Temple Architecture and Sculpture Assam

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  • An old sixth-century sculpted door frame from DaParvatia near Tezpur and another few stray sculptures from Rangagora Tea Estate near Tinsukia in Assam bear witness to the import of the Gupta idiom in that region.
  • This post-Gupta style continued in the region well into the tenth century.
  • However, by the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, a distinct regional style developed in Assam.
  • The style that came with the migration of the Tais from Upper Burma mixed with the dominant Pala style of Bengal and led to the creation of what was later known as the Ahom style in and around Guwahati.
  • Kamakhya temple, a Shakti Peeth, is dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya and was built in the seventeenth century.


  • The style of the sculptures during the period between the ninth and eleventh centuries in Bengal (including Bangladesh) and Bihar is known as the Pala style, named after the ruling dynasty at the time, while the style of those of the mid-eleventh to mid-thirteenth centuries is named after the Sena kings.
  • While the Palas are celebrated as patrons of many Buddhist monastic sites, the temples from that region are known to express the local Vanga style.
Bengal Buddhist Monastic Sites
  • The ninth century Siddheshvara Mahadeva temple in Barakar in Burdwan District, for example, shows a tall curving shikharacrowned by a large amalaka and is an example of the early Pala style.
  • It is similar to contemporaneous temples of Odisha.
  • This basic form grows loftier with the passing of centuries.
  • Many of the temples from the ninth to the twelfth century were located at Telkupi in Purulia District.
  • They were submerged when dams were built in the region.
  • These were amongst the important examples of architectural styles prevalent in the region which showed an awareness of all the known nagara sub-types that were prevalent in the rest of North India.
  • However, several temples still survive in Purulia District which can be dated to this period.
  • The black to grey basalt and chlorite stone pillars and arched niches of these temples heavily influenced the earliest Bengal sultanatebuildings at Gaur and Pandua.
  • Many local vernacular building traditions of Bengal also influenced the style of temples in that region.
  • Most prominent of these was the shape of the curving or sloping side of the bamboo roof of a Bengali hut.
  • This feature was eventually even adopted in Mughal buildings, and is known across North India as the Bangla roof.
  • In the Mughal period and later, scores of terracotta brick temples were built across Bengal and Bangladesh in a unique style that had elements of local building techniques seen in bamboo huts which were combined with older forms reminiscent of the Pala period and with the forms of arches and domes that were taken from Islamic architecture.
  • These can be widely found in and around Vishnupur, Bankura, Burdwan and Birbhum and are dated mostly to the seventeenth century.


  • The main architectural features of Odisha temples are classified in three orders, i.e.. , rekhapida, pidhadeul and khakra.
Odisha Temples
  • Most of the main temple sites are located in ancient Kalinga — modern Puri District, including Bhubaneswar or ancient Tribhuvanesvara, Puri and Konark.
  • The temples of Odisha constitute a distinct substyle within the nagaraorder. In general, here the shikhara, called deulin Odisha, is vertical almost until the top when it suddenly curves sharply inwards.
  • Deulsare preceded, as usual, by mandapascalled jagamohanain Odisha.
  • The ground plan of the main temple is almost always square, which, in the upper reaches of its superstructure becomes circular in the crowning mastaka.
  • This makes the spire nearly cylindrical in appearance in its length.
  • Compartments and niches are generally square, the exterior of the temples are lavishly carved, their interiors generally quite bare.
  • Odisha temples usually have boundary walls.
  • At Konark, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, lie the majestic ruins of the Surya or Sun temple built in stone around 1240.
  • Its shikharawas a colossal creation said to have reached 70m, which, proving too heavy for its site, fell in the nineteenth century.
  • The vast complex is within a quadrilateral precinct of which the jagamohanaor the dance-pavillion (mandapa) has survived, which though no longer accessible is said to be the largest enclosed space in Hindu architecture.
  • The Sun temple is set on a high base, its walls covered in extensive, detailed ornamental carving.
  • These include twelve pairs of enormous wheels sculpted with spokes and hubs, representing the chariot wheels of the Sun god who, in mythology, rides a chariot driven by eight horses, sculpted here at the entrance staircase.
  • The whole temple thus comes to resemble a colossal processional chariot.
  • On the southern wall is a massive sculpture of suryacarved out of green stone.
  • t is said that there were three such images, each carved out of a different stone placed on the three temple walls, each facing different directions.
  • The fourth wall had the doorway into the temple from where the actual rays of the sun would enter the garbhagriha.