In the course of history, certain regions/ areas have developed into
cultural centres attracting people from all parts of India. These centres
are places of convergence and radiation, where centrifugal and centripetal
forces are evident. Often a temple or a mosque, is the physical or notional
centre. So far they have been studied either from the point of view of
chronology, history, religion or economics as a linear phenomenon and not a
totality from which emanates a multiplicity of creative artistic activity.
Kshetra is used here in the widest sense to provide a paradigm for the study
of regional cultures which are distinctive but not insular. The Kshetra
Sampada envisages, therefore, a study not only of a singular unit such as
specific place or temple, but its impact on the people and the entire
interlocking of the devotional, artistic, geographic, social and economic
aspects of the sacred centre and what factors act as its renewals and
In the past two major
projects were undertaken under this programme:
The Bṛhadīśvara temple of Tanjavur is
acclaimed as the finest achievement of Chola art. The artistic design of
this temple has been compared to a bio-organism where each part is related
to the whole. It is not just an architectural monument but a living organism
that has served as a centre of social, economic and political life in many
succeeding centuries since the time of Raja Raja I (1010 AD). Its artistic
excellence lies in perfect balance of the parts and the whole, in
architecture, sculpture, painting, bronze images, the idols and reliefs.
Inscriptions on the walls of the temple provide a corpus of information over
a span of many centuries. The Centre has completed a multilevel study of
this temple at several levels to investigate the multi-layered and
multi-dimensional personality of the Kshetram, the Kovil and the temple as a
physical and conceptual presence.
The study has led to the publication of three research monographs:
- Tanjavur Bṛhadīśvara: An Architectural
- Bṛhadīśvara Temple: Form and Meaning
- The Iconography of the Bṛhadīśvara Temple
- Architectural survey and measured drawings by Pierre
Pichard, UNESCO Expert, Southeast Asian Architecture, in collaboration
with Ecole Francoise D'extreme Orient, Pondicherry.
- Photographic documentation by Francoise L'Hernault of
Ecole Francoise D'extreme Orient, Pondicherry.
- Stampages of inscriptions in Tanjavur Temple (which
have been never looked before) by K. V. Ramesh, Director (Epigraphy),
Archaeological Survey of India.
- Colour Photographic documentation of Saraswati Mahal
Library, Tanjavur by V. K. Rajamani.
- Colour Photographic documentation of Tanjavur
paintings by Benoy K. Behl.
- The most difficult work of the entire audio-visual
was the documentation of Kumbhabhisekam, which is held once in 12 years.
This was done under the supervision of Late Manna Shrinivasan.
In this project, an
extensive documentation has been done in and around Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
Architectural survey and measured drawings by Pierre Pichard, UNESCO Expert,
Southeast Asian Architecture, in collaboration with Ecole Francoise
D'extreme Orient, Pondicherry
Photographic documentation by Francoise L'Hernault of Ecole Francoise
D'extreme Orient, Pondicherry
Stampages of inscriptions in Tanjavur Temple, which have been never looked
before, by K. V. Ramesh, Director (Epigraphy), Archaeological Survey of
Colour Photographic documentation of Saraswati Mahal Library, Tanjavur by V.
Colour Photographic documentation of Tanjavur paintings by Benoy K. Behl.
most difficult work of the entire audio-visual was the documentation of
Kumbhabhisekam, which is held once in 12 years. This was done under the
supervision of Late Manna Shrinivasan.
The Project also includes the study and
coordination by Dr. R. Nagaswamy, Advisor, UNDP documentation project for
Tanjavur Bṛhadīśvara temple,
for the following interrelated modules:
Inscriptional and epigraphic records
Architectural and photographic records
Iconographical study of sculptures, reliefs, bronze images and paintings.
and Silpa aspects of living tradition of rituals
Survey and documentation of music and dance traditions and
of Socio-political history of the temple
The project presents the Bṛhadīśvara
temple as a monument but more as a living tradition.
So far, three major monographs namely
Tanjavur Bṛhadīśvara : An Architectural Study,
Bṛhadīśvara Temple: Form and
Meaning and The Iconography of
the Bṛhadīśvara Temple have been
published by IGNCA, as a part of the project. The IGNCA also organised
major events in Tamil Nadu (Chennai and Tanjavur). These events are
enthusiastically acclaimed as unique and unusual presentations, revolving
around the temple and the culture of its region, the people, craftsmen,
implementation and music and dance.
The IGNCA designed and developed an interactive
multimedia DVD titled "Tanjavur Bṛhadīśvara
based on the materials collected. This interactive multimedia DVD
presents the content explanation systems on the Bṛhadīśvara
temple to intensify cultural learning and
visualisation. Through this DVD users can access the sections of the
architectural layout, both horizontally and vertically with respective
images and little description about each section.
The temple of Bṛhadīśvara
includes a great number of iconographic representations. The most important
icon in the temple is the huge Lings, the main symbolic object of worship.
Distribution of sculptures on the ground and upper floors of the Vimana
with description of each of these icons, their reference in the text(s)
(through Dhyan shloka) and voiceover of the Dhyan shloka in some
cases has been integrated for a better understanding. On the upper floor of
the Central sanctum, sculptures are carved on the outside of the inner wall
of the Central sanctum, sculptures are carved on the outside of the inner
wall of the Vimana in a clock-wise direction. They represent the
dance-karanas as described in the Bharata's Natyashastra. 108 stone
blocks were left to carve all the dance-karanas as per the text but, the
work stopped after the 81st dance-karana. These images can be explored in
the DVD with relevant shloka in the Natyashastra.
The paintings in the passageway of the
garbhagriha of the temple are the only remaining examples of Cola
paintings that we have today. Panels of the Cola paintings are linked
through the storyline, to understand these paintings in their context.
They are also grouped in different sections for easy navigation by users.
On the base of main tower, the front great
hall, the subsidiary shrines and the enclosure are remarkable documents
that record several aspect of the temple: its construction, maintenance
and management, land grants. These have been integrated linking their
location on the temple plan with translation published by ASI, for each
navigation by users. The light these records throw on the rituals and
festivals conducted in the Bṛhadīśvara
temple is also significant. Daily and
periodical worships (including kumbhabhishekam) has been documented
by the IGNCA and is integrated in this DVD. We have attempted to capture
the change in the attitude towards the temple - through the interviews of
the hereditary Trustee and Kittappa Pillai, an eminent musician and
nattuvanar belonged to the 8th generation of lineage of artists at
Tanjavur, in this DVD.
Several alterations and additions in structures, do reflect the growth,
with time, and this has been shown with the timeline in this DVD. Recent
techniques and tools have been utilized to integrate the information
available in different art forms in an interactive manner for each
navigation by the users. 360 degree panoramic views of the temple from
selected locations are provided for the users.
This is the first time when such a project has been conceptualised and
fulfilled, to make the ancient knowledge and achievements accessible
through a modern multimedia platform, for the understanding of our past.
know more about interactive multimedia DVD titled "Tanjavur Bṛhadīśvara
The area of Vraja has been a centre of many
socio-cultural movements. Contemporary Vraja presents a micro-model of
living continuities of the past. Vraja also offers an example of how sacred
geographies become mobile spaces through an intervention of pilgrims and
devotees. This mobility of sacred centres forms an important area of
investigation of the Kshetra Sampada programme.
The study has lead to the publication of the
following research monographs-
Govindadeva and its Traditions (1992)
Continuing Creation of Vraja (1994)
Govindadeva - A Dialogue in Stone (1992)
Photographic Exhibition on
Braj Mahotsav Event was held in 2009
(View Video clips of Evening Performances and listen / download Audio
(MP3) of Lectures)
of Kshetra Sampada: Regional Heritage Series