Third International Seminar

Panel – II

“Understanding the Nature of Śaivism: A Study of the Visual Culture of Mahākūṭa and Ālampur”

Dr. Ajeya Vajapeyee (PhD scholar, Department of History, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Delhi)

Locked in between the hills of Kaladgi range, Mahākūṭa is a popular Śaivatīrtha in the Bagalkot (erstwhile Bijapur) district of Northern Karnataka. It is located on the banks of R. Malaprabhā and is home to 27 old and new shrines. Invariably dedicated to Śiva, all temples stand skirting a masonry tank called Viṣṇu-Puṣkariṇī. Mahākūṭa became a flourishing Śaiva centre between the 6th century and the 8th century CE and also gained the nomenclature Dakṣiṇa-Kāśi. Similarly, Ālampur, a temple ensemble about 200 miles away from Mahākuṭa in the Kurnool district of Telangana received the same nomenclature. Ālampur also developed between the same time periods and, is home to nine temples dedicated to Śiva. Its temples have been stylistically likened to Mahākūṭa by in early scholarship on the region. Mahākūṭa and Ālampur developed into Śaiva centres during the time period and patronage of the Early Western Cālukyas of Bādāmi as reflected in their epigraphy. While Mahākūṭa today holds its significance as a modern Śaiva centre, Ālampur stands as the western gateway of Śrisailam, a popular Śaivatīrtha, reference to which exists in the Skanda Purana. This paper is an attempt to understand Mahākūṭa as an ancient Śaivatīrtha while reflecting on the question of the site’s affiliation to Pāśupata Śaiva system. It argues for a stronghold of Śaivism at the site co-existing with scattered non-Śaiva belief systems. While it agrees with the existence of Pāśupata Śaivism at Mahākūṭa, presence of other forms of Śaivism cannot be neglected. In the end, it will attempt to understand Śaivism at Ālampur in architectural and temporal conjunction with Mahākūṭa.

“A Study of Art Forms Depicted in Bhīmeśvara Temple at Vemulawada, Rajanna-Sircilla District, Telangana”

Mr. Ganesh Bhongale (Department of Heritage Telangana, Hyderabad)

Ms. Poorva Salvi (Department of Heritage Telangana, Hyderabad)

Bhīmeśvara temple is located in the village named Vemulawada that lies on the western part in the district of Rajanna-Sircilla, in the state of Telangana (Latitude: 18.4690° N, Longitude: 78.8671° E) and belongs to the Vēmulavāḍā Cālukyas (750-973 CE). According to some scholars like M. A. Dhaky, this temple has been identified as ‘Baddegeśvara’, which was founded by Baddega I of this dynasty in c. late ninth century CE. The aforementioned temple is crucial as it shows some affinity to contemporary architectural styles from surrounding dynasties like Vengi Cālukya dynasty on one hand and Rāṣṭrakuṭa dynasty of southern Karnataka on the other hand but also retains some local peculiarities which later influenced future architectural styles of Telangana.

Bhīmeśvara temple exhibits some significant icons such as Liṅgodbhavamurtī, Vināyaka, Pancatantra panels etc. Some architectural features and traits seen in this temple continued and influenced the subsequent dynasties of Telangana like Kākatiya dynasty and Kalyāṇī Cālukya dynasty. Hence, the temple serves as a link between architectural styles of certain contemporary dynasties like Vengi Cālukyas and Rāṣṭrakuṭa and several succeeding dynasties of Telangana. Bhīmeśvara temple, therefore, becomes instrumental in comprehending the transformations and development of sculptures from earlier dynasties into the later art of Telangana like Kākatiyas and Kalyāṇī Cālukyas. The aim of this paper is to study the dynamics of the Bhīmeśvara temple by analysing several important sculptures and panels seen in the temple

“Of Art, Artists, and Patrons: Reading Verbal and Visual Codes on Early Cālukya Temples”

Dr. Parul Pandya Dhar (Associate Professor, South and Southeast Asian Art History, Department of History, University of Delhi)

Between the mid-sixth and mid-eighth centuries CE, the Cālukyas of Vātāpī (Bādāmī) was a dominant political and cultural influence in the Deccan. Even as they conquered and annexed territories to their growing kingdom, they also cultivated a vibrant courtly culture in which poets, performers and artists thrived, received the honour, and also enjoyed a fair degree of creative license. The many signatures, marks, and messages of artists on monuments built during their times along the Malaprabhā River and beyond are the testimony to these developments, especially at the important Cālukya centres of Bādāmī, Aihoḷe, and Paṭṭadakal in Karnataka, and Ālampur in the newly formed Indian State of Telangana (ancient Āndhradeśa). This paper proposes to interpret relationships between patrons and artists; royal objectives and creative aspirations; and the aesthetics and politics of art during the times of the Bādāmī Cālukyas. It does so by reading verbal and visual codes engraved on select early Cālukya temples. Often seen in isolation, the inscribed text, engraved imagery, and their spatial contexts on these monuments reveal significant insights about artists, artistic processes, and patrons when reading in conjunction with each other.

Dakshiṇāpatha in Rāṣṭrakuṭa Times: In Context to Telangana – Karnataka Cultural Interface”

Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal (Art Historian, Author UNESCO Fellow)

The term Dekkhan represents vernacular pronunciation of the Sanskrit term Dakṣina, meaning southern, designate Indian peninsula lying to the south of the Narmada River.  Mauryas and Śatavāhanas shared the historical past of Deccan. Śatavāhanas opened the first chapter of south Indian history from 2nd century BCE to 2nd Century CE, laying strong foundation for cultural interactions and political sovereignty of South India, and more importantly between western Telangana and eastern Karnataka of present times. While Cālukya Pulakeśī II was praised in epigraphs as Dakshiṇāpatheśvara after his victory over Harṣavardhana of north, the Rāṣṭrakuṭas established their complete sway over the region comprising from Narmada to Kaveri, in real sense they were the Dakshiṇā Pathavallabhas.  Nilagunda and Sirur inscriptions of 866CE refer that Amoghavarśa was being worshipped by the lords of Vanga, Anga, Magadha, Malava and Vengi. The testimony of the Arab writer Sulaiman, ranked the Rāṣṭrakuṭa Empire among the four great contemporary empires of the universe, the other three being, the Holy Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire and Chinese Empire. Manyakheta, the capital of Rāṣṭrakuṭas was adjacent to present Telangana region, a hub where parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana connected and shared common bond in art, thought, literature and polity.

This paper explores on two significant characteristics corresponding to cultural interface between Karnataka and Telangana.  The first being, directly related to the verses of the first Kannada text Kavīrājamarga eulogising the Rāṣṭrakuṭa territorial expansion of the picture of Dakshiṇāpatha.  The second is the contributions of Vemulavada to Kannada literature under the patronage of Arīkesarī II. Ādikavī Paṁpa from Venginadu becomes the court poet of Vemulavada and contributes greatly to Kannada literature and cultural interaction between Karnataka and Telangana. This was the age of cultural confluence that characterised Dakshiṇāpatha.

“Temples art of the Dakshiṇāpatha- A study of the Cālukyas and Rāṣṭrakuta Temples (6th to 10th centuries)”

Dr. Rekha Pandey (Professor, Department of History, HOD, Centre for Women’s Studies at the University of Hyderabad)

The present paper looks at the temple art in Dakshiṇāpatha, with a special focus on paintings with a study of the Cālukya and Raṣṭrakuta temples from 6th to 10th centuries. Art has been present in India from ancient times and the temples are a very good example of this. Unfortunately, except for sculpture and architecture very little art of this early period, especially paintings have survived due to the nature of the material used. In fact, even if we look at the paintings in the temple of the Vijayanagara period in 16th and 17th century, we find that they are in a state of decline due to neglect and the lack of resources, will and effort in trying to preserve them. The case is more so in the early period. Here we try to give a glimpse of the art of these two dynasties in order to highlight their contribution to the art and painting of the later periods. Most of the art that we are talking about was confined to the temples. The temples played a very important role in Dakshiṇāpatha in the early medieval period. When the archaeological data is corroborated with the inscriptional evidence, we find that land grants were given in a large scale between 5th to the 7th century to priests and the temples and the Eastern Cālukyas and the Raṣṭrakutas saw a large scale temple building activity. Most of these painters dedicated themselves to their art and it was an offering to the divine spirit and the subordination of the self.  We do not know the names of many of these artists. In Saundarylahari, Śankara lists even the Śilpa as pujavidhān (a process of offering). The way a painting is to be undertaken in an orthodox manner is described in the lines of the Viṣṇudharmottara that directs the painter to sit facing east in devoted fashion and offer prayers before beginning the work The Viṣṇudharmottara even mentions anyachittata, absentmindedness as the cause of the decline of the paintings. Under the Western Cālukyas, we look at the art and paintings of the cave temples in Badāmī, Aihoḷe (and Nagral) and Paṭṭadakal. Under Rāṣṭrakuta, we examine the Dravidian or Pallava style that was adopted and can be seen in the famous Kailash Temple at Ellora near Aurangabad (Maharashtra) in the three groups of rock-cut temples in Ellora – Buddhist, Jain, and Brahmanical. The art created during this period was the most forceful and vital creation of the Indian spirit which continues till the later period.

Invitation and Programme Schedule, 2019