surroundings, and A.D. 750 as a time when the last trace of Buddhism had disappeared from western India, we shall probably not err to any great extent; but we must wait for some inscriptions or more precise data before attempting to speak with precision on the subject.

A great deal more requires to be done before this great cartoon can be filled up with anything like completeness; but in the meanwhile it is satisfactory to know that in these “rock-cut temples,” eked out by the few structural examples that exist, we have a complete history of the arts and liturgies of the Buddhists for the thousand years that ranged from B.C. 250 to A.D. 750; and that, when any one with zeal and intelligence enough for the purpose will devote himself to the task, he will be able to give us a more vivid and far more authentic account of this remarkable form of faith than can be gathered from any books whose existence is now known to us.


When the history of the cave-temples of western India comes to be written in anything like a complete and exhaustive manner, the groups situated near and around the town of Junir, about half-way between Nassick and Poonah, will occupy a prominent position in the series. There are not, it is true, in this locality any chaityas so magnificent as that at Karli, nor any probably so old as those at Bhaja and Bedsa; but there is one chaitya, both in plan and dimensions, very like that at Nassick and probably of the same age, and one vihara, at least, quite equal to the finest at that place. The great interest of the series, however, consists in its possessing examples of forms not known elsewhere. There are, for instance, certainly two, probably three, chaitya caves, with square terminations and without internal pillars, and one circular cave which is quite unique so far as we at present know.

These caves have long been known to antiquarians. In 1833 Colonel Sykes published a series of inscriptions copied from them, but without any description of the caves themselves.[201] In 1847, Dr. Bird noticed them in his ‘Historical Researches,’ with some wretched lithographs, so bad as to be almost unintelligible; in 1850, Dr. Wilson described them in the ‘Bombay Journal;’ and in 1857 Dr. Stevenson republished their inscriptions, with translations, in the eighth volume of the same journal; and lastly Mr. Sinclair of the Bombay Civil Service, wrote an account of them in the ‘Indian Antiquary’ for February, 1874. Notwithstanding all this, we are{167} still without drawings or photographs which would enable us to understand their peculiarities. The late Dr. Bhau Daji had a set of negatives taken, but never would allow any prints to be made from them; and, when Mr. Burgess visited the caves last autumn, he did not take a photographic apparatus with him, as he depended on obtaining, through Government, the use of Dr. Bhau Daji’s negatives. This has not yet been effected, and till it is this series is hardly available for the purposes of our history, yet it can hardly be passed over in silence.

The great peculiarity of the group is the extreme simplicity of the caves composing it. They are too early to have any figures of Buddha himself, but there are not even any of these figures of men and women which we meet with at Karli and elsewhere. Everything at Junir wears an aspect of simplicity and severity, due partly to the antiquity of the caves of course, but, so far as at present known, unequalled elsewhere. One exception—but it is in the most modern cave here—is that Sri, with her two elephants pouring water over her, occupies the frontispiece of a chaitya cave.[202] Though so ubiquitous and continuous through all ages, it is seldom this goddess occupies so very important a position as she does here; but her history has still to be written.

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89. Circular Cave, Junir.
(From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

90. Section of Circular Cave, Junir.
(From a Drawing by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 25 ft. to 1 in.

The annexed plan and section (Woodcuts Nos. 89, 90) will explain the form of the circular cave above alluded to. It is not large, only 25 ft. 6 in. across, while its roof is supported by twelve plain octagonal pillars which surround the dagoba. The tee has been removed from the dagoba to convert it into a lingam of Siva, in which form it is now worshipped; a fact that suggests the idea—I fancy a very probable one—that the lingam is really a miniature dagoba, though bearing a different meaning now, and that it was really originally copied from that Buddhist emblem. The interest of the arrangement of this cave will be more apparent when we come to describe the dagobas at Ceylon, which were encircled with pillars in the same manner as{168} this one. Meanwhile the annexed representation (Woodcut No. 91) of a circular temple from the Buddhist sculptures at Bharhut may enable us to realise, to some extent at least, the external form of these temples, which probably were much more common in ancient times than any remains we now possess would justify us in assuming.

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91. Round Temple and part of Palace, from a bas-relief at Bharhut.

Besides this group at Junir, there is one apparently equally extensive near Aurungabad, and two others, still more extensive, at Daraseo, or Darasinha, and at Hazar Kotri, in the Nizam’s territories; but they are even less known than the Junir group, and there are several others whose existence is only known to us by hearsay. If Mr. Burgess is enabled to continue his explorations a few years longer, they may be brought within the domain of history. At present, like those at Junir, they are not available for any historical or scientific purpose.{169}




Monasteries at Jamalgiri, Takht-i-Bahi, and Shah Dehri.

Few of the recent discoveries in India promise to be more fruitful of important results for the elucidation of the archæology of India than those obtained from the recent excavations of ruined monasteries in the neighbourhood of Peshawur. A great deal still remains to be done before we can speak with certainty with regard either to their age or origin, but enough is known of them to make it certain that the materials there exist for settling not only the question of the amount of influence classical art exercised on that of India, but also for solving many problems of Buddhist archæology and art.

As mentioned above, it is from their coins, and from them only, that the names of most of the kings of Bactria and their successors have been recovered; but we have not yet found a vestige of a building that can be said to have been erected by them or in their age, nor one piece of sculpture that, so far as we now know, could have been executed before their downfall, about B.C. 130. This, however, may be owing to the fact that Bactria proper has long been inhabited by fanatic Moslems, who destroy any representations of the human form they meet with, and no excavations for hidden examples have yet been undertaken in their country; while it is still uncertain how far the influence of the true Bactrians extended eastward, and whether, in fact, they ever really possessed the valley of Peshawur, where all the sculptures yet discovered have been found. No one, in fact, suspected their existence in our own territory till Lieutenants Lumsden and Stokes, in 1852, partially explored the half-buried monastery at Jamalgiri, which had been discovered by General Cunningham in 1848. It is situated about thirty-six miles north-east from Peshawur, and from it these officers excavated a considerable number of sculptures, which afterwards came into the possession of the Hon. E. Clive Bayley. He published an account of them in the ‘Journal of the Bengal Asiatic Society,’ in 1853, and brought the collection itself over to this country. Unfortunately, they were utterly destroyed in the disastrous fire that occurred at the Crystal Palace, where they were{170} being exhibited in 1860, and this before they had been photographed, or any serious attempt made to compare them with other sculptures.

Since that time other collections have been dug out of another monastery eight miles further westward, at a place called Takht-i-Bahi, and by Dr. Bellew at a third locality, ten miles southward, called Sahri Bhalol, some of which have found their way to this country; and two years ago Dr. Leitner brought home an extensive collection, principally from Takht-i-Bahi. The bulk of the sculptures found in these places have been deposited in the Lahore Museum, where upwards of 800 specimens of this class of art now exist, and many are being added every season. Some of these have been photographed,[203] and these representations, together with the specimens brought home, are sufficient to enable a student to obtain a fair general idea of the art they represent. The worst thing is, that the excavations have been so unsystematically carried on that it is impossible to ascertain in most instances where the sculptures came from,[204] and in almost no instance can the position of any one piece of sculpture be fixed with anything like certainty.[205]


The following plans (Woodcuts Nos. 92, 93), of the two principal monasteries which have been excavated in the vicinity of Peshawur, will explain their arrangements in so far as they have yet been made out. As will be seen at a glance, they are very similar to each other,{171}

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92. Plan of Monastery at Jamalgiri. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

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93. Plan of Monastery at Takht-i-Bahi. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

or at least consist of the same parts. First a circular or square court, AA, surrounded by cells, too small for residence, and evidently intended to contain images, though none were found in situ. In the centre of each stands a circular or square platform or altar, approached by steps. The circular one at Jamalgiri is adorned with cross-legged,{172} conventional, seated figures of Buddha, the square one at Takht-i-Bahi by two rows of pilasters one over the other.[206] Beyond this is an oblong court, BB, called the pantheon, from the number of images, small models of topes, and votive offerings of all sorts, that are found in it. It, like the last court, is surrounded by niches for images. Beyond this again the vihara or residence, CC, with the usual residential cells. At Takht-i-Bahi there is a square court, D, surrounded by a high wall with only one door leading into it. A corresponding court exists at Jamalgiri; but so far detached that it could not be included in the woodcut. It is called the cemetery, and probably not without reason, as Turner in his ‘Embassy to Thibet’[207] describes a similar enclosure at Teshoo Loomboo in which the bodies of the deceased monks were exposed to be devoured by the birds, and what happened there in 1800 may very well have been practised at Peshawur at a much earlier age.

When we attempt to compare these plans with those of our rock-cut examples in India, we at once perceive the difficulty of comparing structural with rock-cut examples. The monastery or residential parts are the only ones readily recognised. The pantheon does not apparently exist at Ajunta, nor is anything analogous to it attached to other series of caves, but a group of small rock-cut dagobas exists just outside the cave at Bhaja, and a much more extensive one at Kenheri,[208] and similar groups may have existed elsewhere. Numbers of small models of topes and votive offerings are found in the neighbourhood of all Buddhist establishments, and were originally no doubt deposited in some such place as this. The circular or square altar is, however, a feature quite new to us, and takes the place of the dagoba in all the rock-cut chaitya halls. From its having steps to ascend to it, it seems as if it was intended either for a platform from which either a congregation could be addressed, or a prayer offered up to a deity. If, however, it was really a dagoba, as General Cunningham supposes, that difficulty disappears, and on the whole I am inclined to believe he may be right in this decision.{173}

One of the most remarkable ornamental features that adorn this monastery is a series of bas-reliefs that adorn the front of the steps of the stairs leading from the so-called Pantheon to the circular court at Jamalgiri. They are sixteen in number, and each is adorned with a bas-relief containing twenty, thirty, or forty figures according to the subject.[209] Among these the Wessantara and Sama jatakas can easily be recognised,[210] and so may others when carefully examined. Besides these there are representations of the chase, processions, dancing, and domestic scenes of various kinds.

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94. Corinthian Capital from Jamalgiri.
(From a Photograph.)

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95. Corinthian Capital from Jamalgiri.
(From a Photograph.)[211

In fact such a series of sixteen bas-reliefs, one over another, is hardly known to exist anywhere else, but is here only an appropriate part of an exuberance of sculptural ornamentation hardly to be matched, as existing in so small a space, in any other building of its class.{174}

The architecture of this monastery seems to have been of singular richness. General Cunningham brought away a dozen of capitals of the Corinthian order, and others exist in the Lahore Museum. As will be seen from the last two illustrations (Nos. 94, 95), they are unmistakably classical, but of a form to which it is not at first sight easy to assign a date. They are more Greek than Roman in the character of their foliage, but more Roman than Greek in the form of their volutes and general design. Perhaps it would be correct to say they are more Byzantine than either, but, till we have detailed drawings and know more of their surroundings, it is difficult to give a positive opinion as to their age.

Not one of these was found in situ, nor, apparently, one quite entire, so that their use or position is not at first sight apparent. Some of them were square, and it is consequently not difficult to see they may have formed the caps of the antæ on each side of the cells, and are so represented in General Cunningham’s plate (15). If this is so, the circular ones must have been placed on short circular pillars, one on each side, forming a porch to the cells. One at least seems to have stood free—like a stambha—and, as the General represents it on plate 48, may have carried a group of elephants on its head.

All these capitals were apparently originally richly gilt, and most of them, as well as some of the best of the sculptures, show traces of gilding at the present day,[212] and, as others show traces of colour, the effect of the whole must have been gorgeous in the extreme. From the analogy of what we find in the contemporary caves at Ajunta and Bagh, as well as elsewhere, there can be little doubt that fresco-painting was also employed: but no gilding, as far as I know, has been found in India, nor indeed any analogue to the Corinthian capital. All the capitals found in India are either such as grew out of the necessities of their own wooden construction, or were copied from bell-shaped forms we are familiar with at Persepolis, where alone in Central Asia they seem to have been carried out in stone. There is little doubt, however, that before the time of the Achæmenians the same forms were used in wood by the Assyrians;[213] and they may have been so employed down to the time of Alexander, if not later. Certain it is, at all events, that this was the earliest form we know of employed in lithic architecture in India, and the one that retained its footing there certainly till long after the Christian Era, and also among the Gandhara sculptures probably to a very late date.

It is not difficult to restore, approximately, the front of the cells in these monasteries, from the numerous representations of them{175} found among the ruins, where they are used as conventional frames for sculptures. It probably was owing to the fact that their fronts may have been adorned with paintings representing scenes from the life of Buddha, or emblems of various sorts, that these miniature representations of them were used to convey the same design in sculpture. The form of the wooden framework which filled the upper part of all the great windows of the chaitya halls, from the earliest known examples, is also used for the same purpose in these Gandhara monasteries. Few things among these sculptures are more common than these semicircular frames, filled with sculpture of the most varied design. They are in fact the counterparts of what would have been carried out in painted glass had they possessed such a material.

It is to be feared that it is hardly likely we shall now recover one of these cells or chapels in so perfect a state as to feel sure of its form and ornamentation. It would, however, be an immense gain to our knowledge of the subject if one were found, for it is hardly safe to depend on restorations made from conventional representations.

Meanwhile there is one monument in India which—mutatis mutandis—reproduces them with considerable exactness. The small detached rath at Mahavellipore is both in plan and dimensions, as well as in design, an almost exact reproduction of these Jamalgiri cells. Its lower front is entirely open, flanked by two detached pillars. Above this are two roofs, with a narrow waist between them—somewhat differently arranged it must be confessed, but still extremely similar. In the Jamalgiri representations of these cells everything is simplified to admit of the display of sculpture. At Mahavellipore all the architectural features are retained, but they are still marvellously alike, so much so, that there seems no doubt this little rath (Woodcut No. 181, p. 328), with its circular termination, is as exact a copy of what a Buddhist chaitya hall was at the time it was carved, as that the great rath (Woodcut No. 66) is a correct reproduction of a Buddhist vihara at the same period.

If this is so, these Gandhara sculptures and these raths represent the chaitya hall of the Buddhists in a much more complicated and elaborate form than we find it in the simple but majestic examples at Karli, Nassick, or Ajunta. The Jamalgiri cells need not be so modern as the rath at Mahavellipore, but they are certainly approaching to it[214] as nearly in date as they are in form.

Quite recently, General Cunningham has dug out a small vihara{176} at Shah Dehri, the ancient Taxila, which seems more ancient than these Peshawur monasteries. As will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 96), it is not only small in dimensions, but simple in its arrangements—as simple, indeed, as any of those at Cuttack or in the western Ghâts. Like them it has a raised bench, not however divided into beds as there, but more like a continuous seat. It no doubt, however, was used for both purposes. Its most remarkable peculiarity, however, is its Ionic order. As will be seen, the bases of the pillars are of the usual form, and as correct as any that could be found in Greece or Rome, from before the Christian Era to the age of Constantine, and, though the capital is not fully made out, there can be little doubt what was intended (Woodcut No. 97); twelve coins of Azes were found close by, from which it may be inferred the building was of his age, or belonging to the first century B.C.,[215] and there is nothing in the architecture to militate against this idea. It seems the oldest thing yet found in this province.

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96. Plan of Ionic Monastery, Shah Dehri. (From a Plan by General Cunningham.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 inch.

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97. Ionic Pillar, Shah Dehri. (From a Drawing by General Cunningham.)


The extraordinary classical character and the beauty of the sculptures found in these Gandhara monasteries is of such surpassing interest for the history of Indian art, that it is of the utmost importance their age should be determined, if it is possible to do so. At present, sufficient materials do not exist in this country to enable the general public to form even an opinion on any argument that may be brought forward on the subject; nor will they be in a position to do so till the Government can be induced to spend the trifling sum required to bring some of them home. They are quite thrown away where they now are; here, they would hardly be surpassed in interest by any recent discoveries of the same class. Pending{177} this, the reader must be content with such a statement of the argument as may be put forward by those who have access to photographs and such materials as are not available to the general public.[216] It it is understood that General Cunningham intends to publish photographs of the 165 objects in his collection. When this is done, it will supply the want to a certain extent, but a really correct judgment can only be formed on an actual inspection of the objects themselves.

Among Indian antiquaries there are two different views as to the age of these sculptures, regarding either of which a great deal may be urged with a considerable degree of plausibility. The first is, that the Bactrian Greeks carried with them into Asia the principles of Grecian sculpture and the forms of Grecian architecture, and either during their supremacy or after their expulsion from Bactria established a school of classical art in the Peshawur valley. It further assumes that, when Buddhism was established there under Kanishka and his successors, it bloomed into that rich and varied development we find exhibited in these Gandhara monasteries. This is the view adopted by General Cunningham, who, however, admits that, as all the sculptures are Buddhist, the earliest must be limited to the age of Kanishka, which he assumes to be about B.C. 40,[217] and that they extend to A.D. 100, or thereabouts.

The other theory equally admits the presence of the classical element, derived from the previous existence of the Bactrian Greeks, but spreads the development of the classical feeling through Buddhist art over the whole period during which it existed in the valley, or from the 1st to the 7th or 8th century of our era, and ascribes its peculiar forms as much, if not more, to constant communication with the West, from the age of Augustus to that of Justinian, rather than to the original seed planted there by the Bactrians.

Confining the argument as much as possible to the instances above quoted, either it is that these Corinthian capitals are a local development of forms the Greeks took with them to Bactria, or they were executed under Western influence when the classical orders had lost their original form, after the age of Constantine. We know perfectly the history of the Corinthian capitals in Italy, in Greece, and in Syria, between the ages of Augustus and Aurelian at all events (A.D. 270); and we know that it requires a practised and well-educated eye to distinguish between the capitals of the{178} Pantheon of Agrippa and those last executed at Baalbec or Palmyra. The entablatures show considerable progress, but the capitals were so stereotyped that it is evident, if any Greek or Roman artists had designed capitals in Gandhara during the period just alluded to, we could predicate exactly what they would have been. After Constantine, however, the design of the capitals went wild, if the expression may be used. The practice of springing arches from them, instead of their supporting horizontal architraves, required a total change, and in the West it produced exactly the same effects that we find in Gandhara. The capitals, for instance, in the churches of St. Demetrius and that now known as the Eski Jouma at Salonica, both built in the early part of the 5th century, are almost identical in design with these;[218] and many in the churches in Syria and Asia Minor[219] show the same “abandon” of design, though frequently in another direction.

The presence of little cross-legged figures of Buddha among the foliage of the capitals is another sign of a comparatively modern age. The first prominent example of the practice, I believe, in classical art, seems to be found in the Baths of Caracalla, at Rome (A.D. 312-330);[220] but it certainly did not become common till long afterwards, and only general in what may be called mediæval art.[221] It is not, however, so much in the presence of figures of Buddha on these capitals that I would insist on as an indication of age, as on their presence in the monastery at all.

In the first place, I believe it is correct to state that no statue of Buddha, in any of his conventional attitudes, has been found in India executed as early as the Christian Era. Those on the façade at Karli and in the western caves are avowedly insertions of the 4th or 5th centuries or later. There are none belonging to the eastern caves; nor any found at Buddh Gaya, Bharhut, or Sanchi; nor do I know of any one in India that can be dated before A.D. 100. In these Gandhara monasteries they are very frequent, and of a type which in India would be assumed to be certainly as late as the 4th or 5th century; some of them very much later.

It is true Buddhist books tell us frequently of statues of Buddha{179} having been made at much earlier dates.[222] But Indian books have this fatal defect, that they represent facts and beliefs at the time they were written, or acquired the forms in which we now find them, without much reference to contemporary authorities or facts at the time at which they are supposed to have happened. Consequently, till we get some book that assumed its present shape before A.D. 400,[223] their testimony is of very little avail in the controversy.

Besides these figures of Buddha, there are a great number of figures which General Cunningham supposes represent kings. This can hardly be the case, as they have all got nimbuses or glories at the back of their heads. All have the tika on their foreheads, as Buddha has, and none have any kingly attributes, but all wear the same ornaments and amulets. The first impression was, they may represent Bodhisatwas, or Buddhist saints; but, as no similar figures occur anywhere in India, it is not easy to feel certain on this point. If I may be allowed to hazard a guess, I would suggest that they may represent the patriarchs who presided over the Church from the time of Amanda till it ceased to be a living institution in India. Nagárjuna was one of the most important of these, and, if this theory is correct, his statue will certainly be found among the series; but this is, I fear, a point that must be left for future investigation.[224] The misfortune is, that no inscribed statue has yet been found in Gandhara, and, till it is, all identification must be more or less guess-work or conjecture.

A more important point than the mere presence of these conventional figures of Buddha or of saints in these monasteries, is their excessive reduplication, which renders it probable that they are very much more modern than is generally assumed.

In India, no building or cave is known with a date anterior to, say, A.D. 300 or 400, in which more than one such figure is repre{180}sented. Even at Amravati they do not occur on the great rail which was erected in the beginning of the 4th century (ante, p. 100), but appear first on the inner rail which was added a century afterwards: and they first occur in such caves as No. 19 and No. 26 at Ajunta, and in the later caves in the island of Salsette, none of which seem to be earlier than A.D. 500, if so early.

In the Gandhara monasteries they exist literally in hundreds—on the base of the altars or stupas, on the walls, and in the cells. The latter is, indeed, the most remarkable peculiarity of any. In no Buddhist monument in India, so far as is known, have the monks been thrust out of their cells to make way for images. The practice is universal with the Jains, and in the latest Buddhist monuments the cells are ignored; but here we have what in all earlier Buddhist monuments would be cells surrounding courts or halls, but all filled with images of Buddha or saints. To such an extent is this carried, that if the plans of these monasteries had been submitted to me, with merely a verbal or written description of their sculptures, I would unhesitatingly have pronounced them to be Jaina temples of the 9th or 10th century. The sculptures, of course, negative any such adscription, but the similarity of their plans is most striking.

Considerable allowance must also be made for the fact that the Mahayana, or Greater Translation, introduced in the north of India by Nagárjuna, was considerably in advance of the Hinayana school of Central India in all complications of ritual observances. Making, however, an allowance of one or even two centuries for this, it is difficult to believe that any of these monasteries yet brought to light are earlier than the 4th or 5th century.

If I am correct in assigning the outer casing of the Manikyala tope to the beginning of the 8th century (ante, p. 83), there is certainly no à priori improbability in this view. The pilasters that surround its base are so similar to those represented in the bas-reliefs of the monasteries[225] that they must belong nearly to the same age. Those of the tope are less classical, it is true, than those of the bas-reliefs, and may, therefore, be more modern; but they cannot be very far apart.

All these statues of Buddha, or of Buddhist saints, in the Gandhara monasteries, have a peculiarity which will interest the Christian archæologist. Without exception, they have a nimbus or circular disc behind their heads. This does not occur at Sanchi in the 1st century of our era, nor, so far as is known, in any sculpture, on any rail, or in{181} any cave, before it appears at Amravati on the great rail, in the 4th century of our era. Earlier examples may be found, but till they are, its presence militates against the idea that these sculptures can be so early as the 1st century after Christ, and, with the other evidence, would seem to indicate a much more modern date.

One other argument seems to bear directly on this point. From what has been said above (ante, p. 76), it appears that the erection of the topes in Gandhara was spread pretty evenly over the whole time that elapsed from the Christian Era till Buddhism ceased to be the religion of the country, in the 7th or 8th century; and that the most flourishing period was about the year A.D. 400, when Fa Hian visited the country. It seems reasonable to suppose that the erection of the monasteries would follow the same course, and that we might expect their greatest development to be simultaneous. To compress the monasteries and their sculptures within the limits of the first century after Christ would seem to violate all the probabilities of the case.

In addition to all this local evidence, when we come to compare these sculptures with those of the western world, especially with those of sarcophagi or the ivories of the lower empire, it seems impossible not to be struck with the many points of resemblance they present. There are many of the Gandhara bas-reliefs which, if transferred to the Lateran Museum, and labelled as “Early Christian,” would pass muster with ninety-nine people out of one hundred who visit that collection. There may be one or two that might be described as belonging to as early an age as that of Hadrian, but generally they would seem of later date.

Among the ivories, those about the time of Constantine present about the same jumble of the classical orders, the same reminiscence of classical art in the figure-sculpture, mixed up with the incongruities borrowed from extraneous sources which it is difficult to account for; but both in their perfections and their faults they seem so distinctly to belong to the same class of art that it is difficult to believe they do not belong to the same age. The great difficulty here is to know what equation we ought to allow for distance in space which may have the same effect as time in producing apparent differences; but this hardly seems to have been of much importance here.

Against all this may be urged the difficulty of understanding how such direct and important influence could have been exercised by the Byzantines in this remote province without its leaving any trace of its existence on the arts of the Parthians or Sassanians, whose kingdom lay between, and without our having any written record of such intimate relations. It is difficult, of course, but, if the facts are as stated above, such negative inferences must make way before the posi{182}tive testimony of the sculptures themselves. Till within the last very few years no one dreamt of classical art having any such influence at any age on the arts of Gandhara. That being established in contradiction of all previously conceived ideas, the time at which it took place ought to be ascertainable with comparative facility; and, in so far as any written evidence is concerned, may have been as probably at or after the time of Constantine, as at or after that of Augustus.

It would be easy to extend this argument to any length; but without producing the data on which it is based, or giving references to drawings and photographs which have not been published, it would hardly carry conviction to the minds of those who have not access to means of information not yet made public.[226] To avoid, therefore, being tedious, perhaps I may be allowed to state that, having given the best attention to the materials at my command, the conclusion I have arrived at is, that though some of these Gandhara sculptures probably are as early as the 1st century of the Christian Era, the bulk of those at Jamalgiri and more especially those at Takht-i-Bahi, are subsequent to the 3rd and 4th, and that the series extends down to the 8th—till, in fact, the time when Buddhism was obliterated in these countries.

The discovery of some new fact, or of an inscription on a piece of sculpture either with a date or a king’s name that can be recognised, may any day settle beyond dispute which of these views is the correct one. Meanwhile, however, as the evidence at present stands, it seems hardly doubtful that the theory which assigns the more modern date to these sculptures, is that which accords best with all that has hitherto been brought to light, or with the history of the Buddhist religion as at present known.

If this is so, it is evident that the term Græco-Bactrian, or Græco-Buddhist, which has been applied to these sculptures, is a misnomer. The Bactrians may have sown the seeds of a classical style in these parts, but the art we now find there would be more properly called Indo-Roman or Indo-Byzantine, and must have been nourished and kept up by constant communication between the East and the West during the period at which it was most flourishing, which may be described as that intervening between the age of Constantine and that of Justinian.{183}

From what has been said above regarding the sculptures of Bharhut and Sanchi, it appears evident that the Indians had a school of art of their own before they knew anything of the arts of the western world; but that native art seems to have had very little influence on the arts of Gandhara. The western arts, on the contrary, acting through that country, seem to have had considerable influence on those of India at periods subsequent to the Christian Era. It seems at least almost impossible to escape the conviction that the arts of Amravati and the later caves, say of the Gupta period, betray most marked evidence of Western influence, and it seems that it is only through Gandhara that it can have reached them.

So strongly marked is all this that it may become a subject of an interesting investigation to inquire whether the Greeks were not the first who taught the Indians idolatry. There is no trace of images in the Vedas or in the laws of Manu, or any of the older books or traditions of the Hindus. As repeatedly mentioned, there is as little trace of any image of Buddha or Buddhist figures being set up for worship before the Christian Era, or for a century after it. But the earliest, the finest, and the most essentially classical figures of Buddha are to be found in Gandhara, and, so far as we at present know, of an earlier date there than any found in India Proper.

If General Cunningham’s sculptures or the contents of the Lahore Museum could only be made available to the learned in Europe, with the requisite local information, they would, I fancy, at once supersede the meagre and most unsatisfactory written details which have alone come down to us, and would throw a flood of light on one of the most interesting but most obscure chapters of the history of the commerce and of the early intercourse between the western and the eastern world.

Pending this being done, we already know enough to open our eyes to many things that promise to result in the most interesting discoveries, and to teach us to cease to wonder at many things which hitherto appeared inexplicable. If, for instance, it is not true that the King of Taxila, in the first century, spoke good Greek, as Apollonius of Tyana would persuade us he did, we know at least that he practised Greek architecture. If St. Thomas did not visit Gondophares, king of Gandhara, in the same century, many, at least, of his countrymen did, and there is no à priori reason why he should not have done so also. If there are traces of Christian doctrine in the ‘Bhagavat Gita,’ and of classical learning in other poetic works of the Hindus, we now know at least where they may have come from. In short, when we realise how strongly European influence prevailed in Gandhara in the first five or six centuries after Christ, and think how many thousands, it may be millions, crossed the Indus, going eastward during that period, and through that country, we ought not{184} to be surprised at any amount of Western thought or art we may find in India. These, however, are problems that are only just dawning upon us, and which are certainly not yet ripe for solution, though it may be most important they should be stated as early as possible, as it seems evident that the materials certainly exist from which an early answer may be obtained.

In the meanwhile the question that bears most directly on the subject now in hand is the inquiry, how far the undoubted classical influence shown in these Gandhara sculptures is due to the seed sown by the Bactrian Greeks during the existence of their kingdom there, and how much to the direct influence of Rome and Byzantium between the times of Augustus and Justinian? Both, most probably, had a part in producing this remarkable result; but, so far as we at present know, it seems that the latter was very much more important than the former cause, and that in the first centuries of the Christian Era the civilisation of the West exercised an influence on the arts and religion of the inhabitants of this part of India far greater than has hitherto been suspected.

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Feet of Buddha. (From a bas-relief at Amravati.)







If the materials existed for writing it in anything like a complete and satisfactory manner, there are few chapters in this history that ought to be so interesting or instructive as that which treats of the architecture of Ceylon. It alone, of all known countries, contains a complete series of Buddhist monuments extending from the time of Asoka to the present day, and in the ‘Mahawanso’ it alone possesses a history so detailed and so authentic, that the dates and purposes of the earlier buildings can be ascertained with very tolerable precision. Besides its own intrinsic interest, if it were possible to compare this unbroken series with its ascertained dates with the fragmentary groups on the continent of India, its parallelisms might throw much light on many questions that are obscure and uncertain, and the whole acquire a consistency that is now only too evidently wanting. Unfortunately, no one has yet visited the island who was possessed of the necessary qualifications to supply the information necessary for these purposes. Sir Emerson Tennent’s book, published in 1859, is still the best work on the subject. He had, however, no special qualifications for the task, beyond what were to be expected from any well-educated gentleman of talent, and his description of the buildings[227] is only meant for popular reading.

The two papers by Captain Chapman, in the third volume of the ‘Transactions,’ and thirteenth volume of the ‘Journal of the Asiatic Society,’ are still the best account of the ruins of Anuradhapura, and beyond these a few occasional notices are nearly all the printed matter we have to depend upon. Some seven or eight years ago, a series of photographs, by the late Mr. Lawton, threw some light on the matter, and quite recently a second series by Captain Hogg, R.E., have added{186} something to our knowledge. But photographs without plans or dimensions or descriptions are most deceptive guides, and, as none of these have been supplied, they add little to our scientific knowledge of the subject. This is the more to be regretted, as quite recently some excavations have been undertaken at Anuradhapura which are calculated to throw considerable light on the structure of the great dagobas there, but regarding which no information, except what is afforded by these photographs, has reached this country.[228]

One of the most striking peculiarities of Ceylonese art, as compared with that of the continent, is the almost total absence of sculpture which it exhibits, and may be a peculiarity that may render it much less useful for comparison than might at first sight appear. The most obvious suggestion to meet this difficulty is to assume that the sculptures are buried in the accumulated ruins, in the cities where the great monuments are found, and will be discovered when excavations are made. It is to be feared, however, that this theory is hardly tenable; Ceylon has never been occupied by Mahomedans, or other hostile races, and there is no reason to suppose that at any time statues would be thrown down, or bas-reliefs destroyed; besides this, such excavations as have been made—and they are in the most likely places—have revealed nothing that would lead us to hope for better results elsewhere. Perhaps this ought not to surprise us, as nearly the same thing occurs in Burmah. In that country there is an unlimited amount of painting and carving, but no sculpture properly so called; and the same thing may have occurred in Ceylon. So far as we can now see, all the great topes were covered with chunam, which may have been painted to any extent, and all the viharas, as in Burmah, were in wood, and consequently unfitted for permanent sculpture. Besides this, such information as we have would lead us to suppose that painting was a more favoured art with the islanders than sculpture. When Fa Hian, for instance,{187} visited the island in 412-413, he describes an accompaniment to the procession of the tooth relic as follows:—“The king next causes to be placed on both sides of the road representations of the 500 bodily forms which Bôdisatwa assumed during his successive births” (the jataka in fact). “These figures,” he adds, “are all beautifully painted in divers colours, and have a very life-like appearance.”[229] It was not that they could not sculpture in stone, for, as we shall presently see, some of their carvings are of great delicacy and cleverness of execution, but they seem to have preferred colour to the more permanent forms of representation. If this is so, it certainly is remarkable, when we think of the wealth of sculpture exhibited by such monuments as Bharhut, Sanchi, or Amravati. In so far as our present information goes, one single monastery in Gandhara, such as Jamalgiri, for instance, possessed more sculpture than is to be found in the whole island of Ceylon. The form, too, of such sculptures as have been discovered, is almost as curious as its rarity. Only one ancient figure of Buddha has yet been discovered at Anuradhapura. It may be of the 3rd or 4th century, and is placed unsymmetrically in a chapel in front of the Ruanwelli dagoba. Everywhere, however, there are statues of five or seven-headed serpents, or of men with serpent-hoods, which may be of any age, and at the foot of every important flight of steps there are two dwarpals or doorkeepers with this strange appendage,[230] and attached to each flight of steps of all the larger and older dagobas are figures of the great Naga himself. In fact, in so far as the testimony of the sculptures alone is concerned, we would be forced to conclude that all the great monuments of the capital were devoted to Serpent worship instead of that of Buddha, with one exception, however; that one is dedicated to the Bo-tree, which is supposed to be the tree originally sent by Asoka from Buddh Gaya more than 2000 years ago. We know, of course, that all this is not so, but it is a testimony to the early prevalence of Tree and Serpent worship in the island, as strange as it was unexpected.

Another peculiarity of the Ceylonese monuments is their situation in the two capitals of the island, for, it will have been observed, none of the remains of Buddhist architecture described in the previous chapters are found in the great capital cities of the Empire. They are detached monuments, spared by accident in some distant corner of the land, or rock-cut examples found in remote and secluded valleys. Buddhist Palibothra has entirely perished—so has Sravasti and Vaisali; and it is with difficulty we can identify Kapilawastu, Kusinara, and other famous cities, whose magnificent monasteries and{188} stupas are described by the Chinese travellers in the fifth or seventh century of our era. In a great measure, this may be owing to their having been built of brick and wood; and, in that climate, vegetation is singularly destructive of the first, and insects and decay of the second. But much is also due to the country having been densely peopled ever since the expulsion of the Buddhists. It may also be remarked that the people inhabiting the plains of Bengal since the expulsion of the Buddhists, were either followers of the Brahmanical or Mahomedan religions—both inimical to them, or, at least, having no respect for their remains.

In Ceylon the case is different. Though the great capitals were early deserted, the people are now Buddhists, as they have been for the last 2000 years, and there, consequently, cities are still found adorned with monuments, which, though in ruins, convey a sufficient impression of what those of India must have been in the days of her glory.

Anuradhapura seems to have become the capital of Ceylon about 400 years before Christ, or about a century and a half after the death of Buddha, and the fabled introduction of his religion into the island. It was not, however, till after the lapse of another 150 years that it became a sacred city, and one of the principal capitals of Buddhism in the East, which it continued to be till about the year 769, when, owing to the repeated and destructive invasions of the Malabars, the capital was removed to Pollonarua. That city reached its period of greatest prosperity and extension, apparently in the reign of Prakrama Bahu, 1153-1186, and then sank during a long and disastrous period into decay. The seat of government was afterwards moved hither and thither, till the country fell into the hands of the Portuguese and Dutch, and finally succumbed to our power.


The city of Anuradhapura is now totally deserted in the midst of an almost uninhabited jungle. Its public buildings must have suffered severely from the circumstances under which it perished, exposed for centuries to the attacks of foreign enemies. Besides this, the rank vegetation of Ceylon has been at work for 1000 years, stripping off all traces of plaster ornaments, and splitting the masonry in many places.

The very desolation, however, of its situation has preserved these ancient monuments from other and greater dangers. No bigoted Moslem has pulled them down to build mosques and monuments of his own faith; no indolent Hindu has allowed their materials to be used for private purposes or appropriated as private plunder; and no{189} English magistrate has yet rendered them available for mending station roads and bridges. We may be sure, therefore, that these ruins deserve the greatest attention from the student of Buddhist architecture, and that a vast fund of information may be drawn from them when sufficiently explored and described.

The peculiar fortune of Anuradhapura is that it continued the capital of Ceylon for ten centuries; and, alone of all Buddhist cities, it retains something like a complete series of the remains of its greatness during that period. We possess, moreover, in the ‘Mahawanso’ and other Ceylonese scriptures, a tolerably authentic account of the building of all these monuments, and of the purposes to which they were dedicated. Among the vestiges of its former grandeur still to be found, are the ruins of seven dome-shaped topes or dagobas, of one monastery, of a building erected to contain the sacred Bo-tree, and several other ruins and antiquities. Among these is the great mound called the tomb of the usurper Elaala, but more probably it is a tope erected by the king Duttagaimuni to commemorate the victory over that intruder which he gained on this spot about the year B.C. 161. As it is now a mere mound, without any distinguishable outline, it will not be again alluded to.

Two of the topes are of the largest size known: one, the Abhayagiri, was erected B.C. 88; its dome is exactly hemispherical, and described with a radius of 180 ft., being thus more than 1100 ft. in circumference, and with the base and spire making up a total elevation of 244 ft., which is only 16 ft. less than the traditional height of 120 cubits assigned to it in the ‘Mahawanso.’[231] It was erected by a king Walagambahu, to commemorate his reconquest of his kingdom from a foreign usurper who had deposed him and occupied his throne for about sixteen years.

The second tope is the Jetawana, erected by a king Mahasena A.D. 275. In form and dimensions it is almost identical with the last described, though somewhat more perfect in outline, and a few feet higher, owing probably to its being more modern than its rival. These two were commemorative monuments, and not relic shrines.

Next to these, but far more important from its sacredness, is the Ruanwelli dagoba, erected by king Duttagaimuni, between the years 161 and 137 B.C., over a very imposing collection of relics, of which a full account is given in the 31st chapter of the ‘Mahawanso.’ Its dimensions are very similar to those of the two last described, but it has been so much defaced, partly by violence, and partly, it seems, from a failure of the foundations, that it is not easy to ascertain either its original shape or size. The same king erected another smaller tope, 260 ft. in diameter. It is now known as the Mirisiwellya. Like{190} the last described it is very much ruined, and not particularly interesting either from its form or history.

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98. Elevation of front of Staircase, Ruanwelli Dagoba. No scale.

Some excavations that have recently been undertaken have disclosed the fact that the Ruanwelli dagoba had at its base three offsets, or procession paths, rising like steps, one behind and above the other, but with no ornament now apparent, except a plain Buddhist rail of two bars on the outer edge of the two lower ones, and of an elephant cornice to the upper. It can hardly, however, be doubted that the inner faces were originally plastered, and painted with historical scenes. On each of the four fronts of this dagoba was an ornamental projection containing and partially concealing the flights of steps by which access was had to these galleries.[232] From the photographs, it is not clear where the steps were that lead to the first, but those leading from the first to the second and third were arranged like those at Sanchi (Woodcut No. 11) behind this frontispiece. Without a plan, however, it is difficult to make out exactly what the arrangement may have been.

A precisely similar arrangement of stairs exists on the four faces of the Abhayagiri and Jetawana dagobas, to that shown in the two Woodcuts Nos. 98, 99, and consists first of a plain base, above which is a frieze of elephants’ heads with pateræ between them, very like those used in the metopes of the Roman Doric order; above this are three plain faces divided by ornamental string courses. Then a bracket cornice with pateræ again, and above this two or three more cornices. Above this there was probably a parapet simulating a Buddhist rail.

At each end of this projecting arrangement were two stelæ—at the Ruanwelli the inner covered by a foliaged pattern, the outer by{191} a seven-headed Naga, as will be observed in the Woodcut No. 99; at the Abhayagiri, the inner stele is adorned with a pattern so nearly identical with that on the pillars of the western gateway at Sanchi,[233] that we have no difficulty in recognising them as belonging to about the same age; though this one, of course, is the older of the two (B.C. 104). On the other stele in this tope (Woodcut No. 100), we recognise the shield, the Swastica, the trisul, the conch (of Vishnu?) and all the other Buddhist emblems with which we are already familiar. The Naga here has a stele of his own and detached from the other two.

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99. View of Frontispiece of Stairs, Ruanwelli Dagoba. (From a Photograph.)

All this is architecturally so unlike anything we find of the same age on the continent of India, while its sculptured details are so nearly identical, that, when we come to know more about it, these differences and similarities may lead to most important inferences; but we must at present wait for the requisite information to enable us to see the bearing of these peculiarities.

Besides these four large buildings there are two smaller ones, known as the Thuparamaya and Lankaramaya, very similar to one{192}

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100. Stelæ at the end of Stairs, Abhayagiri Dagoba. (From a Photograph.)

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101. Thuparamaya Tope. (From an unpublished Lithograph by the late James Prinsep.)

another in size and arrangement. The first-named is represented in Woodcut No. 101. The tope itself, though small and somewhat{193} ruined, is of a singularly elegant bell-shaped outline.[234] Its diameter and height are nearly the same, between 50 ft. and 60 ft., and it stands on a platform raised about 9 ft. from the ground, on which are arranged three rows of pillars, which form by far the most important architectural ornament of the building. The inner circle stands about 2 ft. from the dagoba, and the other two about 10 ft. from each other. The pillars themselves are monoliths 26 ft. in height, of which the lower part, to the height of 9 ft., is left square, each side being about 1 ft. The next division, 14 ft. 6 in. in length, has the angles cut off, as is usual in this style, so as to form an octagon; the two parts being of one piece of granite. These sustain a capital of the same material, 2 ft. 6 in. in height.

Accounts differ as to the number of the pillars, as Mr. Knighton says they were originally 108;[235] whereas Captain Chapman counted 149, and states the original number to have been 184.[236]

This relic-shrine was erected by the celebrated king Devenampiatissa, about 250 years B.C., to contain the right jawbone of Buddha, which—say the Buddhist chroniclers—descending from the skies, placed itself on the crown of the monarch. As contemporary with Asoka it belongs to the most interesting period of Buddhist history, and is older, or, at least, as old, as anything now existing on the continent of India; and there is every reason to suppose it now exists, as nearly as may be, in the form in which it was originally designed, having escaped alteration,[237] and, what is more unusual in a Buddhist relic-shrine, having escaped augmentation. When the celebrated tooth relic was brought hither from India at the beginning of the 4th century, it was deposited in a small building erected for the purpose on one of the angles of the platform of this building, instead of being placed, as seems generally to have been the case, in a shrine on its summit, and eventually made the centre of a new and more extended erection. Perhaps it was an unwillingness to disturb the sacred circle of pillars that prevented this being done, or it may have been that the tooth relic, for some reason we do not now understand, was destined never to be permanently hid from the sight of its adorers. It is certain that it has been accessible during the last 2000 years, and is the only relic of its class that seems to have been similarly preserved and exhibited.

The Lankaramaya (Woodcut No. 102) is extremely similar to the last—though considerably more modern, having been erected A.D. 221{194}—and looks of even more recent date than it really is, in consequence of a thorough repair some time ago, which has nearly obliterated its more ancient features.

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102. Lankaramaya Dagoba, A.D. 221. (From a Photograph.)

As will be observed the two last-mentioned dagobas present us with a peculiarity not found on any example we have yet met with, inasmuch as they are surrounded by three circles of slender monolithic columns, of very elegant design. It can hardly be doubted that these represent, and take the place of, the rail of the northern topes, and subserve the same purpose, but in what manner is not at first sight very apparent. Referring, however, to what was said above, about the Ceylonese preferring painting to sculpture, it does not seem difficult to explain the anomaly. These pillars were originally, I fancy, connected with one another by beams of wood on their capitals, and from these, frames or curtains may have been suspended covered with the paintings which are so indispensable a part of Buddhist decoration. But it may be objected why three? or, as I believe, the Lankaramaya had originally, four such ranges of pillars? It is true the northern dagobas had generally only one rail, but that at Amravati had two, and as the great dagobas here had three procession-paths, while none of the northern ones had more than one, we should not be surprised if the smaller dagobas had three paths also, though differently arranged, and even then hardly capable of displaying the same amount of painting. When we come to describe the great temple of Boro Buddor in Java it will be seen that it had five{195} procession-paths, and that their walls were sculptured, both inside and outside, with an amount of stone decoration which none of these Ceylonese topes could display, even in painting, by any arrangement we can now understand.

There is still another—the Saila dagoba—within the limits of the city, but so ruined that its architectural features are undistinguishable, though tradition would lead us to suppose it was the oldest in the place, belonging to a period even anterior to Sakya Muni. The spot at all events is said to have been hallowed by the presence of Kasyapa, the preceding Buddha.

Besides these, there are on the hill of Mehentele, a few miles to the north-east of the city, two important relic-shrines: one of the first class, erected on its summit to cover a hair that grew on the forehead of Buddha over his left eyebrow. The other, on a shoulder of the hill immediately below this, is of the same class as the Thuparamaya; a small central building surrounded by concentric rows of granite pillars, which, as appears to have been usual when this mode of decoration was employed, rose to half the height of the central mound.

There are, in addition to these, a great number of topes of various sorts scattered over the plain, but whether any of them are particularly interesting, either from their architecture or their history, has not been ascertained, nor will it be till the place is far more carefully surveyed than it has yet been.

There is another ruin at Anuradhapura, which, if a little more perfect, would be even more interesting than those topes. It goes by the name of the Lowa Maha Paya, or Great Brazen Monastery. We have a full account in the ‘Mahawanso’ of its erection by the pious king Duttagaimuni (B.C. 161),[238] according to a plan procured from heaven for the purpose—as well as a history of its subsequent destruction and rebuildings.

When first erected it is said to have been 100 cubits or 225 ft. square, and as high as it was broad; the height was divided into nine storeys, each containing 100 cells for priests, besides halls and other indispensable apartments. Nearly 200 years after its erection (A.D. 30) it required considerable repairs, but the first great disaster occurred in the reign of Mahasena, A.D. 285, who is said to have destroyed it utterly.[239] It was re-erected by his son, but with only five storeys instead of nine; and it never after this regained its pristine magnificence, but gradually fell into decay even before the seat of government was removed to Pollonarua. Since that time it has been completely deserted, and all that now remains are the 1600 pillars which once supported it. These generally consist of unhewn blocks of granite about 12 ft. high; some of the central ones are sculptured, and{196} many have been split into two, apparently at the time of the great rebuilding after its destruction by Mahasena; as it is, they stand about 6 ft. apart from centre to centre in a compact phalanx, forty on each face, and covering a space of 250 ft. or 260 ft. each way. Upon the pillars must have been placed a strong wooden framing from which the remaining eight storeys rose, as in the modern Burmese monasteries, in a manner to be explained in a subsequent chapter.

There is only one difficulty, so far as I can see, in understanding the arrangement of the superstructure of this building, and that is the assertion of the ‘Mahawanso’ that it consisted of nine storeys—afterwards of five—each containing 100 apartments. For myself I have no hesitation in rejecting this statement as impossible, not only from the difficulty of constructing and roofing such a building, but because its form is so utterly opposed to all the traditions of Eastern art. If we turn back to Fa Hian or Hiouen Thsang’s description of the great Dekhani monastery (page 135) or to the great rath at Mahavellipore (Woodcut No. 66), or, indeed, to any of the 1001 temples of southern India, all of which simulate three, five, or nine-storeyed residences, we get a distinct idea of what such a building may have been if erected in the Indian style. It would, too, be convenient and appropriate to the climate, each storey having its terrace for walking or sleeping in the open air, and the whole easily constructed and kept in order. All this will be clearer in the sequel, but in the meanwhile it hardly appears doubtful that the Lowa Maha Paya was originally of nine, and subsequently of five storeys, each less in dimension than the one below it. The top one was surmounted as at Mahavellipore by a dome, but in this instance composed of brass—whence its name; and, gilt and ornamented as it no doubt was, it must have been one of the most splendid buildings of the East. It was as high as the topes, and, though not covering quite so much ground, was equal, in cubical contents, to the largest of our English cathedrals, and the body of the building was higher than any of them, omitting of course the spires, which are mere ornaments.


Besides these there are scattered about the ruins of Anuradhapura some half dozen, it may be a dozen, groups of pillars, whose use and purpose it would be extremely interesting to know something about. They all seem raised on a platform or stylobate, and approached by one or more flights of steps, of a highly ornamental character. One of these, leading to a group of pillars attached to the Ruanwelli dagoba, will convey some idea of their general character (Woodcut No. 103). At the foot of the flight of steps is a semicircular stone, popularly known in Ceylon as a moon stone (Woodcut No. 104). At least a dozen of these are known to exist at Anuradhapura and as many probably at Pollonarua. Some are large and some smaller than others, but they{197}

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103. Pavilion with Steps at Anuradhapura. (From a Photograph.)

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104. Moon Stone at Foot of Steps leading to the Platform of the Bo-tree, Anuradhapura. (From a Photograph.)

are all nearly identical in design and quite peculiar to Ceylon—nothing of the sort having yet been found on the continent of India or elsewhere. Inside an outer ornamental ring is a procession of animals, divided from the next compartment by a richly elaborated scroll; within that again a row of birds bearing lotus buds, and then a lotus flower with a disc ornamented with circles. The animals are always elephants, lions, horses, and bulls, the birds either hansas, or sacred geese, or it may be pigeons. These, it will be recollected, are the{198} animals which Fa Hian and Hiouen Thsang describe as ornamenting the five storeys of the great Dekhani monastery, and which, as we shall afterwards see, were also arranged at Hullabîd in the 13th century in precisely the same manner. For 1500 years they, and they only, seem to have been selected for architectural purposes, but why this was so we are yet unable to explain.[240]

The risers of these stairs, though not adorned with storeyed bas-reliefs, like those of the Jamalgiri monastery in Gandhara, are all richly ornamented, being divided generally into two panels by figures of dwarfs and framed by foliaged borders, while the jambs or flanking stones are also adorned by either figures of animals or bas-reliefs.

If we had plans or any architectural details of the pavilions to which these steps led, it probably would be easy to say to what purpose they were dedicated and how they were roofed. The photographs do not enable us to do either, but from them we gather that some of these halls were certainly enclosed by walls, as the outer side of the pillars is left rough and unsculptured, while those in the centre are sculptured all round. Meanwhile my impression is that they are the buildings Fa Hian describes as preaching halls—the chaitya or ceremonial halls attached to the great dagobas. In India the form these take is that of halls with simulated dagobas inside them, towards which the worship was addressed, but when a real dagoba existed 200 ft. to 400 ft. in diameter, what was wanted was a hall in which the priests could assemble to chant their liturgies, and from which to address their prayers to the great object of their reverence. If this were so, the axis of these halls ought to be turned towards the dagobas, but whether this was so or not is not yet ascertained.[241]

Besides these there is at Anuradhapura a temple called Isurumuniya, partly cut in the rock, partly structural, regarding which some information would be extremely interesting. Till within the last few years the pillars of its porch still carried the wooden beams of a roof, but whether it was the original one or a subsequent addition is by no means clear. From the mortises in the face of the rock I would be inclined to believe that it was at least in the original form, but the building has been so knocked about and altered in modern times, that it is impossible to speak with certainty regarding it. So far as can be{199} judged from such photographs as have come home, I would be inclined to ascribe the original excavation to the 6th or 7th century. The architecture of the steps and the Naga dwarpals are all of the old pattern, but coarser and showing unmistakable signs of decadence.

To us these are the most interesting of the remains of the ancient city, but to a Buddhist the greatest and most sacred of the vestiges of the past is the celebrated Bo-tree. This is now reverenced and worshipped even amidst the desolation in which it stands, and has been worshipped on this spot for more than 2000 years; and thus, if not the oldest, is certainly among the most ancient of the idols that still command the adoration of mankind.

When Asoka sent his son Mahindo, and his daughter Sangamitta, to introduce Buddhism into Ceylon, one of the most precious things which they brought was a branch of the celebrated tree which still grows at Gaya[242] (Woodcut No. 16). The branch, so says the legend, spontaneously severed itself from the parent stem, and planted itself in a golden vase prepared for its reception. According to the prophecy, it was to be “always green, never growing nor decaying,” and certainly present appearances would go far to confirm such an assertion, for, notwithstanding its age, it is small, and, though healthy, does not seem to increase. Its being evergreen is only a characteristic of its species, the Ficus religiosa; our acquaintance with it, however, must extend over a longer series of years than it yet does, before we can speak with certainty as to its stationary qualities.

It grows from the top of a small pyramid, which rises in three terraces, each about 12 ft. in height, in the centre of a large square enclosure called the Maha Vihara. But though the place is large, sacred, and adorned with gates of some pretension, none of the architectural features which at present surround it are such as to require notice in a work like the present.


Although very much more modern in date, and consequently less pure in style, the ruins at Pollonarua are scarcely less interesting than those of the northern capital to which it succeeded. They form a link between the ancient and modern styles at a time when the Buddhists had ceased to exist, or at least to build, on the continent of India, and,{200} when properly illustrated, will enable us to speak with confidence of much that we find beyond the Ganges. Almost all we know at present of these ruins is due to the publications of Sir Emerson Tennent,[244] which, though most valuable contributions, are far from exhausting the subject. According to this authority, the principal ruins extend in a line nearly north and south for about a mile and a half from the palace to the Gal Vihara, and comprise two dagobas, besides a number of smaller edifices. The greater part seem to have been erected during the reign of Prakrama Bahu, 1153-86, though, as the city became the capital of the kingdom in the 8th century, it is probable that an intelligent search would reveal some of earlier date; while, as it was not deserted till 1235, some of them may also be more modern.

If not the oldest, certainly the most interesting group at Pollonarua is that of the rock-cut sculptures known as the Gal Vihara. They are not rock-cut temples in the sense in which the term is understood in India, being neither residences nor chaitya halls. On the left, on the face of the rock, is a figure of Buddha, seated in the usual cross-legged conventional attitude, 16 ft. in height, and backed by a throne of exceeding richness: perhaps the most elaborate specimen of its class known to exist anywhere. Next to this is a cell, with two pillars in front, on the back wall of which is another seated figure of Buddha, but certainly of a more modern aspect than that last described; that appearance may, however, be owing to whitewash and paint, which have been most liberally applied to it. Beyond this is a figure of Buddha, standing in the open air; and still further to the right another of him, lying down in the conventional attitude of his attaining Nirvana. This figure is 45 ft. long, while the standing one is only 25 ft. high.[245] These Nirvana figures are rare in India, but there is one in the most modern cave at Ajunta, No. 26, and others in the latest caves at Nassick and Salsette. None of these, however, so far as I know, ever attained in India such dimensions as these. In another century or two they might have done so, but the attainment of such colossal proportions is a sure sign of their being very modern.

In front of the Gal Vihara stands the principal religious group of{201}

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105. The Jayta Wana Rama—Ruins of Pollonarua. (From Tennent’s ‘Christianity in Ceylon.’)

the city, consisting first of the Jayta Wana Rama Temple, 170 ft. long by 70 ft. wide (Woodcut No. 105), containing an erect statue of Buddha 58 ft. in height. On one side of it is the Kiri dagoba—on the right of the woodcut—with two smaller topes, standing on raised platforms, the whole space measuring 577 ft. by 500 ft., and was apparently at one time entirely filled with objects of religious{202} adoration. The whole certainly belongs to the age of Prakrama-Bahu. It was, however, built of brick, and plastered, which gives it an appearance of inferiority even beyond what is due to the inferior style of that age.

Next in importance to this is the Rankot Dagoba, 180 ft. in diameter. This, though only half that of some of those in the older capital, is still larger than any known to exist on the continent of India. Its base is surrounded, like those in Burmah, by a number of small shrines, which at this age supplied the place of the pillars or of the rails which formed so important a part of the structure of the older examples.

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106. Sat Mehal Prasada. (From Sir J. E. Tennent’s ‘Ceylon.’)

At some distance from this, and near the palace, stands the Sat Mehal Prasada (Woodcut No. 106), which is one of the most interesting buildings of the place, as it is one of the most perfect representations existing of the seven-storeyed temples of Assyria already described, vol. i. page 152, et seqq. That this is a lineal descendant of the Birs Nimroud can hardly be doubted. It is also interesting as affording a hint as to the appearance of the five or nine-storeyed monasteries mentioned in a previous page (196). This one, however, never was a residence, nor does it simulate one, like the raths at Mahavellipore or other buildings in the Dravidian style, which will be described in a subsequent chapter.

In front of it lies a splendid dolmen, or stone table, 26 ft. long, 4 ft. broad, and 2 ft. thick. It would be interesting to know if the dolmen rests on the ground, or is supported on three or more upright stones—most probably the latter. Like most of the Indian examples, it appears to be a squared and carved repetition of what{203} in Europe we find only rough and unhewn. The carving on its border represents a number of hansas or sacred geese—always a favourite subject of the Buddhist sculptors.[246] At one end of this stone is engraved a representation of Sri, with her two elephants with their water-pots (Woodcut No. 2); and I fancy I can detect her also in other photographs elsewhere in Ceylon, but not so distinctly as to feel sure.

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107. Round House, called Watté Dajê, in Pollonarua. (From Sir J. E. Tennent.)

Close to the Sat Mehal is a circular building, which, so far as is at present known, is unique. It may almost be described as a hollow dagoba, being a circular enclosure surrounded by a wall, but empty in the centre, at least containing nothing now. Originally, it may have had a shrine in its centre, or tabernacle of some sort, containing a relic or, more probably, a sacred Tree. It is surrounded by a procession-path, enclosed by a highly-ornamental screen, and beyond this by a second gallery adorned with a range of slender pillars, like those which surround the dagobas at Anuradhapura (Woodcut No. 107); below this, again, is a richly-carved stylobate.

Four flights of steps lead up to its procession-paths, more magnificent and elaborate than any others that have yet been discovered in Ceylon. They all have most elaborate moon stones to start from. Their risers are each adorned with twelve figures of dwarfs, and their side-pieces, or jambs, are also of exceptional richness, and each has{204} a pair of Naga-headed dwarpals on each side of its upper flight. The photographs are sufficient to show that this is one of the most interesting buildings in Ceylon, as well as one of the richest in sculptural decorations; but unless the antiquities of Java throw some light on the subject, we must be content with ignorant admiration till some one capable of investigating its history visits the place.[247]

Besides these, there are in Pollonarua several of those groups of pillars, without roofs or walls, which we tried to describe in speaking of Anuradhapura. One, called the Audience Hall, seems to be very similar to those of the northern capital; another, known as the Hetti Vihara, is more extensive, and may really be the foundation of a vihara; but till we have plans and more details it is needless speculating on what they may or may not have been.

Although built in brick, and very much ruined, there still exist in Pollonarua a palace and a vihara—the Abhayagiri—which was really a residence, and whose examination would, no doubt, throw considerable light on the arrangement of similar buildings in India. That information might, however, be difficult to obtain, and, till the simpler and more monumental buildings are examined and drawn, its investigation may well be postponed.

Besides these, Pollonarua possesses another point of interest of considerable importance, though hardly germane to our present subject. Among its ruins are several buildings in the Dravidian style of architecture, whose dates could easily, I fancy, be at least approximately ascertained. One of these is called the Dalada Maligawa, apparently from its possessing at one time the tooth relic; for it is hardly probable that when migrating southward for fear of the Tamils they would have left their cherished palladium behind them. If it was sheltered here, and this was the first building erected to receive it, it would be a most important landmark in the very vague chronology of that style. Another, though called the Vishnu Deyanne Dewala, was certainly either originally, or is now, dedicated to the worship of Siva, as is testified by the presence of the bull alongside of it, and also apparently on its roof. But be this as it may, it is the lowest and flattest of those buildings I have yet met with, and more like a direct literal copy from a constructive vihara than even the raths at Mahavellipore (Woodcut No. 181). This may arise either from its being a copy of an actual vihara existing at the time it was built, or to its being very old. Those at Mahavellipore,{205} even if older than this one, may have gone through certain stages towards their present conventional forms before they were cut in the rock. But more of this hereafter.


It is unfortunate for the history of architecture in Ceylon that the oldest and finest of her rock-cut temples—as those, for instance, at Dambul and Dunumadala Kanda—are only natural caverns, slightly improved by art; and those mentioned above, as the Isurumuniya at Anuradhapura, and Gal Vihara at Pollonarua, besides being comparatively modern, have very little architecture about them, and that little by no means of a good class. Generally speaking, what architecture these Ceylonese caves do possess is developed on applied façades of masonry, never of the same age as the caves themselves, and generally more remarkable for grotesqueness than beauty. Besides, the form of these caves being accidental, they want that interest which attaches so strongly to those of India, as illustrating the religious forms and ceremonies of the early Buddhists. Indeed, their only point of interest seems to consist in their being still used for the celebration of the same rites to which they were originally dedicated 2000 years ago.


Although the above sketch cannot pretend to be anything like a complete and exhaustive treatise on the subject, it may probably be accepted, as far as it goes, as a fairly correct and intelligible description of Buddhist architecture in India. We certainly know the beginning of the style, and as certainly its end. The succession of the buildings hardly admits of doubt, and their dates are generally ascertained within very narrow limits of error. A great deal more must, of course, be done before all the examples are known and all the lacunæ filled up; but this is being rapidly done, and in a few years from this time all that is necessary to complete the history may be available for the purpose. It is hardly probable, however, that anything will be now discovered in India which will materially alter the views put forward in the preceding pages. Another discovery like General Cunningham’s at Bharhut may reward the industry of explorers; but even that, though it has given breadth and precision to our inquiries, and added so much to our stores of knowledge, has altered little that was known before. What was written in my work on ‘Tree and Serpent Worship’ before the discovery was made, has, in almost every instance, been confirmed, and in no important particular modified or changed; and our knowledge is now so extended, it probably will be the same in other cases. It is difficult, however, to form an opinion on the chances of any such discoveries being now{206} made. The one important building we miss of which accounts have reached us, is the rock-cut monastery described by the Chinese Pilgrims (ante, p. 135). If it was rock-cut, it almost certainly exists, and may yet be found in some of the unexplored parts of the Nizam’s territory. If it is discovered, it will throw more light on Buddhist architecture in the first century of our era than anything yet brought to light. That it did exist seems hardly doubtful, inasmuch as we have in the great rath at Mahavellipore (Woodcut No. 66) a literal copy of it—on a small scale, it is true—but so perfect that it certainly is not a first attempt to repeat, in a monolithic form, a class of building that must have been very common at the time this was attempted.

Be this as it may, even such a sketch as that contained in the preceding pages is sufficient to prove that it is almost impossible to overrate the importance of architecture and its associated arts in elucidating and giving precision to our knowledge of Buddhist history and mythology, from the time when it became the religion of the state till it perished in so far as India was concerned. In the rails at Buddh Gaya and Bharhut, with the eastern caves, we have a complete picture of Buddhism as it existed during the great Mauryan dynasty (B.C. 325 to B.C. 188). At Sanchi and the western caves we have as complete a representation of the form it took from the first century before our era to the third or fourth after it. At Amravati, and from the Gandhara monasteries, we learn what modifications had been introduced before and during the 4th century; and from the Ajunta and later caves we trace its history downward through its period of decay till it became first almost Jaina and then faded away altogether.

During the first half of this thousand years we have no contemporary records except those written in stone, and during the latter we have no books we can depend upon; but the architecture, with its sculptures and paintings, remain, and bear the indelible impress of the thoughts, the feelings, and the aspirations of those who executed them, and supply us with a vast amount of exact knowledge on the subject which is not attainable by any other means now known to us.{207}





There are few of the problems connected with this branch of our subject so obscure and so puzzling as those connected with the early history of the Architecture of the Jains. When we first practically meet with it in the early part of the 11th century at Abu, or at Girnar, it is a style complete and perfect in all its parts, evidently the result of long experience and continuous artistic development. From that point it progresses during one or two centuries towards greater richness, but in doing so loses the purity and perfection it had attained at the earlier period, and from that culminating point its downward progress can be traced through abundant examples to the present day. When, however, we try to trace its upward progress the case is widely different. General Cunningham has recently found some Jaina statues at Muttra, with dates upon them apparently of 99 and 177 A.D.[248] If this is so, it is the earliest material trace of Jainism that has yet been discovered, and they must have been associated with buildings which may yet reward the explorer. From this time forward, till the 11th century, we have only fragments of temples of uncertain origin and date, and all in so very ruined a condition that they hardly assist us in our researches. Yet we cannot doubt that the Jains did exist in India, and did build temples, during the whole of this interval, and the discovery of some of them may yet reward the industry of some future investigator.

Meanwhile one thing seems tolerably clear, that the religions of the Buddhists and that of the Jains were so similar to one another{208} both in their origin, and their development and doctrines, that their architecture must also at one time have been nearly the same. In consequence of this, if we could trace back Jaina art from about the year 1000, when practically we first meet it, to the year 600 or 700, when we lose sight of Buddhist art, we should probably find the two very much alike. Or if, on the other hand, we could trace Buddhist art from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1000, we should as probably find it developing itself into something very like the temples on Mount Abu, and elsewhere, at that period of time.

A strong presumption that the architecture of the two sects was similar arises from the fact of their sculptures being so nearly identical that it is not always easy to distinguish what belongs to the one and what to the other; and in all instances it requires some experience to do this readily. The Tirthankars are generally represented seated in the same cross-legged attitude as Buddha, with the same curly hair, and the same stolid contemplative expression of countenance. Where, however, the emblems that accompany the Jaina saints can be recognised, this difficulty does not exist. Another, but less certain test arises from the fact that the Jaina saints are generally represented as naked—Digambaras or Sky-clad, which in ancient times seems to have been the most numerous sect, though another division or the Swetambaras, or White-robed, were clothed much like the Buddhist. When, therefore, a figure of the class is represented as naked it may certainly be assumed to belong to the sect of the Jains, but the converse is by no means so certain. If clad it may belong to either, and in consequence it is frequently difficult to distinguish between late Buddhist and early Jaina bas-reliefs and sculptures.

So far as we can at present see, the most hopeful source of information regarding Jaina architecture seems to be the ruined monasteries of the Gandhara country (Woodcuts Nos. 92, 93, 96). The square or polygonal court of these viharas surrounded by cells containing images is what is found in all Jaina temples. The square or circular altar, or place of worship, may easily be considered as the prototype of the Sikra surrounded by cells of the Jains; and altogether these viharas, though probably as early as the fourth or fifth century of our era, are more like the temples at Abu and Girnar than anything intermediate. It is indeed every day becoming more and more apparent that, in consequence of our knowledge of Buddhist architecture being derived almost exclusively from rock-cut examples, we miss a great deal which, if derived from structural buildings, would probably solve this among other problems that are now perplexing us.

The same remarks apply equally to the Jaina caves. Those at Ellora and Badami do not help us in our investigation, because they are not copies of structural buildings, but are imitations of the rock-cut examples of the Hindus, which had grown up into a style of{209} their own, distinct from that of structural edifices. These, being interposed between the Buddhist and Jaina styles, separate the two as completely as if no examples existed, and prevent our tracing any connexion that may have existed between the two forms of art.

The earliest hint we get of a twelve-pillared dome, such as those universally used by the Jains, is in a sepulchre at Mylassa,[249] probably belonging to the 4th century. A second hint is found in the great cave at Bagh (Woodcut No. 87) in the 6th or 7th century, and there is little doubt that others will be found when looked for—but where? In the valley of the Ganges, and wherever the Mahomedans settled in force, it would be in vain to look for them. These zealots found the slender and elegant pillars, and the richly carved horizontal domes of the Jains, so appropriate and so easily re-arranged for their purposes, that they utilised all they cared not to destroy. The great mosques of Ajmir, Delhi, Canouge, Dhar and Ahmedabad, are all merely reconstructed temples of the Jains. There is, however, nothing in any of them that seems to belong to a very remote period—nothing in fact that can be carried back to times long, if at all, anterior to the year 1000. So we must look further for the cause of their loss.

As mentioned in the introduction the curtain drops on the drama of Indian history about the year 650, or a little later, and for three centuries we have only the faintest glimmerings of what took place within her boundaries. Civil wars seem to have raged everywhere, and religious persecution of the most relentless kind. When the curtain again rises we have an entirely new scene and new dramatis personæ presented to us. Buddhism had entirely disappeared, except in one corner of Bengal, and Jainism had taken its place throughout the west, and Vishnuism had usurped its inheritance in the east. On the south the religion of Siva had been adopted by the mass of the people, and these three religions had all assumed new and complex forms from the adoption of local superstitions, and differed widely from the simpler forms of the earlier faiths. My impression is that it was during these three centuries of misrule that the later temples and viharas of the Buddhists disappeared, and the earlier temples of the Jains; and there is a gap consequently in our history which may be filled up by new discoveries in remote places,[250] but which at present separates this chapter from the last in a manner it is by no means pleasant to contemplate.{210}






Before proceeding to describe the arrangements of Jaina or Hindu temples, it may add to the clearness of what follows if we first explain the peculiar modes of constructing arches and domes which they invariably employed.

As remarked above, although we cannot assert with absolute certainty that the Buddhists never employed a true arch, this at least is certain—that no structural example has yet been found in India, and that all the arched or circular forms found in the caves are without one single exception copies of wooden forms, and nowhere even simulate stone construction. With the Hindus and Jains the case is different: they use stone arches and stone domes which are not copied from wooden forms at all; but these are invariably horizontal arches, never formed or intended to be formed with radiating voussoirs.

It has already been explained, in speaking of Pelasgic art,[251] how prevalent these forms were in ancient Greece and Asia Minor, and how long they continued to be employed even after the principles of the true arch were perfectly understood. In India, however, the adherence to this form of construction is even more remarkable. As the Hindus quaintly express it, “an arch never sleeps;” and it is true that a radiating arch does contain in itself a vis viva which is always tending to thrust its haunches outwards, and goes far to ensure the ultimate destruction of every building where it is employed: while the horizontal forms employed by the Hindus are in stable equilibrium, and, unless disturbed by violence, might remain so for ever.

There can be no doubt that the Hindus carried their horror of an arch to an excess which frequently led them to worse faults on the other side. In city walls for instance, where there is a superabundant{211} abutment on either hand to counteract any thrust, the horizontal principle is entirely misplaced. If we take, for instance, one of the city gates at Bijanagur (Woodcut No. 108), we cannot help perceiving that with much smaller stones and less trouble a far more stable construction could have been obtained, so long as the wall on either hand remained entire. What the Hindu feared was that if the wall were shattered, as we now find it, the arch would have fallen, though the horizontal layers still remain in their places.

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108. View of City Gateway, Bijanagur. (From a Photograph.)

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109. Gateway, Jinjûwarra. (From Kinloch Forbes’ ‘Ras Mala.’)

Instead of a continuous bracket like that shown in the last example, a more usual form, in modern times at least, is that of{212} several detached brackets placed a little distance apart the one from the other. When used in moderation this is the more pleasing form of the two, and in southern India it is generally used with great success. In the north they are liable to exaggerate it, as in the gateway from Jinjûwarra in Gujerat (Woodcut No. 109, p. 211), when it becomes unpleasing, though singularly characteristic of the style.

It is this horizontal or bracket mode of construction that is the formative principle of the Dravidian or Southern style of Hindu architecture, every form and every ornament depending almost wholly upon it. In the north, however, another development of the same principle is found in the horizontal dome, which is unknown in the south, but which has given a new character to the style, and, as one of its most beautiful features, demands a somewhat detailed explanation.


It is to be regretted that, while so much has been written on the history of the pointed arch, so little should have been said regarding the history of domes: the one being a mere constructive peculiarity that might very well have been dispensed with; the other being the noblest feature in the styles in which it prevails, and perhaps the most important acquisition with which science has enriched the art of architecture.

The so-called Treasuries of Mycenæ and Orchomenos, as well as the chambers in Etruscan tombs, prove that as early as ten or twelve centuries before Christ the Pelasgic races had learned the art of roofing circular chambers with stone vaults, not constructed, as we construct them, with radiating vaults, on the principle of the common arch, but by successive layers of stones converging to a point, and closed by one large stone at the apex.

Whoever invented the true or radiating arch, the Romans were the first who applied it as a regular and essential architectural feature, and who at the same time introduced its complement, the radiating dome, into architectural construction; at what period it is not now known. The earliest example, the Pantheon, is also the finest and largest; but we have lost entirely the innumerable steps by which the architects must have slowly progressed to so daring an experiment.

There is, however, a vast difference between these two classes of domes, which it is necessary to bear in mind in order to understand what follows.

The Roman arch and Roman dome are always constructed (Woodcut No. 110) on the principle of voussoirs, or truncated wedges, radiating from a centre. This enabled the Romans to cover much larger spaces{213} with their domes than perhaps was possible on the horizontal principle; but it involved the inconvenience of great lateral thrusts, continually tending to split the dome and tear the building in pieces, and requiring immense and massive abutments to counteract their destructive energy.

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110. Radiating Arch.


111. Horizontal Arch.

The Indian or horizontal dome never can be made circular in section, except when used on the smallest scale, but almost always takes a form more or less pointed (Woodcut No. 111). From the time of the building of the Treasury of Mycenæ[252] to the birth of Christ we have a tolerably complete series of arches and vaults constructed on this principle, but few domes properly so called. After the Christian Era the first example is found in a singular tomb at Mylassa,[253] near Halicarnassus,[254] where the dome exhibits all the peculiarities of construction found in the Jaina temples of India. After this we lose the thread of its history till the form reappears in porches like those of the 11th century on Mount Abu, where it is a perfectly established architectural feature, that must have been practised long before it could be used as we find it in that building. Whether we shall ever be able to recover the lost links in this chain is more than doubtful, but it would be deeply interesting to the history of art if it could be done. In the meantime, there is no difficulty in explaining the constructive steps by which the object is now attained in India. These may also throw some light on the history of the invention, though this is not, of course, capable of direct proof.

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112. Diagram of Roofing.

The simplest mode of roofing a small square space supported by four pillars is merely to run an architrave or stone beam from each pillar, and cover the intermediate opening by a plain stone slab. Unless, however, slabs of great dimensions are available, this mode of construction has a limit very soon arrived at. The next step therefore is to reduce the extent of the central space to be covered by cutting off its corners; this is done by triangular stones placed in each angle of the square, as in Woodcut No. 112, thus employing five stones{214} instead of one. By this means, the size of the central stone remaining the same, the side of the square space so roofed is increased in the ratio of ten to seven, the actual area being doubled. The next step in the process (Woodcut No. 113) is by employing three tiers and nine stones instead of two tiers and five stones, which quadruples the area roofed. Thus, if the central stone is 4 ft., by the second process the space roofed will be about 5 ft. 8 in.; by the third 8 ft. square; by a fourth process (Woodcut No. 114)—with four tiers and thirteen stones—the extent roofed may be 9 ft. or 10 ft., always assuming the central stone to remain 4 ft. square. All these forms are still currently used in India, but with four pillars the process is seldom carried further than this; with another tier, however, and eight pillars (as shown in Woodcut No. 115), it may be carried a step further—exactly the extent to which it is carried in the tomb at Mylassa above referred to. In this, however, as in all instances of octagonal domes in this style, instead of the octagonal form being left as such, there are always four external pillars at the angles, so that the square shape is retained, with twelve pillars, of which the eight internal pillars may be taken as mere insertions to support the long architrave between the four angular pillars.

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Diagrams of Roofing.


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115. Diagram of Roofing.

It is evident that here again we come to a limit beyond which we cannot progress without using large and long stones. This was sometimes met by cutting off the angles of the octagon, and making the lower course of sixteen sides. When this has been done an awkwardness arises in getting back to the square form. This was escaped{215} from, in all the instances I am acquainted with, by adopting circular courses for all above that with sixteen sides. In many instances the lower course with sixteen sides is altogether omitted, and the circles placed immediately on the octagon, as in the temple at Vimala Sah (Woodcut No. 130, p. 236). It is difficult to say how far this system might be carried constructively without danger of weakness. The Indian domes seldom exceed 30 ft. in diameter, but this may have arisen more from the difficulty of getting architraves above 12 ft. or 13 ft. in length to support the sides, than from any inability to construct domes of larger diameter in themselves. This last difficulty was to some extent got over by a system of bracketing, by which more than half the bearing of the architrave was thrown on the capital of the column, as shown in Woodcut No. 116. Of course this method might have been carried to any extent, so that a very short architrave would suffice for a large dome; but whether this could be done with elegance is another matter. The Indians seem to have thought not; at least, so far as I know, they never carried it to any extent. Instead of bracketing, however, they sometimes used struts, as shown in Woodcut No. 116, but it is questionable whether that could ever be made a really serviceable constructive expedient in stone architecture.

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116. Diagram of Indian construction.

B. Form of bracket capital in the angle of an octagonal dome.

The great advantage to be derived from the mode of constructing domes just described was the power it gave of placing them on pillars without having anything to fear from the lateral thrust of the vault. The Romans never even attempted this, but always, so to speak, brought their vaults down to the ground, or at least could only erect them on great cylinders, which confined the space on every side. The{216} Byzantine architects, as we have seen, cut away a great deal of the substructure, but nevertheless could never get rid of the great heavy piers they were forced to employ to support their domes, and in all ages were forced to use either heavy abutments externally, or to crowd their interiors with masses of masonry, so as in a great measure to sacrifice either the external effect or the internal convenience of their buildings to the constructive exigencies of their domes. This in India never was the case; all the pressure was vertical, and to ensure stability it only required sufficient strength in the support to bear the downward pressure of the mass—an advantage the importance of which is not easily over-estimated.

One of the consequences of this mode of construction was, that all the decoration of the Indian domes was horizontal, or, in other words, the ornaments were ranged in concentric rings, one above the other, instead of being disposed in vertical ribs, as in Roman or Gothic vaults. This arrangement allows of far more variety without any offence to good taste, and practically has rendered some of the Indian domes the most exquisite specimens of elaborate roofing that can anywhere be seen. Another consequence of this mode of construction was the employment of pendants from the centres of the domes, which are used to an extent that would have surprised even the Tudor architects of our own country. With them, however, the pendant was an architectural tour de force, requiring great constructive ingenuity and large masses to counterbalance it, and is always tending to destroy the building it ornaments; while the Indian pendant, on the contrary, only adds its own weight to that of the dome, and has no other prejudicial tendency. Its forms, too, generally have a lightness and elegance never even imagined in Gothic art; it hangs from the centre of a dome more like a lustre of crystal drops than a solid mass of marble or of stone.

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117. Diagram of the arrangement of the pillars of a Jaina Dome.

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118. Diagram Plan of Jaina Porch.

As before remarked, the eight pillars that support the dome are almost never left by themselves, the base being made square by the addition of four others at the angles. There are many small buildings so constructed with only twelve pillars, as shown in the annexed diagram (No. 117), but two more are oftener added on each face, making twenty altogether, as shown on the upper side of the annexed diagram (No. 118); or four on each face, making twenty-eight; or again, two in front of these four, or six on each{217} face, so as to make thirty-six; and the same system of aggregation is carried on till the number of pillars reaches fifty-six (Woodcut No. 119), which is the largest number I ever saw surrounding one dome; but any number of these domes may surround one temple, or central dome, and the number consequently be multiplied ad infinitum. When so great a number of pillars is introduced as in the last instance, it is usual to make the outmost compartment on each face square, and surmount it with a smaller dome. This is occasionally though rarely done even with the smallest number.

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119. Diagram of Jaina Porch.

The first result of this arrangement is, that the Hindus obtained singularly varied outline in plan, producing the happiest effects of light and shade with every change in the sun’s position. Another result was, that by the accentuation of the salient and re-entering angles, they produced those strongly-marked vertical lines which give such an appearance of height to Gothic designs. To accomplish this, however, the Western architects were obliged to employ buttresses, pinnacles, and other constructive expedients. The Hindus obtained it by a new disposition of the plan without anywhere interrupting the composition. This form of outline also expresses the internal arrangements of the porch better than could be done by the simpler outline of either a square or circle, such as is usually employed in Europe. Its greatest merit, however, is, that the length of the greater aisles is exactly proportioned to their relative width as compared with that of the subordinate aisles. The entrance being in the angle, the great aisle forms the diagonal, and is consequently in the ratio of 10 to 7, as compared to what it would be if the entrance were in the centre of the side, where we usually place it. From the introduction of the octagonal dome in the centre the same proportion (correctly 707 to 1000) prevails between the central and side aisles, and this again is perhaps the most pleasing that has yet been introduced anywhere. In Gothic churches the principal aisles are generally twice as wide as the side ones, but they are also twice as high, which restores the proportion. Here, where the height of all is the same, or nearly so, this gradation just suffices to give variety, and to mark the relative importance of the parts, without the one overpowering the other: and neither has the appearance of being too broad nor too narrow.{218}

It is, of course, difficult for those who have never seen a building of the class just described to judge of the effect of these arrangements; and they have seldom been practised in Europe. There is, however, one building in which they have accidentally been employed to a considerable extent, and which owes its whole beauty to the manner in which it follows the arrangement above described. That building is Sir Christopher Wren’s church of St. Stephen’s, Walbrook. Internally its principal feature is a dome supported on eight pillars, with four more in the angles, and two principal aisles crossing the building at right angles, with smaller square compartments on each side. This church is the great architect’s masterpiece, but it would have been greatly improved had its resemblance to a Hindu porch been more complete. The necessity of confining the dome and aisles within four walls greatly injures the effect as compared with the Indian examples. Even the Indian plan of roofing, explained above, might be used in such a building with much less expense and less constructive danger than a Gothic vault of the same extent.


Up to the present time only one temple has been discovered in India which gives us even a hint of how the plans of the Buddhist Chaitya Halls became converted into those of the Jaina and Hindu temples. Fortunately, however, its evidence is so distinct that there can be very little doubt about the matter. The temple in question is situated in the village of Aiwulli, in Dharwar, in western India, not far from the place where the original capital of the Chalukyan sovereigns is supposed to have been situated, and near the caves of Badami on the one hand and the temples of Pittadkul on the other. Its date is ascertained by an inscription on its outer gateway, containing the name of Vicramaditya Chalukya, whom we know from inscriptions certainly died in A.D. 680, and with less certainty that he commenced to reign A.D. 650.[255] The temple itself may possibly be a little older, but the latter may fairly be taken as a medium date representing its age. It is thus not only the oldest structural temple known to exist in western India, but in fact the only one yet discovered that can with certainty be said to have been erected before the great cataclysm of the beginning of the 8th century.

Mr. Burgess is of opinion that it was originally dedicated to Vishnu,[256] but this does not seem quite clear. There certainly are Jaina figures among those that once adorned it;[257] and it seems to be{219} a fact that though the Jains admitted Siva, Vishnu, and all the gods of the Hindu Pantheon into their temples, there is no evidence of the reverse process. The Hindus never admitted the human Tirthankars of the Jains among their gods. Its original dedication is fortunately, however, of very little importance for our present purposes. The religions of the Jains and Vaishnavas, as pointed out above (p. 40), were, in those days and for long afterwards, so similar that it was impossible to distinguish between them.[258] Besides this, the age when this temple was erected was the age of toleration in India. The Chinese traveller Hiouen Thsang has left us a most vivid description of a great quinquennial festival, at which he was present at Allahabad in A.D. 643, at which the great King Siladitya presided, and distributed alms and honours, on alternate days, to Buddhists, Brahmans, and heretics of all classes, who were assembled there in tens of thousands, and seem to have felt no jealousy of each other, or rivalry that led, at least, to any disturbance.[259] It was on the eve of a disruption that led to the most violent contests, but up to that time we have no trace of dissension among the sects, nor any reason to believe that they did not all use similar edifices for their religious purposes, with only such slight modifications as their different formulæ may have required (Woodcut No. 120).

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120. Old Temple at Aiwulli. (From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

Be this as it may, any one who will compare the plan of the chaitya at Sanchi (Woodcut No. 40), which is certainly Buddhist, with that of this temple at Aiwulli, which is either Jaina or Vaishnava, can hardly fail to perceive how nearly identical they must have been when complete. In both instances, it will be observed, the apse is solid, and it appears that this always was the case in structural free-standing chaityas. At least, in all the rock-cut examples, so far as is known, the pillars round the apse are different from those that separate the nave from the aisles; they never have capitals or bases, and are mere plain makeshifts. From the nature of their situation in the rock, light could not be admitted to the aisle behind the apse from the outside, but must be borrowed from the front, and a solid apse was consequently inadmissible; but in free-standing examples, as at Aiwulli, it was easy to introduce windows there or anywhere. Another change was necessary when, from an apse sheltering a relic-shrine, it became a cell containing an image of a god; a door was then indispensable, and also a thickening of the wall when it was necessary{220} it should bear a tower or sikra to mark the position of the cella on the outside. Omitting the verandah, the other changes introduced between the erection of these two examples are only such as were required to adapt the points of support in the temple to carry a heavy stone roof, instead of the light wooden superstructure of the Buddhist chaitya. (Woodcut No. 121.)

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121. Temple at Aiwulli. (From a Photograph.)

It may be a question, and one not easy to settle in the present state of our knowledge, whether the Buddhist chaityas had or had not verandahs, like the Aiwulli example. The rock-cut examples naturally give us no information on this subject, but the presumption certainly is, looking at their extreme appropriateness in that climate, that they had this appendage, sometimes at least, if not always.{221}

If from this temple at Aiwulli we pass to the neighbouring one at Pittadkul, built probably a couple of centuries later, we find that we have passed the boundary line that separates the ancient from the mediæval architecture of India, in so far at least as plans are concerned (Woodcut No. 122). The circular forms of the Buddhists have entirely disappeared, and the cell has become the base of a square tower, as it remained ever afterwards. The nave of the chaitya has become a well defined mantapa or porch in front of, but distinct from, the cell, and these two features in an infinite variety of forms, and with various subordinate adjuncts, are the essential elements of the plans of the Jaina and Hindu temples of all the subsequent ages.

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122. Plan of Temple at Pittadkul. (From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The procession-path round the cell—called Pradakshina—as that round the apse, remained for some centuries as a common but not a universal feature. The verandah disappeared. Round a windowless cell it was useless, and the pillared porches contained in themselves all the elements of shelter or of shadow that were required.


There is one other peculiarity common to both Jaina and Hindu architecture in the north of India that requires notice, before proceeding to describe particular examples. It is the form of the towers or spires called Sikras, or Vimanas, which invariably surmount the cells in which the images are placed. It is probably correct to assert that the images of the Tirthankars or of the Hindu deities are invariably placed in square, generally cubical cells, of no great dimension, and that these cells receive their light from the doorway only. It seems also an invariable rule that the presence and position of the cell should be indicated externally by a tower or spire, and that these towers, though square or nearly so in plan, should have a curvilinear outline in elevation. If the tower at Buddh Gaya (ante, p. 70) retains unaltered the original form given to it when erected in the 5th or 6th century, this dictum would not apply to Buddhist architecture. As it is, however, the only Buddhist sikra yet discovered it is hardly fair to draw any decided inference from one single example, while with Jaina or Hindu towers I know of no exception. Take for instance the tower represented in the following woodcut (No. 123), which purports to be an elevation of the celebrated Black Pagoda at Kanaruc in Orissa, and may be looked upon as a typical example of the style, and of which it may be considered as a fair medium{222} example. The upper part of the tower, to some extent, overhangs its base. It bends inward towards the summit, and is surmounted by what is called an Amalaka from its supposed resemblance to a fruit of the name—Phyllanthus emblica. This, however, is certainly a mistake. Had it been said it was copied from a melon or any large gourd that was divided into pips externally—if there are any such—there are some early examples that might seem to countenance such an idea; but the Phyllanthus is so insignificant a berry that it could hardly ever have been adopted as an architectural model. Besides this its peculiar nicked form occurs frequently in old examples as a sort of blocking course dividing the sikras horizontally into numerous small compartments, and it seems as if what is used there in a straight-lined form, was employed as a circular ornament at the summit. It is a very beautiful architectural device, and was, as far as I can see, adopted only because it was so, and contrasted brilliantly with the flat ornaments with which it was employed. At present we do not seem to be in a position to explain its origin, or that of a great many other details that are frequently met with in Hindu architecture.

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123. Restored Elevation of the Black Pagoda at Ranaruc.
(From a Drawing by the Author.) No scale.


Whatever its origin, this amalaka is generally surmounted by a flat dome of reverse curvature, in the centre of which stands the kullus, or pinnacle, in the form of a vase, generally of very beautiful and graceful design.

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124. Diagram Plan and Section of the Black Pagoda at Kanaruc, designed to explain the construction of Hindu Temples.

The great and at first sight puzzling question is, from what original is this curious combination of forms derived? It is like nothing found anywhere out of India, and like no utilitarian form in India that we now know of. It cannot be derived from the dome-like forms of the topes. They are circular both in plan and elevation. The sikras are straight-lined in plan, and their section is never a segment of a circle; it is not{224} derived from any many-storeyed buildings, as the sikras or vimanas of the Dravidian architecture of the south of India, which seem certainly to have been copied from the many-storeyed viharas of the Buddhists, and we cannot fancy any class of domestic building which could have formed a model out of which they could have been elaborated. One curious thing we do know, which is that all the ancients roofs in India, whether represented in the bas-reliefs or copied in the caves, were invariably curvilinear—generally circular or rather ogee—having a ridge added externally to throw off the rain from that weakest part; but nothing on any bas-relief or painting gives us a hint of any building like these sikras.

Another curious and perplexing circumstance regarding the sikras is that when we first meet them, at Bhuvaneswar for instance, or the Bay of Bengal, or at Pittadkul in the 7th century, on the west coast of India, the style is complete and settled in all its parts. There was no hesitation then, nor has there been any since. During the twelve or thirteen centuries that have elapsed since the erection of these earliest known examples, they have gone on becoming more and more attenuated, till they are almost as pointed as Gothic spires, and their degree of attenuation is no bad test of their age; but they never changed in any essential feature of the design. All the parts found in the oldest examples are retained in the most recent, and are easily recognisable in the buildings of the present century.

The one hypothesis that occurs to me as sufficient to account for this peculiarity is to assume that it was a constructive necessity. If we take for instance an assumed section of the diagram (Woodcut No. 124, p. 223), it will be seen how easily a very tall pointed horizontal arch, like that of the Treasury at Mycenæ (Woodcut No. 122, vol. i.), would fit its external form. In that case we might assume that the tower at Buddh Gaya took a straight-lined form like that represented in Woodcuts Nos. 128, 129, vol. i., while the Hindus took the more graceful curvilinear shape, which certainly was more common in remote classical antiquity,[260] and as it is found in Assyria may have reached India at a remote period.

This hypothesis does not account for the change from the square to the circular form in the upper part, nor for its peculiar ornamentation; but that may be owing to our having none of the earlier examples. When we first meet with the form, either in Dharwar or Orissa, it is complete in all its parts, and had evidently{225} reached that state of perfection through long stages of tentative experience. The discovery of some earlier examples than we now know may one day tell us by what steps that degree of perfection was reached, but in the meanwhile I fear we must rest content with the theory just explained, which, on the whole, may be considered sufficient for present purposes at least.[261]{226}




Palitana—Girnar—Mount Abu—Parisnath—Gualior—Khajurâho.


The grouping together of their temples into what may be called “Cities of Temples” is a peculiarity which the Jains practised to a greater extent than the followers of any other religion in India. The Buddhists grouped their stupas and viharas near and around sacred spots, as at Sanchi, Manikyala, or in Peshawur, and elsewhere; but they were scattered, and each was supposed to have a special meaning, or to mark some sacred spot. The Hindus also grouped their temples, as at Bhuvaneswar or Benares, in great numbers together; but in all cases, so far as we know, because these were the centres of a population who believed in the gods to whom the temples were dedicated, and wanted them for the purposes of their worship. Neither of these religions, however, possess such a group of temples, for instance, as that at Sutrunjya, or Palitana, as it is usually called, in Gujerat, about thirty miles from Gogo, on its eastern coast (Woodcut No. 125). No survey has yet been made of it, nor have its temples been counted; but it covers a very large space of ground, and its shrines are scattered by hundreds over the summits of two extensive hills and in the valley between them. The larger ones are situated in tûks, or separate enclosures, surrounded by high fortified walls; the smaller ones line the silent streets. A few yatis, or priests, sleep in the temples and perform the daily services, and a few attendants are constantly there to keep the place clean, which they do with the most assiduous attention, or to feed the sacred pigeons, which are the sole denizens of the spot; but there are no human habitations, properly so called, within the walls. The pilgrim or the stranger ascends in the morning, and returns when he has performed his devotions or satisfied his curiosity. He must not eat, or at least must not cook his food, on the sacred hill, and he must not sleep there. It is a city of the gods, and meant for them only, and not intended for the use of mortals.

Jaina temples and shrines are, of course, to be found in cities, and{227}

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125. The Sacred Hill of Sutrunjya, near Palitana.

where there are a sufficient number of votaries to support a temple, as in other religions; but, beyond this, the Jains seem, almost more than any sect, to have realised the idea that to build a temple, and to place an image in it, was in itself a highly meritorious act, wholly irrespective of its use to any of their co-religionists. Building a temple is with them a prayer in stone, which they conceive to be{228} eminently acceptable to the deity and likely to secure them benefits both here and hereafter.

It is in consequence of the Jains believing to a greater extent than the other Indian sects in the efficacy of temple-building as a means of salvation, that their architectural performances bear so much larger a proportion to their numbers than those of other religions. It may also be owing to the fact that nine out of ten, or ninety-nine in a hundred, of the Jaina temples are the gifts of single wealthy individuals of the middle classes, that these buildings generally are small and deficient in that grandeur of proportion that marks the buildings undertaken by royal command or belonging to important organised communities. It may, however, be also owing to this that their buildings are more elaborately finished than those of more national importance. When a wealthy individual of the class who build these temples desires to spend his money on such an object, he is much more likely to feel pleasure in elaborate detail and exquisite finish than on great purity or grandeur of conception.

All these peculiarities are found in a more marked degree at Palitana than at almost any other known place, and, fortunately for the student of the style, extending through all the ages during which it flourished. Some of the temples are as old as the 11th century, and they are spread pretty evenly over all the intervening period down to the present century. But the largest number and some of the most important are now erecting or were erected in the present century or in the memory of living men. Fortunately, too, these modern examples by no means disgrace the age in which they are built. Their sculptures are inferior, and some of their details are deficient in meaning and expression; but, on the whole, they are equal, or nearly so, to the average examples of earlier ages. It is this that makes Palitana one of the most interesting places that can be named for the philosophical student of architectural art, inasmuch as he can there see the various processes by which cathedrals were produced in the Middle Ages, carried on on a larger scale than almost anywhere else, and in a more natural manner. It is by watching the methods still followed in designing buildings in that remote locality that we become aware how it is that the uncultivated Hindu can rise in architecture to a degree of originality and perfection which has not been attained in Europe since the Middle Ages, but which might easily be recovered by following the same processes.


The hill of Girnar, on the south coast of Gujerat, not far from Puttun Somnath, is another shrine of the Jains, as sacred, but some{229}how not so fashionable in modern times as that at Palitana. It wants, consequently, that bewildering magnificence arising from the number and variety of buildings of all ages that crowd that temple city. Besides this, the temples themselves at Girnar lose much of their apparent size from being perched on the side of a hill rising 3500 ft. above the level of the sea, composed of granite rocks strewn about in most picturesque confusion.

Although we have no Girnar Mahatmya to retail fables and falsify dates, as is done at Sutrunjya, we have at Girnar inscriptions which prove that in ancient times it must have been a place of great importance. On a rock outside the town at its foot, called par excellence Junaghar—the Old Fort—Asoka, B.C. 250, carved a copy of his celebrated edicts.[262] On the same rock, in A.D. 151, Rudra Dama, the Sah king of Saurastra, carved an inscription, in which he boasted of his victories over the Sat Karni, king of the Dekhan, and recorded his having repaired the bridge built by the Maurya Asoka.[263] The embankment of the Sudarsana lake again burst and carried away this bridge, but was again repaired by Skanda, the last of the great Guptas, in the year A.D. 457,[264] and another inscription on the same rock records this event.

A place where three such kings thought it worth while to record their deeds or proclaim their laws must, one would think, have been an important city or place at that time; but what is so characteristic of India occurs here as elsewhere. No material remains are found to testify to the fact.[265] There are no remains of an ancient city, no temples or ruins that can approach the age of the inscriptions, and but for their existence we should not be aware that the place was known before the 10th century. There are, it is true, some caves in the Uparkot which may be old; but they have not yet been examined by any one capable of discriminating between ancient and modern things, and till so visited their evidence is not available.[266]{230} My impression is that they may belong to the age of the Guptas, which was a great age for excavating caves of this class in India, but we must await further information before deciding.

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126. Temple of Neminatha, Girnar. (From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The principal group of temples at Girnar, some sixteen in number, is situated on a ledge about 600 ft. below the summit, and still consequently nearly 3000 ft. above the level of the sea. The largest, possibly also the oldest of these, is that of Neminatha (Woodcut No. 120). An inscription upon it records that it was repaired in A.D. 1278, and unfortunately a subsequent restorer has laid his heavy hand upon it, so that it is difficult now to realise what its original appearance may have been. This unfortunately is only too often the case with Jaina temples. If a Hindu temple or Mahomedan mosque is once deserted and goes to decay, no one ever after repairs it, but its materials are ruthlessly employed to build a new temple or mosque according to the newest fashion of the day. With the Jains it is otherwise. If a man{231} is not rich enough to build a new fane, he may at least be able to restore an old one, and the act with them seems equally meritorious, as it usually is considered to be with us; but the way they set about it generally consists in covering up the whole of the outside with a thick coating of chunam, filling up and hiding all the details, and leaving only the outline. The interior is generally adorned with repeated coats of whitewash, as destructive to artistic effect, but not so irreparable.

The plan and the outline are generally, however, left as they were originally erected, and that is the case with the temple of Neminatha. It stands in a courtyard measuring 195 ft. by 130 ft. over all externally. The temple itself has two porches or mantapas, one of which is called by Hindu architects the Maha Mantapa, the other the Ard’ha Mantapa,[267] though it is not quite clear to which of the two the term Maha, or great, should be applied in this instance; I would say the inner, though that is certainly not the sense in which the term is usually understood.

Around the courtyard are arranged seventy cells with a covered and enclosed passage in front of them, and each of these contains a cross-legged seated figure of the Tirthankar to whom the temple is dedicated, and generally with a bas-relief or picture representing some act in his life. But for the fall of the rock there would have been nine or ten more cells, and indeed this repetition of the images of the saint, like the multiplication of temples, seems to have been the great aim of the Jaina architects. As we shall presently see in a Jaina temple at Brambanam in Java, there were 236 small temples or cells surrounding the great one, and there, as here, each of them was intended to contain a similar image of one of the Tirthankars.

Immediately behind the temple of Neminatha is a triple one erected by the brothers Tejpala and Vastupala, who also erected one of the principal temples in Abu. From inscriptions upon its walls it seems to have been erected in A.D. 1177. The plan is that of three temples joined together, an arrangement not unfrequently found in the south, but rare in the north, which is to be regretted, as it is capable of great variety of effect, and of light and shade to a greater extent than plainer forms. In this instance there is an image of Mallinatha, the 19th Tirthankar, in the central cell, but the lateral ones each contain a remarkable solid pile of masonry called a Samosan, that on the north side named Mera or Sumera—a fabled mountain of the Jains and Hindus—having a square base (Woodcut No. 127); that on the south, called Samet Sikhara—Parisnath, in Bengal—with a nearly circular base. Each rises in four tiers of diminishing width, nearly to{232} the roof, and is surmounted by a small square canopy over the images.[268] From this it would appear that with the Jains, the Mounts Girnar, Sutrunjya, Abu, &c., were not only holy places, but holy things, and that with them—as with the Syrians—the worship of high places was really a part of their religion.

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127. Plan of Temple of Tejpala and Vastupala. (From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

Some of the other temples at Girnar are interesting from their history, and remarkable from fragments of an ancient date that have survived the too constant repairs; but without illustrating them it would only be tedious to recapitulate their names, or to attempt to describe by words objects which only the practised eye of the Indian antiquary can appreciate. Not far from the hill, however, on the sea-shore, stands the temple of Somnath, historically perhaps the most celebrated in India, from the campaign which Mahmood of Gazni undertook for its destruction in 1025, and the momentous results that campaign had eventually on the fate of India.

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128. Plan of Temple at Somnath. (From a Plan by Mr. Burgess.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

As will be seen from the annexed plan (Woodcut No. 128) the temple itself never could have been remarkable for its dimensions, probably it never{233} exceeded about 130 ft. over all, but the dome of its porch, which measures 33 ft. across, is as large as any we know of its age. From the accounts, however, which we have of the siege, it is evident that it was enclosed like the temple of Neminatha (Woodcut No. 126) in a courtyard, and that may have been of surpassing magnificence. Though very similar in plan, it is nearly twice the dimensions of that of Neminatha, and if its court was proportionately large, it may really have justified all that has been said regarding its splendour. From what fragments of its sculptured decorations remain, they too must have been of great beauty, quite equal to anything we know of this class, or of their age. It has not yet been determined, however, whether what we now see are fragments of the temple attacked by Mahmood, and consequently whether they belong to the 10th or even the 9th century, or whether they may be due to a repair which was effected in the 12th. As the story is now told, after Mahmood’s departure it was restored by Bhima Deva of Anhilwarra Puttun, who reigned 1021-1073, and adorned by Siddha Raja, 1093-1143, and lastly by Kumara Pala in 1168. Generally it is thought that what we now see belongs to the last-named king. Any one on the spot, thoroughly acquainted with the subject, might discriminate among these and tell us its story. In so far as photographs enable us to judge, it would appear that a considerable portion of what we now see belongs to the original fane, though very much altered and knocked about by subsequent restorers.

Another point of dispute is the name of the god to whom the temple was dedicated when the Moslem marched against it. From the name Someswara, it is generally assumed to have been Siva. If, however, that had been the case, the image in the sanctuary would almost certainly have been a lingam. The Mahomedan historians, however, represent it distinctly as having a head with eyes, arms, and a belly.[269] In that case it must either have been Vishnu or one of the Tirthankars. I can find no trace of Vishnuism in Gujerat at this period, but what seems to me to settle the case is, that all the kings above mentioned, who took part in the repairs after the departure of Mahmood, were undoubtedly Jains, and they would hardly have repaired or rebuilt a temple belonging to another sect.{234}

Mount Abu.

It is hardly to be wondered at that Mount Abu was early fixed upon by the Hindus and Jains as one of their sacred spots. Rising from the desert as abruptly as an island from the ocean, it presents on almost every side inaccessible scarps 5000 ft. or 6000 ft. high, and the summit can only be approached by ravines cut into its sides. When the summit is reached, it opens out into one of the loveliest valleys imaginable, six or seven miles long by two or three miles in width, cut up everywhere by granite rocks of the most fantastic shapes, and the spaces between them covered with trees and luxuriant vegetation. The little Nucki Talao, or Pearl Lake, is one of the loveliest gems of its class in all India, and it is near to it, at Dilwarra, that the Jains selected a site for their Tirth, or sacred place of rendezvous. It cannot, however, be said that it has been a favourite place of worship in modern times. Its distance and inaccessibility are probably the causes of this, and it consequently cannot rival either Palitana or Girnar in the extent of its buildings; but during the age of Jaina supremacy it was adorned with several temples, two of which are unrivalled for certain qualities by any temples in India. They are built wholly of white marble, though no quarries of that material are known to exist within 300 miles of the spot, and to transport and carry it up the hill to the site of these temples must have added immensely to the expense of the undertaking.

The more modern of the two was built by the same brothers, Tejpala and Vastupala, who erected the triple temple at Girnar (Woodcut No. 127). This one, we learn from inscriptions, was erected between the years 1197 and 1247, and for minute delicacy of carving and beauty of detail stands almost unrivalled even in the land of patient and lavish labour.[270]

The other, built by another merchant prince, Vimala Sah, apparently about the year A.D. 1032,[271] is simpler and bolder, though still as elaborate as good taste would allow in any purely architectural object. Being one of the oldest as well as one of the most complete examples known of a Jaina temple, its peculiarities form a convenient introduction to the style, and among other things serve to illustrate how complete and perfect it had already become when we first meet with it in India.{235}

The annexed plan (Woodcut No. 129) will suffice to explain the general arrangements of the temple of Vimala Sah, which, as will be observed, are similar to some we have already met, though of course varying considerably in extent and detail.

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129. Temple of Vimala Sah, Mount Abu. (From a Plan by the Author.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The principal object here, as elsewhere, is a cell lighted only from the door, containing a cross-legged seated figure of the saint to whom the temple is dedicated, in this instance Parswanatha. The cell, as in all other examples, terminates upwards in a sikra, or pyramidal spire-like roof, which is common to all Hindu and Jaina temples[272] of the age in the north of India. To this, as in almost all instances, is attached a portico, generally of considerable extent, and in most examples surmounted by a dome resting on eight pillars, which forms indeed the distinguishing characteristic of the style, as well as its most beautiful feature. In this example the portico is composed of forty-eight free-standing pillars, which is by no means an unusual number; and the whole is enclosed in an oblong courtyard, about 140 ft. by 90 ft., surrounded by a double colonnade of smaller pillars, forming porticos to a range of cells, fifty-five in number, which enclose it on all sides, exactly as they do in Buddhist viharas. In this case, however, each cell, instead of being the residence of a monk, is occupied by one of those cross-legged images which belong alike to Buddhism and Jainism, and between which so many find it difficult to distinguish. Here they are, according to the Jaina practice, all repetitions of the same image of Parswanatha, and over the door of each cell, or on its jambs, are sculptured scenes from his life.

In other religions there may be a great number of separate similar{236} chapels attached to one building, but in no other would fifty-five be found, as in this example, or the seventy that surround the temple of Neminatha at Girnar (Woodcut No. 126), each containing an image of the same saint, and all so identical as to be undistinguishable. With the Jains it seems to be thought the most important point that the deity or saint is honoured by the number of his images, and that each image should be provided with a separate abode. In other examples, however, it is only a separate niche. On some Jaina monuments the image of the Tirthankar is repeated hundreds, it may almost be said a thousand times over, all the images identical, and the niches arranged in rows beside and above each other, like pigeon-holes in a dovecote.

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130. Temple of Vimala Sah, Mount Abu. (From a Sketch by the Author.)


Externally the temple is perfectly plain, and there is nothing to indicate the magnificence within, except the spire of the cell peeping over the plain wall, though even this is the most insignificant part of the erection.

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131. Pendant in Dome of Vimala Sah Temple at Abu. (From a Photograph.)

The woodcut (No. 130) will give some idea of the arrangement of the porch, but it would require a far more extensive and elaborate drawing to convey a correct impression of its extreme beauty of detail and diversity of design. The great pillars, as will be seen, are of the same height as those of the smaller external porticos; and like them they finish with the usual bracket-capital of the East; upon this an upper dwarf column or attic, if it may be so called, is placed to give them additional height, and on these upper columns rest the great beams or architraves which support the dome; as, however, the bearing is long, at least in appearance, the weight is relieved by the curious angular strut or truss of white marble, mentioned above (p. 215), which, springing from the lower capital, seems to support the middle of the beam.

That this last feature is derived from some wooden or carpentry{238} original, can, I think, scarcely be doubted; but in what manner it was first introduced into masonry construction is unknown; probably it might easily be discovered by a more careful examination of the buildings in this neighbourhood. It continues as an architectural feature down almost to the present day, but gradually becoming more and more attenuated, till at last, except in one example at Delhi, to be mentioned hereafter, it loses all its constructive significance as a supporting member, and dwindles into a mere ornament.

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132. Pillars at Chandrávati. (From Tod’s ‘Western India.’)

On the octagon so formed rests the dome, the springing of which is shown in Woodcut No. 130 (p. 236). In this instance a single block in the angles of the octagon suffices to introduce the circle. Above the second row of ornaments sixteen pedestals are introduced supporting statues, and in the centre is a pendant of the most exquisite beauty; the whole is in white marble, and finished with a delicacy of detail and appropriateness of ornament which is probably unsurpassed by any similar example to be found anywhere else. Those introduced by the Gothic architects in Henry VII.’s chapel at{239} Westminster, or at Oxford, are coarse and clumsy in comparison. It is difficult, by any means of illustration, to convey a correct idea of the extreme beauty and delicacy of these pendant ornaments, but the woodcut on page 237 (No. 131) from a photograph will explain their form, even if it cannot reflect their beauty.

As before hinted, there never seems to have been any important town on Mount Abu. It was too inaccessible for that purpose; but a few miles to the southward on the plain are the remains of an extensive city, called Chandrávati, where there are extensive remains of Jaina temples of the same age and style as those on the mount, some of them probably more modern, but still all of the best age. The place, however, was destroyed at the time of the Mahomedan conquest in the middle of the 14th century, and has since remained wholly deserted. It has in consequence been used as a quarry by the neighbouring towns and villages, so that few of its buildings remain in a perfect state. The fragment, however, shown in Woodcut No. 132, may serve to illustrate the style in which they were erected, but as no two pillars are exactly alike, it would require hundreds to represent their infinite variety of detail.


The highest point of the Bengal range of hills, south of Rajmahal, has characteristically been appropriated by the Jains as one of their most favourite Tirths. Its original name apparently was Mount Síkhar, and no less than nineteen of their twenty-four Tirthankars are said to have died and been buried there, among others Parswanatha, the last but one, and he consequently gave the hill the name it now bears.

Unfortunately, no photographer has yet visited the hill, nor any one who was able to discriminate between what was new and what old. Such accounts, however, as we have are by no means encouraging, and do not lead us to expect any very remarkable architectural remains. The temples on the hill are numerous, but they seem all modern, or at least to have been so completely repaired in modern times that their more ancient features cannot now be discerned. Something may also be due to the fact that, since the revival of that religion, Bengal has never been essentially a Jaina country. The Pala dynasty of Bengal seem to have remained Buddhist nearly to the Mahomedan conquest (A.D. 1203), when they seem suddenly to have dropped that religion and plunged headlong into the Vaishnava and Saiva superstitions. Whether from this, or from some other cause we cannot now explain, Jainism never seems to have taken root in Bengal. At the time that it, with Buddhism, took its rise in the 6th century B.C., Behar was the intellectual{240} and the political centre of India, and Buddhism long held its sway in the country of its birth. Before, however, Jainism became politically important, the centre of power had gravitated towards the West, and Jainism never seems to have attained importance in the country where it first appeared. Were it not for this, there seems little doubt but that Parisnath would have been more important in their eyes than Palitana or Girnar; but it is not so, and it consequently occupies only a very slight corner in an architectural history of India.

Besides the effect the Jains sought to obtain by grouping their temples on hill-tops, the love of the picturesque, which they seem to have cultivated more than any other sect in India, led them to seek it in an exactly opposite direction. Some of their favourite Tirths are found in deep and secluded valleys. One at Muktagiri, for instance, near Gawelghur, is situated in a deep well-wooded valley, traversed by a stream that breaks in its course into numerous picturesque waterfalls.

Another example of this love of the picturesque is found at Sadri. In a remote valley piercing the western flank of the Aravulli, there is a group of temples, neither so numerous nor perhaps so picturesquely situated as those at Muktagiri, but of more interest architecturally, and situated in a spot evidently selected for its natural beauties.

The principal temple here was erected by Khumbo Rana of Oudeypore. He seems to have been a zealous promoter of the Jaina religion, and during his long and prosperous reign filled his country with beautiful buildings, both civil and ecclesiastical. Amongst others, he built this temple of Sadri, situated in a lonely and deserted glen, running into the western slope of the Aravulli, below his favourite fort of Komulmeer. Notwithstanding long neglect, it is still nearly perfect, and is the most complicated and extensive Jaina temple I have myself ever had an opportunity of inspecting.

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133. Plan of Temple at Sadri.
(From a Plan by the Author.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

From the plan (Woodcut No. 133) it will be perceived that it is{241} nearly a square, 200 ft. by 225 ft., exclusive of the projections on each face. In the centre stands the great shrine, not, however, occupied, as usual, by one cell, but by four; or rather four great niches, in each of which is placed a statue of Adinatha, or Rishabdeva, the first and greatest of the Jaina saints. Above this are four other niches, similarly occupied, opening on the terraced roofs of the building. Near the four angles of the court are four smaller shrines, and around them, or on each side of them, are twenty domes, supported by about 420 columns; four of these domes—the central ones of each group—are three storeys in height, and tower over the others; and one—that facing the principal entrance—is supported by the very unusual number of sixteen columns, and is 36 ft. in diameter, the others being only 24 ft. Light is admitted to the building by four uncovered courts, and the whole is surrounded by a range of cells, many of them now unoccupied, each of which has a pyramidal roof of its own.

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134. View in the Temple at Sadri. (From a sketch by the Author.)

The internal effect of this forest of columns may be gathered from the view (Woodcut No. 134) taken across one of its courts; but it is impossible that any view can reproduce the endless variety of perspective and the play of light and shade which results from the disposition of the pillars, and of the domes, and from the mode in which the light{242} is introduced. A wonderful effect also results from the number of cells, most of them containing images of the Tirthankar, which everywhere meet the view. Besides the twelve in the central sikras there are eighty-six cells of very varied form and size surrounding the interior, and all their façades more or less adorned with sculpture.

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135. External View of the Temple at Sadri.

The general external effect of the Sadri Temple may be judged of by Woodcut No. 135; owing to its lofty basement, and the greater elevation of the principal domes, it gives a more favourable impression of a Jaina temple than is usually the case—the greatest defect of these buildings as architectural designs being the want of ornament on their exterior faces; this, however, is more generally the case in the older than in the more modern temples.

The immense number of parts in the building, and their general smallness, prevents its laying claim to anything like architectural grandeur; but their variety, their beauty of detail—no two pillars in the whole building being exactly alike—the grace with which they are arranged, the tasteful admixture of domes of different heights with flat ceilings, and the mode in which the light is introduced, combine to produce an excellent effect. Indeed, I know of no other building in India, of the same class, that leaves so pleasing an impression, or affords so many hints for the graceful arrangement of columns in an interior.

Besides its merits of design, its dimensions are by no means to be despised; it covers altogether about 48,000 sq. ft., or nearly as much as one of our ordinary mediæval cathedrals, and, taking the basement into account, is nearly of equal bulk; while in amount of labour and of sculptural decorations it far surpasses any.{243}


The rock at Gualior is, and must always have been, one of the most remarkable high places in Central India, and seems, as such, early to have been appropriated by the Jains. Its position and its scarps, however, led to its being fortified, and, as one of the strongest places in India, it was attacked and taken by storm by Altumsh, the first Moslem emperor of Delhi, in A.D. 1232; and from that time till the fall of the Mogul empire it was held by the Mahomedans, or by Hindu kings subject to their suzerainty. Under these circumstances, we should hardly expect to find any extensive ancient Hindu remains in the place. There are, however, two very remarkable temples: one, known as the Sas Bahu, is generally understood to be a Jaina erection, and seems to be so designated and dedicated to Padmanatha, the sixth Tirthankar. General Cunningham doubts this adscription,[273] in consequence of the walls being adorned with bas-reliefs, belonging certainly to the Vaishnava and Saiva sects. As in the case of the Aiwulli temple, it is extremely difficult sometimes to say for what sect a temple was originally erected. In the times of which we are now speaking the sects had not become distinct and antagonistic as they afterwards were. The different deities were, like those of the Greeks and Romans, parts of one religion, which all shared in, and the temples were frequently of a most pantheistic character. Be this as it may, this temple was finished apparently in A.D. 1093, and, though dreadfully ruined, is still a most picturesque fragment. What remains is the cruciform porch of a temple which, when complete, measured 100 ft. from front to rear, and 63 ft. across the arms of the porch. Of the sanctuary, with its sikra, nothing is left but the foundation; but the porch which is three storeys in height, is constructively entire, though its details—and principally those of its roof—are very much shattered (Woodcut No. 136, next page).

An older Jaina temple is described by General Cunningham, but as it was used as a mosque it is more likely that it is a Mahomedan building entirely, though made up of Jaina details.[274] The most striking part of the Jaina remains at Gualior are a series of caves or rock-cut sculptures that are excavated in the rock on all sides, and amount, when taken together, to hardly less than a hundred, great and small. They are, however, very unlike the chaityas or viharas of the Buddhists, still less do they resemble the Brahmanical caves, to be mentioned hereafter. Most of them are mere niches to contain statues, though some are cells that may have been originally intended{244}

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136. Jaina Temple at Gualior.
(From a Photograph.)

for residences. One curious fact regarding them is, that, according to inscriptions, they were all excavated within the short period of about thirty-three years, between A.D. 1441 and A.D. 1474. Some of the figures are of colossal size: one, for instance, is 57 ft. high, which is{245} greater than any other in the north of India, though in the south there are several which equal or surpass it, and, as free-standing figures are more expressive and more difficult to execute.


The city of Khajurâho, the ancient capital of the Chandels, is situated about 125 miles W.S.W. from Allahabad, and about 150 miles S.E. from Gualior. It is now a wretched deserted place, but has in and around it a group of some thirty temples, which, so far as is at present known, are the most beautiful in form as well as the most elegant in detail of any of the temples now standing in India.[275]

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137. Temple of Parswanatha at Khajurâho. (From a Photograph.)

So far as can be made out from such inscriptions as exist, as well as from their style, it appears that all these temples, with two unimportant exceptions, were executed simultaneously and within the limits of the 11th century: and, what is also curious, they seem to be, as nearly as possible, equally divided between the three religions. In each group there is one greater than the rest—a cathedral in fact—round which the smaller ones are clustered. In the Saiva group it is the Kandarya Mahadeva, of which a representation will be given further on; in the Vaishnava group it is the Ramachandra; and in the{246} Jaina the Jinanatha: all three so like one another that it requires very great familiarity with the photographs to distinguish the temple of one religion from those of the others. It looks as if all had been built by one prince, and by some arrangement that neither sect should surpass or be jealous of the other. Either from this, or from some cause we do not quite understand, we lose here all the peculiarities we usually assign to Jaina temples of this age. The vimana or sikra is more important than the porch. There are no courtyards with circumambient cells; no prominent domes, nor, in fact, anything that distinguishes Jaina from Hindu architecture. If not under the sway of a single prince, they must have been erected in an age of extreme toleration, and when any rivalry that existed must only have been among the architects in trying who could produce the most beautiful and most exquisitely adorned building.

As an illustration of one of the three great temples will be given further on, a view of one of the smaller Jaina temples, that of Parswanatha (Woodcut No. 137), will suffice to illustrate the style of art here employed. Its porch either never was added or has been removed and replaced in modern times by a brick abomination with pointed arches. This, however, hardly interferes with the temple itself. There is nothing probably in Hindu architecture that surpasses the richness of its three-storeyed base combined with the extreme elegance of outline and delicate detail of the upper part.


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138. Chaonsat Jogini, Khajurâho. (From a Plan by Gen. Cunningham.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

The two exceptional temples above alluded to are, first, one called the Chaonsat Jogini, or sixty-four female demons. It consists merely of a courtyard, measuring 105 ft. by 60 ft. and surrounded by sixty-four small cells each of which is surmounted by a small spire, as shown in the woodcut (No. 138). This is so essentially a Jaina arrangement (see Temple of Neminatha, for instance—Woodcut No. 126), that I have very little doubt this was originally a temple belonging to that religion. The temple itself it is true has gone, but if it was as old{247} as I believe it is,[276] nothing is more probable than that it was of wood, like the old chaityas of the Buddhists, and has perished. If this view is correct it is probably the oldest Jaina temple yet discovered.

The other exceptional building is one of totally different character, and is as remarkable for its extreme elegance, even at Khajurâho, as the other is for its rudeness. It is called Ganthai, either from the bells sculptured on its pillars, or for some other cause unknown. Unfortunately it is only a fragment—a skeleton without flesh—a few pillars of a double portico now standing alone without the walls that once enclosed them (Woodcut No. 139, next page).

From the form of several letters in an inscription, found among these ruins, General Cunningham is inclined to believe that this temple may belong to the sixth or seventh century of our era; which is, as near as may be, the date I would ascribe to it, from the character of its architectural details. But when at the same time from finding a Buddhist statue and a short Buddhist inscription near them (p. 431), he is inclined to assign them to that religion, I beg leave to differ. Till, however, we know more than we now do of what the differences or similarities between the architecture of the Jains and Buddhists were at the age when the temple was erected, it is impossible to argue the question. Almost all we know of Buddhist art at that time being derived from rock-cut examples, we have no pillars so slender as these, but it by no means follows that they may not have existed. They are not known however, while many Jaina examples are known so nearly like these as to establish a strong presumption that they belong to that religion. The plan too of the building, so far as it can be made out, is utterly unlike anything we know that is Buddhist, but very similar to many that certainly are Jaina.[277]

Be this as it may, these pillars are singularly graceful in their form, and elegant in their details, and belong to a style which, if there were more examples of it, I would feel inclined to distinguish as the “Gupta style.” Except, however, some fragments at Erun and these pillars, we have very little we can ascribe with anything like certainty to their age, 400 to 600. It would be most interesting, however, if something more could be discovered, as it is the age when the great Vicramaditya lived, and when Hindu literature reached its highest point of perfection, and one Hindu temple of that age would consequently throw light on many problems. Some Buddhist caves{248}

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139. The Ganthai, Khajurâho. (From a Photograph.)

and these Jaina fragments are all, however, that have yet come to light. There seems, nevertheless, very little doubt that more exist in Rajputana and Central India. At Gyraspore, near Bhilsa, 140 miles south-west from this, there is a group of columns arranged like these,{249}

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140. Temple at Gyraspore. (From a Photograph.)

and like them deprived of their walls (Woodcut No. 140). In the Mokundra pass there is a third example.[278] Was it that their walls were of sun-burnt bricks? or merely of small square stones which, being easily removed, were utilised? My impression is, the latter was the case; but be this as it may, these Gyraspore pillars are undoubtedly the remains of a Jaina edifice, but of an age considerably more modern than the Ganthai. They can hardly under any circumstances be ascribed to an age anterior to the great civil war which commenced A.D. 650; but they are almost certainly anterior to the great revival in the 10th century. In the same town of Gyraspore is a very grand old temple apparently of about the same age as these pillars. Its details at least are old, but it has been so ruined and{250} repaired, and almost rebuilt, that it is extremely difficult to say what the form or purpose of the original erection may have been. There is also a toran of great beauty in the village, probably of the 11th century, and in fact throughout this region there are numberless remains partially made known to us by photography, but which if scientifically examined would probably suffice to fill up some of the largest gaps in our history, and especially in that of Jaina architecture.

At Bhanghur for instance, in the Alwar territory, there are some very beautiful Jaina temples. One in that neighbourhood, photographed by Captain Impey, belongs to the 10th or 11th century, and is as beautiful as any of its class, either at Khajurâho or elsewhere, and near it again is a colossal Jaina image, called Nan Gûngi, some 20 ft. in height, which is apparently of the same age as the temples, and consequently superior to any of the colossi at Gualior or in the south of India.[279] The Jains as a sect are hardly now known in Rajputana, and their temples are consequently neglected and falling into decay; though some of them, being of the best age and unrestored, are of extreme interest to the investigator of Indian art.

Among these, few are more pleasing than the little temple at Amwah, near Ajunta (Woodcut No. 141). It is only a fragment. The sanctuary with its spire are gone, only the portico remaining; and its roof externally is so ruined, that its design can with difficulty be made out. Yet it stands so well on its stylobate, and the thirty-two small columns that support the roof externally are so well proportioned and so artistically arranged, as to leave little to be desired.

The great feature of the interior is a dome 21 ft. in diameter, supported on twelve richly carved pillars, with eight smaller ones interspersed. Like all Indian domes, it is horizontal in construction, and consequently also in ornamentation, but as that is done here, it is as elegant or more so than the ribbed domes of western art. This one is plain in the centre, having no pendant—which, however, is one of the most marked and pleasing features of Jaina domes, as may be gathered from the example in the temple of Vimala Sah at Mount Abu (Woodcut No. 131).

As before mentioned, the Buddhists, though always employing circular roofs, and in all ages building topes with domical forms externally, never seem to have attempted an internal dome, in stone at least. The Hindus occasionally essayed a timid imitation of those of the Jains, but in no instance with much success. It is essentially a feature of Jaina architecture, and almost exclusively so among the{251} northern Indians, though, why this particular sect should have adopted it, and why they, and they only, should have persevered in using it through so long a period, are questions we are not yet in a position to answer. It was an essential feature in the architecture of the Moslems before they came into India, and they consequently eagerly seized on the domes of the Jains when they first arrived there, and afterwards from them worked out that domical style which is one of the most marked characteristics of their art in India.

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141. Porch of Jaina Temple at Amwah, near Ajunta. (From a Photograph by Major Gill.)

One of the most interesting Jaina monuments of the age is the tower of Sri Allat,[280] which still adorns the brow of Chittore (Woodcut No. 142, next page), and is one probably of a great number of similar monuments that may at one time have existed. From their form, however, they are frail, and trees and human violence so easily overthrow them, that we ought not to wonder that so few remain. This one is a singularly elegant specimen of its class, about 80 ft. in height, and adorned with sculpture and mouldings from the base to the summit.[281] An inscription once existed at its base, which gave its date as A.D. 896, and though the slab was detached this is so nearly the date we would arrive at from the style that there seems little doubt that it{252}

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142. Jaina Tower of Sri Allat, Chittore. (From a Photograph.)


was of that age. It was dedicated to Adnath, the first of the Jaina Tirthankars, and his figure is repeated some hundreds of times on the face of the tower, but, so far as I could perceive, not that of any of the other Jaina saints.

The temple in the foreground is of a more modern date, being put together principally of fragments of older buildings which have disappeared.

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143. Tower of Victory erected by Khumbo Rana at Chittore. (From a Photograph.)

Most of the buildings above described belong to the first or great age of Jaina architecture, which extended down to about the year 1300, or perhaps a little after that. There seems then to have been a pause, at least in the north of India, but a revival in the 15th century, especially under the reign of Khumbo, one of the most powerful of the kings of the Mewar dynasty whose favourite capital was Chittore. His reign extended from 1418 to 1468, and it is to him that we owe the other of the two towers that still adorn the brow of Chittore. The older one has just been described and illustrated. This one was erected as a pillar of victory to commemorate his victory over Mahmúd of Malwa, in the year 1439. It is therefore in Indian phraseology a Jaya Stambha, or pillar of victory, like that of Trajan at Rome, but in infinitely better taste as an architectural object than the Roman{254} example, though in sculpture it may be inferior. As will be seen from the last woodcut (No. 143), it is nine storeys in height, each of which is distinctly marked on the exterior. A stair in the centre communicates with each, and leads to the two upper storeys, which are open, and more ornamental than those below. It is 30 ft. wide at the base, and more than 120 ft. in height; the whole being covered with architectural ornaments and sculptures to such an extent as to leave no plain parts, while at the same time this mass of decoration is kept so subdued, that it in no way interferes either with the outline or the general effect of the pillar.[282]

The Mahomedans, as we shall afterwards see, adopted the plan of erecting towers of victory to commemorate their exploits, but the most direct imitation was by the Chinese, whose nine-storeyed pagodas are almost literal copies of these Jaina towers, translated into their own peculiar mode of expression.

Other examples of this middle style of Jaina architecture are to be found at Palitana, Girnar, and all the fashionable tirths of the Jainas, but they have not yet been described or illustrated to that extent that enables us always to feel sure that what we see really belongs to this date, and may not be a repair or a modification of some pre-existing building. The Chaumúk—or Four-faced—at Palitana seems certainly to have been erected in its present form in 1618, and is a very grand and beautiful example of the style.[283] The temple too of Ardishur Bagavan, which is the largest single temple on that hill, seems to have assumed its present form in 1530,[284] though parts of it may be older. At least, it is certain that an older temple stood on the spot, though not with the fabulous antiquity ascribed to it by the priests, and credulously repeated by Colonel Tod.[285]

Though deficient in the extreme grace and elegance that characterised the earlier examples, those of the middle style are bold and vigorous specimens of the art, and still show an originality and an adherence to the traditions of the style, and a freedom from any admixtures of foreign elements, which cannot be predicated of the modern style that succeeded it.{255}




Jaina Temple, Delhi—Jaina Caves—Converted Mosques.

The two places in northern India where the most modern styles of Jaina architecture can probably be studied to most advantage are Sonaghur, near Dutteah, in Bundelcund, and Muktagiri, near Gawelghur, in Berar. The former is a granite hill, covered with large loose masses of primitive rock, among which stand from eighty to one hundred temples of various shapes and sizes (Woodcut No. 144, p. 256). So far as can be made out from photographs or drawings,[286] not one of these temples assumed its present form more than one hundred years ago. Their original foundation may be earlier, but of that we know nothing, no traveller having yet enlightened us on the subject, nor explained how and when this hill became a sacred mount.

Like most Hindu buildings of the period, all these temples show very distinctly the immense influence the Mahomedan style of architecture had on that of the native styles at this age. Almost all the temples here are surmounted by the bulbous dome of the Moguls. The native sikra rarely appears, and the openings almost invariably take the form of the Mahomedan foliated pointed arch. The result is picturesque, but not satisfactory when looked closely into, and generally the details want the purity and elegance that characterised the earlier examples.

Muktagiri, instead of being situated on a hill, as the tirths of the Jains usually are, is in a deep romantic valley, and the largest group of temples are situated on a platform at the foot of a waterfall that thunders down from the height of 60 ft. above them. Like those of Sonaghur, they are all of the modern domed style, copied from Moslem art, and none of them, so far as can be ascertained from such illustrations as exist, remarkable for beauty of design. It {256}would, however, be difficult to find another place in India where

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144. View of Jaina Temples, Sonaghur, in Bundelcund. (From a Photograph.)


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145. View of the Temple of Shet Huttising at Ahmedabad. (From a Photograph by Colonel Biggs.)


architecture is so happily combined with the beauties of nature, and produces so pleasing an impression on the lover of the picturesque, though nearer acquaintance may result in disappointment to the antiquarian student of the style.

In remote parts of the empire, and especially in the immediate vicinity of the older shrines, this Mahomedan influence was much less felt than in the places just mentioned. The modern temples, for instance, at Palitana have domes, it is true, but they are much more directly the lineal descendants of the old Jaina domes than copies of those of the Moguls, and the foliated pointed arch rarely, if ever, occurs in the walls of that old city. It requires, indeed, a practised eye to discriminate between what is old and what is new, and without the too manifest inferiority of modern sculpture this would not always be easy even to the most accomplished antiquary.

One example must for the present suffice to show the effect aimed at by this style in recent times, as well as to illustrate how little it has degenerated from its ancient excellence. For, though this woodcut (No. 145) does not prove it, there are photographs in this country which do exhibit the marvellous details of this temple in a manner not to be mistaken. It was erected about thirty years ago by Huttising, a rich Jaina merchant, and dedicated to Dharmanath, the 15th Tirthankar. In this instance the external porch between two circular towers is of great magnificence and most elaborately ornamented, and leads to an outer court with sixteen cells on either side. In the centre of this is a domed porch of the usual form, with twenty pillars (see Woodcut No. 117). This leads to an inner porch of twenty-two pillars, two storeys in height, and with a roof of a form very fashionable in modern Jaina temples, though by no means remarkable for beauty, and difficult to render intelligible without more illustration than it merits. This leads to a triple sanctuary, marked by three sikras, or spires, externally. Behind this is a smaller court with two groups of eight cells, one in each angle, with a larger cell in the centre, and two, still more important, at the point of junction between it and the first court. To the eye of a European, unaccustomed to its forms, some of them may seem strange; but its arrangement, at least, will probably be admitted to be very perfect. Each part goes on increasing in dignity as we approach the sanctuary. The exterior expresses the interior more completely than even a Gothic design; and whether looked at from its courts or from the outside, it possesses variety without confusion, and an appropriateness of every part to the purpose for which it was intended.{259}

Jaina Temple, Delhi.

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146. Upper part of Porch of Jaina Temple at Delhi. (From a Photograph.)

There is one other example that certainly deserves notice before leaving this branch of the subject, not only on account of its beauty, but its singularity. In the preceding pages it has frequently been {260}necessary to remark upon that curious wooden strut by which the Jains sought to relieve the apparent weakness of the longer beams under their domes. It occurs at Abu (Woodcut No. 129), at Girnar, at Oudeypore, and many other places we shall have to remark upon in the sequel; everywhere, in fact, where an octagonal dome was used. It was also employed by the Hindus in their torans, and so favourite an ornament did it become that Akbar used it frequently both at Agra and Futtehpore Sikri. For centuries it continued without much alteration, but at last, in such an example as the great Bowli at Bundi,[287] we find it degenerating into a mere ornament. It was left, however, for a Jaina architect of the end of the last or beginning of this century, in the Mahomedan city of Delhi, to suggest a mode by which what was only conventionally beautiful might really become an appropriate constructive part of lithic architecture.

As will be observed in the last cut (No. 146), the architect has had the happy idea of filling in the whole of the back of the strut with pierced foliaged tracery of the most exquisite device—thus turning what, though elegant, was one of the feeblest parts of Jaina design into a thoroughly constructive stone bracket; one of the most pleasing to be found in Indian architecture, and doing this while preserving all its traditional associations. The pillars, too, that support these brackets are of great elegance and constructive propriety, and the whole makes up as elegant a piece of architectural design as any certainly of its age. The weak part of the composition is the dome. It is elegant, but too conventional. It no longer has any constructive propriety, but has become a mere ornament. It is not difficult, however, to see why natives should admire and adopt it. When the eyes of a nation have been educated by a gradual succession of changes in any architectural object, persevered in through five or six centuries, the taste becomes so accustomed to believe the last fashion to be the best, the change has been so gradual, that people forget how far they are straying from the true path. The European, who has not been so educated, sees only the result, without having followed the steps by which it has been so reached, and is shocked to find how far it has deviated from the form of a true dome of construction, and, finding it also unfamiliar, condemns it. So, indeed, it is with nine-tenths of the ornaments of Hindu architecture. Few among us are aware how much education has had to do with their admiration of classical or mediæval art, and few, consequently, perceive how much their condemnation of Indian forms arises from this very want of gradual and appropriate education.{261}

Jaina Caves.

The Jains never were great cave-diggers; the nature of their religion did not require great assembly halls like the chaityas of the Buddhists, nor was it necessary that their priests should live apart in monasteries like those of their predecessors, and their ceremonial affected light and air rather than gloom or mystery. Like the Brahmans, however, during the stage of transition they could hardly refuse entirely to follow a fashion set by the Buddhists, to which all India had been accustomed for nearly 1000 years, and which was in reality a singularly impressive form of temple-building. We find them, consequently, excavating caves at Khandagiri, near Cuttack, in succession to the older ones in the Udayagiri. At Ellora they followed immediately after the Buddhists; and elsewhere there are caves which may be claimed by either religion, so like are they to each other in their transitional state.

Great light has recently been thrown on the history of these excavations by the discovery of a Jaina cave at Badami, in Dharwar, with a well-ascertained date.[288] There is no inscription on the cave itself, but there are three other Brahmanical caves in the same place, one of which has an inscription with an undoubted date, 500 Saka or A.D. 579; and all four caves are so like one another in style that they must have been excavated within the same century. The Jaina cave is probably the most modern; but if we take the year A.D. 650 as a medium date, we may probably consider it as certain within an error of twenty years either way.

The cave itself is very small, only 31 ft. across and about 19 ft. deep, and it is a little uncertain whether the groups of figures at either end of the verandah are integral, or whether they may not have been added at some subsequent period. The inner groups, however, are of the age of the cave, and the architecture is unaltered, and thus becomes a fixed standing-point for comparison with other examples; and when we come to compare it with the groups known as the Indra Subha and Jaganât Subha at Ellora, we cannot hesitate to ascribe them to about the same age. Hitherto, the Jaina group at Ellora has been considered as the most modern there: an impression arising partly from the character of the sculptures themselves, which are neither purely Jaina nor purely Hindu—more, however, from the extreme difficulty of comparing rock-cut examples with structural ones. Our knowledge of the architecture of temples is, in nine cases out of ten, derived from their external forms, to which the interiors are quite subordinate. Cave-temples, however, have practically no exteriors, and at the utmost façades modified to admit{262} more light than is usual in structural edifices, and then strengthened and modified so as to suit rock-cut architecture. As no ancient Jaina temple hitherto known had a dated inscription upon it, nor a tolerably authenticated history, it is no wonder that guesses might be wide of the truth. Now, however, that we know positively the age of one example, all this can be rectified, and there seems no doubt that all the Indra Subha group were finished before the cataclysm—say before A.D. 750.

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147. Entrance to the Indra Subha Cave at Ellora. (From a Photograph.)

When with this new light we come to examine with care the architecture of these façades, we find the Ellora group exhibits an extraordinary affinity with the southern style. The little detached shrine in the courtyard of the Indra Subha, and the gateway shown in the above woodcut (No. 147), are as essentially Dravidian in style as the Kylas itself, and, like many of the details of these caves, so nearly identical that they cannot possibly be distant in date. May we, therefore, assume from this that the Chalukyan kingdom of Kalian, in the 7th century of our era, extended from Ellora on the north to Badami on the south, and that all these rock-cut examples, with the temple at Aiwulli (Woodcut No. 120), were excavated or erected under their auspices?

To this we shall have occasion to revert presently, when de{263}scribing the Dravidian style; but meanwhile it may be assumed that this theory represents the facts of the case more nearly than any hitherto brought forward. The Chalukyas of Kalian were situated on the border-line, halfway between the north and the south, and they, or their subjects, seemed to have practised the styles of architecture belonging to those two divisions indiscriminately—it might almost be said alternately—and we consequently find them mixed up here and at Dhumnar in a manner that is most puzzling.

The last king of this race, Vicramaditya II., ascended the throne A.D. 733,[289] and died probably in or about the year A.D. 750. It was probably, therefore, before that date that these Dravidian temple-forms were introduced by the Jains at Ellora. The Kylas and other great Saiva temples were, I believe, excavated by the Cheras or Cholas, who were the Dravidian races, and, if I mistake not, superseded the Chalukyas on the death of Vicramaditya, their last king, and carried their power, as will presently be explained, up to the Nerbudda. The Jains, however, seem to have been earlier in the field, and this little shrine in the court of the Indra Subha looks very much as if it may have been the model that suggested the Kylas, the greatest of all Indian rock-cut examples of its class.

Converted Mosques.

Another form in which we can study the architecture of the Jains in the north of India is the courtyards of the early mosques which the Mahomedans erected on their first entry into India. So essentially do some of these retain their former features that it might be convenient to describe them here. It is doubtful, however, in some instances whether the pillars are—some or all of them—in their original position, or to what extent they have been altered or eked out by the conquerors. Be this as it may, for our present purposes the one fact that is certain is, that none of them are now Jaina temples. All are Mahomedan mosques, and it will, therefore, be more logical, as well as more convenient, to group them with the latter rather than with the former class of buildings.

Were it not for this, the Arhaí-dín-ka Jomphra, at Ajmir—so called—might be, and has been, described as a Jaina temple.[290] So might a great part of the mosque at the Kutub, Delhi. That at Canouge, however, was originally a rearrangement, and has been much altered since I knew it; that at Dhar, near Mandu, is of comparatively recent date; while the Jaina pillars, so frequently used{264} at Ahmedabad in the 15th century, are all imported, and used in positions for which they never were intended.

The astylar temples of the Hindus were useless to the Moslems except as quarries—a purpose to which they were frequently applied; but the light columnar style of the Jains not only supplied materials more easily adapted to their purposes, but furnished hints of which the Moslem architects were not slow to avail themselves. The architecture of Ahmedabad, for instance (A.D. 1396 to 1572), is derived far more directly from the Jaina than from any style familiar to their co-religionists in any other part of the world. The same may be said of that of Juanpore, though in the last-named city there is hardly a stone that can be said to be derived direct from any previously existing building.

The process by which this conversion of a Jaina temple to a Moslem mosque was effected will be easily understood by referring to the plan of that of Vimala Sah, on Mount Abu (Woodcut No. 129, p. 235). By removing the principal cell and its porch from the centre of the court, and building up the entrances of the cells that surround it, a courtyard was at once obtained, surrounded by a double colonnade, which always was the typical form of a mosque. Still one essential feature was wanting—a more important side towards Mecca; this they easily obtained by removing the smaller pillars from that side, and re-erecting in their place the larger pillars of the porch, with their dome in the centre; and, if there were two smaller domes, by placing one of them at each end. Thus, without a single new column or carved stone being required, they obtained a mosque which, for convenience and beauty, was unsurpassed by anything they afterwards erected from their own original designs.{265}





A good deal has been done lately in the way of photographing the monuments of the Jains in southern India, but nothing, so far as I am aware, has recently been written that gives any statistical account of their present position in the country, nor any information when their establishments were first formed in Mysore and Canara.[291] What is even more to be regretted for our present purposes is, that no plans have been made of their buildings and no architectural details drawn, so that altogether our knowledge of the subject is somewhat superficial; but it is interesting from its extent, and curious from the unexpected relationship it reveals with other styles and countries.

Mr. Burgess’s report has proved that Jains did exist at Aiwulli and Badami (supra, p. 261) as early as the end of the 6th, or certainly in the 7th century; but after that there is a pause or break of four or five centuries, when the style reappears in strength at Belgaon and in that neighbourhood in the 11th and 12th centuries. In the same manner southern Jains seem to have pressed northward as far as Ellora in the 7th or 8th century, taking their Dravidian style with them (supra, p. 261); but there again we stop, in so far as any direct evidence has been found, till the great outburst of Jaina magnificence at the end of the 10th century, which then seems to have continued in the north till disturbed by the Mahomedan invasion. It is by no means clear whether the destruction of their temples, as at Ajmir and Delhi, and the persecution of their faith generally, may not have been the cause that induced the Jains to migrate southward. It certainly was about that time when its greatest development in the south took place. Of course it existed there before,{266} and some of the early kings of Hoisala Bellalas were Jains nominally at least. All their buildings, however, so far as we know them, either at Somnathpur, Bellûr, or Hullabîd, belong to the Vaishnava or Saiva faiths.

Another circumstance which is perplexing, or at least unusual, is, that the Jainism of the south does not seem to be founded on any pre-existing Buddhism. No important Buddhist remains have yet been discovered south of Poona, with the single exception of the Amravati tope and a few caves in its immediate neighbourhood. More may probably exist, or have existed; but the rapid manner in which Hiouen Thsang passes through these countries, and the slight mention he makes of Buddhist establishments,[292] render it doubtful if any important communities belonging to that faith existed in Dravida-desa.[293] In the capital, indeed, Konkanapura, which seems to have been situated somewhere in Northern Mysore, there may have been some extensive Buddhist establishments; but as they have left no memorials on the spot, and no monuments, we may be allowed to suspect they were not so important as he describes them to be in the 7th century.

If, however, there was no Buddhism in the south on which Jainism could be based, there are everywhere traces of the prevalence of Serpent worship in those districts where the religion of Jaina now prevails. Sculptured serpents, with many heads and in all their conventional forms, are found everywhere about and in the temples; and Subramuni, below the Ghâts, is still one of the principal seats of Serpent worship in southern India. It is not, unfortunately, easy to say how far Tree worship was mixed up with the latter faith. Trees perish more easily and quickly than sculptured stones, and when the worship ceases its traces disappear more readily. There are some indications that it did prevail here also, but, till purposely inquired after, it is impossible to say to what extent or how far the indications can be relied upon. Enough, however, is known, even now, to justify the assertion that Tree and Serpent worship did exist antecedently in those districts in which Jainism prevailed in the south, but did not appear in the more purely Dravidian countries where the people are now devoted to the worship of Siva and the Hindu Pantheon.

The truth of the matter appears to be, that until the numerous Jaina inscriptions which exist everywhere in the south are collected{267} and translated, and until plans are made of their buildings, and statistics collected about them, it is idle to speculate either about the time of the introduction of Jainism into the south, or its vicissitudes during its existence there. It is a task which, it is to be feared, few in that Presidency are capable of undertaking, and that fewer still are willing to devote the time and labour requisite for its successful accomplishment; but it is worthy of being attempted, for, if successfully carried out, it would add to our scant stores of knowledge one of the most interesting chapters still available for the religious and artistic history of the people of India.


The first peculiarity that strikes one as distinguishing the Jaina architecture of the south from that of the north, is the division of the southern temples into two classes, called Bastis and Bettus.[294] The former are temples in the usual acceptance of the word, as understood in the north, and, as there, always containing an image of one of the twenty-four Tirthankars, which is the object there worshipped. The latter are unknown in the north; and are courtyards open to the sky and containing images, not of a Tirthankar, but of a Gômati or Gômata Raja so called, though who he was, and why worshipped, no one seems exactly to know. He is not known to the Jains in the north. All the images on the rock at Gualior are of one or other of the Tirthankars, and even the Ulwar colossus, Nan Gûngi, can hardly be identified with these southern images. It looks almost as if some vague tradition of Gautama Buddha the prince, as distinguished from Mahavira the last of the Tirthankars, and who is said to have been his preceptor, had in late times penetrated to the south, and given rise to this peculiar form. Be this, however, as it may, the images of this king or Jaina saint are among the most remarkable works of native art in the south of India. Three of them are known, and have long been known to Europeans,[295] and it is doubtful if any more exist. They are too remarkable objects not to attract the attention of even the most indifferent Saxon. That at Sravana Belgula attracted the attention of the late Duke of Wellington when, as Sir A. Wellesley, he commanded a division at the siege of Seringapatam. He, like all those who followed him, was astonished at the amount of labour such a work must have entailed, and puzzled to know whether it was a part of the hill or had been moved to the spot where it now stands. The former is the more probable theory. The hill called{268} Indra Giri is one mass of granite about 400 ft. in height, and probably had a mass or Tor standing on its summit—either a part of the subjacent mass or lying on it. This the Jains undertook to fashion into a statue 70 ft. 3 in. in height, and have achieved it with marvellous success. The task of carving a rock standing in its place the Hindu mind never would have shrunk from, had it even been twice the size; but to move such a mass up the steep smooth side of the hill seems a labour beyond their power, even with all their skill in concentrating masses of men on a single point. Whether, however, the rock was found in situ or was moved, nothing grander or more imposing exists anywhere out of Egypt, and even there no known statue surpasses it in height, though, it must be confessed, they do excel it in the perfection of art they exhibit.

The image at Kârkala, which is next—its size being 41 ft. 5 in. in height, and weighs about 80 tons[296]—was moved certainly to the place where it now stands, and its date luckily is engraved upon it, A.D. 1432, and it is so like that at Belgula, that there can hardly be much difference between their ages.

The third at Yannûr is smaller, about 35 ft. high apparently,[297] but from the style of art in which it is executed it is probably the oldest of the three (Woodcut No. 148).

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148. Colossal Statue at Yannûr.
(From a Photograph.)

All these three figures belong to the Digambara sect of Jains, being entirely naked; and all possess the peculiarity of having twigs of the Bo-tree of Sakya Muni—the Ficus religiosa—twisted round their arms and legs in a manner found{269} nowhere else, and in having serpents at their feet. In the Jaina cave at Badami a similar figure has two serpents wound round its arms and legs precisely as these twigs are here, and the Bo-tree is relegated to the background.[298] This figure, though probably not so old as the cave in which it is found—say A.D. 600—is certainly much older than the three great monoliths, and with other indications renders it probable that the greater prominence of the serpent or the tree is no unfair indication of the relative age of any two statues. In that at Yannûr, the serpents are three-headed and very prominent beside the statue, on steles alongside the legs. At Kârkala they are less so,[299] and at Belgula they are relegated to the base, while the tree with its leaves is there thickly spread over the whole figure.


The principal group of the Bastis of the Jains, at present known at least, above the Ghâts, is that at Sravana Belgula. There are there two hills—the Indragiri, on whose summit the colossal image just described stands, and dominates the plain. On a shoulder of the other, called Chandragiri, stand the Bastis, fifteen in number. As might be expected from their situation, they are all of the Dravidian style of architecture, and are consequently built in gradually receding stories, each of which is ornamented with small simulated cells, as was explained above, p. 134, and will be more fully described presently. No instance occurs among them of the curvilinear sikra or spire, which is universal with the northern Jains, except in the instance of Ellora above alluded to.

Unfortunately, no one has yet thought it worth while to make a plan of any of these temples, nor even to describe them in detail, so that it is difficult to feel sure of anything regarding them. The following woodcut (No. 149) conveys, however, an idea of the general external appearance, which is more ornamental than that of the generality of northern Jaina temples. The outer wall of those in the north is almost always quite plain. The southern ones are as generally ornamented with pilasters and crowned with a row of ornamental cells. Inside is a court probably square and surrounded by cloisters, at the back of which rises the vimana over the cell, which contains the principal image of the Tirthankar. It always is surmounted by a small dome, as is universally the case with every vimana in Dravidian architecture, instead of with the mysterious amalaka ornament of northern sikras.{270}

It may be a vain speculation, but it seems impossible to look at this woodcut, and not be struck with its resemblance to the temples of southern Babylonia (Woodcuts Nos. 47 and 48 of vol. i.). The same division into stories, with their cells; the backward position of the temple itself; the panelled or pilastered basement, are all points of resemblance it seems difficult to regard as purely accidental. The distance of time would seem to bar such an idea, but the combinations of men with bulls and lions, and the many similarities between the Pantheons of Babylonia and India, render the fact of the architecture of the one country influencing that of the other, far from being impossible, though by some it may be considered improbable. I have long tried to shake off the idea as an untenable hypothesis, but every time I return to the study of the subject, its likelihood recurs with increasing strength. Its verification, however, or refutation must depend on our possessing greater knowledge of the subject than we do at present.

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149. Jaina Basti at Sravana Belgula. (From a Photograph.)


When we descend the Ghâts into Canara, or the Tulava country, we come on a totally different state of matters. Jainism is the religion of the country, and all or nearly all the temples belong to{271} this sect, but their architecture is neither the Dravidian style of the south, nor that of northern India, and indeed is not known to exist anywhere else in India Proper, but recurs with all its peculiarities in Nepal.

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150. Jaina Temple at Moodbidri. (From a Photograph.)

The annexed two views (Woodcuts Nos. 150-51) of one of the largest of these temples, found at a place called Moodbidri,[300] in Canara, will give a fair idea of the general aspect of these temples externally. They are much plainer than Hindu temples usually are. The pillars look like logs of wood with the angles partially chamfered off, so as to make them {272}octagons, and the sloping roofs of the verandahs are so evidently wooden that the style itself cannot be far removed from a wooden original. In many places, indeed, below the Ghâts the temples are still wholly constructed in wood without any admixture of stone, and almost all the features of the Moodbidri temples may be found in wood at the present day. The blinds between the pillars, which are there executed in stone, are found in wood in every city in India, and with very little variation are used by Europeans in Calcutta to a greater extent, perhaps, than they were ever used by the natives.

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151. Jaina Temple at Moodbidri. (From a Photograph.)

The feature, however, which presents the greatest resemblance to the northern styles, is the reverse slope of the eaves above the verandah. I am not aware of its existence anywhere else south of Nepal, and it is so peculiar that it is much more likely to have been copied than re-invented.

The interiors of the Canarese temples are in marked contrast with the plainness of the exteriors. Nothing can exceed the richness or the variety with which they are carved. No two pillars seem alike, and many are ornamented to an extent that may seem almost fantastic. This again seems an indication of their recent descent from a wooden{273}

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152. Pillar in Temple, Moodbidri. (From a Photograph.)

original. Long habit of using stone would have sobered their forms, {274}and they are now of great thickness—it may even be said massiveness—and this is just such an excess of strength as a people accustomed to wooden architecture would employ when first called upon to replace in stone supports which in wood would have appeared necessary to carry a heavy stone roof (Woodcut No. 152, p. 273).

Their plans, as far as can be made out from photographs, are those usual in Jaina temples—spacious, well-lighted porches, leading to a dark cell in which the image of one of the Tirthankars is placed, naked of course, as all the southern Jains seem to have belonged to the Digambara sect.

Their age has not yet been determined with certainty, as no inscriptions from them have yet been published or translated, but, in so far as information can be gathered from the various sources available, three or four hundred years seems to be about the limit of their age. Some may go back as far as 1300, but it looks as if the kingdom of the Zamorin was at the height of its prosperity about the time it was first visited by the Portuguese, and that the finest temples may belong to that age.

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153. Pavilion at Gurusankerry. (From a Photograph.)

Besides the greater temples, there are several varieties of smaller ones which seem peculiar to the style—such, for instance, as the five-pillared shrine at Gurusankerry (Woodcut No. 153). Four-pillared pavilions are not uncommon in front of Hindu temples in the south. There is a very famous one, for instance, on the opposite shore of India at Mahavellipore, but not one, that I know of, with five pillars, or with access to the upper chambers. There are three of these upper chambers in this instance—the two lower now closed, but apparently originally open; but to what use they were devoted, or what purpose they were intended to subserve, is by no means clear. At the base of the temple are a number of stones bearing images of serpents; seven or eight are now there, and the serpents themselves are some with one, others three, five, or seven heads. It may be that this is a serpent temple, and that the living form of this strange divinity, when alive,{275} inhabited the upper storey. But it may also be, that the stones were brought there in modern times, so that till some one on the spot will take the trouble to ascertain the facts of the case, it is not safe to speculate regarding them.

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154. Tombs of Priests, Moodbidri. (From a Photograph.)

A third feature, even more characteristic of the style, is found in the tombs of the priests, a large number of which are found in the neighbourhood of Moodbidri. Three of these are illustrated in the annexed Woodcut (No. 154). They vary much in size and magnificence, some being from three to five or seven storeys in height, but they are not, like the storeys of Dravidian temples, ornamented with simulated cells and finishing with domical roofs. The division of each storey is a sloping roof, like those of the pagodas at Katmandhu, and in China or Thibet. In India they are quite anomalous. In the first place, no tombs of priests are known to exist anywhere else, and their forms, too, are quite unlike any other building now known to be standing in any other part of India.{276}

Though not the grandest, certainly the most elegant and graceful objects to be found in Canara belonging to the Jaina style of architecture are the stambhas, which are found attached to almost every temple. These are not, however, peculiar to the place or style. They are used sometimes by the Hindus, but then generally as deepdans, or lamp-bearing pillars, and in that case have some arrangement for exhibiting light from their summit. With the Jains this does not appear ever to have been the case. Their pillars are the lineal descendants of those of the Buddhists, which bore either emblems or statues—generally the former—or figures of animals; with the Jains or Vaishnavas they as generally bore statues. Be this as it may, they seem nowhere to have been so frequent or so elaborately adorned as among the Jains in the south, and especially in Canara. The example here given of one at Gurusankerry is a fair average specimen of its class (Woodcut No. 155). The sub-base is square and spreading; the base itself square, changing into an octagon, and thence into a polygonal figure approaching a circle; and above a wide-spreading capital of most elaborate design. To many this may at first sight appear top-heavy, but it is not so in reality. If you erect a pillar at all, it ought to have something to carry. Those we erect are copied from pillars meant to support architraves, and are absurd solecisms when merely supporting statues; we have, however, got accustomed to them, and our eye is offended if anything better proportioned to the work to be done is proposed; but, looking at the breadth of the base and the strength of the shaft, anything less than here exhibited would be found disproportionately small.

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155. Stambha at Gurusankerry. (From a Photograph.)

On the lower or square part of these stambhas, as well as on the pillars inside the temples at Moodbidri (Woodcut No. 152) and elsewhere in Canara, we find that curious interlaced basket-pattern,{277} which is so familiar to us from Irish manuscripts or the ornaments on Irish crosses. As pointed out in a former volume (ii. p. 475), it is equally common in Armenia, and can be traced up the valley of the Danube into central Europe; but how it got to the west coast of India we do not know, nor have we, so far as I know, any indication on which we can rely for its introduction. There was at all times for the last fifteen centuries a large body of Christians established on this coast who were in connection with Persia and Syria, and are so now. It would be strange, indeed, if it were from them the Jains obtained this device. But stranger things have happened than even this in the history of architecture, and few things can be more interesting when the means exist of tracing any connection that may be detected between them.

If any one wished to select one feature of Indian architecture which would illustrate its rise and progress, as well as its perfection and weakness, there are probably no objects more suited for this purpose than these stambhas, or free-standing pillars. They are found of all ages, from the simple and monolithic lâts which Asoka set up to bear inscriptions or emblems, some 250 years B.C. down to the seventeenth or perhaps even eighteenth century of our era. During these 2000 years they were erected first by the Buddhists, then by the Jains, and occasionally by the other sects in all parts of India; and notwithstanding their inherent frailty, some fifty—it may be a hundred—are known to be still standing. After the first and most simple, erected by Asoka, it may be safely asserted that no two are alike though all bear strongly the impress of the age in which they were erected, and all are thoroughly original and Indian in design.

It may be owing to the styloclastic propensities of the Moslems that these pillars are not found so frequently where they have held sway, as in the remoter parts of India; but, whether from this cause or not, they seem to be more frequent in Canara and among the southern Jains than in any other part of India. In the north we depend mainly on the rock-cut examples for their forms, but they are so usual there that it seems hardly doubtful they were relatively as frequent in connection with structural examples, though these have generally disappeared.

It has been suggested that there may be some connection between these stambhas and the obelisks of the Egyptians. The time that elapsed, however, between the erection of the monoliths in the valley of the Nile and those in India seems to render this doubtful, though they were certainly erected for similar purposes and occupied the same position relatively to the temples. When, however, we look at the vast difference between their designs, it is evident, even assuming a connection, that vast ages must have elapsed before the plain straight-lined forms of the obelisks could have been changed into the{278} complicated and airy forms of the Jaina stambhas. The two are the Alpha and Omega of architectural design—the older, simple and severe, beyond any other examples of purely ornamental objects; the latter, more varied and more highly ornamented than almost any others of their class that can be named.

We are hardly yet in a position to push these speculations to their legitimate issue, and must wait for further information before any satisfactory conclusion can be derived from them; but meanwhile it may be pointed out how curiously characteristic of Indian art it is that this little remote province of Tulava, or Canara, should have a style of its own, differing essentially from that found in any other part of the Indian continent, but still having affinities with outlying and distant countries, with which one would hardly suspect any connection but for the indications derived from their architecture.

I cannot offer even a plausible conjecture how or at what time a connection existed between Nepal and Thibet and Canara; but I cannot doubt that such was the case, and that some one with better opportunities will hereafter explain what now seems so mysterious. It is less difficult to conjecture how early and frequent intercourse may have existed between the Persian Gulf and the western shores of India, and how the relations between these two countries may have been so intimate as to account for the amount of Assyrian, or, as we now call them Armenian, forms we now find in the Jaina architecture of southern India, especially in that below the Ghâts. It will require, however, that the Indian branch of the subject should be much more fully and more scientifically investigated than has hitherto been the case before it is worth while to do more than indicate how rich a field lies open to reward the industry of any future explorer.

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Map of


Shewing the Principal




Vincent Brooks, Day & Son lith.








Although neither so beautiful in itself, nor so interesting either from an artistic or historical point of view as many others, the architecture of the valley of Kashmir has attracted more attention in modern times than that of any other styles in India, and a greater number of special treatises have been written regarding it than are devoted to all the other styles put together. This arises partly from the beauty of the valley in which the Kashmiri temples are situated. The beauty of its scenery has at all times attracted tourists to its verdant snow-encircled plains, and the perfection of its climate has induced them to linger there, and devote their leisure to the investigation of its treasures, natural and artistic. In this respect their fate is widely different from that of temples situated on the hot and dusty plains of India, where every official is too busy to devote himself to such a task, and travellers too hurried to linger for a leisurely and loving survey of their beauties.

Apart, however, from this adventitious advantage, the temples of Kashmir do form a group well worthy of attention. When one or two spurious examples are got rid of, they form a complete and homogeneous group, extending through about six centuries (A.D. 600 to A.D. 1200), singularly uniform in their development and very local, being unlike any other style known in India. They have besides this a certain classical element, which can hardly be mistaken, and is sufficient in itself to attract the attention of Europeans who are interested in detecting their own familiar forms in this remote valley in the Himalayas.{280}

The earliest of the modern investigators of the subject were Messrs. Moorcroft and Trebeck, who visited the valley in 1819-25.[301] They were both acute and intelligent observers, but, having no special knowledge of the subject, their observations on the architecture of the valley do not add much to our knowledge of its history.

They were followed by G. T. Vigne in 1833, who being an artist drew the buildings with wonderful correctness, so as to bring out the peculiarities of the style, and also to approximate their history with very tolerable exactness.[302] About the same time Baron Hügel gave his impression on the subject to the public, but in a manner much less critical than his predecessors.[303]

In 1848, Captain (now General) A. Cunningham published in the September number of the ‘Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society’ an essay on what he called the Aryan order of architecture, but which was wholly devoted to that of Kashmir. It was illustrated by fifteen folding plates, containing plans, elevations, and views, and in fact all that was required for settling the history of the style, and, but for one or two unfortunate mistakes, would have left little to be done by his successors in this field of inquiry.

In 1866, the Rev. W. C. Cowie, Chaplain on duty in Kashmir, published in the same journal an essay on the same subject, as a supplement to General Cunningham’s paper, describing several temples he had not visited, and adding considerably to our knowledge of those he had described. This paper was also extensively illustrated.

In consequence of all this wealth of literature, very little remained to be done, when in 1868 Lieutenant Cole, R.E., obtained an appointment as superintendent of the Archæological Survey of India, and proceeded to Kashmir with a staff quite sufficient to settle all the remaining outstanding questions.[304] Unfortunately, however, Lieutenant Cole had no previous knowledge of Indian antiquities in general, and had not qualified himself by any special study for the investigation he was deputed to undertake. All, therefore, he could do was to adopt blindly General Cunningham’s dates, and in this there would have been no great harm, but, when he came across a temple which had escaped his predecessor’s attention, he arbitrarily interpolated it, with a date of his own, into the General’s series. As all these dates are given as if perfectly ascertained without any of the reasoning on which they are based, they would, if accepted, lead{281} to the most erroneous conclusions. Putting these, however, aside, Lieutenant Cole’s plans and architectural details are a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the subject, and with his photographs and those now available by others, enable those who have not had an opportunity of visiting the valley to form an opinion of their own, and with all these lights there seems little difficulty in ascertaining all the really important facts connected with this style.


The first and most misleading mistake that has been made with reference to Kashmiri architecture, was the assumption by General Cunningham that the enclosure to Zein-ul-ab-ud-dín’s tomb in Srinagar originally belonged to an ancient Kashmiri temple. Lieutenant Cole boldly prints on his plates, “probable date A.D. 400 to 500,” a mistake as nearly as may be of 1000 years, as it is hardly doubtful that it was erected for or by the prince whose name it bears, and who in A.D. 1410 succeeded his father Sikandar, who bore the ill-omened nickname of Butshikan, the idol-breaker. As will be seen from the woodcut (No. 156), it consists of a series of small pointed arches in rectangular frames, such as are very frequently found in Mahomedan art, and the peculiarities of the gateways and other parts are just such as are found in all contemporary Moslem art in India. All the mosques and tombs for instance at Ahmedabad, A.D. 1396-1572, are made up of details borrowed from the architecture of the Jains, and the bases of their minarets and their internal pillars can only be distinguished from those of the heathen by their position, and by the substitution of foliage for human figures in the niches or places where the Hindus would have introduced images of their gods.

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156. Tomb of Zein-ul-ab-ud-dín. Elevation of Arches. (From a drawing by Lieut. Cole.)

In this instance there is no incongruity, no borrowed features; every stone was carved for the place where it is found. There are niches it is true on each side of the gateway, like those found at Marttand and other Pagan temples; but like those at Ahmedabad they are without images, and the arch in brick which surmounts this gateway is a radiating arch, which appears certainly to be integral, but, if so, could not possibly be erected by a Hindu.[305] When General Cunningham visited the valley in 1848, he was not so familiar as he has since become with the ruins of Gour, Juanpore, Ahmedabad, and other Moslem cities where the architectural forms adopted by the{282} Moslems are with difficulty distinguished from those of the Hindus. With the knowledge we now possess it is not likely that any one can mistake the fact, that this enclosure was erected by the prince whose name it bears to surround his tomb, in the Mahomedan cemetery of the city in which it is found.

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157. Takt-i-Suleiman. Elevation of Arches. (From a drawing by Lieut. Cole.)

Assuming this for the present, it gives us a hint as to the age of the other anomalous building in Kashmir—the temple that crowns the hill, called the Takt-i-Suleiman, near the capital. Inside the octagonal enclosure that surrounds the platform on which the temple stands is a range of arches (Woodcut No. 157), similar to those of the tomb of Zein-ul-ab-ud-dín (Woodcut No. 156), not so distinctly pointed, nor so Saracenic in detail, but still very nearly resembling them, only a little more debased in style. At the bottom of the steps is a round-headed doorway, not it is true surmounted by a true arch, but by a curved lintel of one stone, such as are universal in the Hindu imitations of Mahomedan architecture in the 17th and 18th centuries. The same is the case in the small temples alongside, which are evidently of the same age.[306] The temple too, itself, is far from having an ancient look. The one most like it, that I am acquainted with, is that erected by Cheyt Sing at Rannuggur, near Benares, at the end of the last century. I know of no straight-lined pyramid of a much older date than that, and no temple with a polygonal plan, combined with a circular cell, as is the case here, that is of ancient date. The four pillars in the cell, with the Persian inscriptions upon them, are avowedly of the 17th century. It is suggested, however, that they belong to a repair; my conviction, however, is, from a review of the whole evidence, that the temple, as it now stands, was commenced by some nameless Hindus, in honour of Siva, during the tolerant reign of Jehangir, and that the building was stopped at the date engraved on the staircase, A.H. 1069 (A.D. 1659), the first year of the reign of the bigot Aurungzebe. It was then unfinished, and has consequently remained a ruin ever since, which may give it an ancient look, but not such as to justify any one putting it 1879 years before what seems to be its true date, as is done by General Cunningham and his follower Lieutenant Cole.

If we may thus get rid of these two anomalous and exceptional examples, the history of all the remaining temples in the valley is more than usually homogeneous and easily intelligible. The date of the principal example—the temple at Marttand—is hardly doubtful (A.D. 750); and of the others, some may be slightly older, but none{283} can be carried further back than the reign of Ranaditya, A.D. 578 to 594. Nor can any one be brought down below, say 1200, which is probably the date of that of Payech. Between these dates, with a very little local knowledge, the whole might easily be arranged. Such a classification is, however, by no means necessary at present. The style during these six centuries is so uniform that it may be taken as one, for the purposes of a general history.


Before proceeding to speak of the temples themselves, it may add to the clearness of what follows if we first explain what the peculiarities of the styles are. This we are able to do from a small model in stone of a Kashmiri temple (Woodcut No. 158), which was drawn by General Cunningham; such miniature temples being common throughout India, and in all instances exact copies of their larger prototypes.

The temple in this instance is surmounted by four roofs (in the built examples, so far as they are known, there are only two or three), which are obviously copied from the usual wooden roofs common to most buildings in Kashmir, where the upper pyramid covers the central part of the building, and the lower a verandah, separated from the centre either by walls or merely by a range of pillars.[307] In the wooden examples the interval between the two roofs seems to have been left open for light and air; in the stone buildings it is closed with ornaments. Besides this, however, all these roofs are relieved by dormer windows, of a pattern very similar to those found in mediæval buildings in Europe; and the same steep, sloping lines are used also to cover doorways and porches, these being virtually a section of the main roof itself, and evidently a copy of the same wooden construction.

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158. Model of Temple in Kashmir.

The pillars which support the porticoes and the one on which the model stands are by far the most striking peculiarity of this style, their shafts being almost identical with those of the Grecian Doric, and unlike anything of the class found in other parts of India.{284} Generally they are from three to four diameters in height, diminishing slightly towards the capital, and adorned with sixteen flutes, rather shallower than those of the Grecian order. Both the bases and capitals are, it is true, far more complicated than would have been tolerated in Greece, but at Pæstum and in Rome we find with the Doric order a complexity of mouldings by no means unlike that found here. These peculiarities are still more evident in the annexed representation of a pillar found in Srinagar (Woodcut No. 159), which is a far more highly ornamented example than the last, but equally classical in its details, and, if anything, more unlike any known examples of true Hindu architecture. Nowhere in Kashmir do we find any trace of the bracket capital of the Hindus, nor of the changes from square to octagon, or to the polygon of sixteen sides, and so on. Now that we are becoming familiar with the extent of classical influence that prevailed in Gandhara (ante, p. 176) down to the 7th or 8th century, we have no difficulty in understanding whence these quasi-Grecian forms were derived, nor why they should be found so prevalent in this valley. It adds, however, very considerably to our interest in the subject to find that the civilization of the West left so strong an impress on the arts of this part of India that its influence can be detected in all the Kashmiri buildings down to the time when the local style perished under Mahomedan influence in the beginning of the 14th century. Although, therefore, there can be no mistake about the principal forms of the architecture of Kashmir being derived from the classical styles of the West, and as little doubt as to the countries through which it was introduced into the valley, it must not be overlooked that the classical influence is fainter and more remote from its source in Kashmir than in Gandhara. Nothing resembling the Corinthian capitals of the Jamalgiri monastery are found in the valley. The classical features in Kashmir are in degree more like those of the Manikyala tope and the very latest examples in the Peshawur valley. The one style, in fact, seems to commence where the other ends, and to carry on the tradition for centuries after it had been lost in the country from which it was introduced.

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159. Pillar at Srinagar. (From a drawing by W. Carpenter, Esq.)

The fact, however, of a quasi-Doric order being currently used in the valley from the 8th to the 12th century is one of the many{285} arguments that tend to confirm the theory that the Corinthian order of the Gandhara monasteries is not so ancient as might at first sight appear. At all events, if a Doric order was the style of the Kashmiri valley at so late a date, there is no à priori improbability in a Corinthian order being used at Peshawur in the 5th or 6th century. On the contrary, as both were evidently derived from the same source, it seems most unlikely that there should be any break in the continuity of the tradition. Strange though it may at first sight appear, it seems as if the impulse first given by Bactria three centuries before the Christian Era continued without a break to influence the architecture of that corner of India for twelve centuries after that epoch.

No example of the Doric order has yet been found in Gandhara, but, as both Ionic and Corinthian capitals have been found there, it seems more than probable that the Doric existed there also; but as our knowledge, up to this date, is limited practically to two monasteries out, probably, of a hundred, we ought not to be surprised at any deficiencies in our series that may from time to time become apparent.

There is still one other peculiarity of this style which it is by no means easy to account for. This is the trefoiled arch, which is everywhere prevalent, but which in our present state of knowledge cannot be accounted for by any constructive necessity, nor traced to any foreign style from which it could have been copied. My own impression is, that it is derived from the façades of the chaitya halls of the Buddhists. Referring, for instance, to Woodcut No. 46 or to No. 58,[308] it will be perceived that the outline of the section of the cave at Ajunta, which it represents, is just such a trefoil as is everywhere prevalent in Kashmir; and, as both there and everywhere else in India, architectural decoration is made up of small models of large buildings applied as decorative features wherever required, it is by no means improbable that the trefoiled façade may have been adopted in Kashmir as currently as the simple horse-shoe form was throughout the Buddhist buildings of India Proper. All these features, however, mark a local style differing from anything else in India, pointing certainly to another race and another religion, which we are not as yet able to trace to its source.


By far the finest and most typical example of the Kashmiri style is the temple of Marttand, situated about five miles east of{286} Islamabad, the ancient capital of the valley. It is the architectural lion of Kashmir, and all tourists think it necessary to go into raptures about its beauty and magnificence, comparing it to Palmyra or Thebes, or other wonderful groups of ruins of the old world. Great part, however, of the admiration it excites is due to its situation. It stands well on an elevated plateau, from which a most extensive view is obtained, over a great part of the valley. No tree or house interferes with its solitary grandeur, and its ruins—shaken down apparently by an earthquake—lie scattered as they fell, and are unobscured by vegetation, nor are they vulgarised by any modern accretions. Add to this the mystery that hangs over their origin, and a Western impress on its details unusual in the East, but which calls back the memory of familiar forms and suggests memories that throw a veil of poetry over its history more than sufficient to excite admiration in the most prosaic spectators. When, however, we come to reduce its dimensions to scale (Woodcut No. 160), and to examine its pretensions to rank among the great examples of architectural art, the rhapsodies of which it has been the theme seem a little out of place.

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160. Temple of Marttand. (From a drawing by General A. Cunningham.) Scale 100 feet to 1 inch.

The temple itself (Woodcut No. 161) is a very small building, being only 60 ft. in length by 38 ft. in width. The width of the façade, however, is eked out by two wings or adjuncts, which make it 60 ft. As General Cunningham estimates that its height, when complete, was 60 ft. also, it realises the problem the Jews so earnestly set themselves to solve—how to build a temple with the three dimensions equal, but yet should not be a cube. Small, however, as the Jewish temple was, it was more than twice as large as this one. At Jerusalem the temple was 100 cubits, or 150 ft. in length, breadth, and height.[309] At Marttand these dimensions were only 60 ft. But it is one of the points of interest in the Kashmiri temple that it reproduces in plan, at least, the Jewish temple more nearly than any other known building.{287}

The roof of the temple has so entirely disappeared that Baron Hügel doubted if it ever possessed one.[310] General Cunningham, on the other hand, has no doubts on the subject, and restores it in stone on his plate No. 14. The absence, however, of any fragments on the floor of the temple that could have belonged to the roof, militates seriously against this view; and, looking at the tenuity of the walls and the large voids they include, I doubt extremely if they ever could have supported a stone roof of the usual design. When, too, the plan is carefully examined, it will be seen that none of the masses are square; and it is very difficult to see how the roof of the porch could, if in stone, be fitted to that over the cella. Taking all these things into consideration, my impression is, that its roof—it certainly had one—was in wood; and knowing how extensively the Buddhists used wooden roofs for their chaitya halls, I see no improbability of this being the case here at the time this temple was erected.

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161. View of Temple at Marttand. (From a Photograph.)

The courtyard that surrounds and encloses this temple is, in its state of ruin, a more remarkable object than the temple itself. Its{288} internal dimensions are 220 ft. by 142 ft.,[311] which are respectable, though not excessive; they are not much more than those of the temple of Neminatha at Girnar (Woodcut No. 126), which are 165 ft. and 105 ft., though that is by no means a large Jaina temple. On each face is a central cell, larger and higher than the colonnade in which it is placed (Woodcut No. 162), but even then only 30 ft. in height to the summit of the roof, supposing it to be completed, and the pillars on each side of it are only 9 ft. high, which are not dimensions to go wild about, though their strongly-impressed Grecian aspect is certainly curious and interesting.

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162. Central Cell of Court at Marttand. (From a drawing by General A. Cunningham.) No scale.

One of the most remarkable features of the courtyard, though it is common to all true Kashmiri temples, is thus described by General Cunningham:—“I have a suspicion also that the whole of the interior of the quadrangle was originally filled with water to a level{289} within one foot of the bases of the columns, and that access to the temple was gained by a raised pathway of slabs, supported on solid blocks at short intervals, which connected the gateway flight of steps with that leading to the temple. The same kind of pathway must have stretched right across the quadrangle from one side doorway to the other. Similar pathways still exist in the Shalimar gardens, as passages across the different reservoirs and canals. On the outside of the quadrangle, and close by the northern side of the gateway, there is a drain by which the surplus water found its exit, thus keeping the surface always at the same level. The temples at Pandrethan Ledari, and in the Barahmula Pass, are still standing in the midst of water. A constant supply of fresh water was kept up by a canal or watercourse from the River Lambadari, which was conducted alongside of the mountain for the service of the neighbouring village of Sinharotsika,” &c. “The only object,” the General goes on to remark, “of erecting temples in the midst of water must have been to place them more immediately under the protection of the Nagas, or human-bodied and snake-tailed gods, who were zealously worshipped for ages throughout Kashmir.”[312]

There are no inscriptions on this temple which would enable us to fix its date with certainty, but all authorities are agreed that the enclosure at least was erected by Lalitaditya,[313] who reigned A.D. 725 to 761; and my conviction is that he also erected the temple itself. General Cunningham, however, on the strength of a passage in the ‘Raja Tarangini,’ ascribes the building of the temple to Ranaditya,[314] who reigned A.D. 578 to 594. He may have local information which enables him to identify the village Sinharotsika with this place which he has not given to the public; but even then it is only said he erected a temple to the sun at that place,[315] but nothing to show that it was this temple. Whether also it was dedicated to the sun is not clear. I never saw a sun temple, or a drawing of one, and can,{290} therefore, give no opinion on that head. Be this, therefore, as it may, it seems to me extremely improbable that the temple should have stood naked for 150 years, and then that a far greater king than its founder should have added the indispensable adjunct of a court. If, like all Kashmiri temples, it was intended to stand in the water, something of the sort must have existed from the beginning, and very little have been left for the great Lalitaditya to add. In addition to this, many of the details of the temple itself are so nearly identical with those of the temple at Avantipore, erected A.D. 852 or 853, that it is very much more likely that only 100 instead of 250 years intervened between the dates of the Marttand and Avantipore temples.

The question as to what deity this temple was dedicated to is more difficult to determine than its date. According to the ‘Raja Tarangini,’[316] especially as summarised by Wilson,[317] Lalitaditya was at the same time Buddhist, Jaina, or Vaishnava—three religions that were undistinguishable in that time of tolerance, but which, after 200 years of persecution and wars, came out distinct and antagonistic in the 10th century. If only the plan were submitted to me, I would unhesitatingly declare it Jaina; when its water arrangements were explained, it would as clearly appear Naga[318] (Woodcut No. 163), but not at all necessarily antagonistic to either Buddhism or Vishnuism at that age. As I have just said, I know nothing of sun temples, and cannot, therefore, say whether this resembles them or not.

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163. Niche with Naga Figure at Marttand.

(From a Photograph.)

Unfortunately, the stone of which the temple is built is of so friable a nature that the sculptures are now barely recognisable, but, so far as can be made out from such photographs as exist, all the{291} principal figures in the niches have snake-hoods—are Nagas, in fact, with three or five-headed snakes at the backs of their heads. Any one on the spot, with his attention turned to this, could easily determine in a few minutes how far this was the case or not; but no one has yet visited it with the preparation necessary to settle this and many other uncertain points regarding the architecture and mythology of the place. A monograph, however, of this temple would be a work well worthy of any pains that might be bestowed upon it by any Indian archæologist; for, besides its historical and mythological importance, many of its details are of great beauty, and they have never been drawn with the care they so well merit. (Woodcut No. 164.) As the typical example of a quasi-classical style, a perfect knowledge of its peculiarities would be a landmark in the history of the style both before and after its date.

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164. Soffit of Arch at Marttand. (From a Sketch by the late Mr. Wilson, B.C.S.)


Next in importance to Marttand, among Kashmiri temples, are those of Avantipore, all erected certainly within the limits of the reign of Avantiverma, the first king of the Utpala dynasty, and who reigned from A.D. 875 to A.D. 904. The stone with which they are erected is so friable, and the temples themselves are so ruined, that there might be a difficulty in ascertaining to what religion they were dedicated if the ‘Raja Tarangini’ were not so distinct in describing this monarch as a devoted follower of Siva,[319] and naming these temples as dedicated to various forms of that god.

The two principal ruins stand in courtyards of nearly the same size, about 200 ft. by 100 ft. or 170 ft. internally. One, called Avantiswami, has pillars all round, like Marttand, and almost identical in design and dimensions. The other is astylar, but the temple itself was much more important than in the first example.[320]{292}

The characteristic that seems most clearly to distinguish the style of the temples at Marttand from that of those at Avantipore is the greater richness of detail which the latter exhibit; just such a tendency, in fact, towards the more elaborate carvings of the Hindu style as one might expect from their difference in date. Several of these have been given by the three authors to whose works I have so often had occasion to allude, and to which the reader is referred; but the annexed fragment (Woodcut No. 165) of one of its columns is as elegant in itself, and almost as interesting historically, as the Doric of the examples quoted above, inasmuch as if it is compared with the pillars of the tomb of Mycene (Woodcut No. 117, vol. i.) it seems difficult to escape the conviction that the two forms were derived from some common source. At all events, there is nothing between the Peloponnesus and Kashmir, so far as we now know, that so nearly resembles it.

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165. Pillar at Avantipore. (From a drawing by Mr. Wilson, C.S.)


At a place near the remote village of Bhaniyar, on the road between Uri and Naoshera, there stands one of the best-preserved temples in the valley. Like all the older temples, it was supplied with the means of keeping its courtyard full of water, and during the long ages of neglect these brought down silt and mud sufficient to half bury the place. It was recently, however, excavated by order of the Raja of Kashmir, and hence its nearly perfect state.[321] Its dimensions are less than those of the temples last described, being only 145 ft. by 120 ft., but, except from natural decay of the stone, it is nearly perfect, and gives a very fair idea of the style of these buildings. The trefoiled arch, with its tall pediment, the detached column and its architrave, are as distinctly shown here as in any other existing example of a Kashmiri colonnade, and present all those quasi-classical features which we now know were inherited from the neighbouring province of Gandhara. The central temple is small, only 26 ft. square, and its roof is now covered with wooden shingles; but whether that was the original covering is not certain. Looking, however, at the central side-cell of the colonnade (Woodcut No. 166), it seems to me extremely doubtful whether General Cunningham is justified in restoring the roof of the temple, or of the central cell at{293} Marttand in stone. My impression rather is, as hinted above, that the temple-roof was in wood; that of the side-cell in stone, but flat.

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166. View in Court of Temple at Bhaniyar. (From a Photograph.)

At a place called Waniyat are two groups of temples, which were carefully examined and described by the Rev. Mr. Cowie,[322] and plans and photographs are found in Lieutenant Cole’s book.[323] They differ somewhat from those we have been describing, inasmuch as they do not seem to have been enclosed in colonnaded courts, and consist each of one large and several smaller temples, unsymmetrically arranged. The larger ones are 30 ft. and 32 ft. square in plan over all; the smaller 10 ft. or 12 ft.

There are no inscriptions, nor any historical indications that would enable us to fix the date of the Waniyat temples with certainty, and the stone has decayed to such an extent that the details cannot be defined with the precision necessary for comparison with other examples; but whether this decay arises from time or from the nature of the stone there are no means of knowing. Lieutenant Cole, basing his inferences on certain similarities he detects between them and the temple of the Takt-i-Suleiman, which he believes was erected B.C. 220, ascribes their erection to the first century after Christ. Reasoning from the same basis, if the temple on the Takt belongs to the 17th century, I would infer that they were among the most modern temples in this style in the valley. Besides this, they are purely Hindu temples, without any of those Naga or Jaina peculiarities that distinguish the older ones, and almost certainly, therefore, may be placed after the year A.D. 1000. How much more modern they may be must be left for future inquiry.{294}

Among the remaining examples, perhaps the one that most clearly exhibits the characteristics of the style is that at Pandrethan (Woodcut No. 167). It still stands, as it has always stood, in the centre of its tank; but the overflow drains, which originally served to keep the water at the same level, having become choked by neglect, it can now only be approached by swimming or in a boat. Originally, it seems to have had a third storey or division to its roof, but that has fallen; the lower part of the building, however, exhibits all the characteristic features of the style in as much perfection as almost any other known example.

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167. Temple at Pandrethan.

(From a Drawing by General Cunningham.)

One last example must conclude our illustrations of Kashmiri architecture. The temple at Payech, though one of the smallest, is among the most elegant, and also one of the most modern examples of the style (Woodcut No. 168). Its dimensions are only 8 ft. square for the superstructure, and 21 ft. high, including the basement; but with even these dimensions it acquires a certain dignity from being erected with only six stones—four for the walls and two for the roof.[324] It stands by itself on a knoll, without any court, or any of the surroundings of the older temples, and, being dedicated wholly to the gods of the Hindu Pantheon, it certainly belongs to an age when their worship had superseded the older faiths of the valley. It would be interesting if its date could be ascertained, as it carries with it that of the caves of Bhaumajo and of several other temples. So far as can at present be made out, it seems to belong to the 13th century of our era, but is probably of a more modern rather than of a more ancient date.

In order to write a complete monography of the Kashmiri style, we ought to be able to trace it very much further back than anything in the previous pages enables us to do, and by some means{295} to connect it with the other styles of India. In order to do this, however, we must discover some Buddhist remains in Kashmir. We know from history that Asoka, B.C. 250, sent missionaries to convert the inhabitants of the valley to the Buddhist faith, and that in the 1st century Kanishka, a Buddhist king, reigned here absolutely;[325] and we know that in the 7th century Hiouen Thsang found Buddhism, if not the only religion, at least one of the dominant faiths of the people. The details he mentions, and the fact of his lingering here for two whole years (A.D. 633 to A.D. 634) to study its forms and scriptures, proves how important this religion then was.[326] But not one vestige of a chaitya or of a vihara has yet come to light; and though there are mounds which may contain stupas, it is most improbable that they will contain any architectural forms that may be of any use for our purposes.

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168. Temple at Payech. (From a Photograph.)

When we know more of the forms and ages of the Gandhara monasteries (ante, pages 169, et seqq.), they may supply some of the missing links required to connect the Kashmiri style to that of the outer world; but till the temples in Salt Range, and other little-frequented parts of the Punjab are examined, we shall not know all that we{296} desire. Meanwhile the annexed woodcut (No. 169), representing a temple at Mûlot, shows how nearly the Punjabi style resembled that of Kashmir. There are the same trefoil-headed openings; the fluted pillars, with quasi-classical bases and capitals; and a general similarity of style not to be mistaken. There is another temple very similar, but smaller, at Kathwai; both are near Pind Dadan Khan, and from what I can learn there are others which may form a connecting link between the Gandhara monasteries and the Kashmiri temples. It may be that Mahomedan bigotry has defaced them all; but, looking at the immense strides that have been made during the last few years in this direction, I feel confident that so soon as they are looked for all that is still wanting will certainly be found.

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169. Temple at Mûlot, in the Salt Range. (From a Photograph.)


So many and so various are the points of interest connected with the style of the ancient buildings in Kashmir, that they deserve much fuller illustration than is compatible with the scope of the present work. Though not magnificent, they are very pleasing and appropriate examples of art, and they have this advantage over most of the Indian styles, that Kashmir possesses, in the ‘Raja Tarangini,{297}’ what may be said to be the only Indian history in existence. Any one familiar with that work, and with the actual buildings, could without much difficulty fix their dates, and from the buildings illustrate the history. This has not yet been accomplished, but there is no doubt that it can be done.

Another point of interest connected with this style is the strange but undoubted affinity which exists between it and the architectural forms of ancient Greece. This, when fully investigated, may reveal to us relations between the two countries or their outlying dependencies which are not now suspected.

But the greatest point of interest is that arising out of the connexion which at one time seems to have existed between Kashmir and Cambodia, which will form the subject of a subsequent chapter. Between the two we shall probably be able to gather up the threads of the long-lost form of Serpent superstition, and learn to know what were the arrangements of the temples, and what the worship addressed to that mysterious deity.

I have already, in my work on Tree and Serpent worship, and in the Introduction, entered so fully into this subject, and said all that I have at present to say about it, that I need not do more here than recapitulate the results, but they can hardly be too often repeated in order to render the context intelligible. So far as I can ascertain, the people who adopted Buddhism in India were neither the Aryans nor the Dravidians, but a native aboriginal race in the north, whom the Aryans called Dasyus. Before their conversion they worshipped trees and serpents, and after their adoption of the higher and purer form of worship they continually relapsed to their old faith and old feelings whenever the influence of Buddhism became weak, or its discipline relaxed. This was especially the case in Kashmir, with Taxila, and Gandhara; it was the head-quarters of Naga worship in northern India; and though the inhabitants embraced Buddhism with avidity, there are everywhere signs of their backslidings. In Kashmir the oldest temples, if not exclusively Naga, certainly show an unmistakable tendency in that direction, and continued to do so till the Hindu revival in the 11th century. After that they were dedicated to Siva and Vishnu, and the people of the valley seem to have been completely converted to the Hindu religion, when they fell under the influence of the followers of Mahomet, and adopted the faith of the Arabian Prophet in or about the 14th century.

It is between the fall of Buddhism and the rise of Mahomedanism that all the temples in the true Kashmiri style must be ranged. Before that we have nothing—after that, only the tomb of Zein-ul-ab-ud-dín and the temple on the Takt-i-Suleiman can be classed as examples of the style, though the latter can hardly even claim a title to that affiliation.{298}




Stupas or Chaityas—Wooden Temples—Thibet—Temples at Kangra.

Any one looking at the map, and the map only, would probably be inclined to fancy that, from their similarity of situation and surroundings, the arts and archæology of Nepal must resemble those of Kashmir. It would not, however, be easy to make a greater mistake, for there are no two provinces of India which are more diametrically opposed to one another in these respects than these two Himalayan states. Partly this is due to local peculiarities. The valley of Nepal proper—in which the three capitals, Patan, Bhatgaon, and Khatmandu, are situated—is only twelve miles north and south, by nine in width east and west. It is true, the bulk of the population of the Gorkha state live in the valleys that surround this central point; but they are sparse and isolated communities, having very little communication with each other. Kashmir, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys in the world, measuring more than one hundred miles in one direction and more than seventy in another, without any ridges or interruptions of any sort, and capable of maintaining a large population on one vast, unbroken, fertile plain.

Another point of difference is, that Kashmir never was a thoroughfare. The population who now possess it entered it from the south, and have retained possession of it—in all historical times, at least—in sufficient numbers to keep back any immigration from the north. In Nepal, on the contrary, the bulk of the population are Thibetans, a people from the north, left there apparently in their passage southward; and, so far as we can gather from such histories as exist, the southern races who are found there only entered the valley in the beginning of the 14th century, and never in such numbers as materially to modify the essentially Turanian character of the people.

Nepal also differs from Kashmir from the fact that the Mahomedans never had possession of their valley, and never, consequently, influenced their arts or their religions. The architectural history of{299} the two valleys differs, consequently, in the following particulars:—In Kashmir we have a Buddhist period, superseded in the 8th century by an original quasi-classical style, that lasted till it, in its turn, was supplanted by that of the Moslem in the 15th century. In Nepal we have no succession of styles—no history in fact—for we do not know when any of the three religions was introduced; but what we find is the Vaishnava, Saiva, and Buddhist religions existing side by side at the present day, and flourishing with a rank luxuriance unknown on the plains of Bengal, where probably their exuberance was checked by the example of the Moslems, who, as just remarked, had no influence in the valley.

Owing to all the principal monuments in Nepal being modern—all, certainly, subsequent to the 14th century—and to the people being too poor to indulge in such magnificence as is found on the plains, the buildings of Nepal cannot compare, as architectural objects, with those found in other parts of India. But, on the other hand, the very fact of their being modern gives them an interest of their own, and though it is an exaggeration, it is a characteristic one, when it is said that in Nepal there are more temples than houses, and more idols than men; it is true to such an extent that there is an unlimited field for inquiry, and even if not splendid, the buildings are marvellously picturesque. Judging from photographs and such materials as are available, I have no hesitation in asserting that there are some streets and palaces in Khatmandu and Bhatgaon which are more picturesque, and more striking as architectural compositions, than are to be found in any other cities in India. The style may be called barbarous, and the buildings have the defect of being principally in wood; but their height, their variety of outline, their wealth of carving and richness of colour, are such as are not to be found in Benares or any other city of the plains.

The real point of interest in the architecture of Nepal to the true student of the art lies in its ethnographic meaning. When fully mastered, it presents us with a complete microcosm of India as it was in the 7th century, when Hiouen Thsang visited it—when the Buddhist and Brahmanical religions flourished side by side; and when the distinctive features of the various races were far more marked than they have since become under the powerful solvent of the Mahomedan domination.

From all these causes I believe that if the materials existed, and it were possible to write an exhaustive history of the architecture of the valley of Nepal, it would throw more light on most of the problems that are now perplexing us than that of any other province in India. It only, however, can be done by some one on the spot, and perfectly familiar not only with the Nepalese buildings but with{300} all the phases of the question;[327] but even then its value would be more ethnographic than æsthetic. If this were an ethnographic history of architecture, to which the æsthetic question were subordinate, it would be indispensable that it should be attempted, however incomplete the materials might be; but the contrary being the case, it must suffice here to point out the forms of the architecture, merely indicating the modes in which the various styles are divided among the different races.


Like that of so many other countries of India, the mythic history of Nepal commences with that of the heroes of the ‘Mahabarata,’ but with some more reasons in this case than in most others, for it seems probable that it was through the Himalayas that the Pandus entered India, and certain, at all events, that the poem represents the survivors of the great war returning to their homes, accompanied by their dogs, across these mountains, through the dominion of the Gorkhas, if not actually through the valley of Nepal. The long lists of names, however, that connect these events with modern events, if not purely fabulous, are at least barren of all interest, and no event is recorded between 1300 years B.C. and A.D. 1300 that need arrest attention. What we do gather is, that at some remote period, probably the first century of our era, Buddhism did penetrate into the valley, and, finding it inhabited by a people of Thibetan origin, it was, of course, easily adopted, and has since remained the religion of that section of the population.[328]{301}

There are two accounts of the mode in which the Hindu or Rajput element was introduced into the valley. The favourite one is, that after the sack of Chittore by Ala-u-dîn, in 1306, the conqueror sought the hand of the proud Rajput’s daughter, and to avoid the contamination he and his followers fled and sought refuge in Nepal.[329] Another account represents the Rajas of Mithila and Semrun—descendants of the Surya Vansa kings of Ayodhya—and the Rajputs of Canouge flying in like manner, in 1326, to avoid the tyranny of the Delhi emperors; and that it was these tribes, and not the fugitives from Chittore, who conquered and colonised a part of the valley.[330] Both accounts are probably to some extent true, and they and their followers form the Parbuttya or Hindu element in the population at the present day, and make up the bulk of those who profess the Hindu religion and worship Siva and Vishnu and the other gods of the Hindu Pantheon.

Before they entered the valley, however, it seems to have been occupied by Kiratas, Bhotyas, Newars, and other tribes of impure origin,[331] according to the Hindu idea of purity—in other words, Tartars or Thibetans—and they are those who had early adopted the doctrines of Buddha and still adhere to them. The Newars seem to have been the governing caste till the year 1768, when a weak sovereign having called in the assistance of a neighbouring Gorkha Raja, he seized the kingdom, and his successors still rule in Nepal. They apparently were originally of the Magar tribe,[332] but having mixed with the immigrant Hindus call themselves Rajputs, and have adopted the Hindu religion, though in a form very different from that known in the plains, and differing in a manner we would scarcely be inclined to expect. When the religion of the destroyer was introduced into a country that professed the mild religion of Buddha, it might naturally be supposed that its most savage features would be toned down, so as to meet, to some extent at least, the prejudices of the followers of the religion it was superseding. So far from this being the case in this instance, it is said that when first introducing the religion the Gorkhas propitiated the deity with human sacrifices, till warned in a dream to desist and substitute animals.[333] Besides this, the images of Durga or Kali, though hideous and repulsive enough in the plains, are ten times more so in Nepal; and, in fact, throughout there is an exaggeration of all the most prominent features of the religion, that would lead to the belief that it found a singularly congenial soil in the valley and blossomed with unusual exuberance there. This, in fact, is one of the reasons that lead to the belief that{302} the religion of Siva is a northern Tartar superstition, which, when introduced into India, was softened and modified to suit the milder genius of the people; but among the hill tribes, with northern affinities, it was practised with all the Tantric devil-worshipping peculiarities that characterise its original birthplace. So far, too, as the architecture of the Saiva temples in Nepal is concerned, it seems to indicate that the worship came into the valley from the north, and not from the plains of Bengal. The architecture of the temples of Vishnu, on the contrary, seems evidently to be an offshoot of the art of the plains.

Stupas or Chaityas.

The two oldest and most important Buddhist monuments in the valley of Nepal are those of Swayambunath and Bouddhama:[334] the former, beautifully situated on a gentle eminence about a mile from Khatmandu, the latter at Kasachiel, at some distance off.


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170. Temple of Swayambunath, Nepal. (From a Drawing in the Hodgson Collection.)

No very precise information is to be had about the date of either, but, in their present form at least, they are not the oldest in the valley. According to Brian Hodgson, there are several low, flat, tumuli-like chaityas, with very moderate tees, which are older, and may be of any age; but, as will be seen from the previous woodcut (No. 170), that at Swayambunath is of an irregular clumsy form, and chiefly remarkable for the exaggerated form of its tee. This is, in fact, the most marked characteristic of the modern Thibetan dagoba, which in China is carried frequently to such an extent that the stupa becomes evanescent, and the tee changes into a nine or thirteen storeyed tower. According to Kirkpatrick (p. 151), “this temple is chiefly celebrated for its perpetual fire, the two principal wicks having preserved their flames from time immemorial.” The continual presence of the fire-altar, in connexion with statues of Buddha in Gandhara, would lead us to suspect a connexion between fire-worship and Buddhism in that province, but hardly so intimate as this would seem to indicate.

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171. Nepalese Kosthakar. No scale.

In Mr. Hodgson’s collection there are nearly one hundred drawings of chaityas in Nepal, all different, most of them small, and generally highly ornamented; but none of them grand, and none exhibiting that elegance of form or beauty of detail which characterises the buildings of the plains. From a low, flat mound, one-tenth of its diameter in height, they rise to such a tall building as this, which is a common form, bearing the name of Kosthakar (Woodcut No. 171), in which the dagoba is only the crowning ornament, and between these there is every conceivable variety of shape and detail. Among others, there is the four-faced lingam of Siva, with a corresponding emblem with four Buddhas; and altogether such a confusion of the two{304}

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172. Devi Bhowani Temple, Bhatgaon. (From a Photograph.)

religions as to confirm the idea hinted at above, that the lingam is really a diminutive dagoba, and not the emblem it is usually{305} supposed to represent, though, no doubt, in modern times understood to have that meaning.

By far the most characteristic and beautiful temples of the Nepalese are those possessing many storeys divided with sloping roofs. They are unlike anything found in Bengal, and all their affinities seem with those in Burmah or China. Usually, they seem to be dedicated to the Saiva faith, but Mr. Hodgson mentions one at Patan, where “Sakya occupies the basal floor, Amitabha the second storey, a small stone chaitya the third, the Dharmadatu Mandala the fourth; the fifth, or apex of the building, externally consisting of a small churamani, or jewel-headed chaitya.”

One of the most elegant of this class is the Bhowani temple at Bhatgaon, represented in the previous woodcut (No. 172). It is five storeys in height, but stands particularly well on a pyramid of five steps, which gives it a greater dignity than many of its congeners. Another, dedicated to Mahadeo, is seen in the centre of the next woodcut (No. 173). It is only two storeys in height, but has the same characteristic form of roof, which is nearly universal in all buildings, civil or ecclesiastical, which have any pretension to architectural design. The temple on the left of the last cut is dedicated to Krishna, and will be easily recognised by any one familiar with the architecture of the plains from its sikra or spire, with the curvilinear outline, and its clustering pavilions, not arranged quite like the ordinary types, but still so as to be unmistakably Bengali.

One other example must complete our illustration of the architecture of Nepal. It is a doorway leading to the durbar at Bhatgaon, and is a singularly characteristic specimen of the style, but partaking much more of China than of India in the style of its ornaments (Woodcut No. 174, p. 307). It is indeed so like an archway in the Nankau Pass, near Pekin—given further on—that I was at first inclined to ascribe them to the same age. The Chinese example, however, is dated in 1345;[335] this one, according to Mr. Hodgson, was erected as late as 1725, yet their ornamentation is the same. In the centre is Garuda, with a seven-headed snake-hood; and on either hand are Nagas, with seven-headed hoods also; and the general character of the foliaged ornaments is so similar that it is difficult to believe in so great a lapse of time between them; but I dare not question Mr. Hodgson’s evidence. Since he was in Nepal the building on the left-hand side of the cut has been “improved.” His drawings show it to have been one of the most picturesque buildings in the valley. It certainly is not so now.

It may be remembered that in speaking of the architecture of Canara (ante, p. 272), I remarked on the similarity that existed{306}

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173. Temple of Mahadeo and Krishna, Patan. (From a Photograph.)

between that of that remote province and the style that is found in this Himalayan valley; and I do not think that any one can look at the illustrations quoted above, especially Woodcuts Nos. 150 and 153, and not perceive the similarity between them and the Nepalese examples, though it might require a familiarity with all the photo{307}graphs

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174. Doorway of Durbar, Bhatgaon. (From a Photograph.)

to make it evident, without its being pointed out. This being the case, it is curious to find Colonel Kirkpatrick stating, more{308} than seventy years ago, that “it is remarkable enough that the Newar women, like those among the Nairs, may, in fact, have as many husbands as they please, being at liberty to divorce them continually on the slightest pretence.”[336] Dr. Buchanan Hamilton also remarks that “though a small portion of the Newars have forsaken the doctrine of Buddha and adopted the worship of Siva, it is without changing their manners, which are chiefly remarkable for their extraordinary carelessness about the conduct of their women;” and he elsewhere remarks on their promiscuousness and licentiousness.[337] In fact, there are no two tribes in India, except the Nairs and Newars, who are known to have the same strange notions as to female chastity, and that, coupled with the architecture and other peculiarities, seems to point to a similarity of race which is both curious and interesting; but how and when the connexion took place I must leave it to others to determine. I do not think there is anything in the likeness of the names, but I do place faith in the similarity of their architecture combined with that of their manners and customs.

Wooden Temples.

In the Himalayan districts between Kashmir and Nepal, in Kulû, Kangra, and Kumaon, there are a vast number of temples, regarding which it would be extremely interesting to have more information than we now possess. They are all in wood, generally Deodar pine, and, like most buildings in that material, more fantastic in shape, but at the same time more picturesque and more richly carved than buildings in more permanent and more intractable materials. What we now know of them, however, is mainly derived from photographs, taken without any system, only as pictures, because the buildings were either picturesque in themselves or so situated as to improve the landscape. No one yet has thought of measuring them, nor of asking to what divinities they are dedicated, and still less of inquiring into their age or traditions; and till this is done it is impossible to treat of them in anything like a satisfactory manner.

Whenever this chapter of Indian architectural history comes to be written, it will form a curious pendant to that of the wooden architecture of Sweden and Norway, the similarities between the two groups being both striking and instructive. It can hardly be expected that any ethnographical or political connexion can be traced between peoples so remote from one another which could influence their architectural forms; but it is curious, if this is so, to observe how people come independently to adopt the same forms and similar{309} modes of decoration when using the same materials for like purposes, and under similar climatic influences. Although it may, consequently, be impossible to trace any influence that the people of the Himalayas could have exerted on the peoples of the north-west of Europe, it is by no means clear that in these wooden structures we may not find the germ of much that is now perplexing us with regard to the earlier forms of Hindu stone architecture. Like Buddhist architecture, there can hardly be a doubt that much of it was derived from wooden originals, and it is difficult to see any locality where wooden styles were likely to be earlier adopted and longer practised than in those valleys where the Deodar pine is abundant, and forms so excellent and so lasting a building material.


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175. Monoliths at Dimapur.
(From a Drawing by Major Godwin Austen.)

An exploration of these valleys, would, no doubt, bring to light many curious monuments, which would not only be interesting in themselves, but might throw considerable light on many now obscure points of our inquiries. One monument, for instance, has recently been discovered by Major Godwin Austen near the foot of the Naga hills in Assam, which is unlike any other known to exist anywhere else.[338] The temple—if temple it may be called—consists of a long corridor, about 250 ft. in length and 21 ft. wide, the roof of which was supported by pillars richly carved, spaced 15 ft. to 21 ft. apart; but its most remarkable features are two rows—one of sixteen, the other of seventeen monoliths—standing in front of this. The tallest is 15 ft., the smallest 8 ft. 5 in., the general range being {310}from 12 to 13 ft. in height, and 18 ft. to 20 ft. in circumference. No two are exactly alike, though all have a general similarity of design to those represented in the preceding woodcut (No. 175), which may be considered as typical of the style. Another similar monolith was found a small distance off, measuring 16 ft. 8 in. in height, and 23 ft. in circumference.

The natives were quite unable to give any account of these curious monuments, nor is it easy to guess why they were placed where they are. So far as I know, no similar monument exists anywhere, for the pillars seem perfectly useless, though attached to two rows of stones that may have borne a roof; otherwise they look like those rows of rude stone monuments which we are familiar with in this country and in Brittany, but which a more artistic people may have adorned with rude carvings, instead of leaving them quite plain, as our forefathers did. As for their carving, the only things the least like them, so far as I know, in India, are the pillars in the temple at Moodbidri (Woodcut No. 152), and in other places in Canara, but there the pillars are actual supports of roofs; these are round-headed, and evidently never were intended for any utilitarian purpose.

Judging from the gateway and other remains of the town of Dimapur, in which these pillars are found, they cannot be of any great age. The gateway is of the Gaur type, with a pointed arch, probably of the 16th or 17th century; and, if Major Austen’s observation is correct, that the sandstone of which they are composed is of a friable and perishable nature, they cannot be of any remote antiquity.

It would be very interesting if a few more similar monuments could be found, and Assam is one of the most promising fields in India for such discoveries. When Hiouen Thsang visited it, in the 7th century, it was known as the kingdom of Kamrup, one of the three principal states of Northern India, and continued populous and important till the Pathan sovereigns of Delhi attempted its conquest in the 15th century. Owing to the physical difficulties of the country, they never were able to succeed in this attempt; but they blockaded the country for many years, and, cut off from the rest of the world, the savage hill tribes on either hand, aided by famine, so depopulated the country that the jungle overpowered the feeble remnant that survived, and one of the richest valleys in the world is now one of the most sparsely inhabited. A good and liberal government might, in a few years, go far to remedy this state of affairs, and, if so blessed, the jungle might again be cleared and rendered fit for human population. When this is done there can be no doubt but that the remains of many ancient cities will be found. Already Captain Dalton has given an account of the ruins of Gohati, which was almost certainly the ancient capital of the province. “Its former importance,” the Commissioner says, “is well attested by the immense{311} extent of its fortifications, and the profusion of carved stones which every excavation of the modern town brings to light. The remains of stone gateways and old stone bridges are found both within and without the old city walls.”[339] Captain Hannay gives a view of one of these bridges. Like all the rest, it is constructed without arches, on the horizontal principle,[340] but it may be as old as the time of the Chinese Pilgrims. Besides these, other ruins have been found and described, in more or less detail, in the pages of the ‘Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.’ When more fully known they will certainly be of considerable historic and ethnographic value, though they hardly can compare with the vast monuments of such provinces as Orissa or Gujerat, and other parts of India Proper.


It would be extremely interesting if, before leaving this part of the world, it were possible to compile anything like a satisfactory account of the Buddhist style in Thibet, for it is there that Buddhism exists in its greatest purity at the present moment, and there only is it entirely and essentially a part of the system of the people. We would gladly, therefore, compare the existing state of things in Thibet with our accounts of India in the days of the supremacy of the same religion. The jealousy of the Chinese, however, who are now supreme over that nation of priests, prevents free access to the country, and those who have penetrated beyond its forbidden barriers have either done so in the disguise of mendicants, and, consequently, dared neither to draw nor examine minutely what they saw, or else had little taste for portraying what was unintelligible, and, consequently, of very little interest to them.[341]

So far as can be made out from such narratives as we have, there does not seem to be in Thibet a single relic-shrine remarkable either for sanctity or size, nor does relic-worship seem to be expressed either in their architecture or their religious forms. But as no country in the world possesses a larger body of priests in proportion to its population, and as all these are vowed to celibacy and live together, their monasteries are more extensive than any we know of elsewhere—some containing 2000 or 3000 lamas, some, if we may trust M. Huc, as many as 15,000.[342] The monasteries do not seem to be built with{312} any regularity, or to be grouped into combinations of any architectural pretension, but to consist of long streets of cells, mostly surrounding small courtyards, three or four on each side, and sometimes two or even three storeys high; generally, perhaps always, with a small shrine or altar in the centre. The monastery of Bouddha La, outside the city of Lassa, where the Delai Lama resides, seems to be of more magnificence than all the rest—the centre being occupied by a building four storeys high, crowned by a dome (making the fifth) covered entirely with sheets of gold (rather, perhaps, merely gilt), and surrounded by a peristyle of columns, which are gilt also. Around this central palace are grouped a number of smaller ones, where the inferior members of this great ecclesiastical order reside; but of all this it is difficult to form a distinct idea without some better drawings than the native ones, which are at present alone available.

The Delai Lama, who resides in this palace, is believed by the Thibetans to be the living incarnation of the Deity, and, in consequence, is the principal, if not the only, object of worship in Lassa. There are, however, four or five subordinate incarnations in different parts of Thibet and Mongolia, who, though inferior to this one, are still objects of worship in the places where they reside, and by particular sects of Buddhists.

It is this worship of a living rather than of a dead deity that seems to be the principal cause of the difference of the architectural forms of India and Thibet. In the countries we have hitherto been describing no actual incarnation of the Deity is believed to have taken place since the death of Sakya Muni, though the spirit of God has descended on many saints and holy men; in India, therefore, they have been content to worship images of the departed deity, or relics which recall His presence. In Thibet, where their deity is still present among them, continually transmigrating, but never dying, of course such a form of worship would be absurd; no relic of a still living god can exist, nor is the semblance or the memory of any past manifestation thought worth preserving. A priori, therefore, we should scarcely look here for the same class of sacred edifices as we find in India or Ceylon.

Owing to the jealousy with which the country is guarded against the intrusion of Europeans, we may probably have to wait some time before Thibet itself, or even the valleys dependent upon it in the Himalayas, are so accessible to European travellers as to enable them to supply the data requisite for the purpose. In the meanwhile, however, the view (Woodcut No. 176) of the doorway of the temple at Tassiding is curious as showing a perseverance in the employment of sloping jambs, which we do not meet with in the plains. It will be recollected that this feature is nearly universal in the Behar and early western caves (Woodcuts{313} Nos. 43, 45, and 50), but there we lose it. It may have continued to be commonly employed during the Middle Ages, though the examples have perished; but it is curious to find it cropping up here again after a lapse of 2000 years.[343]

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176. Doorway of the Temple at Tassiding. (From Dr. Hooker’s ‘Himalayan Journals.’)

Another view in the porch of the temple at Pemiongchi is also interesting, as showing the form of roof which we are familiar with in the rock examples, and also as illustrating the extent to which the bracket capital of India may be carried under the influence of wooden architecture (Woodcut No. 177). It hardly seems doubtful that the idea was originally derived from wooden construction, but was equally appropriate to masonic forms, and is used in masonry so judiciously by Indian architects that we lose sight of its origin in most instances altogether.

Interesting as these minor styles undoubtedly are from their variety, and valuable though they may be for the hints they afford us in understanding the history of the other styles, they never can be so important as the greater architectural groups that are found on the plains of India itself. A monograph of the styles of Kashmir or Nepal, or of the intermediate valleys, would be an invaluable addition to our knowledge; but hardly more is required in a general history than that their places should be indicated, and their general charac{314}teristics so defined as to render them recognisable. Even these minor styles, however, will become more intelligible when studied in connexion with the Dravidian and northern styles, which are those it is next proposed to define and describe.

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177. Porch of the Temple at Pemiongchi. (From Hooker.)

Temples at Kangra.

Though a little out of their place in the series, there are two small {315}temples in one of the Himalayan valleys which it may be expedient to describe here before leaving this part of the subject, as their peculiarities will assist us in understanding much that has just been said, or that will be presently advanced. Besides this, they do not exactly fit into any other series, but they can hardly be passed over, as they possess what is so rare in Indian temples—a well-ascertained date.

The temples are situated in the village of Kiragrama, not far from Kote Kangra, and, as an inscription on them records, were built by two brothers, Baijnath and Siddhnath, in the year 804 A.D.[344] Neither of them are large. The larger has a porch 20 ft. square inside by 28 ft. (not 48 ft.) over all externally, and the whole length of the temple, from front to rear, is 50 ft. The smaller one is only 33 ft. over all, including the sanctuary. In 1786, the large temple underwent a thorough repair at the hands of a Raja Sinsarchand, which has obliterated many of its features; but it is easy to see at a glance what was done in the beginning of the 9th century, and what 1000 years afterwards. The small temple, though ruinous, is more interesting, because it has escaped the hand of the spoiler. As will be seen from the woodcut (No. 178), it has all the features of a very old temple—great simplicity of outline, no repetitions of itself, and the whole surface of the upper part covered with that peculiar horseshoe diaper which was so fashionable in those early days. It looks here as if it must be copied from some brick or terra-cotta construction; otherwise its repetition over a whole surface seems unaccountable. The amalaka stringcourses are subdued and in good taste, and the crowning ornament well proportioned.[345]

There is little doubt that the sikra of the larger temple was similarly adorned, but all its details are so completely obliterated by the coating of plaster it has received that it has lost its interest. The pillars, however, of its porch retain their forms up to their capitals, at least. The architraves, as may be seen from the woodcut, belong to the repair in 1786. The shafts of the pillars are plain cylinders, of very classical proportions, and the bases also show that they are only slightly removed from classical design. The square plinth, the two toruses, the cavetto, or hollow moulding between, are all classical, but partially hidden by Hindu ornamentation, of great elegance, but unlike anything found afterwards. The capitals are, however, the most interesting parts, though their details are considerably obliterated by whitewash. They belong to what may be styled the Hindu-Corinthian order, though the principles on which{316}

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178. Temples at Kiragrama, near Kote Kangra. (From a Photograph.)

they are designed is diametrically opposed to those of the classical order of the same name. The object of both—as is well-known—is to convert a circular shaft into a square architrave-bearing capital{317} in a graceful and pleasing manner. We all know the manner in which the Ionic and Corinthian capitals effect this; pleasingly, it is true, but not without effort and some little clumsiness, which it required all the skill and taste of classical architects to conquer. To effect this object, the Hindus placed a vase on the top of their column, the bowl of which was about the same diameter as that of the pillar on which it was placed, or rather larger; but such an arrangement was weak, because the neck and base of the vase were necessarily smaller than the shaft of the pillar, and both were still circular. To remedy these defects, they designed a very beautiful class of foliaged ornament, which appears to grow out of the vase, on each of its four faces, and, falling downwards, strengthens the hollows of the neck and leg of the vase, so as to give them all the strength they require, and at the same time to convert the circular form of the shaft into the required square for the abacus of the capital. The Hindus, of course, never had sufficient ability or constructive skill to enable them to produce so perfect a form as the Corinthian or Ionic capitals of the Greeks or Romans; but it is probable that if this form were taken up at the present day, a capital as beautiful as either of these might even now be produced. It is, indeed, almost the only suggestion that Indian architecture seems to offer for European use.

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179. Pillar at Erun of the Gupta age.

180. Capital of Half Column from a temple in Orissa. (From a Lithograph.)

It is by no means clear when this form of capital was first introduced. It first appears, but timidly it must be confessed, in such late Buddhist caves as were excavated after the beginning of the 5th century:—as, for instance, in the Yadnya Sri cave at Nassick{318} (Woodcut No. 81); in the courtyard of the Viswakarma, at Ellora (Woodcut No. 63); and in some of the later caves at Ajunta—the twenty-fourth for instance. It is found at Erun (Woodcut No. 179), among some fragments that I believe to be of the age of the Guptas, about A.D. 400, and it is currently employed in the middle group of Hindu caves at Ellora, such as the Ashes of Ravana, and other caves of that age, say about A.D. 600. It afterwards became frequent, almost universal, with the Jains, down to the time of the Mahomedan conquest. The preceding representation of one (Woodcut No. 180), from a half column of a temple in Orissa, shows it in a skeleton form, and therefore more suited to explain its construction than a fuller capital would do. On its introduction, the bell-shaped or Persepolitan capital seems to have gone out of fashion, and does not again appear in Indian art.

To return from this digression: there can be no doubt that the temple of Baijnath is dedicated to Siva, not only from the presence of the bulls in front of it, in pavilions of the same architecture as the porch, but also because Ganesa appears among its integral sculptures; yet, strange to say, the back niche, is occupied by a statue of Mahavira, the last Jaina Tirthankar, with a perfectly legible inscription, dated in A.D. 1240.[346] It looks as if the age of toleration had not passed even them.{319}





The limits within which the Dravidian style of architecture prevailed in India are not difficult to define or understand. Practically they are those of the Madras Presidency, or, to speak more correctly, they are identical with the spread of the people speaking Tamil, or any of the cognate tongues. Dr. Caldwell, in his ‘Grammar,’ estimates these at forty-five or forty-six millions,[347] but he includes among them a number of tribes, such as the Tudas and Gonds, who, it is true, speak dialects closely allied to the Tamil tongues, but who may have learnt them from the superior races, in the same manner that all the nations of the south-west of Europe learnt to speak Latin from the Romans; or as the Cornish men have adopted English, and the Irish and northern Scots are substituting that tongue for their native Gaelic dialects. Unless we know their history, language is only a poor test of race, and in this instance architecture does not come to our aid. It may do so hereafter, but in so far as we at present know, these tribes are in too rude a state to have any architecture of their own in a sufficiently advanced state for our purposes. Putting them aside, therefore, for the present, we still have, according to the last census, some thirty millions of people speaking Tamil, Telugu, Canarese, and Malayalam, whom we have no reason for doubting are practically of the same race, and who, in so far as they are Hindus—not Jains, but followers of Siva and Vishnu—practise one style of architecture, and that known as the Dravidian. On the east coast the boundaries of the style extend as far north as the mouth of the Kistnah, and it penetrates sporadically and irregularly into the Nizam’s territories, but we cannot yet say to what extent, nor within what limits.{320}

On the west coast its natural boundary northwards is the Kistnah, but it did at one time (A.D. 700?) reach as far as Ellora, in latitude 20°; but it seems to have been a spasmodic effort, and it took no permanent root there, while the reflex wave brought the northern styles into the Mysore or other southern countries, where their presence was as little to be expected as that of the Dravidian so far north.


Although considerable progress has lately been made in the right direction, no satisfactory solution has yet been arrived at of the problem of the origin of the Dravidians. The usual theory is that, coming from the westward, they crossed the Lower Indus, passed through Scinde and Gujerat, and, keeping to the right, sought the localities in which we now find them; or rather, that they were pushed into that corner, first by the Aryans, who almost certainly crossed the Upper Indus, and passed through the Punjab into the valley of the Ganges, and afterwards by the Rajputs, who followed nearly in their footsteps.

In favour of this view is the fact first pointed out by Dr. Caldwell,[348] that the Brahuis in Belochistan speak a Dravidian tongue, and may consequently be considered as a fragment of the race dropped there in transitu. But against this view it may be urged that between the Brahuis and the northern Tamils we have a tract of civilized country extending over 1000 miles in which we have no evidence of the passage of the Dravidians, and where it is nearly certain, if it were a national migration, we should find their traces.

So far as history is concerned, in such glimmerings of tradition as we possess, they certainly do not favour this view of matters. Not only to they fail to afford us any trace of such a migration or conquest, but at the earliest time at which we find any mention of them the most civilized and important of their communities occupied the extreme southern point of the peninsula.[349] North of them all was forest, but between the Christian Era and the Mahomedan invasion we find the jungle gradually disappearing, and the southern races pushing northwards, till, in the 14th century, they were checked and driven back by the Moslems. But for their interference it looks as if, at that time, the Dravidians might eventually have driven the Aryans through the Himalayas back to their original seats, as the Maharattas, who are half Dravidians, nearly did at a subsequent period.

If any clear or direct relationship could be discovered between{321} the Tamil and the Median or Accadian languages of Turanian origin, which the decipherment of arrow-headed inscriptions is revealing to us, it might help a good deal in explaining the original introduction of the Dravidians into India, and the numerous Assyrianisms that exist in the mythology and architecture of southern India. Till, however, more progress is made in that direction, it seems it would be more expedient for the present to assume that the Tamil-speaking races are practically aboriginal, and that the evidences of connexion between them and Babylonia are due to continued and close commercial intercourse between the Persian Gulf and the Malabar coast. That such did exist from very remote ages we may feel certain, and its extent seems such as to justify and explain any similarities that are now found existing in southern India.


Be all this as it may, as far back as their traditions reach, we find the Dravida Desa, or southern part of India, divided into three kingdoms or states, the Pandyas, the Cholas, and the Cheras, forming a little triarchy of powers, neither interfered with by the other nations of the earth, nor interfering with those beyond their limits. During the greater part of their existence all their relations of war and peace have been among themselves, and they have grown up a separate people, as unlike the rest of the world as can well be conceived.

Of the three, the most southern was called the Pandyan kingdom; it was the earliest civilized, and seems to have attained sufficient importance about the time of the Christian Era to have attracted the special attention of the Greek and Roman geographers. How much earlier it became a state, or had a regular succession of rulers, we know not,[350] but it seems certainly to have attained to some consistency as early as five or six centuries before the Christian Era, and maintained itself within its original boundaries till in the middle of the last century, when it was swallowed up in our all-devouring aggression.

During this long period the Pandyas had several epochs of great brilliancy and power, followed by long intervening periods of depression and obscurity. The 1st century, and afterwards the 5th or 6th, seem to have been those in which they especially distinguished themselves. If buildings of either of these epochs still exist, which is by no means improbable, they are utterly unknown to us as yet, nor have we any knowledge of buildings of the intervening periods down to the reign of Tirumulla Nayak, A.D. 1624. This{322} prince adorned the capital city of Mádura with many splendid edifices, some of which have been drawn by Daniell and others. What more ancient remains there may be will not be known till the place has been carefully and scientifically explored.

The Chola kingdom extended northwards from the valley of the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers, whose banks seem always to have been its principal seat, nearly to Madras, all along the eastern coast, called after them Cholomandalam or Coromandel. The date of the origin of their kingdom is not known, but their political relations with Kashmir can be traced as early as the 6th century, and probably earlier.[351] Their epoch of greatest glory, however, was between the 10th and 12th centuries, when they seem to have conquered not only their neighbours the Pandyas and Cheras, but even to have surpassed the bounds of the triarchy, and carried their arms into Ceylon, and to have maintained an equal struggle with the Chalukyas in the north. After this period they had no great revival like that of the Pandyas under Tirumulla Nayak, but sank step by step under the Mahomedans, Mahrattas, and English, to their present state of utter political annihilation.

The Cheras occupied the country northward of the kingdom of Pandya, and westward of Chola, including a considerable part of what is now known as Mysore. Their rise according to their own annals took place nearly at the time of the Christian Era, but this most probably is an exaggeration; but there are inscriptions which prove that they were powerful in the 4th and 5th centuries. From this time they seem gradually to have extended their conquest northwards. Their sixteenth king boasts of having conquered Andhra and Kalinga,[352] and their twentieth king, Kongani Raya III., boasts of having conquered Chola, Pandya, Dravida, Andhra, Kalinga, Varada, and Maharastra desas as far as the Nerbudda river.[353] According to the dates in the Kongadesa Rajakal, this must have taken place in the 7th century, but from what we know of history, it could not have taken place till after the overthrow of the Chalukyan dynasty, and consequently hardly before 750. That a southern conquest did take place about that time seems almost certain from the eclipse of the Chalukyas between 750 and 1000,[354] and from the excavation of the Kylas and other temples of Dravidian architecture at Ellora about that time, and there seems no race but the Cheras who could have effected this.

Vira Chola (A.D. 927-977) seems first to have checked their victorious career, and Ari Vara Deva, another Chola king (1004), to have completed their destruction. He also boasts of having carried his{323} victorious standard to the Nerbudda, and to have been a benefactor to Chillambaram, the then famed temple of his race.

This was the last great effort of the early triarchy; after this the rise of the Bellalas in Mysore, and the revival of the Chalukyas in central India, seem to have checked them to such an extent, that they never regained a perfect independence, though at times wealthy and powerful and capable of embarking in the most splendid architectural undertakings.[355]

Although, politically, these three states always remained distinct, and generally antagonistic, the people belonged to the same race. Their architecture is different from any other found in India, but united in itself, and has gone through a process of gradual change from the earliest times at which we become acquainted with it, until we lose sight of it altogether in the last century. This change is invariably for the worse, the earlier specimens being in all instances the most perfect, and the degree of degradation forming, as mentioned above, a tolerably exact chronometric scale, by which we may measure the age of the buildings.

Buddhism, as before hinted, does not seem to have ever gained a footing of much importance among any of the Dravidian races of India, and as early as the 7th century the few votaries of Buddha that existed in the south of India were finally expelled.[356] So completely was it extirpated that I do not know of one single Buddhist monument south of the Kistnah, except the tope at Amravati described above, and am inclined very much to doubt if any really important ones ever existed.

The Jaina religion, on the contrary, continued to nourish at Conjeveram and in the Mysore, and seems to have succeeded Buddhism in these places, and to have attracted to itself whatever tendency there may have been towards the doctrines of Buddhism on the part of the southern people. Though influential from their intelligence, the Jains never formed more than a small numerical fraction of the people among whom they were located.

The Hindu religion, which thus became supreme, is now commonly designated the Brahmanical, in order to distinguish it from the earlier Vedic religion, which, however, never seems to have been known in the south. The two sects into which it is divided consist of the worshippers of Siva and of Vishnu, and are now quite distinct and almost antagonistic; but both are now so overloaded with absurd fables and monstrous superstitions, that it is very difficult to ascertain{324} what they really are or ever were. Nor are we yet in a position to speak confidently of their origin.

Recent discoveries in Assyria seem, however, to point to that country as the origin of much that we find underlying the local colouring of the Vaishnava faith. Garuda, the eagle-headed Vahana, and companion of Vishnu, seems identical with the figure now so familiar to us in Assyrian sculpture, probably representing Ormazd. The fish-god of the Assyrians, Dagon, prefigures the “Fish-Avatar,” or incarnation of Vishnu. The man-lion is not more familiar to us in Assyria than in India, and tradition generally points to the West for the other figures scarcely so easily recognised—more especially Bali, whose name alone is an index to his origin; and Maha Assura, who, by a singular inversion, is a man with a bull’s head,[357] instead of a bull with a man’s head, as he is always figured in his native land. It is worthy of remark that the ninth Avatar of Vishnu is always Buddha himself, thus pointing to a connexion between these two extremes of Indian faith; and we are told by inscriptions of the 14th century that there was then no appreciable difference between the Jains and Vaishnavas.[358] Indeed, as pointed out in the introduction, it seems impossible to avoid considering these three faiths as three stages of one superstition of a native race—Buddhism being the oldest and purest; Jainism a faith of similar origin, but overlaid with local superstitions; and Vishnuism a third form, suited to the capacity of the natives of India in modern times, and to compete with the fashionable worship of Siva.

Both these religions have borrowed an immense amount of nomenclature from the more abstract religions of the Aryan races, and both profess to venerate the Vedas and other scriptures in the Sanscrit language. Indeed it is all but impossible that the intellectual superiority of that race should not make itself felt on the inferior tribes, but it is most important always to bear in mind that the Sanscrit-speaking Aryan was a stranger in India. It cannot indeed be too often repeated that all that is intellectually great in that country—all, indeed, which is written—belongs to them; but all that is built—all, indeed, which is artistic—belongs to other races, who were either aboriginal or immigrated into India at earlier or subsequent periods, and from other sources than those which supplied the Aryan stock.


There does not seem to be any essential difference either in plan or form between the Saiva and Vaishnava temples in the south of India. It is only by observing the images or emblems worshipped, or by{325} reading the stories represented in the numerous sculptures with which a temple is adorned, that we find out the god to whom it is dedicated. Whoever he may be, the temples consist almost invariably of the four following parts, arranged in various manners, as afterwards to be explained, but differing in themselves only according to the age in which they were executed:—

1. The principal part, the actual temple itself, is called the Vimana. It is always square in plan, and surmounted by a pyramidal roof of one or more storeys; it contains the cell in which the image of the god or his emblem is placed.

2. The porches or Mantapas, which always cover and precede the door leading to the cell.

3. Gate pyramids, Gopuras, which are the principal features in the quadrangular enclosures which always surround the Vimanas.

4. Pillared halls or Choultries, used for various purposes, and which are the invariable accompaniments of these temples.

Besides these, a temple always contains tanks or wells for water—to be used either for sacred purposes or the convenience of the priests,—- dwellings for all the various grades of the priesthood attached to it, and numerous other buildings designed for state or convenience.{326}




Mahavellipore—Kylas, Ellora.

Although it may not be possible to point out the origin of the Dravidian style, and trace its early history with the same precision as we can that of Buddhist architecture, there is nothing so mysterious about it, as there is regarding the styles of northern India, nor does it burst on us full blown at once as is the case with the architecture of the Chalukyas. Hitherto, the great difficulty in the case has been, that all the temples of southern India have been found to be of so modern a date. The great building age there was the 16th and 17th centuries of our era. Some structural buildings, it is true, could be traced back to the 12th or 13th with certainty, but beyond that all was to a great extent conjecture; and if it were not for rock-cut examples, we could hardly go back much further with anything like certainty. Recent investigations, however, combined with improved knowledge and greater familiarity with the subject, have now altered this state of affairs to a great extent. It seems hardly doubtful now that the Kylas at Ellora, and the great temples at Purudkul (Pattadkul), are anterior to the 10th century.[359] It may, in fact, be that they date from the 8th or 9th, and if I am not very much mistaken the “raths,” as they are called, at Mahavellipore are as early, if not indeed earlier, than the 5th or 6th, and are in reality the oldest examples of their class known, and the prototypes of the style.

One circumstance which has prevented the age of the Mahavellipore raths being before detected is, that being all cut in granite and in single blocks, they show no sign of wearing or decay, which is so frequently a test of age in structural buildings, and being all in the same material produces a family likeness among them, which makes it at first sight difficult to discriminate between what is old and what new. More than this, they all possess the curious peculiarity of being unfinished, whether standing free, as the raths, or cut in the rock, as caves, or on its face, as the great bas-relief; they are all left with one-third or one-fourth merely blocked out, and in some instances with{327} the intention merely indicated. It looks as if the workmen had been suddenly called off while the whole was in progress, and native traditions, which always are framed to account for what is otherwise most unintelligible, have seized on this peculiarity, and make it the prominent feature in their myths. Add to this that it is only now we are acquiring that knowledge of the subject and familiarity with its details, which will enable us to check the vagaries of Indian speculation. From all these causes it is not difficult to understand how easily mistakes might be made in treating of such mysterious objects.

If we do not know all we would wish about the antiquities of Mahavellipore, it is not because attempts have not been made to supply the information. Situated on an open sea-beach, within one night’s easy dâk from Madras, it has been more visited and oftener described than any other place in India. The first volume of the ‘Asiatic Researches’ (1788) contained an exhaustive paper on them by W. Chambers. This was followed in the fifth (1798) by another by Mr. Goldingham. In the second volume of the ‘Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society’ there appeared what was then considered a most successful attempt to decipher the inscriptions there, by Dr. Guy Babington, accompanied by views of most of the sculptures. The ‘Madras Journal,’ in 1844, contained a guide to the place by Lieutenant Braddock, with notes by the Rev. W. Taylor and Sir Walter Elliot; and almost every journal of every traveller in these parts contains some hint regarding them, or some attempt to describe and explain their peculiarities or beauties. Most of these were collected in a volume in 1869 by a Lieutenant Carr, and published at the expense of the Madras Government, but unfortunately the editor selected had no general knowledge of the subject, nor had he apparently any local familiarity with the place. His work in consequence adds little to our previous stores.

In addition to all this, Colonel Mackenzie undertook to illustrate the place, and employed his staff to make detailed drawings of all the sculptures and architectural details, and a volume containing thirty-seven drawings of the place is in his collection in the India Office, and Daniell has also published some faithful representations of the place. Quite recently it has been surveyed by the revenue surveyors, and photographed by Dr. Hunter, Captain Lyon, and others, so that the materials seem ample; but the fact is, they have been collected at such distant times, and by individuals differing so essentially in capability or instruction, that it is almost impossible, except on the spot, to co-ordinate the whole. Any accomplished architect or archæologist could do it easily in a month, and tell us the whole story. Meanwhile, however, the main features seem tolerably distinct, and ascertained within limits sufficient for our present purposes.{328}

The oldest and most interesting group of monuments at Mahavellipore, are the so-called five raths or monolithic temples standing on the sea-shore—one of these, that with the apsidal termination in the centre of the annexed woodcut (No. 181), stands a little detached from the rest. The other four stand in a line north and south, and look as if they had been carved out of a single stone or rock, which originally, if that were so, must have been between 85 ft. and 40 ft. high at its southern end, sinking to half that height at its northern extremity, and its width diminishing in a like proportion.

The first on the north is a mere Pansala or cell 11 ft. square externally, and 16 ft. high. It is the only one too that seems finished or nearly so, but it has no throne or image internally from which we might guess its destination.

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181. Raths, Mahavellipore. (From a Sketch by the Author.)

The next is a small copy of the last to the southward, and measures 11 ft. by 16 ft. in plan, and 20 ft. in height. The third, seen partially in the above woodcut, is very remarkable: it is an oblong building with a curvilinear shaped roof with a straight ridge. Its dimensions are 42 ft. long, 25 ft. wide, and 25 ft. high. Externally, it seems to have been completely carved, but internally only partially excavated, the works being apparently stopped by an accident. It is cracked completely through, so that daylight can be seen through it, and several masses of the rock have fallen to the ground—this has been ascribed to an earthquake and other causes. My impression is, the explanation is not far to seek, but arose from unskilfulness on the part of workmen{329} employed in a first attempt. Having completed the exterior, they set to work to excavate the interior so as to make it resemble a structural building of the same class, leaving only such pillars and supports as were sufficient to support a wooden roof of the ordinary construction. In this instance it was a mass of solid granite which, had the excavation been completed, would certainly have crushed the lower storey to powder. As it was, the builders seem to have taken the hint of the crack and stopped the further progress of the works.

The last, however, is the most interesting of the series. A view of it has already been given (Woodcut No. 66), and it is shown on the right hand of the last woodcut. Its dimensions are 27 ft. by 28 ft. in plan, 34 ft. in height. Its upper part is entirely finished with its sculptures, the lower merely blocked out. It may be, that frightened by the crack in the last-named rath, or from some other cause, they desisted, and it still remains in an unfinished state.

The materials for fixing the age of this rath are, first, the palæographical form of the characters used in the numerous inscriptions with which it is covered.[360] Comparing these with Prinsep’s alphabets, allowing for difference of locality, they seem certainly to be anterior to the 7th century.[361] The language, too, is Sanscrit, while all the Chola inscriptions of the 10th and subsequent centuries are in Tamil, and in very much more modern characters.[362] Another proof of antiquity is the character of the sculpture. We have on this rath most of the Hindu Pantheon, such as Brahma and Vishnu; Siva too appears in most of his characters, but all in forms more subdued than are to be found elsewhere. The one extravagance is that the gods generally have four arms—never more—to distinguish them from mortals; but none of these combinations or extravagances we find in the caves here, or at Ellora or Elephanta. It is the soberest and most reasonable version of the Hindu Pantheon yet discovered, and consequently one of the most interesting, as well, probably, as the earliest.

None of the inscriptions on the raths have dates, but from the mention of the Pallavas in connexion with this place, I see no reason for doubting the inference drawn by Sir Walter Elliot from their inscriptions—“that the excavations could not well have been made later than the 6th century.”[363] Add to all this, that these raths are certainly very like Buddhist buildings, as we learn to know them from the early caves, and it seems hardly to admit of doubt that we{330} have here petrifactions of the last forms of Buddhist architecture,[364] and of the first forms of that of the Dravidians.

The want of interiors in these raths makes it sometimes difficult to make this so clear as it might be. We cannot, for instance, tell whether the apsidal rath in the centre of woodcut No. 181 was meant to reproduce a chaitya hall, or a vihara like that of woodcut No. 48. From its being in several storeys I would infer the latter, but the whole is so conventionalised by transplantation to the south, and by the different uses to which they are applied for the purposes of a different religion, that we must not stretch analogies too far.[365]

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182. Arjuna’s Rath, Mahavellipore. (From a Photograph.)

There is one other rath, at some distance from the others, called Arjuna’s rath, represented in the above woodcut (No. 182), which, strange to say, is finished, or nearly so, and gives a fair idea of the form these oblong temples took before we have any structural buildings{331}

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183. Perumal Pagoda, Mádura. (From a MS. Drawing in the possession of the late General Monteith, Madras Engineers.) No scale.

of the class. This temple, though entering in the side, was never intended to be pierced through, but always to contain a cell. The large oblong rath, on the contrary, was intended to be open all round, and whether, consequently, we should consider it as a choultrie or a gopura is not quite clear. One thing, at all events, seems certain—and it is what interests us most here—that the square raths are copies of Buddhist viharas, and are the originals from which all the vimanas in southern India were copied, and continued to be copied nearly unchanged to a very late period. Woodcut No. 183, for instance, represents one from Mádura, erected in the 18th century. It is changed, it is true, and the cells and some of the earlier features are hardly recognisable; but the wonder rather is that twelve centuries should not have more completely obliterated all traces of the original. There is nothing, however, in it which cannot be easily recognised in intermediate examples, and their gradual transformation detected by any one{332} familiar with the subject. On the other hand, the oblong raths were halls or porticoes with the Buddhists, and became the gopuras or gateways which are frequently—indeed generally—more important parts of Dravidian temples than the vimanas themselves. They, too, like the vimanas, retain their original features very little changed to the present day, as may be seen from the annexed example from a modern Tamil temple on the opposite shore of the Gulf of Manaar (Woodcut No. 184). To all this, however, we shall have frequent opportunities of referring in the sequel, and it will become much plainer as we proceed.

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184. Entrance to a Hindu Temple, Colombo. (From Sir J. E. Tennent’s ‘Ceylon.’)

The other antiquities at Mahavellipore, though very interesting in themselves, are not nearly so important for our history as the raths just described. The caves are generally small, and fail architecturally, from the feebleness and tenuity of their supports. The southern cave diggers had evidently not been grounded in the art, like their northern compeers, by the Buddhists. The long experience of the latter in the art taught them that ponderous masses were not only necessary to support their roofs, but for architectural effect; and neither they nor the Hindus who succeeded them in the north ever hesitated to use pillars of two or three diameters in height, or to crowd them together to any required extent. In the south, on the contrary, the cave diggers tried to copy literally the structural pillars used to support wooden roofs. Hence, I believe, the accident to the long rath, and hence certainly the poor and modern look of all the southern caves, which has hitherto proved such a stumbling-block to all who have tried to guess their age. Their sculpture is better, and some of their best designs rank with those of Ellora and Elephanta, with{333} which they were, in all probability, contemporary. Now, however, that we know that the sculptures in cave No. 3 at Badami were executed in the 6th century[366] (A.D. 579), we are enabled to approximate the date of those in the Mahavellipore caves with very tolerable certainty. The Badami sculptures are so similar in style with the best examples there that they cannot be far distant in date, and if placed in the following century it will not probably be far from the truth.

The great bas-relief on the rock, 90 ft. by 40 ft., is perhaps the most remarkable thing of its class in India. Now that it is known to be wholly devoted to Serpent worship,[367] it acquires an interest it had not before, and opens a new chapter in Indian mythology.[368] There seems nothing to enable us to fix its age with absolute certainty; it can hardly, however, be doubted that it is anterior to the 10th century, and may be a couple of centuries earlier.

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185. Tiger Cave at Saluvan Kuppan. (From a Photograph.)

There is one other antiquity in a place called Saluvan Kuppan, two miles north of Mahavellipore, which has not yet been drawn or described, but deserves notice as a lineal descendant of the tiger cave at Cuttack (Woodcut No. 73). Here not one but a dozen of tiger heads welcome the anchorite to his abode. Here, too, they are conventionalised as we always find them in Chalukyan art; and this example serves, like every other, to show how the Hindu imagination in art{334} runs wild when once freed from the trammels of sober imitation of natural things, which we find to be its characteristic in the early stages of Buddhist art.

Kylas, Ellora.

From the raths at Mahavellipore to the Kylas at Ellora the transition is easy, but the step considerable. At the first-named place we have manifest copies of structures intended originally for other purposes, and used at Mahavellipore in a fragmentary and disjointed manner. At Ellora, on the contrary, the whole is welded together, and we have a perfect Dravidian temple, as complete in all its parts as at any future period, and so far advanced that we might have some difficulty in tracing the parts back to their originals without the fortunate possession of the examples on the Madras shore.

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186. Kylas at Ellora. (Corrected from a Plan in Daniell’s ‘Views in Hindostan.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

Independently, however, of its historical or ethnographical value, the Kylas is in itself one of the most singular and interesting monuments of architectural art in India. Its beauty and singularity always excited the astonishment of travellers, and in consequence it is better known than almost any other structure in that country, from the numerous views and sketches of it that have been published. Unlike the Buddhist excavations we have hitherto been describing, it is not a mere interior chamber cut in the rock, but is a model of a complete temple, such as might have been erected on the plain. In other words, the rock has been cut away, externally as well as internally. The older caves are of a much more natural and rational design than this temple, because, in cutting away the rock around it to provide an exterior, the whole has necessarily been{335}

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187. Kylas, Ellora. (From a Sketch by the Author.)

placed in a pit. In the cognate temples at Mahavellipore (Woodcut No. 181) this difficulty has been escaped by the fact that the boulders of granite out of which they are hewn were found lying free on the shore; but at Ellora, no insulated rock being available, a pit was dug around the temple in the sloping side of the hill, about 100 ft. deep at its inmost side, and half that height at the entrance or gopura, the floor of the pit being 150 ft. wide and 270 ft. in length. In the centre of this rectangular court stands the temple, as shown in the preceding plan (Woodcut No. 186), consisting of a vimana, between 80 ft. and 90 ft. in height, preceded by a large square porch, supported by sixteen columns (owing probably to the immense weight to be borne); before this stands a detached porch, reached by a bridge; and in front of all stands the gateway, which is in like manner connected with the last porch by a bridge, the whole being cut out of the native rock. Besides these there are two pillars or deepdans (literally lamp-posts) left standing on each side of the detached porch, and two elephants about the size of life. All round the court there is a peristylar cloister with cells, and some halls not shown in the plan, which give to the whole a complexity, and at the same time{336} a completeness, which never fail to strike the beholder with astonishment and awe.

As will be seen from the view (Woodcut No. 187) the outline of the vimana is at first sight very similar to that of the raths at Mahavellipore, but on closer inspection we find everything so modified at Ellora as to make up a perfect and well understood design. The vimana with its cells, and the porch in front of it with its side cells, make a complete Hindu temple such as are found in hundreds in southern India, and instead of the simulated cells that surround the hall in the Madras example, they again become realities, but used for widely different purposes. Instead of being the simulated residences of priests, the five or rather seven cells that surround the central object here are each devoted to a separate divinity of the Hindu Pantheon, and group most pleasingly with the central vimana. It is, however, so far as is now known, the last reminiscence of this Buddhist arrangement in Hindu architecture; after the year 1000 even these cells disappear or become independent erections, wholly separated from the temple itself.

Though considerably damaged by Moslem violence, the lower part of the gopura shows a considerable advance on anything found at Mahavellipore, and a close approach to what these objects afterwards became, in so far, at least, as the perpendicular parts are concerned; instead, however, of the tall pyramids which were so universal afterwards, the gopura in the Kylas exhibits only what may be called the germ of such an arrangement. It is only the upper member of a gopura placed in the flat roof of the gateway, and so small as not to be visible except from above. In more modern times from five to ten storeys would have been interposed to connect these two parts. Nothing of the kind however exists here.[369]

On either side of the porch are the two square pillars called deepdans, or lamp-posts, before alluded to, the ornament at the top of which possibly represents a flame, though it is difficult to ascertain what it really is, while the temptation to consider them as representatives of the lion pillars of the Buddhists (Woodcut No. 6) is very great (Woodcut No. 188).

In the south of India, however, among the Jains, as mentioned above (p. 276), such pillars are very common, standing either singly or in pairs in front of the gopuras, and always apparently intended to carry lamps for festivals. They generally consist of a single block of granite, square at base, changing to an octagon, and again to a figure of sixteen sides, with a capital of very elegant shape. Some, however, are circular, and, indeed, their variety is infinite. They range from{337} 30 ft. to 40 ft. and even 50 ft. in height, and, whatever their dimensions, are among the most elegant specimens of art in southern India.

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183. Deepdan in Dharwar. (From a Photograph.)

Unfortunately, there is no inscription or other date from which the age of the Kylas can be ascertained with precision. It is safe, however, to assert that it was erected by the southern Dravidians, either the Cheras or the Cholas who held sway here during the eclipse of the Chalukyas, or between A.D. 750 and 950; and Mr. Burgess’s recent researches in Dharwar enable us to assert with tolerable confidence that its age must be nearer the first than the second of these dates. The great temple at Purudkul—his Pattadkal—is covered with inscriptions, none of which unfortunately are dated, but from their import and the form of their characters, both Bhau Daji[370] and himself ascribe to the 8th or 9th century,[371] and I see no reason for doubting the{338} correctness of the date assigned by Mr. Burgess to this temple, which, according to him was erected during the 8th century. In plan it is almost exactly a duplicate of the Kylas, as may be gathered from the annexed woodcut (No. 189), but there is some little difficulty in instituting such a comparison of their architecture as would enable us to feel sure of their relative dates[372]—in the first place, because the one is structural the other rock-cut, but also because we hardly know what allowance to make for distance of locality. On the whole, however, I am inclined to believe the southern temple is the elder of the two, but certainly not distant in date. If, consequently, it were necessary to fix on a date which should correctly represent our present knowledge of the age of the Kylas, I would put down A.D. 800, with considerable confidence that it was not many years from the truth either way, allowing, of course, some thirty to fifty years for the execution of so important a monument.

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189. Plan of Great Temple at Purudkul. (From a Plan by Mr Burgess.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

Considerable misconception exists on the subject of cutting temples in the rock. Almost every one who sees these temples is struck with the apparently prodigious amount of labour bestowed on their excavation, and there is no doubt that their monolithic character is the principal source of the awe and wonder with which they have been regarded, and that, had the Kylas been an edifice of masonry situated on the plain, it would scarcely have attracted the attention of European travellers. In reality, however, it is considerably easier and less expensive to excavate a temple than to build one. Take, for instance, the Kylas, the most wonderful of all this class. To excavate the area on which it stands would require the removal of about 100,000 cubic yards of rock, but, as the base of the temple is solid and the superstructure massive, it occupies in round numbers about one-half of the excavated area, so that the question is simply this—whether it is easier to chip away 50,000 yards of rock, and shoot it to spoil (to borrow a railway term) down a hillside, or to quarry 50,000 cubic yards of stone, remove it, probably a mile at least to the place where the temple is to be built, and then to raise and set it. The excavating process would probably cost about one-tenth of the other. The{339} sculpture and ornament would be the same in both instances, more especially in India, where buildings are always set up in block, and the carving executed in situ. Nevertheless the impression produced on all spectators by these monolithic masses, their unalterable character, and appearance of eternal durability, point to the process as one meriting more attention than it has hitherto received in modern times; and if any rock were found as uniform and as easily worked as the Indian amygdaloidal traps, we might hand down to posterity some more durable monument than many we are now erecting at far greater cost.

Before leaving this branch of the subject there is one other rock-cut example which deserves to be quoted, not either for its size or antiquity, but from the elegance of its details. It is situated at a place called Kûmûlûlû,[373] thirty-five miles south-west from Shivelliputtun, and consequently twice that distance north from Cape Comorin. Like the examples at Mahavellipore, this one never was finished, probably because the person who commenced it did not live to complete it, and it was nobody’s business to finish what was of no use, and intended only to glorify him who made it. It is not cut out of a separate boulder, but out of a ridge, as I fancy those at Mahavellipore to have been, and if successful, any number of others of any dimensions might have followed. The other side of the hill had been occupied by the Jains, and numerous images of their Tirthankars are carved upon it, with inscriptions that could easily be read if any one cared to do so. It was evidently to mark the triumph of Siva over Mahavira that this little shrine was undertaken, probably in the 10th or 11th century, and if it had been completed it would have been one of the most perfect gems of the style. For some reason unexplained it was only blocked out, and the upper part only carved, when it was abandoned, and is now entirely forsaken. From its details, it certainly is more modern than the Kylas—how much we cannot yet say with certainty.{340}




Tanjore—Tiruvalur—Seringham—Chillambaram—Ramisseram—Mádura—Tinnevelly—Combaconum—Conjeveram—Vellore and Peroor—Vijayanagar.

When we turn from these few scattered rock-cut examples to the great structural temples of the style, we find their number is so great, their extent so vast, and their variety so perplexing, that it is extremely difficult to formulate any distinct ideas regarding them, and still more so, as a matter of course, to convey to others any clear idea on the subject. To any one at all familiar with the present status of the population of the province, the greatest wonder is how such a people could ever have conceived, much less carried out, such vast undertakings as these, and that so recently that some of the greatest and boldest were only interrupted by our wars with the French little more than a century ago. The cause of this, however, is not far to seek. Ever since we took possession of the country, our countrymen have been actuated by the most beneficent intentions of protecting the poor against the oppression of the rich. By every means we have sought to secure the ryot in his holding, and that he should not be called on to pay more than his fair share of the produce of his land; while to the landowner we have offered a secure title to what belonged to him, and a fixed income in money in lieu of his portion of the produce. To a people, however, in the state of civilization to which India has reached, a secure title and a fixed income only means the power of borrowing on the occasion of a marriage, a funeral, or some great family festival, ten times more than the borrower can ever pay, and our courts as inevitably give the lender the power of foreclosing his mortgage and selling the property. During the century in which this communistic process has been going on the landed aristocracy have gradually disappeared. All the wealth of the country has passed into the hands of the money-lenders of the cities, and by them dissipated in frivolities. If the aim of the government is to reduce the whole population to the condition of peasant proprietors, occupying the land without capital, and consequently on the verge of starvation, they have certainly succeeded. It may be{341} beneficent, and may produce the greatest happiness to the greatest number; but in such a community neither science, nor literature, nor art have any place, and religion itself becomes degraded by the status of its votaries.

Before we interfered, the condition of things was totally different. The practical proprietorship of the land was then in the hands of a few princes or feudal lords, who derived from it immense revenues they had no means of spending, except in works of ostentation, which in certain stages of civilization are as necessary for the employment of the masses as for their own glorification. In such a country as India the employment of one-half of the population in agriculture is sufficient to produce food for the whole, while the other half are free for any employment that may be available. We in this country employ our non-agricultural half in manufactures and commerce. The southern Indians had neither, and found no better occupation for the surplus population than in temple-building. Whether this was more profitable or beneficial than hammering iron or spinning cotton is not a question it is necessary to enter on here. It is enough to know the fact, and to mark its consequences. The population of southern India in the 17th and 18th century was probably hardly less than it is now—some thirty millions—and if one-third or one-fourth of such a population were to seek employment in building, the results, if persevered in through centuries, would be something astonishing. A similar state of affairs prevailed apparently in Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs, but with very different results. The Egyptians had great and lofty ideas, and a hankering after immortality, that impressed itself on all their works. The southern Indians had no such aspirations. Their intellectual status is, and always was, mediocre; they had no literature of their own—no history to which they could look back with pride, and their religion was, and is, an impure and degrading fetishism. It is impossible that anything very grand or imposing should come out of such a state of things. What they had to offer to their gods was a tribute of labour, and that was bestowed without stint. To cut a chain of fifty links out of a block of granite and suspend it between two pillars, was with them a triumph of art. To hollow deep cornices out of the hardest basalt, and to leave all the framings, as if of the most delicate woodwork, standing free, was with them a worthy object of ambition, and their sculptures are still inexplicable mysteries, from our ignorance of how it was possible to execute them. All that millions of hands working through centuries could do, has been done, but with hardly any higher motive than to employ labour and to conquer difficulties, so as to astonish by the amount of the first and the cleverness with which the second was overcome—and astonished we are; but without some higher motive true architecture cannot exist. The Dravidians had{342} not even the constructive difficulties to overcome which enabled the mediæval architects to produce such noble fabrics as our cathedrals. The aim of architects in the Middle Ages was to design halls which should at the same time be vast, but stable, and suited for the accommodation of great multitudes to witness a lofty ritual. In their struggle to accomplish this they developed intellectual powers which impress us still through their works. No such lofty aims exercised the intellectual faculties of the Hindu. His altar and the statue of his god were placed in a dark cubical cell wholly without ornament, and the porch that preceded that was not necessarily either lofty or spacious. What the Hindu architect craved for, was a place to display his powers of ornamentation, and he thought he had accomplished all his art demanded when he covered every part of his building with the most elaborate and most difficult designs he could invent. Much of this ornamentation, it is true, is very elegant, and evidences of power and labour do impress the human imagination, often even in defiance of our better judgment, and nowhere is this more apparent than in these Dravidian temples. It is in vain, however, we look among them for any manifestation of those lofty aims and noble results which constitute the merit and the greatness of true architectural art, and which generally characterise the best works in the true styles of the western world.


Turning from these generalities to the temples themselves, the first great difficulty experienced in attempting either to classify or describe them is that no plans of them exist. I know myself upwards of thirty great Dravidian temples, or groups of temples, any one of which must have cost as much to build as an English cathedral, some a great deal more; but of all these there are only three, or it may be four, of which even a moderately trustworthy plan is available. Two-thirds of these have been sufficiently photographed by Dr. Hunter, Capt. Lyon,[374] and others; the remaining third I know either from personal inspection or from drawings and descriptions. This is, of course, irrespective of village temples, and, it may be, of some extensive groups which have been overlooked. If these temples had been built like those of the Greeks, or even as the Christian churches in the Middle Ages, on one uniform plan, changing only with the progress of time, one or two plans might have sufficed; but the fact is that, in nine cases out of ten, Dravidian temples are a fortuitous aggregation of parts, arranged without plan, as accident dictated at{343} the time of their erection; and, without plans, no adequate idea can be conveyed to those who have not seen them. The one great exception to this rule is to be found at Tanjore. The great Pagoda there was commenced on a well-defined and stately plan, which was persevered in till its completion. As will be seen from the annexed diagram (Woodcut No. 190) it consists of two courts,[375] one a square of about 250 ft., originally devoted to minor shrines and residences; but when the temple was fortified by the French in 1777[376] it was converted into an arsenal, and has not been re-appropriated to sacred purposes. The temple itself stands in a courtyard extremely well proportioned to receive it, being about 500 ft. long by half that in width, the distance between the gateway and the temple being broken by the shrine of the Bull Nundi,[377] which is sufficiently important for its purpose, but not so much so as to interfere with the effect of the great vimana, which stands near the inner end of the court. The perpendicular part of its base measures 82 ft. square, and is two storeys in height, of simple outline, but sufficiently relieved by niches and pilasters. Above this the pyramid rises in thirteen storeys to the summit, which is crowned by a dome said to consist of a single stone, and reaching a height of 190 ft. The porch in front is kept low, and as will be seen from the woodcut (No. 191) the tower dominates over the gopuras and surrounding objects in a manner that imparts great dignity to the whole composition.

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190. Diagram Plan of Tanjore Pagoda. (From a Sketch by the Author.) Scale 200 ft. to 1 in.

Besides the great temple and the Nundi porch there are several{344} other smaller shrines in the enclosure, one of which, dedicated to Soubramanya, a son of Siva’s, is as exquisite a piece of decorative architecture as is to be found in the south of India, and though small, almost divides our admiration with the temple itself (Woodcut No. 192). It is built behind an older shrine, which may be coeval with the great temple as originally designed.

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191. View of the Great Pagoda at Tanjore. (From a Photograph by Middleton Rayne, Esq., C.E.)

One of the peculiarities of the Tanjore temple is that all the sculptures on the gopuras belong to the religion of Vishnu, while everything in the courtyard is dedicated to the worship of Siva. At first I felt inclined to believe it had been erected wholly in honour of the first-named divinity, but am now more inclined to the belief that it is only an instance of the extreme tolerance that prevailed at the age at which it was erected, before these religions became antagonistic.{345}

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192. Temple of Soubramanya, Tanjore. (From a Photograph.)

What, then, was that age? Strange to say, though so complete and uniform, and standing, as it does, almost alone, its date is not known. Mr. Norman, a competent authority, in the text that accompanied Tripe’s photographs, says it was erected by Kadu Vettiya Soran, or Cholan,[378] a king reigning at Conjeveram in the beginning of the 14th century. At one time I hoped it was earlier, but on the whole I am now convinced that this must be very nearly the truth.

The Soubramanya is certainly one century, probably two centuries, more modern. The Bull itself is also inferior in design, and therefore more modern than those at Hullabîd, which belong probably to the 13th century, and the architecture of his shrine cannot be carried back beyond the 15th century. It may even be considerably more modern. It is disappointing to find the whole so recent in date, but there seems no excuse for ascribing to this temple a greater antiquity than that just mentioned.{346}


The temple at Tiruvalur, about thirty miles west of Madras, contrasts curiously with that at Tanjore in the principles on which it was designed, and serves to exemplify the mode in which, unfortunately, most Dravidian temples were aggregated.

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193. Inner Temple at Tiruvalur.

Scale 200 ft. to 1 in.

The nucleus here was a small village temple (Woodcut No. 193), drawn to the same scale as the plan of Tanjore in Woodcut No. 190. It is a double shrine, dedicated to Siva and his consort, standing in a cloistered court which measures 192 ft. by 156 ft. over all, and has one gopura in front. So far there is nothing to distinguish it from the ordinary temples found in every village. It, however, at some subsequent period became sacred or rich, and a second or outer court was added, measuring 470 ft. each way, with two gopuras, higher than the original one, and containing within its walls numberless little shrines and porches.

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194. Temple at Tiruvalur. (From a Drawing in Ram Raz’s ‘Hindu Architecture’.)

Additions were again made at some subsequent date, the whole being enclosed in a court 940 ft. by 701 ft.—this time with five gopuras, and several important shrines. When the last addition was made, it was intended to endow the temple with one of those great halls which{347} were considered indispensable in temples of the first class. Generally they had—or were intended to have—1000 columns; this one has only 688, and only about one-half of these carry beams or a roof of any sort. There can, however, be very little doubt that, had time and money been available, it would have been completed to the typical extent. As it is, it is probably owing to our management of the revenues of the country that the requisite funds were not forthcoming, and the buildings stopped probably within the limits of the present century.

The general effect of such a design as this may be gathered from the bird’s-eye view (Woodcut No. 194). As an artistic design, nothing can be worse. The gateways, irregularly spaced in a great blank wall, lose half their dignity from their positions; and the bathos of their decreasing in size and elaboration, as they approach the sanctuary, is a mistake which nothing can redeem. We may admire beauty of detail, and be astonished at the elaboration and evidence of labour, if they are found in such a temple as this, but as an architectural design it is altogether detestable.


The temple which has been most completely marred by this false system of design is that at Seringham, which is certainly the largest, and, if its principle of design could be reversed, would be one of the finest temples in the south of India (Woodcut No. 195, p. 349). Here the central enclosure is quite as small and as insignificant as that at Tiruvalur, and except that its dome is gilt has nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary village temple. The next enclosure, however, is more magnificent. It encloses the hall of 1000 columns, which measures some 450 ft. by 130 ft. The number of columns is, I believe, sixteen in front by sixty in depth, or 960 altogether; but I do not feel sure there is not some mistake in my observations, and that the odd forty are to be found somewhere. They consequently are not spaced more than 10 ft. apart from centre to centre; and as at one end the hall is hardly over 10 ft. high, and in the loftiest place only 15 ft. or 16 ft., and the pillars spaced nearly evenly over the floor, it will be easily understood how little effect such a building really produces. They are, however, each of a single block of granite, and all carved more or less elaborately. A much finer portico stretches across this court from gopura to gopura; the pillars in it are much more widely spaced, and the central aisle is double that of those on the sides, and crosses the portico in the centre, making a transept; its height, too, is double that of the side aisles. It is a pleasing and graceful architectural design; the other is only an{348} evidence of misapplied labour. The next four enclosures have nothing very remarkable in them, being generally occupied by the Brahmans and persons connected with the temple. Each, however, has, or was intended to have, four gopuras, one on each face, and some of these are of very considerable magnificence. The outer enclosure is, practically, a bazaar, filled with shops, where pilgrims are lodged, and fed, and fleeced. The wall that encloses it measures 2475 ft. by 2880 ft.,[379] and, had its gopuras been finished, they would have surpassed all others in the south to the same extent as these dimensions exceed those of any other known temple. The northern gopura, leading to the river and Trichinopoly, measures 130 ft. in width by 100 ft. in depth; the opening through it measures 21 ft. 6 in., and twice that in height. The four jambs or gateposts are each of a single slab of granite, more than 40 ft. in height, and the roofing-slabs throughout measure from 23 ft. to 24 ft. Had the ordinary brick pyramid of the usual proportion been added to this, the whole would have risen to a height of nearly 300 ft. Even as it is, it is one of the most imposing masses in southern India, and probably—perhaps because it never was quite finished—it is in severe and good taste throughout.[380] Its date, fortunately, is perfectly well known, as its progress was stopped by its being occupied and fortified by the French during our ten years’ struggle with them for the possession of Trichinopoly; and if we allow fifty years for its progress, even this would bring the whole within the limits of the 18th century. The other three gopuras of this enclosure are in the same style, and were commenced on the same scale, but not being so far advanced when we stopped the work, their gateposts project above their walls in a manner that gives them a very singular appearance, and has led to some strange theories as to their design.

Looked at from a distance, or in any direction where the whole can be grasped at once, these fourteen or fifteen great gate towers cannot fail to produce a certain effect, as may be gathered from the view in Woodcut No. 195; but even then it can only be by considering them as separate buildings. As parts of one whole, their arrangement is exactly that which enables them to produce the least possible effect that can be obtained either from their mass or ornament. Had the four great outer gopuras formed the four sides of a central hall, and the others gone on diminishing, in three or four directions, to the exterior, the effect of the whole would have been increased in a surprising degree. To accomplish this, however, one{349}

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195. View of the eastern half of the Great Temple at Seringham. (From a Photograph.)


other defect must have been remedied: a gateway even 150 ft. wide in a wall nearly 2000 ft. in extent is a solecism nothing can redeem; but had the walls been broken in plan or star-shaped, like the plans of Chalukyan temples, light and shade would have been obtained, and due proportions of parts, without any inconvenience. But if the Dravidians ever had it in them to think of such things, it was not during the 17th and 18th centuries, to which everything in this temple seems to belong.


The temple at Chillambaram is one of the most venerated, and has also the reputation of being one of the most ancient, temples in southern India. It was there, therefore, if anywhere, that I at one time hoped to find some remains that would help to elucidate the history of the style. It was, besides, so far removed from any capital city or frequented haunt of man that one might hope to find its original form unaltered.

It is old, but I am afraid the traditions that connect its foundation with Hiranya Verma of Kashmir, in the beginning of the 6th century, on which I was at one time inclined to rely,[381] are of too impalpable a nature to be depended upon. I see no great reason for doubting that there may have been a connexion between the kings of Chola and those of Kashmir at the period; but I cannot see anything in this temple either of so early an age, or any feature in the style of Kashmiri architecture. On the other hand, the foundation of the temple appears to be clearly described in the following passage of the Kongadesa Raja Kal:—“Vira Chola Raya (A.D. 927 to 977) one day saw on the sea-shore the Sabhápati of Chillambara (Siva), attended by Parvati, dancing and beating the damaraka (a kind of drum); he therefore expended great sums of money in building the Kanaka, or Golden Sabha.”[382] A little further on, it is said, “Ari Vari Deva (A.D. 1004), observing that his grandfather had built only a Kanaka Sabhá to the Chillambara deity, he built gopuras, maddals (enclosures), madapanas (image-houses), sabhás (holy places or apartments), and granted many jewels to the deity.” If this last could be applied to the great enclosure, it would be a most important date; but on a careful examination of the whole circumstances of the case I feel convinced that these passages refer only to the two inner enclosures, B B, at the west end of the tank (Woodcut No. 196). They, indeed, measuring about 320 ft. square, appear to have been the whole of the original temple, at least in the 10th and 11th centuries, always supposing{351}

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196. Plan of Temple of Chillambaram.

(From a Plan by Admiral Paris, in ‘Tour du Monde,’ vol. xvi. p. 35.)

that any part of the building is really as old as this. On the whole, however, I am inclined to believe that this inner temple is really the one referred to in the above extract. The temple of Parvati, C, on the north of the tank, was added afterwards, most probably in the 14th or 15th century, and to that age the great gopuras and the second enclosure also belong. The hall of 1000 columns, E, was almost certainly erected between 1595 and 1685, at which time, we learn from the Mackenzie MSS., the kings of the locality made many donations to the fane.[383] It was then, also, in all probability,{352} the outer enclosure was commenced; but it never was carried out, being in most places only a few feet above the foundation.

The oldest thing now existing here is a little shrine in the inmost enclosure (opposite A in the plan), with a little porch of two pillars, about 6 ft. high, but resting on a stylobate, ornamented with dancing figures, more graceful and more elegantly executed than any other of their class, so far as I know, in southern India. At the sides are wheels and horses, the whole being intended to represent a car, as is frequently the case in these temples. Whitewash and modern alterations have sadly disfigured this gem, but enough remains to show how exquisite, and consequently how ancient, it was. It was dedicated to Verma, the god of dancing, in allusion, probably, to the circumstance above mentioned as leading to the foundation of the temple.

In front of it is a shrine of very unusual architecture, with a tall copper roof, which, I have no doubt, represents or is the golden sabhá above referred to, and in front of this is a gopura and pillared porch, making up what seems to have been the temple of Vira Deva. The outer enclosure, with the buildings it contains, are, it appears, those of Ari Vari.

The temple of Parvati, C, is principally remarkable for its porch, which is of singular elegance. The following woodcut (No. 197) gives some idea of its present appearance, and the section (Woodcut No. 198) explains its construction. The outer aisles are 6 ft. in width, the next 8 ft., but the architect reserved all his power for the central aisle, which measures 21 ft. 6 in. in width, making the whole 50 ft. or thereabouts. In order to roof this without employing stones of such dimensions as would crush the supports, recourse was had to vaulting, or rather bracketing, shafts, and these brackets were again tied together by transverse purlins, all in stone, and the system was continued till the width was reduced to a dimension that could easily be spanned. As the whole is enclosed in a court surrounded by galleries two storeys in height, the effect of the whole is singularly pleasing.

Opposite to this, across the tank, is the hall of 1000 columns, similar in many respects to that at Seringham, above described, but probably slightly more modern. Here the pillars are arranged twenty-four in front by forty-one in depth, making 984; but in order to get a central space, four in the porch, then twenty-eight, then two, and again twenty-four, have been omitted, altogether fifty-eight; but, on the other hand, those of the external portico must be added, which nearly balances the loss, and makes up the 1000.[384] It must be{353}

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197. View of Porch at Chillambaram. (From Drawings by the Author.)

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198. Section of Porch of Temple at Chillambaram. (From a Sketch by the Author.) No Scale.


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199. Ruined Temple or Pagoda at Chillambaram. (From a Photograph.)

confessed this forest of granite pillars, each of a single stone, and all more or less carved and ornamented, does produce a certain grandeur of effect, but the want of design in the arrangement, and of subordination of parts, detract painfully from the effect that might have been{355} produced. Leaving out the pillars in the centre is the one redeeming feature, and that could easily have been effected without the brick vaults, formed of radiating arches, which are employed here—another certain proof of the modern age of the building. These vaults are certainly integral, and as certainly could not have been employed till after the Mahomedans had settled in the south, and taught the Hindus how to use them.

Although this temple has been aggregated at different ages, and grown by accident rather than design like those at Tiruvalur and Seringham just described, it avoids the great defect of these temples, for though like them it has no tall central object to give dignity to the whole from the outside, internally the centre of its great court is occupied by a tank, round which the various objects are grouped without at all interfering with one another. The temple itself is one important object, to the eastward of it; the Parvati temple another, on the north, and forms a pleasing pendant to the 1000-columned choultrie on the south. Alongside the Parvati another temple was commenced (Woodcut No. 199), with a portico of square pillars, four in front, and all most elaborately ornamented, but in such a manner as not to interfere with their outline or solidity.

From its unfinished and now ruined state, it is not easy to say to whom this temple was dedicated—most probably Soubramanya—nor to feel sure of its age. From its position, however, and the character of its ornamentation, there seems little doubt that it belongs to the end of the 17th and first half of the 18th century. From its style, I would be inclined to ascribe it to the earlier date, but in that case it is difficult to understand its not being finished. When they had money to erect the great hall, and to commence a new enclosure, they might certainly have spared enough to complete this solitary shrine.


If it were proposed to select one temple which should exhibit all the beauties of the Dravidian style in their greatest perfection, and at the same time exemplify all its characteristic defects of design, the choice would almost inevitably fall on that at Ramisseram, in the island of Paumben (Woodcut No. 200). In no other temple has the same amount of patient industry been exhibited as here, and in none, unfortunately, has that labour been so thrown away for want of a design appropriate for its display. It is not that this temple has grown by successive increments like those last described; it was begun and finished on a previously settled plan, as regularly and as undeviatingly carried out as that at Tanjore, but on a principle so diametrically opposed to it, that while the temple at Tanjore produces{356} an effect greater than is due to its mass or detail, this one, with double its dimensions and ten times its elaboration, produces no effect externally, and internally can only be seen in detail, so that the parts hardly in any instance aid one another in producing the effect aimed at.

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200. Plan of Great Temple at Ramisseram. Scale 170 ft. to 1 in.


The only part of the temple which is of a different age from the rest is a small vimana, of very elegant proportions, that stands in the garden, on the right hand of the visitor as he enters from the west[385] (D). It has, however, been so long exposed—like the temple on the shore at Mahavellipore—to the action of the sea-air, that its details are so corroded they cannot now be made out, and its age cannot consequently be ascertained from them. It is safe, however, to assert that it is more modern than any of the rock-cut examples above quoted; possibly it may be of the 11th or 12th century. Its dimensions may be guessed as 50 ft. in height, by 30 ft. or 40 ft. in plan, so that it hardly forms a feature in so large a temple. From the four bulls that occupy the platform under the dome, it is evident it was originally dedicated to Siva, as the whole temple now apparently is, though the scene of Rama’s most celebrated exploit, and bearing his name.

Externally the temple is enclosed by a wall 20 ft. in height, and possessing four gopuras, one on each face, which have this peculiarity, that they alone, of all those I know in India, are built wholly of stone from the base to the summit. The western one (D) alone, however, is finished, and owing apparently to the accident of its being in stone, it is devoid of figure-sculpture—some half-dozen plaster casts that now adorn it having been added quite recently. Those on the north and south (A and C) are hardly higher than the wall in which they stand, and are consequently called the ruined gateways. Such a thing is, however, so far as I know, unknown in southern India. Partly from their form, and more from the solidity of their construction, nothing but an earthquake could well damage them, and their age is not such as would superinduce ruin from decay of material. These, in fact, have never been raised higher, and their progress was probably stopped in the beginning of the last century, when Mahomedan, Mahratta, and other foreign invaders checked the prosperity of the land, and destroyed the wealth of the priesthood. The eastern façade has two entrances and two gopuras. The smaller, not shown in the plan, is finished. The larger one (B in the plan) never was carried higher than we now see it. Had it been finished,[386] it would have been one of the largest of its class, and being wholly in stone, and consequently without its outline being broken by sculpture, it would have reproduced more nearly the effect of an Egyptian propylon than any other example of its class in India.{358}

The glory, however, of this temple resides in its corridors. These, as will be seen by the plan, extend to nearly 4000 feet in length. The breadth varies from 20 ft. to 30 ft. of free floor space, and their height is apparently about 30 ft. from the floor to the centre of the roof. Each pillar or pier is compound, and richer and more elaborate in design than those of the Parvati porch at Chillambaram (Woodcut No. 197), and are certainly more modern in date.

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201. Central Corridor, Ramisseram. (From a Photograph.)

The general appearance of these corridors may be gathered from the annexed woodcut (No. 201), but no engraving, even on a much more extended scale, can convey the impression produced by such a display of labour when extended to an uninterrupted length of 700 ft. None of our cathedrals are more than 500 ft., and even the nave of St. Peter’s is only 600 ft. from the door to the apse. Here the side corridors are 700 ft. long, and open into transverse galleries as rich in detail as themselves. These, with the varied devices and modes of lighting, produce an effect that is not equalled certainly anywhere in India. The side corridors are generally free from figure-sculpture, and consequently, from much of the vulgarity of the age to which they belong, and, though narrower, produce a more pleasing effect. The central corridor leading from the sanctuary is adorned on one side by portraits of the rajas of Ramnad in the 17th century, and opposite them, of their secretaries. Even they, however, would be tolerable, were it not that within the last few years they have been{359} painted with a vulgarity that is inconceivable on the part of the descendants of those who built this fane. Not only they, however, but the whole of the architecture has first been dosed with repeated coats of whitewash, so as to take off all the sharpness of detail, and then painted with blue, green, red, and yellow washes, so as to disfigure and destroy its effect to an extent that must be seen to be believed. Nothing can more painfully prove the degradation to which our system has reduced the population than this profanity. No upper class, and consequently no refinement, now remains, and the priesthood, instead of being high bred and intellectual Brahmans, must be sunk into a state of debasement from which nothing can now probably redeem them.

Assuming, however, for the nonce, that this painting never had been perpetrated, still the art displayed here would be very inferior to that of such a temple as, for instance, Hullabîd, in the Mysore, to be described further on. The perimeter, however, of that temple is only 700 ft.; here we have corridors extending to 4000 ft., carved on both sides, and in the hardest granite. It is the immensity of the labour here displayed that impresses us, much more than its quality, and that, combined with a certain picturesqueness and mystery, does produce an effect which is not surpassed by any other temple in India, and by very few elsewhere.

The age of this temple is hardly doubtful. From first to last its style—excepting the old vimana—is so uniform and unaltered that its erection could hardly have lasted during a hundred years, and if this is so, it must have been during the 17th century, when the Ramnad rajas were at the height of their independence and prosperity, and when their ally or master, Tirumulla Nayak, was erecting buildings in the same identical style at Mádura. It may have been commenced fifty years earlier (1550), and the erection of its gopuras may have extended into the 18th century, but these seem the possible limits of deviation. Being so recent, any one on the spot could easily ascertain the facts. They could indeed be determined very nearly from the photographs, were it not for the whitewash and paint, which so disfigure the details as to make them almost unrecognisable.


If the native authorities consulted by the late Professor Wilson in compiling his Historical sketch of the Kingdom of Pándya could be relied upon, it would seem that the foundation of the dynasty ought to be placed some five or six centuries before the Christian Era.[387] Even, however, if this is disputed, the fact of the southern part of{360} the Peninsula being described as the “Regio Pandionis” by classical authorities is sufficient to prove that a kingdom bearing that name did exist there in the early centuries of the Christian Era. Their first capitals, however, seem to have been Kurkhi, possibly the Kolkhi of the Periplus, near Ramnad, and Kalyana, near Cape Comorin. The story of Kula Sekhara founding Mádura, and the fabulous incidents with which the tale is adorned, is one of the favourite legends of the south, and is abundantly illustrated in sculptures of Tirumulla Nayak’s choultrie and in other buildings of the capital.

For our present purposes it is hardly worth while to attempt to investigate the succession of the dates of the seventy-three kings who are said to have succeeded one another before the accession of the Nayak or Naik dynasty, in 1532, inasmuch as no building is now known to exist in the kingdom that can claim, even on the most shadowy grounds, to have been erected by any of these kings. It may have been that, anterior to the rise of the great Chola dynasty, in the 10th and 11th century, that of Mádura may have had a long period of prosperity and power; but certain it is, that if they did build anything of importance, its existence cannot now be identified. After that, for a while they seem to have been subjected to the Bellala dynasty of the Mysore, and the same Mahomedan invasion that destroyed that power in 1310 spread its baneful influence as far as Ramnad, and for two centuries their raids and oppressions kept the whole of southern India in a state of anarchy and confusion. Their power for evil was first checked by the rise of the great Hindu state of Vijayanagar, in the Tongabhadra, in the 14th century, and by the establishment, under its protection, of the Nayak dynasty by Viswanath Nayak, in the beginning of the 16th. After lasting 210 years, the last sovereign of the race—a queen—was first aided, and then betrayed, by Chanda Sahib the Nawaub of the Carnatic, who plays so important a part in our wars with the French in these parts.

It may be—indeed, probably is the case—that there are temples in the provinces that were erected before the rise of the Nayak dynasty, but certain it is that all those in the capital, with the great temple at Seringham, described above, were erected during the two centuries of their supremacy, and of those in the capital nine-tenths at least were erected during the long and prosperous reign of the tenth king of this dynasty, Tirumulla Nayak, or as he is more popularly known, Trimul Naik, who reigned from 1621 to 1657.[388]

Of his buildings, the most important, for our purposes[389] at least, is{361}

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202. Plan of Tirumulla Nayak’s Choultrie. (From a Drawing in the possession of the Royal Asiatic Society.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

203. Pillar in Tirumulla Nayak’s Choultrie.
(From a Drawing in the possession of the Royal Asiatic Society.)

the celebrated choultrie which he built for the reception of the presiding deity of the place, who consented to leave his dark cell in the temple and pay the king an annual visit of ten days’ duration, on condition of his building a hall worthy of his dignity, and where he could receive in a suitable manner the homage of the king and his subjects. As will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 202) the hall is 333 ft. long by 105 ft. in width, measured on the stylobate, and consists of four ranges of columns, all of which are different, and all most elaborately sculptured. An elevation of one is given (Woodcut No. 203), but is not so rich as those of the centre, which have life-{362}sized figures attached to them, and are even more elaborate in their details. In this instance it will be observed that the detached bracketing shaft at Chillambaram has become attached to the square central pier, and instead of the light elegance that characterised that example, has become a solid pier, five or six feet in depth—richer certainly, but far from being either so elegant or so appropriate as the earlier example.

The view of the interior (Woodcut No. 204) gives some, but only a faint, idea of the effect. The sides are now closed with screens, and it is difficult to procure good photographs; but in effect, as in detail, it is identical with the corridors at Ramisseram, where the light is abundant.

As the date of this hall is perfectly well known—it took twenty-two years to erect it, 1623 to 1645—it becomes a fixed point in our chronology of the style. We can, for instance, assert with perfect certainty that the porch to Parvati’s shrine at Chillambaram (Woodcut No. 197) is certainly anterior to this, probably by a couple of centuries, and, with equal certainty that the corridors at Ramisseram are contemporary. From the history of the period we learn that the rajas of Ramnad were at times independent, at others at war with the Nayaks; but in Tirumulla Nayak’s time either his allies or dependants; and the style and design of the two buildings are so absolutely identical that they must belong to the same age. It is, indeed, most probable that the king of Mádura may have assisted in the erection of the temple. If he had indeed been allowed any share in making the original design, the temple would probably have been a nobler building than it is; for, though the details are the same, his three-aisled hall leading to the sanctuary would have been a far grander feature architecturally than the singled-aisled corridors that lead nowhere. The expense of one of the single-aisled corridors at Ramisseram, 700 ft. long, would have been about the same as the triple-aisled choultrie at Mádura, which is half their length. If, consequently, the choultrie cost a million sterling—as is confidently asserted—the temple must have cost between three and four millions; and such an estimate hardly seems excessive when we consider the amount of labour expended on it, and that the material in both is the hardest granite.

The façade of this hall, like that of almost all the great halls in the south of India, is adorned either with Yalis—monsters of the lion type trampling on an elephant—or, even more generally, by a group consisting of a warrior sitting on a rearing horse, whose feet are supported on the shields of foot soldiers, sometimes slaying men, sometimes tigers. These groups are found literally in hundreds in southern India, and, as works exhibiting difficulties overcome by patient labour, they are unrivalled, so far as I know, by anything found elsewhere. As works of art, they are the most barbarous, it may be said the most{363}

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204. View in Tirumulla Nayak’s Choultrie, Mádura. (From a Photograph.)

vulgar, to be found in India, and do more to shake one’s faith in the civilization of the people who produced them than anything they did in any other department of art. Where these monstrosities are not introduced, the pillars of entrances are only enriched a little more{364} than those of the interior, when the ornamentation is in better taste, and generally quite sufficiently rich for its purpose.

Immediately in front of his choultrie, Tirumulla Nayak commenced a gopura, which, had he lived to complete it, would probably have been the finest edifice of its class in southern India. It measures 174 ft. from north to south, and 107[390] ft. in depth. The entrance through it is 21 ft. 9 in. wide; and if it be true that its gateposts are 60 ft. (Tripe says 57 ft.) in height, that would have been the height of the opening.[391] It will thus be seen that it was designed on even a larger scale than that at Seringham, described above, and it certainly far surpasses that celebrated edifice in the beauty of its details. Its doorposts alone, whether 57 ft. or 60 ft. in height, are single blocks of granite, carved with the most exquisite scroll patterns of elaborate foliage, and all the other carvings are equally beautiful. Being unfinished, and consequently never consecrated, it has escaped whitewash, and alone, of all the buildings of Mádura, its beauties can still be admired in their original perfection.

The great temple at Mádura is a larger and far more important building than the choultrie; but, somehow or other, it has not attracted the attention of travellers to the same extent that the latter has. No one has ever attempted to make a plan of it, or to describe it in such detail as would enable others to understand its peculiarities. It possesses, however, all the characteristics of a first-class Dravidian temple, and, as its date is perfectly well known, it forms a landmark of the utmost value in enabling us to fix the relative date of other temples.

The sanctuary is said to have been built by Viswanath, the first king of the Nayak dynasty, A.D. 1520, which may possibly be the case; but the temple itself certainly owes all its magnificence to Tirumulla Nayak, A.D. 1622-1657, or to his elder brother, Muttu Virappa, who preceded him, and who built a mantapa, said to be the oldest thing now existing here. The Kalyana mantapa is said to have been built A.D. 1707, and the Tatta Suddhi in 1770. These, however, are insignificant parts compared with those which certainly owe their origin to Tirumulla Nayak.

The temple itself is a nearly regular rectangle, two of its sides measuring 720 ft. and 729 ft., the other two 834 ft. and 852 ft. It possessed four gopuras of the first class, and five smaller ones; a very beautiful tank, surrounded by arcades; and a hall of 1000 columns, whose sculptures surpass those of any other hall of its class I am acquainted with. There is a small shrine, dedicated to the goddess{365} Minakshi, the tutelary deity of the place, which occupies the space of fifteen columns, so the real number is only 985; but it is not their number but their marvellous elaboration that makes it the wonder of the place, and renders it, in some respects, more remarkable than the choultrie about which so much has been said and written. I do not feel sure that this hall alone is not a greater work than the choultrie; taken in conjunction with the other buildings of the temple, it certainly forms a far more imposing group.

As mentioned above, the great Vaishnava temple at Seringham owes all its magnificence to buildings erected during the reign of the Nayak dynasty, whose second capital was Trichinopoly, and where they often resided. Within a mile, however, of that much-lauded temple is another, dedicated to Siva, under the title of Jumbúkeswara, which, though not so large as that dedicated to Sri Rangam, far surpasses it in beauty as an architectural object. The first gateway of the outer enclosure is not large, but it leads direct to the centre of a hall containing some 400 pillars. On the right these open on a tank fed by a perpetual spring, which is one of the wonders of the place.[392] The corresponding space on the left was intended to be occupied by the 600 columns requisite to make up the 1000, but this never was completed. Between the two gopuras of the second enclosure is a very beautiful portico of cruciform shape, leading to the door of the sanctuary, which, however, makes no show externally, and access to its interior is not vouchsafed to the profane.[393] The age of this temple is the same as that of its great rival, except that, being all of one design, it probably was begun and completed at once, and from the simplicity of its parts and details may be earlier than the great buildings of Tirumulla Nayak. If we assume A.D. 1600, with a margin of ten or fifteen years either way, we shall probably not err much in its date.

One of the great charms of this temple, when I visited it, was its purity. Neither whitewash nor red nor yellow paint had then sullied it, and the time-stain on the warm-coloured granite was all that relieved its monotony; but it sufficed, and it was a relief to contemplate it thus after some of the vulgarities I had seen. Now all this is altered. Like the pagodas at Ramisseram, and more so those at Mádura, barbarous vulgarity has done its worst, and the traveller is only too fully justified in the contempt with which he speaks of these works of a great people which have fallen into the hands of such unworthy successors.{366}


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205. Half-plan of Temple at Tinnevelly. (From a Plan in the possession of the Royal Asiatic Society.)

Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

Though neither among the largest nor the most splendid temples of southern India, that at Tinnevelly will serve to give a good general{367} idea of the arrangement of these edifices, and has the advantage of having been built on one plan, and at one time, without subsequent alteration or change. Like the little cell in the Tiruvalur temple (Woodcut No. 193), it has the singularity of being a double temple, the great square being divided into equal portions, of which one is dedicated to the god Siva, the other to his consort Parvati. The preceding plan (Woodcut No. 205) represents one of the halves, which, though differing in arrangement from the other, is still so like it as to make the representation and description of one sufficient for both.

The general dimensions of the whole enclosure are 508 ft. by 756 ft., the larger dimension being divided into two equal portions of 378 ft. each. There are three gateways to each half, and one in the wall dividing the two; the principal gateway faces the entrance to the temple, and the lateral ones are opposite each other. An outer portico precedes the great gateway, leading internally to a very splendid porch, which, before reaching the gateway of the inner enclosure, branches off on the right to the intermediate gateway, and on the left to the great hall of 1000 columns—10 pillars in width by 100 in depth.

The inner enclosure is not concentric with the outer, and, as usual, has only one gateway. The temple itself consists of a cubical cell, surmounted by a vimana or spire, preceded by two porches, and surrounded by triple colonnades. In other parts of the enclosure are smaller temples, tanks of water, gardens, colonnades, &c., but neither so numerous nor so various as are generally found in Indian temples of this class.

The great 1000-pillared portico in the temple is one of the least poetic of its class in India. It consists of a regiment of pillars 10 deep and extending to 100 in length, without any break or any open space or arrangement. Such a forest of pillars does, no doubt, produce a certain effect; but half that number, if arranged as in some of the Chalukyan or Jaina temples, would produce a far nobler impression. The aim of the Dravidians seems to have been to force admiration by the mere exhibition of inordinate patient toil.


If the traditions of the natives could be trusted, Combaconum—one of the old capitals of the Chola dynasty—is one of the places where we might hope to find something very ancient. There are fragments of older temples, indeed, to be found everywhere, but none in situ. All the older buildings seem to have been at some time ruined and rebuilt, probably on the same site, but with that total disregard to antiquity which is characteristic of the Hindus in all ages. One portico, in a temple dedicated to Sri Rama, is very like that leading{368}

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206. Gopura at Combaconum. (From a Photograph.)


from the second to the third gopura in the temple of Jumbúkeswara, described above, but, if anything, it is slightly more modern. There is also one fine gopura in the town, represented in the last woodcut (No. 206). It is small, however, in comparison with those we have just been describing, being only 84 ft. across and about 130 ft. in height. Those of Seringham and Mádura have, or were intended to have, at least double these dimensions.

It is, however, a richly-ornamented example of its class, and the preceding woodcut conveys a fair impression of the effect of these buildings generally. It is not old enough to be quite of the best age, but it is still not so modern as to have lost all the character and expression of the earlier examples.


Conjeveram is another city where tradition would lead us to expect more of antiquity than in almost any city of the south. It is said to have been founded by Adondai, the illegitimate son of Kolotunga Chola, in the 11th or 12th century, and to have succeeded Combaconum as the capital of the Chola Mandalam. Even before this, however, it is supposed to have been inhabited by Buddhists,[394] and that they were succeeded by Jains. If this is so, all that can be said is, that neither of these religions have left any traces of their existence on the spot, and many passages in the Mackenzie MSS. would lead us to suppose that it was a jungle inhabited by savage Kurumbars when the Cholas took possession of it.

Be this as it may, the two towns, Great and Little Conjeveram, possess groups of temples as picturesque and nearly as vast as any to be found elsewhere. The great temple at the first-named place possesses some first-class gopuras, though no commanding vimana. It has, too, a hall of 1000 columns, several large and fine mantapas, large tanks with flights of stone steps, and all the requisites of a first-class Dravidian temple, but all thrown together as if by accident. No two gopuras are opposite one another, no two walls parallel, and there is hardly a right angle about the place. All this creates a picturesqueness of effect seldom surpassed in these temples, but deprives it of that dignity we might expect from such parts if properly arranged.

There may be some part I did not see[395] which may be older, but certainly none of the principal buildings are so old as Parvati’s shrine at Chillambaram, but all seem equally to be anterior to the great building epoch of the Nayak dynasty. They probably are the last{370} efforts of the Cholas; but here, again, whitewash and red paint have done so much to obliterate the record, that it is not safe to dogmatise regarding the age of any buildings in either of the two Conjeverams.

Vellore and Peroor.

Although the temples at Vellore and at Peroor, near Coimbatore, can only rank among the second class as regards size, they possess porticos of extreme interest to architectural history, and are consequently worthy of more attention than has been bestowed upon them. That at Vellore, however, is unfortunately situated in the fort occupied by the British, and has consequently been utilised as a store. Walls have been built between its piers, and whitewash and fittings have reduced it to that condition which we think appropriate for the noblest works of art in India. Enough, however, still remains to enable us to see that it is one of the most elegant as well as one of the oldest porches or mantapas in the south. As will be seen from the woodcut (No. 207), the Yalis and rearing horsemen are clearly and sharply cut, and far from being so extravagant as they sometimes are. The great cornice too, with its double flexures and its little trellice-work of supports, is not only very elegant in form, but one of those marvels of patient industry, such as are to be found hardly anywhere else. There are many such cornices, however, in the south: one at Avadea Covill is deeper and more elaborate than even this one. The outer facing there is said to be only about an inch in thickness, and its network of supports is more elaborate and more delicate than those at Vellore, though it is difficult to understand how either was ever executed in so hard a material. The traditions of the place assign the erection of the Vellore porch to the year 1350, and though this is perhaps being too precise, it is not far from the truth. The bracket shafts (Woodcut No. 208) are similar but even more elegant than those in Parvati’s porch at Chillambaram; but they are—some of them at least—attached to the pier by very elegant open-work, such as is found in Pratapa Rudra’s temple at Worangul (Woodcut No. 217) or in the windows at Hullabîd. As both these examples are earlier than 1300, it might seem that this one was so also, but it is difficult to feel certain when comparing buildings so distant in locality, and belonging to different styles of art. On the whole, however, I am inclined to believe that between 1300 and 1400 will be found the true date of this porch.

The date of the porch at Peroor is ascertained within narrow limits by the figure of a Sepoy loading a musket being carved on the base of one of its pillars, and his costume and the shape of his arm are exactly those we find in contemporary pictures of the wars of Aurungzebe, or the early Mahrattas, in the beginning of the 18th{371} century. As shown in Woodcut No. 209, the bracket shafts are there attached to the piers as in Tirumulla Nayak’s buildings, and though the general character of the architecture is the same, there is a coarseness in the details, and a marked inferiority in the figure-sculpture, that betrays the distance of date between these two examples.

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207. Portico of Temple at Vellore.

Slight as the difference may appear to the unpractised eye, it is within the four centuries that include the dates of these two buildings {372}(1350 to 1750) that practically the whole history of the Dravidian

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208. Compound Pillar at Vellore.
(From a Photograph.)

209. Compound Pillar at Peroor.
(From a Photograph.)


temple architecture is included. There are rock-cut examples before the first date, and some structural buildings in Dharwar on a smaller scale, which are older, but it is safe to assert that nine-tenths, at least, or more, of those which are found south of the Tongabhadra, were erected between these dates.

Of course it is not meant to assert that, before the first of these dates, there were not structural temples in the south of India. So far from this being the case, it seems nearly certain that during the six or seven centuries that elapsed between the carving of the rocks at Mahavellipore and the erection of the Vellore pagoda, numerous buildings must have been erected in order that a style should be elaborated and so fixed that it should endure for five centuries afterwards, with so little change, and with only that degradation in detail, which is the fatal characteristic of art in India.

It seems impossible that the horsemen, the Yalis, and above all, the great cornice of double curvature, shown in the woodcut (No. 207), could have been brought to these fixed forms without long experience, and the difficulty is to understand how they could ever have been elaborated in stone at all, as they are so unlike lithic forms found anywhere else; yet they are not wooden, nor is there any trace in them of any of their details being derived from wooden architecture, as is so evidently the case with the Buddhist architecture of the north. The one suggestion that occurs to me is that they are derived from terra-cotta forms. Frequently, at the present day, figures of men on horseback larger than life, or of giants on foot, are seen near the village temples made of pottery, their hollow forms of burnt clay, and so burnt as to form a perfect terra-cotta substance. Most of the figures also on the gopuras are not in plaster as is generally said, but are also formed of clay burnt. The art has certainly been long practised in the south, and if we adopt the theory that it was used for many ornamental purposes before wood or stone, it will account for much that is otherwise unintelligible in the arts of the south.


The dates just quoted will no doubt sound strange and prosaic to those who are accustomed to listen to the childish exaggerations of the Brahmans in speaking of the age of their temples. There is, however, luckily a test besides the evidence above quoted, which, if it could be perfectly applied, would settle the question at once.

When in the beginning of the 14th century the Mahomedans from Delhi first made their power seriously felt in the south, they struck down the kingdom of the Hoisala Bellalas in 1310, and destroyed their capital of Hullabîd; and in 1322 Worangul, which had been previously attacked, was finally destroyed, and it is said they then{374} carried their victorious arms as far as Ramnad. The Mahomedans did not, however, at that time make any permanent settlement in the south, and the consequence was, that as soon as the Hindus were able to recover from the panic, Bukka and Harihara, princes it is said of the deposed house of Worangul, gathered around them the remnants of the destroyed states, and founded a new state in the town of Vijayanagar on the Tongabhadra. An earlier city it is said had been founded there in 1118, by a Vijaya Rayal, but only as a dependency of the Mysore Raj, and there is consequently no reason for supposing that any of the buildings in the city belong to that period, nor indeed till the new dynasty founded by Bukka had consolidated its power, which was certainly not before the beginning of the 15th century.

The city was finally destroyed by the Mahomedans in 1565, but during the two previous centuries it maintained a gallant struggle against the Bahmuny and Adil Shahi dynasties of Kalburgah and Bijapur, and was in fact the barrier that prevented the Moslems from taking possession of the whole country as far as Cape Comorin.

Its time of greatest prosperity was between the accession of Krishna Deva, 1508, and the death of Achutya Rayal, 1542, and it is to their reigns that the finest monuments in the city must be ascribed. There is, perhaps, no other city in all India in which ruins exist in such profusion or in such variety as in Vijayanagar, and as they are all certainly comprised within the century and a half, or at the utmost the two centuries, that preceded the destruction of the city, their analogies afford us dates that hardly admit of dispute.

Among those in the city the most remarkable is that dedicated to Vitoba, a local manifestation of Vishnu. It was erected by Achutya Rayal, A.D. 1529-1542, and never was finished; and if it were not that no successor ever cares in India to complete the works begun by his predecessor, we might fancy the works were interrupted by the siege. The principal part of the temple consists of a porch, represented in the annexed woodcut (No. 210). It is wholly in granite, and carved with a boldness and expression of power nowhere surpassed in the buildings of its class.[396] As will be observed, it has all the characteristic peculiarities of the Dravidian style: the bold cornice of double flexure, the detached shafts, the Yalis, the richly-carved stylobate, &c. But what interests us most here is that it forms an exact half-way house in style between such porches as those at Vellore and Chillambaram, and that of Tirumulla Nayak at Mádura. The bracket shafts are detached here, it is true, but they are mere ornaments, and have lost their meaning. The cornice is as bold as any, but has lost its characteristic{375} supports, and other changes have been made, which would inevitably have led in a short time to the new style of the Nayak dynasty.

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210. View of Porch of Temple of Vitoba at Vijayanagar. (From a Photograph by Mr. Neill.)

The little building on the right is the car of the god, formed of a single block of granite, with movable wheels, but they are the only parts that move. There are, besides, either one or two pavilions, smaller, but similar in design to that represented in the woodcut, a gopura, and other adjuncts, which would be interesting, if we had the means of comparing and describing them.

Although the temple of Vitoba is certainly one of the most remarkable ruins in India, and there are other temples of great beauty and extent in the capital, it is not quite clear that it is there the chefs-d’œuvre of this dynasty are to be found, but rather at a place called Tarputry, about one hundred miles a little east of south from the capital. There are two temples there: the one now in use, dedicated to Vishnu, is the elder, and in so far as whitewash and paint will allow one to judge, ranges with the works of the earliest kings of the Vijayanagar dynasty; but the wonders of the place are two gopuras belonging to a now deserted temple on the banks of the river, about a quarter of a mile from the others. One of these was apparently quite finished, the other never carried higher than the perpendicular part. In almost all the gopuras of India this part is comparatively plain, all the figure-sculpture and ornament being reserved for the upper or pyramidal part. In this instance, however, the whole of the perpendicular part is covered with the most elaborate sculpture, cut with exquisite sharpness and precision, in a fine close-grained hornblende (?) stone, and produces an effect richer, and on the whole perhaps in{376}

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211. Entrance through Gopura at Tarputry. (From a Photograph.)


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212. Portion of Gopura at Tarputry. (From a Photograph.)


better taste, than anything else in this style (Woodcuts Nos. 211, 212). It is difficult of course to institute a comparison between these gopuras and such works as Tirumulla Nayak’s choultrie, or the corridors at Ramisseram; they are so different that there is no common basis of comparison but the vulgar one of cost; but if compared with Hullabîd or Baillûr, these Tarputry gopuras stand that test better than any other works of the Vijayanagar Rajas. They are inferior, but not so much so as one would expect from the two centuries of decadence that elapsed between them, and they certainly show a marked superiority over the great unfinished gopura of Tirumulla Nayak, which was commenced, as nearly as may be, one century afterwards.

About fifty miles still further east, at a place called Diggu Hublum, there is a large unfinished mantapa, in plan and design very like that of the temple of Vitoba at Vijayanagar, but its style and details are so much more like those of the Nayaks, that it must be at least a century more modern, and could not therefore have been erected before the destruction of that capital in A.D. 1565. The dynasty, however, continued to exist for one or two centuries after that time, till the country was finally conquered by Tipu Sultan. It must have been by one of the expatriated rajas that this temple was erected, but by whom even tradition is silent. Whoever may have built it, it is a fine bold specimen of architecture, and if the history of the art in the south of India is ever seriously taken up, it will worthily take a place in the series as one of the best specimens of its age, wanting the delicacy and elegance of the earlier examples, but full of character and merit.[397]


The buildings mentioned, and more or less perfectly described, in the preceding pages are in number rather more than one-third of the great Dravidian temples known to exist in the province. In importance and extent they certainly are, however, more than one-half. Of the remainder, none have vimanas, like that of Tanjore,{379} nor corridors, like those of Ramisseram; but several have gopuras quite equal to or exceeding those mentioned above, and many have mantapas of great beauty and extent. Several—such as Avadea Covill, Veeringepuram, Taramungulam, and others—possess features unsurpassed by any in the south, especially the first-named, which may, perhaps, be considered as one of the most elegant of its class, as well as one of the oldest. It would, however, be only tedious to attempt to describe them without plans to refer to, or more extensive illustrations than are compatible with a work of this class. They are, however, worthy of more attention than has been paid to them, and of more complete illustration than has hitherto been bestowed upon them. Taken altogether, they certainly do form as extensive, and in some respects as remarkable, a group of buildings as are to be found in provinces of similar extent in any part of the world—Egypt, perhaps, alone excepted; but they equal even the Egyptian in extent, and though at first sight so different, in some respects present similarities which are startling. Without attempting to enumerate the whole, it may be mentioned that the gopuras, both in form and purpose, resemble the pylons of the Egyptian temples. The courts with pillars and cloisters are common to both, and very similar in arrangement and extent. The great mantapas and halls of 1000 columns reproduce the hypostyle halls, both in purpose and effect, with almost minute accuracy. The absence of any central tower or vimana over the sanctuary is universal in Egypt, and only conspicuously violated in one instance in India. Their mode of aggregation, and the amount of labour bestowed upon them for labour’s sake, is only too characteristic of both styles. There are, besides, many similarities that will occur to any one familiar with both styles.

Is all this accidental? It seems strange that so many coincidences should be fortuitous, but, so far as history affords us any information, or as any direct communication can be traced, we must for the present answer that it is so. The interval of time is so great, and the mode in which we fancy we can trace the native growth of most of the features in India seem to negative the idea of an importation; but there certainly was intercourse between Egypt and India in remote ages, and seed may then have been sown which fructified long afterwards.

If we were to trust, however, to either tradition or to mythological or ethnological coincidences, it is rather to Babylonia than to Egypt that we should look for the incunabula of what are found in southern India. But here the architectural argument is far from having the same distinctness; and, in fact, whichever way we turn, we are forced to confess that these problems are not yet ripe for solution, though enough is known to encourage the hope that the time is not distant when materials will be gathered that will make all clear.{380}




Palaces at Mádura and Tanjore—Garden Pavilion at Vijayanagar.

Although, like all nations of Turanian race, the Dravidians were extensive and enthusiastic builders, it is somewhat singular that till they came in contact with the Mahomedans all their efforts in this direction should have been devoted to the service of religion. No trace of any civil or municipal building is to be found anywhere, though from the stage of civilization that they had attained it might be expected that such must have existed. What is, however, even more remarkable is, that kingdoms always at war with one another, and contending for supremacy within a limited area, might have been expected to develop some sort of military architecture. So far, however, as is now known, no castle or fortification of any sort dates from the Pandya, Chera, or Chola days. What is still more singular in a people of Turanian blood is, that they have no tombs. They seem always to have burnt their dead, and never to have collected their ashes or raised any mounds or memorials to their departed friends or great men. There are, it is true, numberless “Rude stone monuments” all over the south of India, but, till they are more thoroughly investigated, it is impossible to say whether they belong to the Dravidians when in a lower stage of civilization than when they became temple builders, or whether they belong to other underlying races who still exist, in scattered fragments, all over the south of India, in a state bordering on that of savages.[398] Whoever these Dolmens or stone circles may have belonged to, we know, at least, that they never were developed into architectural objects, such as would bring them within the scope of this work. No Dravidian tomb or cenotaph is known to exist anywhere.

When, however, the Dravidians came in contact with the Mussulmans this state of affairs was entirely altered, in so far, at least, as civil buildings were concerned. The palaces, the kutcherries, the{381} elephant-stables, and the dependencies of the abodes of the rajas at Vijayanagar and Mádura, rival in extent and in splendour the temples themselves, and are not surpassed in magnificence by the Mahomedan palaces of Bijapur or Bidar.

One of the most interesting peculiarities of these civil buildings is, that they are all in a new and different style of architecture from that employed in the temples, and the distinction between the civil and religious art is kept up to the present day. The civil buildings are all in what we would call a pointed-arched Moorish style—picturesque in effect, if not always in the best taste, and using the arch everywhere and for every purpose. In the temples the arch is never used as an architectural feature. In some places, in modern times, when they wanted a larger internal space than could be obtained by bracketing without great expense, a brick vault was introduced,—it may be said surreptitiously—for it is always concealed. Even now, in building gopuras, they employ wooden beams, supported by pillars, as lintels, to cover the central openings in the upper pyramidal part, and this having decayed, many of the most modern exhibit symptoms of decay which are not observable in the older examples, where a stone lintel always was employed. But it is not only in construction that the Dravidians adhere to their old forms in temples. There are, especially, some gopuras erected within the limits of this century, and erecting even now, which it requires a practised eye to distinguish from older examples; but with the civil buildings the case is quite different. It is not, indeed, clear how a convenient palace could be erected in the trabeate style of the temples, unless, indeed, wood was very extensively employed, both in the supports and the roofs. My conviction is, that this really was the case, and its being so, to a great extent, at least, accounts for their disappearance.

The principal apartments in the palace at Mádura are situated round a courtyard which measures 244 ft. east and west by 142 ft. north and south, surrounded on all sides by arcades of very great beauty. The pillars which support the arches are of stone, 40 ft. in height, and are joined by foliated brick arcades of great elegance of design. The whole of the ornamentation is worked out in the exquisitely fine stucco called “chunan,” or shell lime, which is a characteristic of the Madras Presidency.[399] On one side of the court stands the Swerga Vilasam, or Celestial Pavilion, formerly the throne-room of the palace, now used by the High Court of{382}

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213. Hall in Palace, Mádura. (From Daniell’s ‘Views in Hindostan.’)

Justice. It is an arcaded octagon, covered by a dome 60 ft. in diameter and 60 ft. in height. On another side of this court is placed the splendid hall shown in the annexed woodcut (No. 213), the two corresponding with the Dewanni Khas and Dewanni Aum of Mahomedan palaces. This one, in its glory, must have been as fine as any, barring the material. The hall itself is said to be 120 ft. long by 67 ft. wide,[400] and its height to the centre of the roof is 70 ft.; but, what is more important than its dimensions, it possesses all the structural propriety and character of a Gothic building. It is evident that if the Hindus had persevered a little longer in this direction they might have accomplished something that would have surpassed the works of their masters in this form of art. In the meanwhile it is curious to observe that the same king who built the choultries (Woodcuts Nos. 202, 203 and 204) built also this hall. The style of the one is as different from that of the other as Classic Italian from Mediæval Gothic: the one as much over ornamented as the other is too plain for the purposes of a palace,{383} but both among the best things of their class which have been built in the country where they are found.

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214. Court in Palace, Tanjore. (From a Photograph.)

The modern dynasty of Tanjore was founded by Eccoji, a brother of Sivagi, the great Máhratta chief, during the decline of the Mádura{384} dynasty in 1675. The palace was probably commenced shortly afterwards, but the greater part of its buildings belong to the 18th century, and some extend even into the 19th.

It is not unlike the Mádura palace in arrangement—is, indeed, evidently copied from it—nor very different in style; but the ornamentation is coarser and in more vulgar taste, as might be expected from our knowledge of the people who erected it (Woodcut No. 214). In some of the apartments this is carried so far as to become almost offensive. One of the most striking peculiarities of the palace is the roof of the great hall externally. As you approach Tanjore, you see two great vimanas, not unlike each other in dimensions or outline, and at a distance can hardly distinguish which belongs to the great temple. On closer inspection, however, that of the palace turns out to be made up of dumpy pilasters and fat balusters, and ill-designed mouldings of Italian architecture, mixed up with a few details of Indian art! A more curious and tasteless jumble can hardly be found in Calcutta or Lucknow.

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215. Garden Pavilion at Vijayanagar. (From a Photograph.)

The palace buildings at Vijayanagar are much more detached and scattered than those either at Tanjore or Mádura, but they are older, and probably reproduce more nearly the arrangements of a Hindu prince’s residence, before they fell completely under the sway of{385} Moslem influence. Practically the palace consists of a number of detached pavilions, baths, hareems, and other buildings, that may have been joined by wooden arcades. They certainly were situated in gardens, and may consequently have had a unity we miss in their present state of desolation. One of these pavilions is represented in the preceding woodcut (No. 215). It is a fair specimen of that picturesque mixed style which arose from the mixture of the Saracenic and Hindu styles.

Even this mixed style, however, died out wherever the Europeans settled, or their influence extended. The modern palaces of the Nawabs of the Carnatic, of the Rajas of Ramnad or Travancore, are all in the bastard Italian style, adopted by the Nawabs of Lucknow and the Babus of Calcutta. Sometimes, it must be confessed, the buildings are imposing from their mass, and picturesque from their variety of outline, but the details are always detestable, first from being bad copies of a style that was not understood or appreciated, but also generally from their being unsuited for the use to which they were applied. To these defects it must be added, that the whole style is generally characterised by a vulgarity it is difficult to understand in a people who have generally shown themselves capable of so much refinement in former times.

In some parts of the north of India matters have not sunk so low as in the Madras Presidency, but in the south civil architecture as a fine art is quite extinct, and though sacred architecture still survives in a certain queer, quaint form of temple-building, it is of so low a type that it would hardly be a matter of regret if it, too, ceased to exist, and the curtain dropped over the graves of both, as they are arts that practically have become extinct.{386}






Temple at Buchropully—Kirti Stambha at Worangul—Temples at Somnathpûr and Baillûr—The Kait Iswara at Hullabîd—Temple at Hullabîd.

Of the three styles into which Hindu architecture naturally divides itself, the Chalukyan is neither the least extensive nor the least beautiful, but it certainly is the least known. The very name of the people was hardly recognised by early writers on Indian subjects, and the first clear ideas regarding them were put forward, in 1826, in a paper by Sir Walter Elliot, in the fourth volume of the ‘Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.’ To this he added another paper, in the twentieth volume of the ‘Madras Journal:’ and since then numerous inscriptions of this dynasty and of its allied families have been found, and translated by General Le Grand, Jacob and others, in the ‘Bombay Journal,’ and by Professor Dowson in the ‘Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society’ here.[401]

From all this we gather that early in the sixth century of our era[402] this family rose into importance at Kalyan—in what is now the Nizam’s territory—and spread eastward as far as the shores of the Bay of Bengal, in the neighbourhood of the mouths of the Kistnah and Godavery. They extended, in fact, from shore to shore, right across the peninsula, and occupied a considerable portion of the country now known as Mysore, and northward extended as far, at least, as Dowlutabad.{387}

Beyond this, they seem to have been closely allied with the Ballabhi dynasty of Gujerat, and afterwards to be the parent stems from which the Hoisala Bellalas of Dwarasamudra took their rise.

Their affiliations and descents are more easily traced than their origin. Jaya Singa, the founder of the Kalyan dynasty (A.D. 500?), claims to be of the Solar race of Rajputs, and descended from kings reigning in Ayodhya 1000 years (fifty-nine generations) before his time. This, however, seems as likely to be a reminiscence of the origin of their religion as of their race; for, though we are not yet in a position to prove it, it seems likely that the Chalukyas were originally Jains. At all events, it seems clear that the extension of the Jaina religion is nearly conterminous with that of Chalukyan sway, and the time at which the religion spread over India was also coincident with their rise and fall.

It would, of course, be too much to assert that the Chalukyas were either the revivors of the Jaina faith or even its principal propagators; but, during the early part of their history, this form of faith is inextricably mixed up with the more orthodox religions as practised by them, and prevails to the present day, in the countries where they ruled. The style of architecture which they invented when Jains was, it is true, practised afterwards by them both as Vaishnavas and Saivas; but it seems to have had its origin in the earlier form of faith.

Like all dynasties of Central and Northern India, the Chalukyas suffered eclipse in the dark ages that intervened between A.D. 750 and 950;[403] and the difficulty is to know whether we have any temples in their style before that period. Those at Aiwulli and Purudkul described above (Woodcuts Nos. 121 and 189), belong to their age, and may have been erected by early kings of this race; but they do not belong to their style. Their sikras, or towers, either show the curvilinear outline of the northern style, or the storeyed pyramids of the Dravidians. It is as if this intrusive race adopted hesitatingly the styles of earlier inhabitants of the country, but that it was not till they had consolidated their power, and developed peculiar institutions of their own, that they expressed them in the style to which their name has been affixed.

It is more than probable that the materials exist for settling these and all other questions connected with this style; but, unfortunately, if it is so, they exist in the Nizam’s territory, and that is terra incognita to us in so far as architecture is concerned. No one has yet passed through it who had any knowledge of the art, or was even aware that any interest attached to the forms or age of the buildings. It thus happens that, but for a few stray photographs, it{388} must have been passed over as a style less known, from an artistic point of view, than that of almost any civilized country in the world. The rulers of the Hydrabad territory being bigoted Mahomedans, it is to be feared that great destruction of native temples may have taken place; but the real cause of our ignorance on the subject is the indifference and apathy to such matters in those who rule the rulers, and who, if they chose, could clear up the whole mystery in a few months or years, and with little expense to themselves, beyond expressing a wish that it should be done.

It may be, however, that the remains have perished. The line of Mahomedan capitals—Bijapur, Kalburgah, Bidar, and Hydrabad—which have long occupied the native country of the Chalukyas, is painfully suggestive of the destruction of Hindu temples; but still the wealth of remains that exists in Dharwar on the south and west, and the Berars on the north of the Nizam’s territories, is so great that all certainly cannot have perished, and many will probably be found to solve the historical enigmas, though they may not be sufficient to restore the style in its integrity.

Whether Kalyani itself has escaped is by no means clear. In a list of remains in the Bombay Presidency, prepared by Mr. Burgess, dated 1873, there are the following entries:—“Three miles to the south-east of town, some fine temples and other ruins;” and further on, on the authority of the late Bhau Daji, it is stated, “has extensive ruins for miles around. There are caves in the hills, called Hazar Khotri, or Thousand Chambers. Pir Padshah Musjid is probably part of a Hindu temple.” If this is so, the history of the style is probably all there, and only awaits the advent of some one capable of reading it.

The simplest and most typical example of the style that I know, and the one, consequently, which will serve best to explain its peculiarities, is at a place called Buchropully, not far from Hydrabad. It probably is also one of the oldest, and may even date before the cataclysm; but this is only a guess. I have no such real knowledge of the early form of the style as would enable me to feel sure on such a subject. As will be observed, the temple itself is polygonal, or star-shaped, of twenty-four sides (Woodcut No. 216). These, however, are not obtained, as in the northern style, by increments added flatly to a square, as will be explained hereafter, but are points touching a circle, in this instance apparently right angles, but afterwards were either more acute or flatter than a right angle. There are four principal faces, however, larger than the others: three occupied by niches, the fourth by the entrance. The roof is in steps, and with a flat band on each face in continuation of the larger face below. The summit ornament is a flower or vase, in this instance apparently incomplete. The porch is simple, consisting only of sixteen pillars,{389} disposed equidistantly, without any attempt at the octagonal dome of the Jains or the varied arrangements subsequently attempted.

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216. Temple at Buchropully. (From a Photograph.)

Although of no great magnificence in itself, this temple is interesting as possessing all the features which distinguish the Chalukyan style from those that surround it either on the north or south. Instead of their square plans, this one is practically star-shaped. The sikra is a straight-lined cone, and its decorations in steps is as unlike the Dravidian spire in storeys as it is to the curvilinear outline of the Jaina or northern temples. The porch, too, is open, and consists of columns spaced equidistantly over its floor, without either the bracketing arrangements of the southern or the domical forms of the northern styles. Situated as it was locally, half-way between the Dravidian and northern styles, the Chalukyan borrowed occasionally a feature or form from one or from the other, but never to such an extent as to obliterate its individuality, or to prevent its being recognised as a separate and distinct style of architecture.

When the Nizam’s territory is examined, we shall probably be able to trace all the steps by which this simple village example developed into the metropolitan temple of Hammoncondah, the old capital, six miles north of Worangul. According to an inscription on its walls, this temple was erected, in A.D. 1163, by Pratapa Rudra,[404]{390}

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217. Doorway of Great Temple at Hammoncondah. (From a Photograph.)

who, though not exactly himself a Chalukya in blood, succeeded to their possessions and their style. The temple itself is triple, having three detached cells of very considerable dimensions, in front of which is a portico, supported by between 240 or 300 pillars, disposed in a varied and complicated pattern,[405] but without any sign, so far as I {391}can trace, of the Jaina octagonal arrangement for a dome. Like most of these late temples, this one was never finished. It was too extensive for one king’s reign, even for one so powerful as he was who undertook it, and before it was heartily taken up again the Mahomedans were upon them (in A.D. 1309), and there was an end of Hindu greatness and of Hindu art.

Some of its details, however, are of great beauty, especially the entrances, which are objects on which the architects generally lavished their utmost skill. The preceding woodcut (No. 217) will explain the form of those of the great temple, as well as the general ordinances of the pillars of the great portico. Nothing in Hindu art is more pleasing than the pierced slabs which the Chalukyas used for windows. They are not, so far as I recollect, used—certainly, not extensively—in any other style, but as used by them are highly ornamental and appropriate, both externally and internally.

The pillars, too, are rich, without being overdone; and as it is only in pairs that they are of the same design, the effect of the whole is singularly varied, but at the same time pleasing and elegant.

There are at Hammoncondah or Worangul a great number of smaller temples and shrines, in the same style as the great temple, and, like it, apparently all dedicated to Siva, from the constant presence of his bull everywhere. Most are ruined; but whether this is owing to Moslem bigotry or faulty construction, it is difficult to say. Judging from appearances, I am inclined to believe the latter was the true cause. The mode of building is without mortar, and the joints are by no means well fitted. The style is also remarkably free from figure-sculpture, which is generally the thing that most easily excites the iconoclastic feelings of the followers of the Prophet.

In Worangul there are four Kirti Stambhas, as they are called, facing one another, as if they formed the entrances to a square enclosure (Woodcut No. 218). No wall is there, however, nor is there anything inside; so the object of their erection is by no means apparent. They were set up by the same Pratapa Rudra who built the great temple in the old capital, and built several others in this new city. It cannot be said they are particularly elegant specimens of art. Their main interest lies in their being the lineal descendants of the four gateways at Sanchi (Woodcut No. 33), and they may have been erected to replace some wooden or frailer structure which had fallen into decay. Whether this is so or not, they are curious as exemplifying how, in the course of a thousand years or thereabouts, a wooden style of building may lose all traces of its origin and become as essentially lithic as these, but still betray its origin as clearly as they do; for it seems most unlikely that any such form could have been invented by any one using stone constructions, and that only.{392}

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218. Kirti Stambha at Worangul. (From a Photograph.)


It is in the province of Mysore, however, that the Chalukyan style attained its fullest development and highest degree of perfection during the three centuries—A.D. 1000 to 1300—in which the Hoisala Bellalas had supreme sway in that country. Three temples, or rather groups of temples, were erected by them—the first at a place called Somnathpûr, south of Mysore, by Vinaditya Bellala, who ascended the throne A.D. 1043; the second at Baillûr, in the centre of the province, owed its origin apparently to Vishnu Verddhana, in or about A.D. 1114; the last and greatest at a place they called Dwarsamudra—the Gate of the Sea—now known as Hullabîd, not far from the last-named, from which the capital was removed by Vijaya Narsinha, in 1145. It continued to be the metropolis of the kingdom, till it was destroyed{393} and the building of the great temple stopped by the Mahomedan invasion in A.D. 1310-1311.[406]

Even in this short series we see evidence of that downward progress of art, especially in sculpture, which is everywhere the characteristic of Hindu art. Though the design is the grandest, the sculpture and details of Hullabîd are inferior to those of Baillûr, and Somnathpûr seems superior to both. We consequently long to trace back the history of the style to some more distant date, when we might find it emerging in purity and elegance from some unknown prototype. Unfortunately, we are not at present able to do this. We are obliged to leap over the dark ages to the caves and temples of Badami and Aiwulli, and have no intermediate examples to connect the two. It is more than probable that they do exist, and will be found when looked for. Meanwhile, however, we can only assume that the star-like plans and peculiar details of the style were elaborated between the 6th and the 10th centuries in Central and Western India, but where and by whom remains still to be discovered.

Like the great temple at Hammoncondah, that at Somnathpûr is triple, the cells, with their sikras, being attached to a square pillared hall, to the fourth side of which a portico is attached, in this instance of very moderate dimensions.[407] The whole stands in a square cloistered court, and has the usual accompaniments of entrance-porches, stambhas, &c.

The following illustration (No. 219) will give an idea—an imperfect one, it must be confessed—of the elegance of outline and marvellous elaboration of detail that characterises these shrines. Judging from the figure of a man in one of the photographs, its height seems to be only about 30 ft., which, if it stood in the open, would be almost too small for architectural effect; but in the centre of an enclosed court, and where there are no larger objects to contrast with it, it is sufficient, when judiciously treated, to produce a considerable impression of grandeur, and apparently does so in this instance.

The temple at Somnathpûr is a single but complete whole; that at Baillûr, on the other hand, consists of one principal temple, surrounded by four or five others and numerous subordinate buildings, enclosed in a court by a high wall measuring 360 ft. by 440 ft., and having two very fine gateways or gopuras in its eastern front. As{394} will be seen from the following plan (Woodcut No. 220), the great temple consists of a very solid vimana, with an anterala, or porch; and in front of this a porch of the usual star-like form, measuring 90 ft. across. The whole length of the temple, from the east door to the back of cell, is 115 ft., and the whole stands on a terrace about 3 ft. high, and from 10 ft. to 15 ft. wide. This is one of the characteristic features of Chalukyan design, and adds very considerably to the effect of their temples.

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219. Temple at Somnathpûr. (From a Photograph.)


The arrangements of the pillars have much of that pleasing subordination and variety of spacing which is found in those of the Jains, but we miss here the octagonal dome, which gives such poetry and meaning to the arrangements they adopted. Instead of that, we have only an exaggerated compartment in the centre, which fits nothing, and, though it does give dignity to the centre, it does it so clumsily as to be almost offensive in an architectural sense.

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220. Plan of Great Temple at Baillûr. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

It is not, however, either to its dimensions, or the disposition of its plan, that this temple owes its pre-eminence among others of its class, but to the marvellous elaboration and beauty of its details. The effect of these, it is true, has been, in modern times, considerably marred by the repeated coats of whitewash which the present low order of priests consider the most appropriate way of adding to the beauty of the most delicate sculptures. Notwithstanding this, however, their outline can always be traced, and where the whitewash has not been applied, or has been worn off, their beauty comes out with wonderful sharpness.

The following woodcut (No. 221) will convey some idea of the richness and variety of pattern displayed in the windows of the porch. These are twenty-eight in number, and all are different. Some are pierced with merely conventional patterns, generally star-shaped, and with foliaged bands between; others are interspersed with figures and mythological subjects—the nearest one, for instance, on the left, in the woodcut, represents the Varaha Avatar, and others{396} different scenes connected with the worship of Vishnu, to whom the temple is dedicated. The pierced slabs themselves, however, are hardly so remarkable as the richly-carved base on which they rest, and the deep cornice which overshadows and protects them. The amount of labour, indeed, which each facet of this porch displays is such as, I believe, never was bestowed on any surface of equal extent in any building in the world; and though the design is not of the highest order of art, it is elegant and appropriate, and never offends against good taste.

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221. View of part of Porch at Baillûr. (From a Photograph.)

The sculptures of the base of the vimana, which have not been whitewashed, are as elaborate as those of the porch, in some places more so; and the mode in which the undersides of the cornices have been elaborated and adorned is such as is only to be found in temples of this class. The upper part of the tower is anomalous. It may be that it has been whitewashed and repaired till it has assumed its present discordant appearance, which renders it certainly a blot on the whole design. My own impression rather is, that, like many others of its class, it was left unfinished, and the upper part added at subsequent periods. Its original form most probably was that of the little pavilions that adorn its portals, one of which is represented in the following woodcut (No. 222), which has all the peculiar features of the style—the flat band on each face, the three star-like projections between, and the peculiar crowning ornament of the{397} style. The plan of the great tower, and the presence of the pavilions where they stand, seems to prove almost beyond doubt that this was the original design; but the design may have been altered as it progressed, or it may, as I suspect, have been changed afterwards.

There seems to be little or no doubt about the date of this temple. It was erected by Vishnu Verddhana, the fourth king of the race, to commemorate his conversion by the celebrated Rama Anuja from the Jaina to the Hindu faith. He ascended the throne A.D. 1114, and his conversion took place soon afterwards; but it is possible he did not live to finish the temple, and as the capital was removed by the next king to Hullabîd, it is possible that the vimana of the great temple, and the erection of some at least of the smaller shrines, may belong to a subsequent period.

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222. Pavilion at Baillûr. (From a Photograph.)