ARCHITECTURE SCULPTURE AND PAINTING
ARCHIṬECTURE, SCULPTURE AND PAINTING
...IN architecture, sculpture and painting the achievements of the Vākāṭaka age were
as outstanding as in literature. There were several temples erected in that age,
some of which are mentioned in the inscriptions of the Vākāṭakas such as the Dharmasthāna at Chikamburi, the temple of Pravarēśvara which gave its name to the territorial
division Pravarēśvara-shaḍvimśati-vāṭaka, the temple of Rāmagirisvāmin on Rāmagiri
(modern Rāmṭēk) and the temple of Mahāpurusha (Vishṇu) in Aśvatthakhēṭaka (modern
Paṭṭan). Besides, there was a beautiful temple of Rāmachandra built by Pravarasēna II
at his new capital Pravarapura, evidently at the instance of his mother Prabhāvatīguptā.
But none of these structures is now extant. There is indeed a temple of Rāmachandra on
the hill near Rāmṭēk, but it has not retained its original shape. As the territory under the
rule of the Vākāṭakas has not yet been thoroughly surveyed, we have no knowledge of the
remains of the structures of that age if any still exist. The only place where we find some
remnants is the hill at Rāmṭēk. On a spur of that hill north-east of the Varāha Gate, there
are still some remains of an ancient building which may go back to the Vākāṭaka age.
There seems to have been a large structure erected at this place, but of it only a small maṇḍapa open on all sides is what now remains. As in the case of the Gupta temples,
it has a flat roof supported by six pillars, four of which are decorated with the lotus motif.
We have no knowledge of the image installed in this temple, but it seems to have been some
incarnation of Vishṇu; for, there is still by its side what appears to have been originally
a beautiful image of Trivikrama,1 now sadly mutilated. The god has a crown on his head,
with a halo round his face. He wears the kuṇḍalas on his ears and a pearl-necklace with a
large pendant round his neck. His vaijayantī garland is shown falling on both his legs. He wears
an udarabandha. His lower garment, which is fastened at the waist with a girdle hangs down
in folds in front. His arms are now broken an both the sides, but their jewelled aṅgadas, (armlets) can still be seen. His left foot is planted on the ground, while the right foot, which
was raised to measure the sky, is now broken at the knee. The pose shows his determination
to rescue the three worlds from the demon king Bali. The latter is standing in the tribhaṅga pose at the god’s feet in an attitude of reverence. The image of his queen who
was standing by his side is now very much mutilated. In its original condition this panel must
undoubtedly have been reckoned among the best products of the Vākāṭaka age.
As stated before, there was a temple of Rāmachandra at Pravarapura, modern Pavnār
near Wardhā. It was decorated with several panels, some of which were discovered from
time to time while digging in the fields round Śrī Vinōbājī’s āśrama on the left bank of the
river Dhām. As these sculptures were not seen by any archaeologists, their importance
was not realised for several years. When I visited the place in 1949, they attracted my
attention at once. I photographed them and brought them to the notice of scholars at
the fifteenth session of the All-India Oriental Conference held at Bombay in that year.
Later, some more panels were discovered at the same place. I have described them
elsewhere.2 Here I shall take up some of the important ones.
1 See Plate A.
2 Sarūpa-Bhāratī, pp. 271 f.; S.I., Vol. II, pp. 272 f.