Vastu-shastra (5): Temple Architecture

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 69,139 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes Prasada styles (C): Vesara which is chapter 4 of the study on Vastu-Shastra (Indian architecture) fifth part (Temple architecture). This part deals with This book deals with an outline history of Hindu Temple (the place of worship). It furtherr details on various religious buildings in India such as: shrines, temples, chapels, monasteries, pavilions, mandapas, jagatis, prakaras etc. etc.

Chapter 4 - Prāsāda styles (C): Vesara

Though the term Vesara, as the technical name of an Indian style of architecture does not occur in this manual, or for that matter perhaps in any of the North Indian text, yet as the ternary Nāgara, Drāviḍa, Vesara looms large in contemporary discussions on Indian architecture among the iridologists working on this branch, and as it has found more than one interpretation, it becomes necessary for the sake of completeness to say something on this too. The main styles which the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra elaborates are Nāgara and Drāviḍa and the triad of names is completed by the term Vāvāṭa (Vārāṭa)—vide Chap, 64, Digbhadrādiprāsādas. It may be noted that Vāvāṭa or Vārāṭa has no place in the Sanskrit accounts of ancient Indian geography, and as regards its location, we shall presently see.

The Vesara has been interpreted by scholars in more than one ways. In Encyclopaedia of Hindu Architecture, Vesara is a style of architecture once prevailing in the ancient Vesara or Telugu country, “India between the Vindhyas and the Kṛṣṇā corresponding to Tamil India” (S. K. Aiyangar J. I. S. O. A. Volume II No. 1 page 23-27).

As Nāgara style is distinguished by its quadrangular shape, the Dravida by its octagonal or hexagonal, the Vesara is distinguished by its round shape (vide Mānasāra LIII. 53-54).

nāgaraṃ caturaśraṃ syādaṣṭāśraṃ drāviḍaṃ tathā |
vṛttaṃ ca vesaraṃ proktaṃ..................... ||

Dr. Acharyas’ remarks regarding this style are worth quoting: “If the identification of Vesara with Teluga or Tri-kaliṅga is accepted, and if the reading Āndhra for Rāndhra is also accepted, the Kaliṅga and the Andhra would be two branches of Vesara. And as the Drāviḍa style is stated to be of the hexagonal or octagonal shape, it would appear that the Drāviḍa proper is octagonal and the Andhra, which is placed between Drāviḍa and the Vesara, is hexagonal”.—ibid p. 261.

Though the learned Doctor has thrown a good light on this term, it must be admitted, that this style was the most confusing one. Like Drāviḍa, it does not admit a geographical division of temples, at the most it is a stylistic one as per Holai inscription, which shows that these terms indicate four classes of Indian architecture.

Dr. Bhattacharya (159) says:

“The difficulty is about the word Vesara, which I think was not a style but indicated really the shape of a structure being round (similar to the ring like ornament ‘Vesara’ of the nose). This may also explain and remove the difficulties about the location of the Vesara style of building. If it was a style based on geographical division, it was of very late origin not fully developed before the eleventh century.”

Again in foot-note he says,

“The terms, Nāgara, Drāviḍa and Vesara, therefore, meant, to South Indian architects, three varieties of buildings of South India built of different shapes, not three separate styles, viz. of North India, of the Deccan, and of South India. Vesara means also a ‘mule’. Does the word refer, therefore to a hybrid style”?

Vesara as mule or nose-pearl is absurd. The best and correct meaning was given in the Mānasāra at a period when the word was just coined. It is derived from “dvi + asra -> dvasra -> vesara” is an apse combined with rectangle like this, vesara, The style was cultivated in the Chalukyan country, cf. Durga temple.

The interpretation of the word ‘Vesara’ as mule, is however acceptable to Dr. Kramrisch (H. T. p 291). Dr. Kramrisch says:

“Vesara in contra-distinction to Varāṭa, is not the name of a country (though in I.P. III.XXX 41 b Vesara, appears to have become substituted for, or identified with Vārāṭa). It means ‘a mule’, an issue of heterogeneous parents; According to Kāmikāgama, in plan, it is Drāviḍa, in the shape of its details, it is Nāgara. It, therefore, denotes a mixed style.”

According to Dr. Stella Kramrisch (vide p. 291):

“Vesara temples are generally assigned to the country between the Vindhya and Agastya (Nasik) or from the Vindhyas to the river Kṛṣṇā as in the Kāmikāgama, It thus seems that Vārāṭa and Vesara denote types of certain temples, particularly assigned to the Deccan, But these temples, of ‘mixed type’ are preserved to the South of the region allocated to the Vesara. They were built by the later Cālukyas in the Kanarese Districts, and by the Hoysala Dynasty in Mysore. They represent a school which consolidated its particular style, later than, the temples having a curvilinear Śikhara of those of the Drāviḍa country. Certain special features of these temples result from an admixture of Nāgara detail to Dravida buildings; this is natural in a region betwixt two powerful schools of which Nāgara, the first and the foremost is centred in Madhyadeśa, according to the Aparājitapṛcchā,—in the country bounded by the river Sarasvatī in Kurukṣetra, Allahabad, the Himalayas and the Vindhya and Dravida in the South India. The earlier Cālukya temples (type I) are Drāviḍa in plan, the later are Nāgara in plan.

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