Ancient art and architectural heritage of Jammu region

Scientific Essay 2014 7 Pages

Art - Architecture / History of Construction


The art and architecture disseminated to the other parts of India and the region of Jammu did not lag behind as compare to other art and architecture of the cultural material. The remnants of art and architecture, coins and tools, as well as other archaeological objects, which have been discovered in appreciable quantities, serve as first hand pictorial and material sources for the ancient cultural history of Jammu region. The culture of the people of Jammu region has been blended out of diverse elements, both indigenous and exotic. This culture has its roots in the pre-historic modes of primitive human society, growing through various stages of evolution and enriched and polished by numerous tribes and communities entering the region from abroad and from within India. The traditions of culture, art and architecture, religion, craft folk art spontaneously flow uninterrupted from the popular activities of the past. The past generations of Jammu region seem to have left behind a rich legacy of all such socio-cultural aspects.


The achievements of the people of Jammu in the sphere of art and architecture may be assessed from the remains of a variety of monuments in various stages of existence ranging from crumbling debris to fresh robust structures of the 18th and 19th centuries, which lies scattered in Jammu region. The earliest extant archaeological remains go back to as early as period of 9th and 10th centuries A.D. 1 In Jammu region, temples form the chief wealth of architecture and in their evolution, we discover two rounds which exhibits ancient stone structures of śikhara type was prevalent all over northern India during 8th-9th centuries A.D. Secondly, brick structures with thin tapering lofty śikharas and pradaksinā belong to the later, eighteenth and nineteenth century2. During the intervening period no temple structure worth the name were raised or at least have not been discovered so far, which sounds a strange phenomenon in the history of evolution of Jammu architecture. It may have been mostly due to the absence of architectural activity in this region because of recurring foreign inroads and the vandalism of invaders from the thirteenth century onwards until the death of Aurangzeb.


Main features of ancient stone temples

These types of temples are entirely made of stone and are usually decorated with carvings, its conical spire or śikhara form that peculiarly is technically designed as the śikhara or a square cella, a small portico and a low platform. In the developed form a covered ambulatory or pradakshinā and a low tower is seen added to the original concept. In the centuries to follow more improvements and additions were made as a result of the gusto of building activities during the early middles ages and it attained a definite and well laid down concept and came to consist of the following structural design, śaili.

(a). The vimāna or the shrine
(b). The antrāla or vestibule
(c). The ma ṇ dapa or the assembly hall

(a). The vimāna or the shrine

The vimāna is main structure, which contains inside the garbhag ṛ iha housing the idol of the deity to whom the temple is dedicated. The vimāna is surmounted by a high tapering tower called the śikhara, which in case of ancient structures is rendered somewhat circular in shape and curvilinear in case of temples of later centuries, both type being topped by an amalaka in some form crowned by a kalasa (finial), or only amalaka which is circular ribbed stone disk. The garabhag ṛ ihā is dark, the only natural light it has is which enters it through its door from the ma ṇ dapa .3 A lamp is usually kept lighted, symbolic of the divine power illuminating the mysterious universe.

(b). The antrāla or vestibule

The garbhag ṛ iha is joined to the ma ṇ dapa through the antrāla i.e. a small vestibule.

(c) The ma ṇ dapa or the assembly hall

The ma ṇ dapa is a pillared hall where the devotees gather to worship the deity. The outer door of the ma ṇ dapa is sometime covered by a small verandah or porch called ardha- ma ṇ dapa, which serves as the entrance portico and is in some cases open on all the three side, supported by two or four pillars in front. The śikhara type covered pradakśinā-path or circumambulatory passage for going round the garabhag ṛ ihā, emanating from the left side of the antrāla and merging in it on the opposite side. This is to say the modified modern śikhara style, a result of the introduction of brick as the construction material.4


In Jammu region, śikhara temples both of ancient and recent origin are very common. These vary in this regard to, as they possess only the sanctuary or more parts of a typical śikhara temple. Some of the temple consist of a single cella in which the idol is housed and have an enter room or ma ṇ dapa. The ancient temples, however, entered through an ornamented porch usually supported by two pillars. From outside the early medieval temples in Jammu region are two types.

(i). Firstly, ṭṛ iratha embellished by a variety of carvings and architectural designs as in the case of temples at Krimachi and most probably the Devi shrine at Babour.

(ii). The second type to be seen in all other temples at Babour, which are not ṭṛ iratha in construction but are equally decorated with carved embellishments and architectural design.

The temple of recent origin do not posses such outer formalities except that they have large curvilinear śikharas with a small melon-type amalaka or simply a bhumi in some cases on the highest narrow point to serve as base for a metallic kalaśa, set of three ghātās diminishing upwards, topped by a lotus bud pointed upwards. The lower portion or janghā is invariably a rectangular construction, all constructed out of bricks, leaving no scope for carved embellishment, but only for architectural designs, embellishing niches, projections like eves, bandhanas, ardha- śikharas and the like.

Approximately all around the city of Jammu there exist a number of ancient temples almost all of them are built in śikhara 5 style.


About sixty km. from Jammu and 10 km from Udhampur on the north-west ranges, Ladhā is an ancient place of Krimchi, now merely a hamlet of a few huts, it was once a famous capital of Bhutyal6 regime. It is situated on the bank of Birunala,7 which flows on the east side of the town. It was known earlier as Bhutesvari8 River and is still known by that name to the temple priest of that temple which is still under worship.



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Title: Ancient art and architectural heritage of Jammu region