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Conjeeveram, Vishnu Temple of Sri Devaraja Swami

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CollectionsArthur Llewellyn Basham
Title: Conjeeveram, Vishnu Temple of Sri Devaraja Swami
Author(s): Photographer: Arthur Llewellyn Basham
Keywords: Pallava-- Kanchipuram (Conjeeveram) - Pallava;architecture;slide set
Series/Report no.: Basham Collection
Description: Two traits are universally noticeable in Indian temples whether Hindu or Buddhist: first, their forms have no direct relation to their measurable dimensions and could be as easily rendered in miniature as on monumental scales
second, Indian temples have little relation to their landscapes and are never directly adapted to them as, for example, European Baroque castles have been. The temple compound is always either rectangular or square and never mingles with the natural layout of the terrain it occupies. Five principal elements make up the temples: (1) the cella or nucleus in which the holy of holies is placed, (2) an intermediate space surrounding the cella or preceding in front of it, (3) a hall for the faithful to offer prayers in, (4) surrounding the hall an ambulatory for the sacred walk around the holy of holies, and (5) surrounding all of these a boundary wall. Decoration of the most exuberant nature is mandatory for temples just as jewelry is the most beautiful adornment of the body. Temples are decorated as a richly adorned living thing. Several types of temples are distinguishable by function: (1) stupas or reliquary shrines for housing the sacred objects of prophets and saints, (2) excavated chaitya halls and viharas for worship by many and housing for the monks, (3) structural chaitya halls and apsidal Hindu temples which are free-standing counterparts to rock-cut chaityas, (4) roofed temples, (5) sikhara shrines, (6) palace, domestic and theater structures, and (7) those buildings which are exceptions to these most common types such as the Bodh Gaya temple, a symbolic monument not be entered but merely venerated from the outside. The Vishnu Temple in our illustration is between the sikhara and exceptional types, for its roofline is, on the one hand, southern in style - a vast, horizontal series of roofing levels resembling a gate tower, called a gopuram - yet northern in overall size, on the other hand, for the sikharas were almost all of prodigious height. The characteristic rectangular groundplan is present in the courtyard, however, while the magnificent temples within the enclosure serve to represent the central mountains of the universe surrounded by the space of the firmament (boundary walls).
Other Identifiers: ANUA 682-1822


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