NIAS Wednesday Discussion - Dr. Srikumar M Menon will speak on “Ek-Hathiya Dewal: A Unique Rock-Cut Temple in the Kumaon Himalaya”
Topic: Ek-Hathiya Dewal:
A Unique Rock-Cut Temple in the Kumaon Himalaya
Speaker: Srikumar M Menon
Chairperson: M B Rajani
Associate Professor, School of Humanities, NIAS
Date: 30 June 2021
Time: 4.00 PM
Meeting Link Click here to join the meeting
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Abstract: Freestanding rock-cut temples with carved exteriors, rather than sanctuaries merely scooped into a mountainside, are a relatively rarity in the Indian subcontinent. A magnificent example of this category of rock-cut temples, which comes to mind immediately, is Kailasa, at Ellora. However, there are a few other lesser-known monuments of this type, all excellent examples of the stone carver’s art. The rathas of Mahabalipuram, the unfinished Vattuvan Kovil at Kazhugu Malai, the Dharmarajeshwar Temple at Mandsaur are a few notable examples, apart from some minor monuments in Maharashtra.
Free-standing rock-cut temples in the Himalaya are extremely rare. The rock-cut temple at Masroor, in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh, facing the Dhauladhar range, is, however, an excellent example of a major rock-cut project, although unfinished. Another is a diminutive, but superbly executed, rock-cut temple at Thal, facing the Nanda Devi group of peaks, near Almora in Uttarakhand, first reported in 1916.
Unfortunately, not much academic attention has yet been focused on this exquisitely carved, small monument, which could hold important clues to the advent and spread of Nagara temple architecture in the Himalaya. Virtually nothing is known about the structure, such as its date of erection, the patronage under which it was built, and other such details. Even the architectural drawings of this temple have not been published. Only an endearing legend of an one-armed sculptor carving the temple in just one night can be gleaned from local traditions. In this talk, I will describe this small, but important, monument, present measured drawings of its structure, and speculate on the possible date of origin of the temple, based on comparisons with similar monuments in the region and elsewhere.
About the speaker: Dr Srikumar M Menon is an architect with a keen interest in the archaeology of the Indian subcontinent. His areas of academic interest vary from megaliths and other prehistoric monuments to the origins and evolution of later monuments such as stupas and temples. He is also interested in understanding the knowledge systems possessed by the builders of prehistoric, and later, monuments, as embedded in the monuments themselves. He is working in NIAS since 2016 and is currently an Associate Professor in the Heritage, Science and Society Programme in the institute.
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