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Temples of the Deccan

A tract of country between the rivers Tapti and Krishna, although geographically forming part of the Deccan, was the scene of yet another significant phase of building in the Indo-Aryan style, which lasted from the 11th to the 13th century. Inspired by such noble architectural traditions as the rock cut Ajanta and Ellora caves, this architectural movement was also affected by the Solanki temples of Gujarat and by the Chalukyan temples of South India.

Most of the Indo-Aryan temples in the Deccan are of moderate size and are built according to a diagonal plan. The shikhara (peak), pillars and wall surfaces have distinctive features unique to this style of architecture. The temple of Ambarnath in the Thana district of Maharashtra dates back to1060 A.D., and is the finest example of this style, although it is not situated within the geographical limits of the Deccan. Built near a deep pool, this structure displays a lavish use of intricate plastic decoration.

At Balsane in Khandesh, there is a group of nine temples, probably built over a period of a hundred and fifty years, which lasted up to the beginning of the 12th century. Of these, a triple shrined temple resembles that of Ambarnath, while others display characteristics reminiscent of the rock-cut viharas (places of relaxation for devotees) at Ajanta and Ellora, and the Chalukyan temples. The Panchayatana temple of Gondeswara at Minnar in the Nasik district is a well preserved structure erected in the first half of the 12th century, when this style of building was in its prime. Built nearly a century earlier, the temple of Shiva at Sinnat is a good example of the Chalukyan temples, which has assumed markedly Indo-Aryan features.

Built in the latter half of the 12th century, the finely proportioned temple of Lakshmi Narayana near Pedgaon in Ahmednagar district is a miniature model of this class, and displays certain decorative motifs obviously derived from Gujarat. The Hemadpanti temples are ascribed to Hemadpant, a semi-legendary figure. He was a great patron of temple architecture and probably a prime minister of the last of the Devagiri kings, who had ascended the throne in 1272 A.D. This style of northern architecture flourished in the Deccan during the latter half of the 13th century and continued up to the early 14th. Hemadpanti temples are characterized by their heavy proportions and the sparing use of figure sculpture on their outer surfaces.

First published as Temples of North India, Dept. Information and Broadcasting, Government of India 1975. All rights reserved.

See Also:

  • The Deccan Plateau -- Known as the Dravida land, the four states of South India offer a marked cultural and literary experience from that of the North.
  • Temples of India -- Detailed discussion on the history, and stylistics of some of the great temples of India.

Important Temples of North IndiaTemples of North India: Bodh Gaya & Banares | Temples of Orissa | Khajuraho | Brindavan | Temples of Kashmir | Gujarat | Temples of Deccan | Map


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