West India Temple
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Temples in West India >> Gujrat

Magnificently sculptured temples are one of the major attractions of this never-never land that is nevertheless one of the major industrial states of the country. Dwarka, Rukmini Temple, Dwarakadhisha Temple, Somanath Temple are some of the temples that are most revered ones.

The temples built in western India between Muhammad Ghana's expedition to Somnath in Kathiawar in 1025-26 A.D., and the conquest of this part of the country by the Sultans of Delhi in 1298 A.D., represent one of the richest and most prolific developments of the Indo-Aryan style of architecture. The havoc and destruction caused by Muhammad Ghazni's raid, however, did not last long, for the Solanki rulers were a stable and powerful dynasty who lost no time or energy in repairing the damage. Contrary to what one might expect Ghazni's campaign of desecration seems to have given an added impetus to temple building in the peaceful period that followed. The great prosperity of the Solanki rulers was due largely to the geographical position of Gujarat which was then the focus of commerce. This was another factor which shaped the religious architecture of this region, for there is about it a lavishness which speaks of both material and emotional wealth.

At the end of the thirteenth century, however, a number of these temples were despoiled by the Muslim conquerors who dismembered them to provide material for their mosques. To complete the damage, a devastating earthquake with its epicenter in Kathiawar occurred at the beginning of the 19th century, so that a large number of temples were reduced to crumbling ruins and shapeless masses of masonry. The architectural plan of the typical Solanki temple consists of three horizontal sections, the peetha or basement, the rnandovara or wall- face up to the cornice, and the shikhara or spire. The pillar is carved with motifs which are arranged in an order fixed by convention. The garaspati or horned rakshasas are the lowest; then come the gajapatis or elephant fronts, followed by ashva-thara or horses, and narathara or human forms. The mandovara is reserved exclusively for figure sculpture. The shikhara is distinctive, for it consists of a group of turrets or urusringas surrounding a larger central structure. The interiors of these temples are markedly peristylar, and richly carved pillars are arranged so as to form halls and aisles. The inner walls of the halls, unlike those in the Orissan temples, are profusely carved. About fifteen miles from Patan, the ancient capital of the Solankis in Gujarat, are four small temples at Sunak, Karyoda, Delmal and Kesara, all built in the 10th century and therefore the earliest examples of the Solanki style.

The Surya temple at Modhera, now in ruins, was built in the same style a century later, when it had found its supreme expression. The architectural plan resolves itself into a suttamandapa or Pillared hall, connected by a narrow passage to the gudh-mandapa or assembly hall and the garbhagriha, both forming an enclosed rectangular building. The Modhera temple is famous for its fine display of proportions and the atmosphere of spiritual grace which it conveys. In the 11th century, similar temples were built in Rajasthan and Kathiawar also.

At this time, Rajputana, like Gujarat, was the traditional home of merchant princes who spent fabulous sums to commemorate their religious faiths. Vimala Shah, the Minister of the first Solanki ruler, Bhirnadeva I of Gujarat, built the first Jain temple at Dilwara.