The Temples of the North-East - Part I

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Kamakhya Temple (Assam, renovated 1565 and later)
Commemorating the spot where a portion of Sati's dismembered body fell to earth, this sanctuary enshrines a yoni of Devi . Of the original stone building renovated by the Koch ruler Nara Narayana only the moulded basement survives; the brick structure, including the tower is recent. The temple has a long low elevation divided into a sanctuary and three mandapas, each with a differently shaped roof. Octagonal and sixteen sided dome like towers rise over the sanctuary and adjoining mandapa. These towers are curved brick constructions, divided into horizontal layers by mouldings and capped by tiers of opt-like finials. One of the mandapa has a hut-like roof with curved cornices; the outermost apsidalended mandapa has a long low roof. Stone panels set into the unadorned brick walls of the sanctuary are carved with vigorously posed musicians and guardian figures.

Sibsagar (Assam)
This town was the capital of the 17th-18th century Ahom kings of eastern Assam. These rulers and their wives were responsible for erecting Hindu temples in a distinctive regional style. Overlooking the large tank in the middle of the town, the white washed brick temples at Sibsagar are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Devi.

Characteristic are the curved towers which have central curvilinear projections crowned with tiers of pot-like finials; similar but larger finials are positioned at the summits. There is no ornamentation. Adjoining mandapas have vaulted roofs and curved eaves, not unlike the traditional architecture of Bengal. A variant scheme is found in the Vishnu temple. The walls of this building have shallow niches housing figurative panels; above are miniature turrets. The soaring tower on a circular plan is divided into small panels with medallions.


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