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Saturday, April 9, 2011

The monastery at paharpur(Bangladesh)

The monastery measured 922' (north-south) by 919' (east-west) and was enclosed by a 16' thick wall which perhaps rose to a height of 12-15 feet. The thickness of this wall suggests an upper stored but no roof of that has been found. The main gateway was on the northern side and proceeded on the outside by a number of structures, one of which could have serve as a waiting hall or a hall for security guards. Two circular structures which stood on square bases and flanked the staircase leading to the entrance hall were perhaps votive stupas. The staircase was built by laying bricks-on-edge over flat bricks. The entrance hall was a pillared one, with its northern side being open. One notes a band of bricks-in-edge on the eastern and western walls at the height of 6' 6" .This was possibly intended merely as a decorative effect. One also notes several cells adjoining the eastern side of the entrance hall. It has been suggested that these cells were used as office rooms of the monastery. It has also been pointed out that the main passage to the cells was originally though one of these rooms showing cor-belled courses on the top of the openings in its eastern and northern walls. This passage was found filled up with debris during the excavations. The outer entrance hall have access to a pillared hall separated from it by a stone step and a stone these hold . There are grooves in the wall, indicating that the door leading to the outer wall was bolted on the side of the inner hall by a wooden log. The inner entrance hall opened on to the inner verandah and from there. There was a flight of steps to the courtyard directly in front of the main temple. The monastic cells which were 177 number and measure approximately 14' by13'.6" were arranged along the 8 to 9 ft. wide inner verandah. There were 45 cells in the northern wing and 44 cell in each wing. There was a central hall in the northern wing and on each of the other three sides there was a projection in the outer wall forming three cells with a passage around them. These central blocks, in fact, divided each of the fur wings into two sections. Apart from the main entrance there was a subsidiary entrance through the eastern segment of the northern side . A small passage across the middle of the eastern block possibly allowed for a private entrance. A flight of steps went down from the inner verandah to the courtyard in the middle of each side. The verandah was supported by pillars and fenced off from the courtyard by a railing except in the sections covered by the staircase. The basement wall of the verandah was decorated with ha single row of terracotta relief’s but this was done possibly during the last stage of construction .The monastic cells were no doubt meant for living but a good many of them had ornamental pedestal to carry images. These pedestals came up in the late phase of the monastery.


The main temple at paharpur(Bangladesh)

The main temple at paharpur stood approximately in the center of its monastic quadrangle and rose to its extant height of 72' in two terraces between the top and the basement An extensive staircase provided access to the two terraces from the north. The ground plan was in the shape of across with angles of projection between the arms. In the two upper terraces there was a circumambulatory walk enclosed by a parapet wall around the monument. The central element in the composition of this temple was a hollow square shaft rising high above the terraces .Projections containing an ante-chamber and a mandapa were added to each of the four faces of the second upper terrace ,leaving out a portion of the whole length of the square at each of the four corners. This outline was cruciform with one projecting angle between the arms of the cross. The circumambulatory walk on this level was made to conform to the outline of this plan which became more marked with the addition of a rectangular projection to each of the four sides in the first upper terrace .The alignment of this terrace was repeated at the basement level and this meant that the angles of projection in the plans of the first terrace and the basement were three each between the arms of the cross, apart from the projection caused by the staircase landing in the middle of the northern arm. There was also an enclosure wall properly aligned with the basement plan with only a slight deviation near the staircase . around the monument. The main shrine of the edifice was located at the top, comprising a square chamber with a circumambulatory passage around it. First, the main sanctuary ought to have been on the same level of the ante-chambers and the mandapas , there is no evidence of entry to this from them. Sarawati thinks that the brick-paved floor was meant to make the foundation of the lofty walls more solid, He believes that so far as the arrangement of the temple goes , the sanctuary could have neither been situated at the top no inside the central square pile. It is quite reasonable to infer that the temple was capped by some sort of superstructure . The arrangement of the superstructure at the lower terraces would appropriately suggest a roof rising in receding tiers over the vaults spanning the different corridors. The square masonry pile in the center , on the analogy of the pagan temple, may be said to have supported a curvilinear Sikhara as the crowning element of this colossal edifice. At pagan the central pile is solidly designed and constructed ,But at Paharpur , probably to reduce the weight of the stupendous building and to guard against resultant sinking , it was left hollow ,though sufficient stability for the accumulating weight as the monument rose up has been ensured in the enormous girth of each to the four walls.