The Temples of Gujarat - Part I

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Dwarka: It is one of the most pious pilgrimage centres of the Hindus. It is believed that Lord Krishna settled here with his people after fleeing the wrath of Jarasandha at Mathura. Thousands of pilgrims visit the temples at Dwarka, especially on Janmashtami (Krishna's birthday), Diwali and Holi. Though parts of some temples belong to the Solanki period, most of the town's architecture dates only from the 19th century, when Dwarka was developed as a popular religious centre by the Gaekwad rulers. Among the numerous shrines and rest houses, two temples, now much renovated, are of particular importance.

Rukmini Temple, 12th century and later
This small temple consists of a sanctuary on a stepped plan and a columned mandapa with later infill walls and a dome-like roof. The wall panels of the sanctuary arc badly eroded. The superstructure has numerous turrets rising above the wall projections, where part of the original ornamentation survives. The high basement, balcony seating and mandapa columns are all finely carved; so too is the sanctuary doorway.

Dwarakadhisha Temple, mostly l6th century
Though parts of the sanctuary walls of this temple date from the l2th century, the elaborate soaring tower that rises more than 50 m (165 ft) above is much later. This tower has seven open balconies, superimposed one upon the other in the middle of each side. Complex effects arc achieved by the clustering of subsidiary towered elements. The multistorey mandapa with richly modelled columns has a succession of open balconies on the exterior, each with seating and overhanging eaves.

Somanath Temple, modern reconstruction.
Originally founded in the l0th century, the temple was subjected to successive demolitions followed by renovations; its proximity to the sea may also have contributed to its decay. The wealth of the temple's treasury attracted numerous raiders, the first of whom was Mahmud of Ghazni, who destroyed the sanctuary in 1026. During the Solanki period the temple was substantially reconstructed by the ruler Kumarapala (1143-72).

The architecture consists of a sanctuary surrounded by a passageway and an adjoining mandapa both have open porches on three sides. The basement and walls are covered with friezes and panels. The lofty tower over the sanctuary, which rises more than 50 m (165 ft) high, is of the clustered type; the mandapa is roofed with a stone pyramid. Balcony seating flanks the principal entrance. Within, elaborately carved columns support corbelled domed ceilings.


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