In ancient times, there were group of artists who lived together as clans. If any royal or noble person or some rich man wanted to get a massive temple built, the artists would go there and with devotion and dedication, engage themselves in making idols and the temple without caring for any commercial gains. Their silent dedication would infuse life into the building. That is why, even today, the sculptures of the temples are so lively. The construction of the Sun Temple in Konark took 12 years, and is the result of the dedicated work of innumerable architects.
From this point of view, when one looks at the innumerable ancient buildings and temples, a thought comes in mind that the ancient artists kept the philosophy and tradition of India above everything else before selecting the holiest of places to build such massive monuments which are unsurpassable in the art of architecture. They sacrificed their entire lives to make these buildings which have stunned the human intellect. They broke up huge rocks and brought out white and red stones, chiselled them for days and created great works of art, without caring about hunger or thirst, and offered them as homage to their motherland. The public established their cultural and religious symbols in this massive buildings and spread the fame and glory of the artisans far and wide.
Many examples of this great art can be seen in various part of the country. The temples at Ellora, of which the Brahmin temple Kailas is the biggest and the most beautiful is an example of flawless and artistic architecture. It is 142 feet long, 62 feet wide and 100 feet high. Mythological scenes have been carved out on it.
The scene of the conversation between Shiv and Parvati seems to have been explicitly etched out by the craftsman in the Elephanta Caves.
The Lingaraj Temple of Orissa is an outstanding example of the art. The temple is built on an area of 520x 465 sq. feet. Its height is 144.05 feet and is surrounded by a 7.5 foot thick wall. It has four main parts?Vimaan, Jagmohan, Nat mandir, and Bhaag Mandap. Besides the beautiful carvings of many Gods and Goddesses, many scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have also been carved out in the temple.
The temples at Khajuraho have built in the 9th century. Initially, there were 85 temples. Now, only about 20 remain. The temples of Khajuraho are a great symbol of architectural beauty. On the outer walls are the passionate postures and in the sanctum santorum there is a Shiv Linga.
Besides these, the temples of Girnar in Gujarat are very famous. The temple of Srirangapattan is the biggest and an outstanding architectural example in the South. There is a mandap(16 x 70) with more than thousand pillars, and the room is 450 x130 feet. The massive and artistic entrance, spiral creepers and floral engravings here create an absolutely amazing atmosphere.
The 11th century Rameswaram is one of the four places (Dham) of supreme pilgrimage.
The Meenakshi temple at Madurai is also an example of architectural beauty. It is 847 feet long, 795 feet broad and 160 feet high. Its boundary has 11 entrances. It also has a mandap of 1000 pillars. But its speciality is that on each of these pillars there are entirely different carvings of sculptures. This is the best example of the art of south India.
Throughout India, there are thousands of temples and palaces which tell the story of architectural knowledge in ancient times.
Some marvelous examples of Architecture
1. There is a statue of Lord Buddha in one of the caves of Ajanta which, if you look at from your left side, shows Buddha in a pensive mood; from the front, he seems to be contemplating deeply; and if you look at it from your right, he seems to be smiling. The expression on the face of the same statue changes if you look at it from different angles.
2. The Vitthal Mandir in the South, made during the Vijayanagar regime is an exquisite example of temple architecture. The musical aspect of this temple shows us the varieties of stone, and what special sound will be emitted from the stone if it is chiselled in a certain way and set up in a certain corner. One can actually feel the music and the instruments from the various pillars. There are seven pillars as you enter. If you place your ear on the first and hit it, the sound of ?sa? will be heard and in the same sequence, you can hear ?re?, ?ga?, ?ma?, ?pa?, ?dha?, ?ni? too. As you go further, you can hear the sounds of various musical instruments from the different pillars?you can hear the tabla, the bansuri (flute) and the veena. Those who carved this actually created music out of the stones. Even today, these immortal creations of those unknown and unsung artisans, tell the glorious saga of architecture.
The Art of Painting
The splendour and the beauty of the more than thousand year old paintings in the caves of Ajanta near Aurangabad in Maharashtra, are a subject of wonder for modern scholars. They depict incidents from the life of Gautam Buddha. They were made of colours prepared from a mixture of rice starch, gum, leaves and some other materials. They were underground for nearly a thousand years and were excavated and once again brought to light in 1819, yet neither their colours faded nor did they lose their lustre. All efforts to add fresh colour or renovate them failed. This technique of colour and lines reminds us, even today, of our glorious past.
Views of Mr Griffith on the paintings of Ajanta caves: The British researcher, Mr. Griffith says, ?The artists who did the paintings in Ajanta, were the topmost people in the world of creations. Even the straight vertical lines drawn with easy brush-strokes on the walls of Ajanta, are amazing. But when one looks at the lines drawn parallel to the horizon and the curves, sees the similarity and wonders at the thousands complexities of creation, it is felt that this is nothing short of a miracle.?
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