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Buddhist Architecture of Western India (C. 250 B.C.-C. A.D. 300) (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: UAS336
Publisher: Agam Kala Prakashan, Delhi
Author: Nagaraju
Language: English
Edition: 1981
Pages: 472 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 1.73 kg
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Book Description
About The Book

This Book is a fascinating study of the splendid series of early rock-hewn Buddhist Monument of western India. While the subject it self is of grate interest to the students of Indian art and architecture by virtue of the fact that the monuments therein are the best surviving document of the early phase Indian religious architecture, the author makes the book more absorbing by his penetrating and multifaceted approach.

Dr. Nagaraju, with his trained eye of an art historian and archaeologist looks a fresh into the problem of chronology and development of rock-cut architecture here by making a detailed study and analysis over five hundred rock-excavations and two hundred contemporary inscriptions distributed in nineteen important sites in the region. As a background for this study he discuss with grate analytical acumen various other aspects relevant to the context like the impact of the geology and geography on art development chronology, history and socio-economic conditions of the satavahana period, Buddhism and its sects in western India, paleographical evolution in the region, utility of radiocarbon dates, degree of relevance of architectural style analysis and paleography as chronological indicators,etc. For the first time relative chronology of the monuments and history of architectural activity has been worked out separately for each one of the sites discussed here, including such famous sites as Ajanta Bhaja, unnar, Kanheri,Karle, Nasik & Pitalkhora. Synthesizing the result of the above discussions last and the crowning chapter of the book present an excellent survey of the development of rock-cut architecture of western India in its geographical and historical setting.

This Book deviating from the beaten track treatment of the subjects is original in conception and format and is possibly the only work which aims at an integrated study of history, archaeology, epigraphy, and art and architectural style-analysis for a proper understanding of the story rock-cut monuments of western India.

The work also includes an appendix "A list of Brahmi Inscriptions in Western India" and is well documented with copious Inotes and reference as also 7 tables, 5 charts, a map, 58 full page line drawings and 220 half tone illustrations.

About the Author

Dr. S. Nagaraju (b.1936) is currently Reader in the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology Nagarjuna University, Nagarjuna Nagar, Andors Pradesh. A Versatile scholar and a teacher of a long standing, he holds a masters Degree in indology from the University of Mysore Diploma in Archaeology from the school of archaeology, Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, and PhD from the Karnataka University, Dharawar. He had served a previously as a lecturer in the Department of Post graduate studies and research in Ancient History and archaeology in the University of Mysore and as epigraphist in the Karnataka State Department of Archaeology and Museums He has participated in a large number of archaeological excavation and explorations conducted in different parts of India and has himself excavated a Neolithic site at Hemmige in Karnataka. Besides conducting explorations in parts of shimoga and Gulbarga Dist, Karnataka. He has made an extensive study of the rock cut monuments of western India. His Publications include in the Excavation at Hemmige brought out by the Directorate of Archaeology and museums in Karnataka and more than 120 articles on art, archaeology, history. Epigraphy. Numismatics, Religion and Folklore, Published in Various Journals, Encyclopedias and compilations. He was also in charge of Editing a special encyclopedia Karnataka, a prestigious publication of the institute of Kannada Studies of the University of Mysore.

Dr. Nagarju is a member of the Executive Committee of the Indian Archaeological Society. Archaeology, Numismatics and Epigraphy Sub Committee for the Compilation of Kannada Encyclopedia, and of the advisory board for the Encyclopedia of Indian History and Culture, Bangalore.


This work is primarily an attempt to reconstruct afresh the chronology and development of the Hinayana phase of Baddhist rock-cut architecture of Western India and is based mainly on a thorough re-examination of architectural and other available data from the rock-cut monuments of the region. Originally when I started this work it was my intention to make a general study of all the rock-cut monuments of the Satavahana period distributed in about fifty centres and to cover the associated sculp tures and paintings too. But, when I progressed with my field study, I found to my surprise that the varied details available in these for the reconstruction of chronology and development alone are so rich, and, when viewed in the background of earlier attempts on the subject, are so inviting that I decided to restrict my attention to the reconsideration of only the chronology and development. Even here, the fresh data gathered was enormous and was impossible to cover the whole field in a work like this. The choice left was, therefore, either to take up a study of some important monuments selected from different sites or to make an in-depth study of a few sites only. The former job having been done by various earlier workers, which often resulted in divergent conclusions, I preferred the latter alternative. I have tried to make a judicious selection of the sites. Out of the nineteen sites chosen here for discussion, sixteen can be considered as the most important ones in the series, which not only include most of the well-known monuments of artistic and historical importance but aho provide a fairly good picture of the general development of the architecture of the region.

With regard to the reconstruction of chronology, though perforce the same tools as those adopted. by earlier workers like style-analysis, palaeography, and historical dates have been made use of, 1 have tried to reassess the limitations and possibilities of these as chronological indicators in the context, and accordingly have brought in some changes in methodology in utilizing them, as could be seen from the details provided in Chapters I-IV. Further, probably for the first time in the study of Western-Indian rock-cut architecture. I have chosen to consider each site as an independent organic entity, beudes providing a descriptive and analytical account of all the rock-excavations, a general chronology and history of architectural activity too has been worked out for each of the sites seperately. In the last chapter, these results have been synthesised together to delineate a broad picture of architectural develop ment in Western India in general. Keeping in view the fact that architecture is essentially a utilitarian art, the nature and forms of which are often determined by various geographical, economic, social and religious factors, those too have been discussed in some detail and their impact on architectural develop ment has been duly taken note of.

Besides, though the emphasis is more on the above mentioned aspects only, an attempt has also been made to review the most controversial Satavahana Chronology and the unlity of radiocarbon dates, and to use the clues obtained from them for suggesting absolute dates for some of the monuments.


This treatise, "Buddhist Architecture of Western India" by Dr. 5. Nagaraju is a welcome addition to the subject. The author has dealt with a mass of material in a rather unconventional manner. He has adopted a methodology which is both analytical and synthetic. In the novelty of approach lies the merit of the work.

Dr. Nagaraju has spent a period of about six years in actual field work measuring monuments, observing priority of one cave over another from technological point of view, studied the inscriptional data, changes in the proportion, layout and decoration on the stupas, viharas, pillar orders and assigned a time sequence for each cave in a single group. After doing this thorough analysis in respect of other cave groups he has suggested chronology as a result of which he considers the cave at Jivadan-Virar as the earliest. One may not accept this without further corroboration and studied, but the chronology of other cave groups in coastal Maharashtra can be accepted as a working hypothesis.

The early dating suggested by the author for Kanheri, Bhaja. Kondane Caves can further be supported by my recent work at Thanala, formerly known as Nadsur Caves. This cave-group lies a few miles inland the port-town of Semulla (modern Chaul, dist. Kulaba) and a mountain pass leads on to the Mamala area wherein are located the caves of Karle, Bhaja, Bedsa and Shelarwadi. The Thanala group has a memorial supa complex similar to the one at Bhaja and there I was able to detect clear evidence that this stupa complex was enlarged from time to time so that it now contains six structural stipas besides a few stupar in rubble masonery. From the developmental point of view, the structural stupas clearly betray four phases, the earliest of which could be assigned to early second cent. B.C. Here the earliest two are simple stupar, without the harmika or the railing on the drum. It is again interesting that while clearing the debris from the floor of this cave seven silver punch-marked coins were obtained besides a small terracotta votive atupa suggestive of the early age of the votive stupas. The subsequent stupas have been embellished with rock-cut harmikas, chattras, and in each succeeding case the anda is constricted at the base and there is a Vedika band at the apex of the drum, not to speak of the holes on the anda for fixing flag-staves. This four-phased development is reflected in other caves among which the vihara adjoining the astyler chaitya hall is of special significance as it contains very clear indi cations of the four phases. The vihara Cave was altered and enlarged and sculptures similar to those in the facade of the vihara Cave at Kondane were as a part of embellishment of the walls of the vihara. In he fifth cent. A.D. the caves came under Mahayana occupation and were painted with figures in the Ajanta style. In the same area there is another group of caves called Khadsamla (or Nenavali) which ontains ancient cultured debris required to be cleared scientifically.


In many ways, the rock-cut monuments of Western India occupy a definite place of importance in Indian art history. While in the rest of India the tradition of rock-cut architecture appears sporadically in space and time, it displays a vigorous and continuous activity in Western India for a period of nearly 1500 years, starting sometime in the centuries immediately preceding the Christian era and continuing almost upto the end of the 13th century A.D. In terms of sheer number of rock-cut monuments to be seen, this region surpasses the rest of India taken together. There is a large concentration of centres of rock-cut architecture here and while many of the places have about 10 to 15 excavations, there are also centres like Kanheri and Junnar which account for more than a hundred each. The monuments in this area are also rich in variety, ranging from cisterns, halls and dwelling units to beautiful temples and belonging to all the major religious faiths the Bauddha, Hindu and Jaina. Such a variety in type and religious affiliation is rare in any other part of the country.

Within this series of rock-excavations, the monuments of the early period, which form the subject matter of the present study, occupy a unique position: they being the earliest representatives illustrating the beginning and growth of the rich rock-cut architectural tradition of the region. Besides, for the whole of south India too, these happen to be the earliest surviving documents of sophisticated architec ture. In the wider Indian context, as it has been pointed out rightly by an art historian, these help us to fill up to a certain extent the lacuna in our knowledge of art and architectural traditions of the dim period between the end of the Mauryan rule and the establishment of the Gupta Empire; in contrast to the rich and continuous series of rock-cut monuments of this region, in northern India even there is a paucity of material evidence for the art of this period, except for what is provided by some four major sites-Bodhgaya, Bharhut, Sanchi and Mathura-which, however, are distantly located from one another, and a few isolated finds from places ranging from Gujarat to Bihar. The structures of the period which were mostly of wood or brick have perished irretrievably everywhere. But the rock-cut archi tectural tradition here has preserved several models, as though they are contemporary wooden monu ments transmuted into stone.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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