Within the framework of the Orissa Research Programme, established in early 1999 as a Schwerpunktprogramm of the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), architectural surveys have been carried out in Puri (December 1999) and in Ranpur (July 1999), the former centre of a feudatory state in the hinterland of coastal Orissa in northeast India. The Orissa Research Programme focuses on „Contested Centres“ and intends to unveil the mechanism of „construction and change of socio-cultural identities“ in Orissa. In this context a comparison between the imperial 12th century temple of Jagannath in the very centre with its miniature version built by one of the Little Kings six-hundred years later reflects the Programme’s aims in a very tangible way.
Dedicated to Ajay Shankar
Art historical research has so far been confined to the architecture of the „early“ period, roughly up to the 13th century, well before King Ramacandra of Khurda re-established the cult of Jagannath at the end of the 16th century. With the advent of a new regional and various subregional centres, the building of more than 1000 Jagannath temples began which were either dedicated to the Jagannath trinity, or the single Wooden God in the form of Dadhivamana or Patitapavana – according to a survey carried out by Heinrich von Stietencron (1978: 472) in 1970 to 1973 under the auspices of the first Orissa Research Project. Klaus Fischer was among the first who „from excursions through some parts of Orissa“ (K. Fischer 1954: 22) reported about „the evolution of postmediaeval Indian Culture“ and, in connection with this, mong others also about the Jagannath temple of Ranpur. Only very few of the provincial and altogether „postmediaeval“ temples have recently been measured and drawn in the context of a survey of „forgotten monuments of Orissa“ that was initiated by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (B. K. Rath: 1996) . But not a single document concerning the plan of the temple in Ranpur was available. Only the settlement map prepared in 1943 at the scale of 1:1250 was made available from the records room of the Tahsildhar, the sub-district magistrate. The site plan was prepared in July 1999 by a team of six architects on the basis of triangular measurements.
Likewise, details of the temple in Puri turned out to be scarce. The first and only plan known date was prepared by Babu Radhika Prasad Mukarji, an assistant to the Department of Public Works. It was published in a general account of Orissa in 1872 and again in 1876 in James Fergusson’s famous History of Indian and Eastern Architecture. Fergusson had toured India between 1835 and 1845, certainly also visiting Puri. He labelled Mukarji’s plan „the only plan I ever found done by a native sufficiently correct to be used, except as a diagram, or after serious doctoring“ (J. Fergusson 1876/1967: 109) . Mukarji captured the temple itself in a rough outline in true proportions, but the subsidiary structures of the inner and outer compounds were rendered only schematically. Strange enough, Mukarji’s plan has never been improved but was simply traced and published in a recent monograph (O. M. Starza 1993: 19) on the temple. It is likely that under British Rule the Archaeological Survey of India had documented the temple, of which measured drawings were prepared in 1982 on the occasion of a major restoration and later revised in 1991. This documentation, however, was never published and was not accessible for reference.
In 1960, L. Panda from the Law Department of the Government of Orissa Record of Temples prepared a site plan (O. M. Starza 1993: 12) of the temple compound identifying all structures including the many storehouses and kitchens for the preparation of ritual food. Architectural details were not shown in this plan. A similar site plan showing all structures in more detail was prepared by the Settlement Department in 1987-88 at the scale of 64 inches to one mile (equal to 1:1000) and subsequently printed and made public in Cuttack. The Settlement Map was also incorporated into a pictorial representation of „Sankha Kshetra“ and published by S. N. Sarangi in 1992 in the context of a Puri Master Plan (S. N. Sarangi 1992: 79) .
In September1999 the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India, Ajay Shankar, granted the necessary permission for the preparation of measured drawings. The administrator of the Jagannath Temple Trust in Puri ratified this permission and the Assistent Administrators R. N. Das and Mishra along with the temple’s security officer facilitated the work of the team. The third party, however, the priests of the temple, were upset that such an activity was allowed, since they felt intruded upon without being briefed about it. The team leader explained the nature and importance of the work thus paving the way for a week long detailed survey. In December 1999 all structures of the outer compound were verified on the basis of an enlargement of the settlement map at the scale of 1:250. All structures of the inner compound were measured and drawn at the same scale. A detailed measurement of the external periphery of the main temple along with the attached structures on the platform was undertaken. The result was drawn at a scale of 1:50. The priests did not allow the team to obtain measurements of the inner spaces of the main temple. The team plans to complete the measurement in July 2000, when the gods have left the temple for their annual ritual journey.
The Jagannath Temple at Puri
Reliable data concerning the history of the temple is not available, a situation not uncommon in the South Asian context. Heinrich von Stietencron pointed out in the early seventies, that „nothing definite can be said about the early history of Puri until proper excavations [...] under the main temple reveal the hidden past of this place“. Strictly speaking, Jagannatha temples are identifiable only by their cult images made of wood and representing Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balabhadra, often with the addition of the Sudardana-Cakra to complete the fourfold form (caturshamurti) of the god“ ( H. v. Stietencron, 1978: 62) . Prior to 1278 AD, the god in Puri was called Purusottama, at least since the 11th century. The first temple dedicated to this god is supposed to have been built around 950 AD by Yayati I as a representative of the SomavaÞdi dynasty, a western Orissa dynasty that had established its centre in coastal Orissa. Stietencron has convincingly suggested that the god enshrined in the early temple was a four-armed Vasudeva, also called Nilamadhava, who was not the state god of the dynasty. The state god of the SomavaÞdis was Ïiva, enshrined in the great Liegaraja temple in Bhubaneswar, one of the highest building of India at the time of its construction. The financial drain caused by the construction of this and other magnificent temples seems to have reduced the military power of the SomavaÞdis, causing a rapid decline of their fortunes. By the early 12th century, as legends tell us, the temple in Puri must have been in decay, and the statue covered with sand.
At that time King Anantavarman Cooagaegadeva conquered a vast empire and shifted his capital from the South (Kaliega) to a place north of Bhubaneswar in Utkala (an ancient term for northern Orissa) . After 1135 AD he started to build the present Purusottama temple in Puri which was completed at the beginning of the 13th century, at the end of the reign of Anaegabhima II . Within two generations the Gaega dynasty managed to construct a temple that turned out to be larger and grander than the rival of the preceding dynasty in Bhubaneswar. According to a contested theory the Wooden God was probably from the beginning at the centre of the Purusottama cult but the transfer of the state cult from a stone image to a wooden image might have taken place almost hundred years after the consecration of the temple. The rise of a Hinduized god was, as Stietencron pointed out, „usually connected with the direct patronage of a chief or king“ (H. v. Stietencron 1978,1: 72) . Such a Hinduization under royal patronage had, as Hermann Kulke proved, „an immediate legitimatory task to fulfill“ (H. Kulke 1978) . Jagannath obtained that role in a process that stretched over a hundred years, but by the beginning of the 14th century that god was the uncontested imperial god of the Gaega dynasty who hundreds of years later fulfilled the same legitimatory tasks for a number of Little Kings in the hinterland of central Orissa.
Little is known about the development of the temple. The assembly hall (jagamohana or mukhadala) adjoining the temple tower (deul) must have been added after the completion of the tower but it is also possible that both elements were completed at the same time as the two components represent an architectural and stylistic unit. Stietencron (1978,1: 77) and others suggest the addition of the spacious festive hall (naoamanoapa) „after the 13th century“ and identify the westernmost hall of offering (bhogamanoapa) as an addition of the 15th century.
The entire temple was first covered with lime plaster by King Narasimhadeva from Khurda in 1636/37. Later, an application of lime and in recent times also cement created a thick layer that in part was taken off by the Archaeological Survey of India since the late seventies.
The inner enclosure of the temple is said to have been walled by king Purusottamadeva by the end of the 15th century. Named Kurmapioha, lit. „the pedestal of the tortoise“, this paved inner area is considerably higher than the outer enclosure, the double wall of which deviates from the inner walls in its direction. The outer enclosure houses the cemetery (Koili Baikuntha) of the wooden images and the bathing platform as well as the kitchen for the preparation of offerings (bhog) and countless stalls for storage and sale of offerings. Three step-wells are also located in the outer enclosure. It remains unclear what inspired the Gaega kings to construct such enclosures. Do these represent means to defend the temple against Muslim invaders as the serrated battlements of the outer wall suggest or was Jagannath meant to be kept in a symbolic palace or fort to continue traditions known from South India? The outer enclosure wall is punctuated by gates guarded by lions (in the east) , horses (in the south) , and tigers (in the west) . The guardians of the northern gate, elephants, have been shifted to the gate of the inner enclosure.
Pilgrims guided by priests („Pandas“) normally enter through the lion’s gate in the east. After having worshipped the Lord of the Universe from Kadi in a small shrine behind the gate the pilgrim ascends the Blue Mountain (Niladri) , which supports the inner enclosure with the temple of Jagannath. Three small subsidiary shrines are visited first before the Panda leads the pilgrim into the jagamohana, the hall adjoining the main sanctuary from where the Wooden Gods, Jagannath, Subhadra, Balabhadra ans Sudardana are „seen“. The temple is left by the same southern entrance and subsequently circumambulated while visiting 25 of the many more subsidiary shrines. After having „seen“ the bathing platform (snanamanoapa) and after having obtained offerings from one of the many stalls in an area called Ananda Bazaar, the pilgrim will leave through the gate he or she had entered.
The temple itself is an elaborate structure of immense size and expanse. Its four parts, the deul (as tower or „mountain“) , jagamohan (assembly hall) , naoamanoapa (pillared festive hall, serving as a platform for dances) and bhogamanoapa (hall of offerings) are supported by a large platform which now also houses a number of subsidiary structures that serve as offices for the Temple Trust and as stalls to sell light offerings (dhipa) . Attached to the deul are subsidiary shrines with accessory deities (pardvadevata) - three of the ten incarnations of Visnu. All this makes it difficult to perceive the architectural structuring at the foot of the deul. Its plan is square within the sanctum while the face of the wall is subdivided into five divisions or segments called paga – a design characteristic for Orissan temples of the later period. These five major segments are further subdivided into eleven segments - the two corners (kanika-paga) , the sub-faces (anuratha-paga) and the central face (raha-paga) . The lower platform is likewise divided into five major divisions each of which is subdivided into nine segments. The shrines for the accessory deities cover three of the four central segments. The intricate subdivisions or proliferations of the tower lend an extremely serrated profile to the walls. This is supported by the subdivision of the vertical planes through the layering of stones in order to break up the mass of the temple. Without such subdivisions the massive building would certainly have an unstructured and imposing impact. The shrines of the accessory deities follow the scheme of the main tower in their subdivision but display a more simple surface treatment.
The main hall is linked to the sanctuary on its western side while on the eastern side the festive hall exists as a simple walled square. The jagamohan is almost fully hidden behind the encroachments needed by the Temple Trust to manage the temple affairs and the pilgrim’s needs. Since the 17th century it is almost fully plastered thus making it difficult to apprehend its original profiles. The corners are subdivided into nine segments each while the wall faces are made up of five segments (paga) , each being further subdivided into nine segments. The southern entrance marks the access for pilgrims while the northern access leads through an office that is in charge of the security within the temple enclosures. The main access through the two eastern halls (naoa-manoapa and bhogamanoapa) is reserved for special festive and ritual occasions. The walls of the hall are treated with a vertical ascent with attached pilasters which fully express themselves as they project from the mass of the wall with three basic vertical layers that correspond to plinth, superstructure and cornice bands (baranoa) . These divisions of the vertical plane are maintained when crossed by the horizontal levels of the moulded string course (bandhana) . The plan expresses clearly the boldness of the pilasters which are prominently separated by deep recesses. One has to compare this strong verticality of the hall’s supporting structure with the horizontality of the mouldings of the main sanctuary, the tower: The main sanctuary, as a result, is tall and slender, in contrast to the short squat hall. This contrast can probably be seen as a union of male and female principles as it is understood in Orissan architecture.
The festive hall or naomanoapa looks like a large infill, clearly a later addition because of the way it is added to the bhogamanoapa in a different architectural vocabulary. It has been pointed out earlier by Percy Brown (1962: 105) that it represents the only hypostyle hall with 16 pillars in north Indian architectural language. The plan of the hall replicates the hall structure with pyramidal roof with receding steps (pioa – horizontal platform) and gabled ceilings which corbel from massive walls and are supported by heavy beams and iron rods. In this case the pyramidal roof is cut above four initial platforms so as to produce a flat roof. The hall offers layers of spaces in a concentric manner. It can be entered from the side entrances in the rear.
The third hall is dedicated to the offerings (bhogamanoapa) prepared for the deities. The axial access from the east remains closed while the southern door serves as the main access of the two side entrances. A covered passage from the kitchen to the temple leads to the southern entrance and past it directly to the festive hall and beyond to the sanctuary. The northern entrance is regularly used to distribute offerings (prasada) to the pilgrims. The plan of this hall follows the prototype of a pioa deul in which the central pavilion with its pyramidal roof is supported by four massive pillars. The pilastered and moulded walls of this hall are similar to the walls of the jagamohan . Here, however, the platform provides the base for the superstructure unlike the other halls which are supported by a secondary projecting platform. Future surveys will be dedicated to the details of these walls as they remain untouched by plaster.
The entire plan of the temple - the main sanctuary with its four halls in a row - creates a ritual axis that originally made the interior journey towards the viewing (dardan) of the deities an exercise of various spatial experiences. That was not a special feature of temples dedicated to Jagannath. We don’t know when this axis was truncated as the present practice brings pilgrims directly into the jagamohan and the sanctuary. We believe, however, that the later addition of the second and third halls was meant to create an extended inner passage as if to add and enlarge the space provided to the deities. In other cases the third hall was built first and the second hall was either squeezed into an already existing configuration (as in Ranpur) or never built (as in Amarakanth) . Small village temples like those in Champagada or early 20th century temples like those in Dhenkanal even do without any enclosed halls. There, only pillared halls in front of the enclosed sanctuary remained open. In the context of the present study we cannot say whether the naoamanoapa followed the completion of the bhogamanoapa as suggested by Starza (1993: 19) or after the 13th century as suggested by Stietencron (1978,1: 77) . In view of other examples we even suggest that the bhogamanoapa was built first. Unsolved is also the question as to why the second hall is almost always covered by a truncated pyramid.
The Jagannath temple at Ranpur
A local chronicle, compiled in the middle of the 19th century with supplements from 1880 and 1939, narrates not only the origin of the local dynasty but frequently refers to places and building activities. If we define as mythological, a legendary and a historical section of this chronicle – as Hermann Kulke recently did, we find that claiming and reclaiming the territory of Ranpur by mythic and legendary rulers prepared the base for entering into „history“. At the beginning of the 16th century one Uddhava Singh is said to have received the necessary regalia from Puri and a few years later he erected a temple dedicated to Madhava and his queen added a mukhadala – another term for jagamohana – to the sanctuary. The chronicle (D. Singh 1962) reports the establishment of a couple of other daivite temples in Ranpur in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries before it narrates a period of war and destruction that resulted in a final re-establishment of rule in about 1730. This re-establishment of power and rule followed a certain model as explained by Hermann Kulke (H. Kulke 1980) earlier. At the same time the kings of neighbouring Khurda followed a policy of integrating the feudatory chiefs under their suzeraignty. By sharing ritual rights in the Jagannath cult, they actively tried to gain their support against other regional powers. A few decades later, about 1770, king Sarangadhara of Ranpur is said to have „prepared the idols of the deities three and a half cubit high with four hands and enshrined him in a big temple“. He also „prepared the three chariots and performed Rathajatra (the chariot festival) with pomp and grandeur“. We believe, that a former temple was replaced by the present one at this time when Madhava was replaced by the Wooden God. The establishment of Jagannath in this form obviously seemed more important to be mentioned than the explicit notion of the construction of what was obviously now „a big temple“ as compared to something smaller that was there before. This opinion is presented here tentatively as not a single date of comparable 18th century temples in central Orissa is available until now. The presentation of the Ranpur temple here signifies an initial step. Only after similar case studies will one be able to establish a reliable chronology of Jagannath temples.
The present configuration of the temple and palace complex is of a more recent, probably early 20th century origin. The wall around the Jagannath temple and its five subsidiary temples as well as the ritually essential bathing platform is mentioned in the chronicle of the reign of king Brindabana (c. 1800-1821) , while the new palace was built by Krishna Chandra (1899-1945) of whom it is said, that he „constructed beautiful buildings in the palace which appeared to be like a necklace of diamonds“. A special gate provided access for the ruler since that time. In some provincial capitals of Orissa, as in neighbouring Khandpara, the ruler could step out of his palace and enter the temple enclosure directly thus emphasizing the close relationship between ruler and deity if not identity of divine rule.
Much smaller in size and conception, the temple in Ranpur represents a much simpler version of the temple in Puri. In its constituent elements though, it perfectly resembles the typology established by the Jagannath temple in Puri and even the earlier Liegaraj temple in Bhubaneswar. It is placed on a platform unmarred by secondary structures and has a main sanctuary connected to its adjoining hall as well as two more halls of different shape. Of these, the easternmost bhogamanoapa seems to belong to the initial period of construction, while the naoamanoapa in between has been added much later if not at the beginning of the 20th century as part of „the necklace of diamonds“ mentioned above. The chronicle mentions the plastering of the temple by king Krishna Chandra who was probably seeking unity between his plastered palace and the adjoining temple. On the vertical segments of the main sanctuary, sculptural details were not hidden behind plaster and the pilasters of the bhogamanoapa are bold enough to allow a study of details. The dikhara tower of the main sanctuary has three subsidiary shrines for the accesory deities (parÒvadevata) , Varaha (south) , NarasiÞha (west) and Vamana (north) – three of the ten „descents“ or incarnations of Visnu; it is „organically“ knotted to the adjoining hall – in contrast to the links of the two other halls. All four constituent elements rest on a pedestal of modest size. Only the subsidiary shrines project towards the edge of the platform.
The main sanctuary is square in plan with the usual five segments (ratha) of the pañcaratha type of tower. The central pagas support the Triad of deities, Jagannath and club (gada ) towards the north, Subhadra and lotus (padma) towards west and Balabhadra and conch (daekha) towards south, while Kirtimukha (the face of glory) , Garuda (the mount of Visnu, and his disc (cakra) face east. Two elephants, 14 lions and seven Matéka are placed into the recesses of the wall segments (paga) .
The jagamohan also has five wall segments, of which the central one is punctured by gates on all sides. The southern access is the main one for the acting priests as well as for visiting devotees. On the side of the central segment Patitapavana, „The Purifier of the Fallen-Ones“ is depicted. It is an aspect of Jagannath which originated only as late as the 18th century. He appears alone, without the two other members of the triad, to be seen by those who are not allowed into the temple. In front of Patitapavana on the platform a lotus stone is placed symbolizing Surya, the Sun-God, who is worshipped first before the priest in charge enters the temple in the early morning. Although regular in plan in the interior, the rectangular ground plan is produced by a difference in wall thickness. The pyramidal roof structure in pioa shape emphasizes the east-west axis and presents a perfect resolution between the inner square and the outer rectangle. The walls of the structure bear very little sculptural details in the recesses but have pilasters moulded in the shape of miniature dikhara towers (anuratha dikhara) , which also appear above the lintels, flanked by two musicians.
Similarly, the second hall, naoamanoapa is rectangular in plan, but emphasizes the opposite direction expressively. The interior pavilion, however, is supported by pillars that form a square. In the interior, the walls are strenghtened by pilasters which do not reflect the position of the pillars. The face of the walls are kept almost plain, faintly resembling only the profile of its prototypes represented by the neighbouring bhogamanoapa. A moderately moulded string course is almost the only feature that places the second hall in line with Orissan architectural features. The roof represents a truncated pioa, a pyramid with three steps, the lowest of which is much lower than those of the adjoining halls. In many ways the naoamanoapa appears as an infill that does not reflect any ambitions of the builder. This does not mean that the 19th century witnessed a general decay of craftsmenship and disrespect for building traditions. While the naoamanoapa of the Ranpur temple documents a thoughtless simplification, other temples – like the Jagannath temple in Khallikot – built in 1909 to 1913 by Maharaja Narayana Mardaraja - demonstrate a flamboyant Orissan revival.
The hall of offerings fully reflects these traditions. It is the only one of the four components of the entire temple which allows details to cover fully the recesses between the pilasters – details which in fact recall the wall surface of the bhogamanoapa of the temple in Puri and which in general follow the elemental Orissan details in the treatment of central, subsidiary and corner offsets. The plan is square with five subdivisions of the wall, with corners prominently expressed.
The most interesting detail of a comparison of the two temples in Puri and Ranpur emerges when we look at the naoamanoapa. In Puri it represents the only hypostyle hall in northern India. This is the place from where the pilgrims offer salutations to the deities. Access beyond can only be offered by the priests, the Pandas, who manage and control the complex affairs of the temple. The pyramidal interior of the inner square is supported by the corbelled vault of an inner path that is lined up by twelve lower pillars. The naoamanoapa’s interior in Ranpur is similar in design; both halls demonstrate a contrast towards both sides as if to prevent continuity in terms of space, roofline and detailing.
On a general level, when one observes the Orissan art of temple building, the temples in Bhubaneswar and especially the 11th century Liegaraja temple provide ideal examples. The Jagannath temple in Puri documents an advanced version with elements introduced from southern India. Though the temple is the largest in Orissa it developed characteristic differences from mainstream Orissa by introducing a wide pedestal, a large festive hall and a walled enclosure that recall the temple cities of South India.
Hundreds of Jagannath temples built later, mainly during the 18th and 19th centuries, followed this prototype but reduced in scale and details. The constituent elements of the temples in Puri and its successor in Ranpur are indeed similar. Lined up along an east-west axis, the three halls follow each other, the festive hall with its low roof almost marking a gap in the roofline. In Puri the enclosures have four gates facing the cardinal directions, while in Ranpur there is only one major access from the east, while the northern one is reserved for the king of the feudatory state that ceased to exist in 1947.
Directions of future research
The temples in both Puri and in Ranpur have been plastered to a large extent thus limiting the scope of evaluation of detail treatment. Future research will thus be obstructed to a certain extent. Detailed surveys of the mouldings of pilasters and string courses as well as sculptural details like miniature temple towers (anuratha-dikhara) will, however, allow a typological comparison that will ultimately lead to a reliable chronology of Orissan architecture of the latest period. Data that have been collected in the seventies by Kedarnath Mahapatra (Mahapatra 1977) heavily relied upon chronicles, which convey a constructed past rather than facts. Detailed studies will lead through the jungle of legends to make reliable data available.
It will be important to follow two parallel strands of development – one towards a simplification of the traditional architectural order and one towards a flamboyant revival that was partly based on the appreciation and dissemination of the results of the excavation and reconstruction of the Sun-Temple in Konarak, the third large temple of Orissa that was completed only a few decades after the temple in Puri was consecrated.
Since the beginning of the 20th century the study of Orissan architecture has relied on the study of Sanskrit texts and the knowledge of the practices the local craftsmen. Man Mohan Ganguly who involved local craftsmen in order to understand their working methods has to be mentioned in this context. A generation later, Nirmal Kumar Bose followed this path. The critically edited 17th century Sanskrit text and the English translation of the dilparatnakoda published 1994 by Bettina Bäumer and Rajendra Prasad Das adds considerably to our knowledge of Orissan architecture and provides the terms needed to talk and write about the characteristic details. Our measuring and drawing is to be understood as a tool to comprehend the principles of design in the structuring of form.
Dr. Niels Gutschow
Ortsstraße 26, D-69518 Abtsteiach
Rabindra J. Vasavada
10, Vrindavan Apts. Ahemedabad 380015, India
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