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Temple Architecture and Iconography of Babour and Panjnara temples in Jammu Region

Studienarbeit 2014 8 Seiten

Kunst - Architektur, Baugeschichte, Denkmalpflege



In Jammu region śikhara temples both of ancient and recent origin are very common. These vary in regard to as they possess only the sanctuary or more parts of a typical śikhara temple. Some of the temple consist of a single cella in which the idol is housed and have an enter room or maṇdapa. The ancient temples, however, are entered through an ornamented porch usually supported by two pillars. The early medieval temples in Jammu region are two types.

(i). Firstly, ṭṛiratha embellished by a variety of carvings and architectural designs as in the case of temples at Krimachi and most probably the Devi shrine at Babour.
(ii). The second type to be seen in all other temples at Babour, which are not ṭṛiratha in construction but are equally decorated with carved embellishments and architectural design.

The temple of recent origin do not possess such outer formalities except that they have large curvilinear śikharas with a small melon-type amalaka or simply a bhumi in some cases on the highest narrow point to serve as base for a metallic kalaśa, set of three ghātās diminishing upwards, topped by a lotus bud pointed upwards. The lower portion or janghā is invariably a rectangular construction, all constructed out of bricks, leaving no scope for carved embellishment, but only for architectural designs, embellishing niches, projections like eves, bandhanas, ardha- śikharas and the like.

Main features of ancient stone temples

These types of temples are entirely made of stone and are usually decorated with carvings, its conical spire or śikhara form that peculiarly is technically designed as the śikhara or a square cella, a small portico and a low platform. In the developed form a covered ambulatory or pradakshinā and a low tower is seen added to the original concept. In the centuries to follow more improvements and additions were made as a result of the gusto of building activities during the early middles ages and it attained a definite and well laid down concept and came to consist of the following structural design, śaili.

(a). The vimāna or the shrine
(b). The antrāla or vestibule
(c). The maṇdapa or the assembly hall

(a). The vimāna or the shrine

The vimāna is main structure, which contains inside the garbhagṛiha housing the idol of the deity to whom the temple is dedicated. The vimāna is surmounted by a high tapering tower called the śikhara, which in case of ancient structures is rendered somewhat circular in shape and curvilinear in case of temples of later centuries, both type being topped by an amalaka in some form crowned by a kalasa (finial), or only amalaka which is circular ribbed stone disk. The garabhagṛihā is dark, the only natural light it has is which enters it through its door from the maṇdapa .1 A lamp is usually kept lighted, symbolic of the divine power illuminating the mysterious universe.

(b). The antrāla or vestibule

The garbhagṛiha is joined to the maṇdapa through the antrāla i.e. a small vestibule.

(c) The maṇdapa or the assembly hall

The maṇdapa is a pillared hall where the devotees gather to worship the deity. The outer door of the maṇdapa is sometime covered by a small verandah or porch called ardha- maṇdapa, which serves as the entrance portico and is in some cases open on all the three side, supported by two or four pillars in front. The śikhara type covered pradakśinā-path or circumambulatory passage for going round the garabhagṛihā, emanating from the left side of the antrāla and merging in it on the opposite side. This is to say the modified modern śikhara style, a result of the introduction of brick as the construction material.2.

Approximately all around the city of Jammu there exist a number of ancient temples almost all of them are built in śikhara 3 style.


Babour, a small village is situated about 38 km. northeast of Jammu and nine km. north of Mansar lake. At this place there is a group of six stone temples of great antiquity.4 The ancient name of the site is Babbapura referred twice in the Rājataraṇgini. 5 This ancient site is situated on a plateau, about 4.8 km. square in extent in Dansal dun of the inner hills. According to the tradition current among the people of the area there were thirteen temples but now only six exist in various stages of decay. There are reasons to believe that Babbapura was the capital of the Duggar from tenth century to the middle of fourteenth century. This period, Jammu had been forsaken as the seat of government due to recurring Arab and Turk invasions.6 These temples suddenly came to light in the world of art and architecture in 1991 when world heritage week was dedicated to its temples which are constructed in unique style7.

The largest of these six temples is situated to the east of the group. It is double structure with a pillared maṇdapa, (hall). The temple is built on a plinth 2.6 metre (8 feet) high. It is approached by a flight of steps from the west side. The plinth or Jagati is a square platform, about 16.50 meters each side. Its doorway which about 2.20 meters high and 1.15 meters wide, is profusely ornamented with carved human figures and floral reliefs. According to R.C. Kak, “the roof was supported on two rows of twenty four filled columns”8. The columns are surmounted by capitals. The chief distinguishing features of these capitals are extremely well carved with interesting large elephant heads and trunks. The roofs of monolithic columns are about 2.75 meters in height.



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Titel: Temple Architecture and Iconography of Babour and Panjnara temples in Jammu Region