Temples Along the Indus
			  Michael W. Meister
	High above the mighty Indus, on hills streaked red with salt, 
forts with citadels, habitation sites, and temples were built from the 
sixth to the eleventh centuries A.D. (Figs. 1-3).  Largely ignored by 
scholarship in this century, and orphaned since partition, these 
structures form an important missing link in the history of architecture 
in South Asia (Mumtaz 1989).  A new integrated archaeological study of 
these sites, undertaken by this author with colleagues in Peshawar, has 
begun to recover new aspects of this important period of South Asia's 
	The far northwest in ancient India  what now is the Panjab and 
Northwest Frontier provinces of Pakistan, Swat, and parts of Afghanistan  
is better known for the presence of eclectic cross currents over many 
centuries, at important archaeological sites such as the city of Taxila 
(Marshall 1951), and for the massive numbers of Buddhist sculptural and 
structural remains we associate with the region of Gandhara (Ingholt 
1957).  These Gandharan remains already show visually a local vocabulary 
that lets architectural traditions from India, Central Asia, and the 
classical world stand together, as in many Gandharan Buddhist narrative 
steles or as ornament on the famous shrine of the double-headed eagle or 
the Dharmarajika stupa at Taxila (Fig. 4).  The Chinese pilgrim, Hsüan 
Tsang, visiting Gandhara in the seventh century A.D., noted hundreds of 
Hindu structures as well as many declining Buddhist sites in the region 
(Watters 1904-5). 
	If there is a Gandharan legacy in Hindu temple architecture, 
however, it takes two paths:  one, a unique tradition of pyramidal 
pent-roof temples built in Kashmir from before the reign of Lalit ditya 
in the eighth century A.D. (Kak 1933;  Meister, et. al., 1988:351-93), 
and a separated tradition in Gandhara itself, along the upper Indus, and 
onto the high plateau and escarpments of the Salt Range in the Panjab 
(Lohuizen-De Leeuw 1959).  
	As an example, I might contrast the eighth-century (or  earlier) 
temple at Loduv in Kashmir (Meister, et. al., 1988:361-3) and one of the 
surviving masonry sub-shrines at the Hindu pilgrimage site of Katas in 
the Panjab Salt Range (Fig. 5).  The square Kashmir shrine's circular 
interior space and hemispherical dome, for which a Gandharan prototype, a 
masonry structure at Guniar in Swat, is sometimes cited (Kak 1933:55-6;  
Meister, et. al., 1988:362), once was covered by a simple peeked 
pyramidal pent roof, as indicated by the pent-roofed frame decoratively 
surrounding its doorway.  
	The temple at Katas, on the other hand, while sharing the formula 
of a simple square plan with plain masonry walls and cantoned corner 
pilasters, struggled to give height to the temple by quite different 
means (Fig. 5).  The Katas sub-shrine's elevation can be reconstructed as 
a series of cornices with intermediate tiny rows of pillars and a 
crowning ribbed stone (amalaka), a type of "pre-Nagara" tower I have 
labeled "bhumi-prasada" after its use of many multiple stories (Fig. 6).  
This early type of simply storied structure can best be paralleled at 
Sarnath, in Saurashtra, and elsewhere across northern India and the 
Deccan in the sixth century A.D. (Meister 1986;  Meister, et. al., 
	By contrast, the distinctive mode of monument that became the 
signature for Lalitaditya's powerful dynasty in Kashmir used a gabled 
pent roof, as is well preserved on temples at Narastan, Pandrethan, or Payar 
from the eighth to tenth centuries (ibid.: 351-93), a form already 
marked on the doorway of the earlier temple at Laduv.  Antecedents for 
this gabled roof-type already can be seen in the architectural vocabulary 
of Gandhara, as can be suggested by the "classical" niche-pediments 
represented on the shrine of the double-headed eagle at Taxila as early 
as the first century B.C. (Harle 1986:74), or by the split pyramidal 
pediments in sculpture and on stupas from Gandhara (Fig. 4).
	At the northern Kafirkot ("foreigners' fortress") in the North 
West Frontier Province near the Chashma barrage north of Dera Ismail 
Khan, however, a true local experiment with Nagara architecture - the 
curved temple form of northern India - had already begun (Fig. 7).  The 
two earliest temples in this fort can most closely be related to early 
Garulaka or Maitraka dynasty temples in Saurashtra (coastal western 
India), at sites like Bhanasar  and Dhank, from the sixth and early 
seventh centuries A.D., and Saindhava-dynasty temples from the same 
region in the eighth century (Nanavati and Dhaky 1966;  Meister, et. al., 
1988:167-206).  Even the name of the little understood "Saindhava" 
dynasty seems to indicate their link with the Indus.
	Scholarship in the past century  including that of Aurel Stein 
(1937), Alexander Cunningham (1872-3:87-8), and Ananda Coomaraswamy 
1927:108, 143)  focused primarily on one particular temple in the Salt 
Range, however, that from the tenth century at Malot (Fig. 20)  and on 
its links to the architecture of Kashmir.  This whole group of temples in 
the northwest scholars have tended to date "post Islamic contact" because 
of the use of mortar, rubble-fill between masonry walls, arches, and 
squinched interior domes (Archaeological Survey of India Annual Report, 
	Percy Brown (1942), in his history of Indian architecture, placed 
these temples as a branch of Kashmir architecture, as also did James 
Harle (1986:197-8) in his Pelican History of Art volume.  Harle, however, 
takes notice briefly, but only in his chapter on Kashmir temples, that 
"another group in Dera Ismail Khan ... forms an extension of post-Gupta 
Madhyadesa" (ibid.:198)  rather than of Saurashtra as I suggest.
	The early tenth-century temple at Malot does indeed mimic 
peak-roofed temples in Kashmir at a time of marital alliance between the 
Utpalas of Kashmir and the Hindu Shahi kings of Hund in Gandhara (Rehman 
1979).  It signals its difference on its walls, however, by placing 
curvilinear Nagara shrine models (Fig. 20) that mimic local Gandhara-Nagara 
temples at other contemporary Hindu Shahi sites in the tenth 
century, such as a pair of temples in a second important fortress, Bilot 
(south Kafirkot), to the west of the Indus near Dera Ismail Khan (Figs. 
3, 21).
	Sources for this Indus group of temples  Malot excepted  can much 
better be found in the Gandharan substrata and in the ferment of Nagara 
formation in other areas of north and western India (Meister 1981) than 
in Kashmir.  Whether in the domed Buddhist compounds at Takht-i-bahi or 
the fifth-century moldings facing the Dharmarajika stupa at Taxila (Fig. 
4), antecedents are close at hand.  Certainly the basic molding sequence 
of Gandhara-Nagara temples begins as early as Taxila (Fig. 4), compared 
to those from the later temples at Bilot and Kafirkot (Fig. 10).  The 
typical slender pseudo-corinthian pilasters at Kafirkot  as well as true 
arches  can be seen also on the second/fourth-century Buddhist stupa at 
Guldhara in Afghanistan (Harle 1986:73).  The characteristic sloping 
batter of niches and doorways (and sometimes walls) on these temples has 
its clear antecedents in Gandharan conventions.  Even the use of interior 
squinches and masonry domes is not new to the region, nor is much of the 
architectural ornament in these temples unfamiliar in the Gandh ra region.
	What is new is the Nagara modality of superstructure as it had 
developed in North India for the first time in the fifth and sixth 
centuries A.D. (Meister 1986, 1988).  One might compare the shrine model 
on the wall of temple D at Bilot (Fig. 9) with the much better known 
proto-Nagara shrine model represented on the early sixth-century doorway 
to the "Gupta" temple at Deogarh in Central India, for example, or one on 
a brick stupa-base at Nalanda in Eastern India (Meister 1986:46-7).
	Remarkably, this region preserves an almost continuous record of 
temples that define the evolution of a distinctive school of Gandhara-Nagara 
architecture.  In this preliminary report and stylistic analysis of 
these monuments, let me give a brief review of these remains to frame 
this local and continuous craft tradition.
	At northern Kafirkot (plan, Fig. 1), temples B and A represent 
the earliest experiments in this region with the developing Nagara 
formula (Fig. 7).  The much larger temple D at Bilot awkwardly formulates 
a Nagara tower on a square base, much like the pre-Nagara temple at Bile 
vara in Saurashtra in the seventh century (Meister, et. al., 1986:181-4), 
then marks its walls with a model of a proto-Nagara shrine (Fig. 9).  
Temple C at north K firkot (Fig. 10) and temple A at Bilot (Fig. 12), 
with damaged Nagara towers, project one central offset on each wall and 
modulate ornamental elements of their superstructures in a more 
integrated way compared to Bilot temple D (Fig. 9), marking new 
confidence and knowledge of Nagara formulas late in the seventh century.  
Temple C at north Kafirkot (Fig. 10) for the first time tentatively 
introduces a version of north India's common vase-and-foliage capital for 
its corner pilasters, while retaining the local neo-Corinthian type for 
the central offset.
	Two striking temples, located on hills east of the Indus opposite 
Kalabagh at Mari - which I would date in the eighth century - continue but 
refine this local N gara tradition, but still with only a single central 
offset on their walls (Fig. 13).  Temple A places thin pilasters on the 
corners of each offset, while temple B pairs pilasters for the first time 
on its corner buttresses (Fig. 15).  Temples in this sequence in turn 
seem to provide a central shrine-model on each wall to represent a 
slightly preceding local experiment with the formula for a Nagara temple 
(Figs. 9, 15).  Each also seems to carry some architectural element 
forward, as in the trefoil arched niches at Bilot (Fig. 9), trefoil 
doorway at Mari-Indus (Fig. 14), and five-cusped entry to the smaller 
temple at Amb (Fig. 18) in the ninth century.
	The first temple in this tradition that can have its date 
confirmed by any evidence other than style and decorative context is the 
elegant fired brick structure at Kallar (Fig. 17).  Its layering of five 
offsets making up its walls, and its developed ornamentation with 
vase-and-foliage pilasters and other distinctive details, place it 
parallel to temples in central and western India from late in the eighth 
and early in the ninth century A.D. (Meister, et. al., 1991), a date 
suggested also by a single coin found near the foundations.  This comes 
from the reign of the first Hindu Shahi ruler, the beginning of whose 
dynasty can now fairly firmly be dated to ca. 821 A.D. (Rehman 1993).  Only 
further archaeological explorations, however, and perhaps carbon-14 
dating of wood beams used to support the interior domes of some of these 
temples, can fix the dates and historical frame suggested here more firmly.
	Sub-shrines that were added above the eastern corners of the 
platform supporting temple D at Bilot perhaps early in the eighth century 
echo but re-orient two domed cells sunk into the front corners of the 
temple's platform (Fig. 11).  The small temple D at Kafirkot, built near 
the north gateway to that fort late in the ninth century (Fig. 8), mimics 
some distinctive details of these sub-shrines.
	In the spectacular fortress at Amb (Figs. 18, 19), on the 
southern edge of the Salt Range;  at Bilot in the tenth century (Figs. 3, 
21);  and at Nandana (Fig. 23), larger temples began to be built under 
the patronage apparently of the Hindu Shahi kings.  These still were 
Latina temples, with curvilinear single spires, but they had a stairway 
within their walls leading to an interior ambulatory corridor surrounding 
an embedded upper chamber (Figs. 22, 24), in this respect unlike any 
other Nagara temples elsewhere in India.  
	This remarkable regional experiment with multiple levels folded 
within a Latina tower (Figs. 21-4) came to an end when the great fortress 
at Nandana on the eastern flank of the Salt Range fell to Mahmud of 
Ghazni, who sought to control the significant routes across the Panjab 
toward Multan and Delhi early in the eleventh century.  The Hindu Shahi 
kings then took refuge with their cousins in Kashmir.  In this sequence, 
only this last temple built at Nandana suggests corner turrets on its 
single-spired tower (Figs. 23-4).  These suggest, however, the 
multi-spired shrine-models placed on the walls of the tenth-century 
temple at Malot (Fig. 20), even as they reflect a multi-spired convention 
common in central and western India by the tenth century (Meister, et. 
al., 1991).
	That these forts and temples survive along the Indus must be a 
reminder to us of how untouched many of South Asia's traditions are;  of how 
insular scholarship can become;  and of our task as scholars to weave a 
comprehensive image of the past, even as we reproblematize colonial 
scholarship and its assumptions.
	I might end this preliminary report with a footnote to 
demonstrate the mighty weight of finding a new monument in the field.  At 
the site of Mari, in addition to the two eighth-century temples already 
discussed (Fig. 13), there also are two mounds higher up the hill to the 
west, badly ravaged by treasure hunters, that past reports have labeled 
primarily as places of residence (Cunningham 1879:25-26;  Mumtaz 
1989:32).  These in fact are ruins of two large temples placed on high 
platforms.  One still preserves remains of an inner sanctum and an 
enclosing ambulatory wall (Fig. 16).  On the north side, this wall 
preserves a central niche with a distinctive "Kashmiri-style" pent roof, 
but the shattered remains of the temple's superstructure suggest instead 
a complex multi-spired tower with curvilinear Latina spirelets (Fig. 
25).  This temple seems, in fact, to have been almost a reverse response 
to the unique local experiment with Kashmiri style found at Malot (Fig. 
20), and an answer to it.  Let scholars beware!

Support for this project has come from the University Research Foundation 
and the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the 
American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and the Lenkin Faculty Research 
Fund of the History of Art Department.  I would like to thank Professor 
Farzand Durrani, Vice-Chancellor of Peshawar University, for 
encouragement;  the Department of Archaeology, Peshawar, for early 
support;  Dr. M. Rafique Mughal, Director General of the Department of 
Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan;  Shabaaz Khan, Director 
General of the Panjab Department of Archaeology;  and especially my 
colleagues Professors Abdur Rehman and Farid Khan of the Pakistan 
Heritage Society, with whom carrying out this work continues to be a 

APPENDIX: Shrine Models as Signatures of Architectural Experimentation

	The architects of these temples in the Salt Range and along the 
Indus knew that they were working within a variety of options.  
Architecture could engage their creativity;  and through their creative 
actions, temples could evolve in multiple ways.  They seem consciously to 
have left a record of their architectural experiments by placing shrine 
models as niches on the walls of many temples.  These often seem to 
represent slightly earlier local experiments with the formula for a N 
gara temple, focusing on the nature of the temple's superstructure.  
Temple D at Bilot, for example, uses a proto-Nagara model (Fig. A).  
Temple B at Mari, on the other hand, uses curvilinear N gara models with 
ornamentation placed across single cornice layers (Fig. B), in this 
respect resembling the superstructure actually built for Bilot's temple D 
(Fig. 9) rather than those of either of the eighth-century temples at 
Mari (Figs. 13, 15).  
	On the temple at Malot, the central shrine models have developed 
curvilinear Nagara towers flanked by extra turrets (Fig. D).  Mari's 
remarkable temple C, on the other hand, had central niches marked by a 
split pent-roof pediment framing a trefoil arch (Fig. E) that suggests 
the gabled pent roof that once actually crowned the temple at Malot (Fig. 
20).  The trefoil-arch pattern can be seen at Bilot, Mari, Amb, and Malot 
in association with either pent-roofed or curvilinear formulas (Figs. A, 
	Marking temple walls with images of past architecture provides an 
historical locus for architects working within a system of meaning for 
the temple which sees each niche as an expansion of the temple as a whole 
(Meister 1993).  The rhetoric of architectural representation in South 
Asia more often relates to an ahistorical rather than historical reality, 
yet from time to time the two overlap (Dhaky 1977).  In Gandhara 
sculpture, for example, the variety of recognizable Buddha types seems 
sometimes to point to specific places of pilgrimage.  So also in the Salt 
Range architectural experimentation gave contemporary expression to the 
workings of the minds of architects as well as of god's creation.

NOTE: The Integrated Salt Range and Indus Archaeological Project

	The forts, temples, and archaeological sites associated with the 
Turk Shahi and Hindu Shahi kings will be investigated over the next three 
years by a team led by Professors Abdur Rehman, Farid Khan, and Michael 
W. Meister under the auspices of the Pakistan Heritage Society, Peshawar, 
with a license from the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government 
of Pakistan.  Preliminary excavations will begin this season in the fort 
at north Kafirkot. 


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