Friday, April 20, 2012

rare photos of Seringham, near Trichinopoly




Decorated temple-car of the Srirangam temple 1850

Lithographer: Dibdin, Thomas Colman (1810-1893) year :1847

This is plate 23 from James Fergusson's 'Ancient Architecture in Hindoostan'. Srirangam near Tiruchirapally is the site of one of the largest temple complexes in India. The gateway sketched by Fergusson is incomplete: the tower had not yet been added. It belongs to the Ranganatha Temple, a pilgrimage site famed for its annual Vaikuntha Ekadasi festival, dedicated to Vishnu. The scale of the gateway impressed Fergusson as nearly unrivalled in India.The present temple has seven concentric walls and 21 towers or gopurams. Although worship at the site goes back earlier, the temple itself was founded in the 11th century. It was continually augmented between the 13th and the 17th centuries.

'South Front of the Great Gateway of Seringham Pagoda'. Coloured aquatint by J. Wells after a drawing by Capt. Trapaud, 1788

Coloured aquatint by J.Wells after a drawing by Capt. Trapaud of the south front of the great gateway of the dated 1788.The holy pilgrimage place of Srirangam is situated on a long isand in the Cauvery river. Here there are two large temple complexes, a Vaishnava dedicated to Ranganatha and the Jambukeshvara temple which is consacrated to Shiva. The Ranganatha Temple was started in the Chola period but most of the works were carried out from the 13th to the 17th century under the patronage of the Pandya, Hoysala, Vijayanagara and Nayaka rulers. The temple covers an area of 63 hectares divided into 7 concentric enclosures with tall gateways or gopuras in the middle of four sides. The sacred complex of the Jambukeshvara dates mostly from the 17th century Nayaka period.

Photographer : Lyon, Edmund David -year 1868







Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. Close-up of carved horses and other figures in the Sheshagirirayar Mandapa at the Ranganatha temple of Srirangam. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description: 'On passing under the Gateway.....the visitor finds himself opposite the sanctum, which, however, he cannot enter, and so must turn to the right, and following the wall of the Court round its South-eastern angle, he will find a handsome portico at its southern end. Passing through it, there are, at its northern face, the pillars shown in the Photograph, each handsomely carved


Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon, showing part of the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description: 'On the left, on entering the Gateway...a stone staircase leads to the top, from which a general view of the whole interior of the pagoda is obtained. The houses seen below are those of the Brahmins, of whom 8,000 are said to live inside the walls. The tall Gateways or Gopuras in the centre, mark entrances into the inner Courts on the south side, while the corresponding Gateways on the north side are seen in the distance on the left; the large Gopura on the right marks the entrance to the Horse Court.

East side of largest gateway

Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. East gopuram of the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description: 'This view shows the other or east face of the same Gateway... It is said to be over 150 feet high, and could be seen from Tanjore, a distance of 36 miles. It has nine storeys, including the basement, a number which is generally understood to be symbolical of the nine Avatars of Vishnu. It has less figure sculpture than the smaller gateways, but its architectural details and general outline are good, and altogether may be taken as a typical example of the style'.

West side of largest pyramidal gateway

Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. East gopuram of the Ranganatha temple in Srirangham. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description: 'Ascending the steps to the roof of the thousand-pillared Portico, the best view is obtained of this Gateway, which is the highest in Seringham. Its base is quite plain, and smeared as usual with stripes of white and red wash. It forms the only entrance to the court of which the carved horsemen pillars form the north side, and the Hall of 1,000 columns on the south side. Passing under it and between these two porches the visitor again reaches the sanctuary.'

Small gateway on the east side


Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. General view of a gopuram at Srirangam. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description: 'Passing through the great Gateway and turning our backs on the sanctuary, so as to leave the temple on the East side, the visitor has to pass through three Gateways...This is one of the smallest belonging to the Temple, and the only prominent sculptures with which it is adorned are a statue of Vishnu on the right, and Krishna and the Gopis of Bindrabun [Vrindavan] on the left'.

Gateway at entrance to Fifth Court

Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description of this view of the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam: 'Passing through the two next Courts and under their Pyramidal Gateways, which are not deserving of special notice, we arrive opposite the one here shown, which is by far the best, as it is the oldest of those on this side. Assuming the sanctuary to have been erected in the first years of the sixteenth century, which is probably not far from the truth, and allowing half a century to have elapsed between the time of the addition of each of its six external courts, we have a rough chronometric scale...

West side of gateway at east entrance to the Second Court

Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. General view of a gopuram at Srirangam. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description: 'It is one of the peculiarities of this style of building, that the concentric enclosures increase in dimension as you recede from the centre, so do the gateways. This one consequently is larger and finer than the last, and through its doorway are seen the gateposts of the outer one of all, which had it been finished, would have equalled, if it had not surpassed, that by which the Temple was entered...'

The South Entrance

Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. The Ranganatha Temple on Srirangam Island, opposite Tiruchirapalli, is the largest temple complex in India. It was founded and enlarged between the 13th and the 17th centuries and is surrounded by 7 concentric walls and 21 towers or gopurams. The gopurams date mostly from the 16th-17th centuries and are brick and plaster pyramidal towers with projecting porches in the middle of each diminishing storey. They increase in size from the innermost enclosure outwards and are completely covered with vividly coloured plaster figures. Srirangam enshrines an idol of Vishnu (here called Ranganathaswamy) reclining on a great serpent. In this view the gopuram (temple tower) is unfinished, with only the base constructed. 


Photograph of the gopurams of the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s, from an album of 62 views of India and Ceylon. The Ranganatha temple is a Vaishnava complex situated on the artificial island of Srirangam in the Cauvery River near Tiruchirapalli. The building of the temple started in the later Chola period in the early 11th century but muchof it was added on from the 13th to the 17th century under the patronage of the Pandya, Hoysala, Vijayanagara and Nayaka rulers.

photo taken in 1860
 
Photograph of the entrance gateway to the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam, from the Album of Miscellaneous views in India, 1860s. The Ranganatha Temple on Srirangam Island, opposite Tiruchirapalli, is the largest temple complex in India. It was founded and enlarged between the 13th and the 17th centuries and is surrounded by 7 concentric walls and 21 towers or gopurams. The gopurams date mostly from the 16th-17th centuries and are brick and plaster pyramidal towers with projecting porches in the middle of each diminishing storey. They increase in size from the innermost enclosure outwards and are completely covered with vividly coloured plaster figures. Srirangam enshrines an idol of Vishnu (here called Ranganathaswamy) reclining on a great serpent.

The Great Pagoda at Seringham. The Third Gopuram


 Photograph of the third gopura of the Ranganatha Temple at Srirangam, taken by Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902) in 1858

The Great Pagoda at Seringham. A small four pillared Mundapum inside the Second Gopuram.

Photograph of the street towards the open-sided, four-columned mandapa, with the gopura of the Ranganatha Temple beyond, taken by Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902) in 1858. 



Silver plated Yali vahana, Ranganadhaswami Temple [Ranganatha Temple], Srirangam


Photograph of a silver plated Yali vahana (vehicle of the divinity) in the Ranganatha Temple at Srirangam, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collection: Madras, 1896-98. The Ranganatha Temple is one of the largest and most sacred complexes in South India. This Vaishnava temple is situated on the holy island of Srirangam in the Cauvery River.


Small ivory ratha, Ranganadhaswami Temple [Ranganatha Temple], Srirangam

Photograph of an ornate ivory ratha with a temple priest in the background, Ranganatha Temple at Srirangam, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collection: Madras, 1896-98. 

The Great Pagoda at Seringham. Jewels of the Pagoda.


 Photograph of a collection of jewellery, guardian figures, a naga image and plate, photographed in a mandapa of the Ranganatha Temple taken by Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902) in 1858. 

The Great Pagoda at Seringham. Part of the front of the Sashanarayana Mundapum. [Sheshagirirayar Mandapa, Ranganatha Temple, Srirangam

Photos collected from:

Europe's cultural collections

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