8.23.2005

The original house - Bedsa or Tanjore?

I decided to take this post a little further compare to what i have mentioned in my previous post about the architecture of Tanjore temple. This means we take a magnifying glass and move closer to the main tower of the temple. I had made a connect between the architectural elements of Brihadeshwara temple to the buddhist caves of Bedsa.

Now to substantiate the arguement, i managed to fish out a few pictures to show you the same thing. Explaining it was half the job, viewing it is the other half. Now lets leave behind who built it and in what century etc. and look at what was the evolution of a simple architectural house from say Bedsa in 3rd century AD or earlier to Tanjore in the 7th century.

Here is a buddhist cave at Bedsa(in black and white above), the reflection of a simple cell in which a monk would have lived, a silent retreat where he would have tried to meditate his way to enlightenment the buddhist way. A silent cell with an arched window leading to one rocky room with a stone for a bed with the pillow carved into it. The only light to his little chamber would be through that narrow door and circular window.

Now lets look at a series of these cells(or houses) in a line, with a broader house to the center, keeping two of these cells on either side of it, so we have five houses. Lets put some more add ons, for example, make a guys stand within these cell doors i.e. maybe shiva, lets make the arched window above the narrow door a lot more ornate so it will have some layers of floral designs on it, and lets enhance the shallow pillars on either side of the doorway to real proper ones and have a doorkeeper or dwarapala stand there. Now that we have these five cells, keeping in mind the central one being broader, lets add a floor to them making it two storeyed, and bring them out of the cave and put them as a free standing building. So we now have five standing houses.

Now lets take the camera up to see how many more such houses are systematically lined up behind them and, Wow that is the view of the city you get! Fantastic isn't it, the imagination of generations of people who tried so desperately hard to show us how their cities looked!!!



24 comments:

abhilash warrier said...

hey Kavi,

That made a lot of sense... Temples look different after reading your posts.

Digital Guy said...

A good exploration!!!

Keep it up :)


i m expecting madurai meenakshi amman temple on your list!

- Dg

JC Joshi said...

The beautiful, and yet at times fearful, ‘Nature’ has inspired man to construct dwelling places/ places of worship to evolve with time with maximum utility combined with aesthetic – having started from existing caves formed generally by natural elements, viz., water that carves out softer limestone intrusions within hard rocks… In Ramayana, Tulsidas, through Lord Rama’s character, has expressed to the effect that without fear love can’t be generated… And, the ever changing aspect of ‘Nature’ in all its aspects finds a general expression in the saying, “Old order changes yielding place to new.”

To give one the background of development in India, millions of years ago India was an island, called Jambudweep. Tectonic movements that are naturally going on regularly, with India moving Northwards against the Euro Asian continent, estimated to have at some stage around 140 million years ago resulted in folding of the rocks that lasted for about 60 million years in the surrounding bed of the sea in the North of the island that eventually resulted in the three thousand kilometer long Himalayan ranges on its North - that trend in West-East direction – to come into existence in relatively recent times as the youngest mountain range, in the 4.6 billion-year-old earth. All the major Himalayan Rivers have their origin in the Kailash-Mansarovar region, considered 'holy' by the ‘Hindus’, being associated with Shiva-Parvati from the Vedic Era when man seems to have realized ‘Supreme knowledge’ or the formless Creator who apparently resides within each human being in a dormant state - needing one ‘to look inward’ to awaken Him or the self…

Also, it is estimated that about 65 million years ago, at the same time when dinosaurs became extinct perhaps due to impact of some Asteroid, the Southern part of India got covered with molten rocks, as indicated by the presence of hard volcanic rocks, Traps or Basalt found there today...

The ancient Astrologers reportedly divided India into three functional parts - the Himalayan region believably under control of Jupiter or Guru, the middle or the fertile Ganga-Jamuna valley under Moon’s control and the Southern region under the control of Sun - represented respectively by colours yellow, white and red. The middle part presented perfect conditions for agricultural development, while the Northern and Southern reaches, because of availability of natural hard rocks with existing caves - or opportunity to carve out similar shaped underground caves and chambers for dwelling/ places of worship at these locations - also has been providing economically masonry and timber, the materials for construction elsewhere around the region irrespective of the religion practiced by the inhabitants, whether following ‘Sanatan dharma’ in VE or Buddhism and so on at a later stage. However, the relatively stable South India, from the consideration of relative freedom from earthquakes, being covered with the seas from three sides has been prone to frequent cyclones and rare Tsunamis from time to time. ‘Nature’ or the formless God through ‘Panchbhootas’ has thus always kept man on his toes, although allowing him a sense of freedom to a certain extent, but ultimately making him surrender to the natural forces, viz., flooding in rivers, forest fires, catastrophic earthquakes, and so on, at some given time, which apparently has led him to seek the ‘Truth’ or the purpose of temporary human existence, the apparent hierarchy and apparent copy of the different features of 'Nature'in human creations…

JC Joshi said...

While it is easy for man to appreciate apparent advancement in human life over time, it is very difficult today or at any other time for one to come to a state of belief (due to ‘Maya’ or a state of mind, which might anyway be beyond one’s control) that some unseen force through Panchabhootas - Mahashiva or the solar system or the ‘sky’ (including the most evolved Earth) and water, air, fire as His ‘friends’ - could be responsible for the entire creation through apparent eternity!

Obviously, as is evident from the ‘fact’ that there always is some purpose behind all creative works in human life, that, of course, are inspired by ‘Nature’ and perhaps man therefore was believed by the ancients as 'His' model, the Creator of forms must also similarly have a purpose in doing so – perhaps to seek His own original physical form, from amongst the various permutations and combinations out of the forms that apparently vary from minus infinity to plus infinity. Human forms, perhaps used as models help in analysis of the data to reach at the longest living Heavenly Body, from amongst the apparently short listed by the ancients - Sun down to Jupiter in the order in which they appear in space as per hint in the ‘Hindu’ mythological stories… The ancients apparently believed earth to be the essence or the origin, which is believed by 'scientists' also to have 'zero' potential...

Arjuna_Speaks said...

kavitha - that's a great pic!

JC Joshi said...

Kavitha,

I happened to be present at the ceremony when two years ago a Japanese architect, Takeo Kamiya, released the translated version, ‘Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent’, of his original in Japanese…

Although you are perhaps already aware, on evolution, I would like to quote from his book the following excerpts, “… Mumbai … had many commercial buildings, but more famous in Maharashtra are its rock cut cave temples. There were also many man-made caves. These caves where the monks…lived together came to be called viharas (many Vihara caves are just natural caverns out of the total 109, in numbers, 2nd-9th C Kanheri cave temples) and the caves where stupas were built and prayers offered, were called chaitya caves… The oldest Buddhist monasteries in Gandhara are made of brick. Hence the cave monasteries in the Deccan plateau are second in the hierarchy of types of monasteries. Rock caves are found all over India, but the greatest numbers are in the Deccan plateau. The most interesting aspect of the cave temples, with their pillars and beams is that they were a copy of wooden structures. Wooden structures built using this technology have long since broken, but these rock caves are a historical resource. When Hinduism adopted the idea of cave temples, the caves were transformed dynamically and became rich and bright. In fact, Hindus went one step further and started carving on the rocks from the top, thus creating the ‘rock cut temples’ that are 3-dimensional and look exactly like the temples built in masonry. The Kailash Temple in Ellora (8th century) is the biggest of these rock-cut temples in the history of Indian Architecture, evolving from rock cave temples to rock cut temples was like evolving from the Stone Ages to the Middle Ages.”

Anonymous said...

Gr8 Blog n Comments 4m jc joshi,

Bedsa reminds me of a caves site also called Bedsa near Pawana Dam in Lonavala region. Infact there are 3 caves sites near about Lonavala including Karala Caves and Bedsa.

JC Joshi said...

Yes. Lonavala, 130 km east of Mumbai, reportedly forms the base for visit to certain cave temples in its vicinity. Bedsa caves are 20 km farther east from it… In its vicinity are located the Karli and Bhaja mountains. Bhaja has one of the earliest Buddhist cave temples (2nd century B.C.) while the one in Karli/ Karle is dated from the 2nd century A.D… It is reported that the Jain cave temples on Khandagiri and Udayagiri hills and the temple in Bhaja are of one genre…

kavitha said...

hi anonymous,

bedsa belongs to a series of caves that were built by buddhist followers both hinayana and mahayana during the period from 3rd cent BC, to 2nd cen AD.

so they WILL look similar. all of them were built around Bhaja, ajanta, kondane, karla, nasik, pitalkhora, bedsa, aurangabad and i cant remember the rest.

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