This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered Art, architecture, and Culture in the news of the Architecture section. This post covers the current affairs of September, October 2021 and April 2022 months.
Art and Culture in news 2021-22
Architecture of India
List of Contents
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The rainfall has resulted in rainwater seeping into cave number 32 at the world-renowned Ellora Caves, causing some damage to a painting.
About Cave number 32
Cave no 32 is also known as ‘Indra Sabha’ Cave. It is a two-storey architectural marvel excavated in the ninth century. It is considered as the largest and finest of the Jain caves at the Ellora site.
About the Ellora Caves
Ellora Caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.
The cave consists of 34 monasteries and temples devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. This illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.
Among the 34 monasteries and temples, 17 belong to Hinduism, 12 to Buddhism and 5 to Jainism.
Caves related to Hinduism: The prominent caves of the Brahmanical group are Cave 15 (Dasavatara, or Cave of Ten Incarnations), Cave 16 (Kailasa, the largest monolithic temple), Cave 21 (Ramesvara), and Cave 29 (Dumar Lena).
Caves related to Buddhism: Amongst the caves of the Buddhist group, Cave 10 (Visvakarma or Sutar-ki-jhopdi, the Carpenter’s cave) and Cave 12 (Teen Tal, or three-storied monastery) are particularly important. These caves mark the development of the Vajrayana form of Buddhism and represent a host of Buddhist deities.
Caves related to Jainism: The Jaina group of caves (caves 30 – 34) is exquisitely carved with fine, delicate sculptures, and includes fine paintings dedicated to the Digambara sect.
Martand Sun Temple
The Union Commerce and Industry Minister has inaugurated a 250 mm seer water supply scheme in Kashmir. He also visited the Martand Sun Temple in Kashmir.
About Seer Water Supply Scheme
The scheme aims to benefit around 10000 people in Kashmir and will be completed under the ambit of Jal Jeevan Mission within three months.
About Martand Sun Temple
Martand Sun Temple also known as Pandou Laidan is a Hindu temple dedicated to Surya (the chief solar deity in Hinduism). The temple is located in Jammu and Kashmir.
Note: Martand is another Sanskrit synonym for Surya.
The temple is one of the earliest known sun temples, much older than Konark and Modhera. The temple was built by the third ruler of the Karkota Dynasty, Lalitaditya Muktapida, in the 8th century CE.
The temple was built on top of a plateau from where one can view the whole of the Kashmir Valley.
However, the temple is now in ruins, as it was destroyed by the orders of Muslim ruler Sikandar Shah Miri.
But from the ruins and related archaeological findings, it can be said that the temple was an excellent specimen of Kashmiri architecture, which had blended the Gandharan, Gupta and Chinese forms of architecture.
Moreover, the Archaeological Survey of India has also declared the Martand Sun Temple as a site of national importance in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Delhi government is about to renovate the 14th-century monument, Malcha Mahal.
About Malcha Mahal
Malcha Mahal is located in Delhi. It was built in 1325 by the then Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq and was used as a hunting lodge for a long time.
It later became the residence of the descendants of the Nawab of Awadh.
It came to be known as ‘Wilayat Mahal’ after Begum Wilayat Mahal of Awadh who claimed that she was a member of the royal family of Oudh. She was given the palace by the government in 1985.
When she died by suicide in 1993, it came into the ownership of her daughter Sakina Mahal, and son Prince Ali Raza (Cyrus), who died in 2017, his sister passed away some years before that.
Cyclopean Wall of Rajgir
The Bihar government has sent a fresh proposal to the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) to get the Cyclopean wall listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Note: Bihar is currently home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely: 1) Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda and 2) Mahabodhi temple of Bodhgaya.
About the Cyclopean Wall of Rajgir
Cyclopean Wall is a 40 km long wall of stone built in Rajgir, Bihar.
Purpose: It was built to encircle the ancient city of Rajgir to protect it from external enemies and invaders.
Built by: It is believed to have been built in the pre-Mauryan era (before the 3rd century BC) using massive undressed stones.
Significance: The walls are mentioned in the Buddhist works. Moreover, the wall is already a Nationally protected monument under the ASI.
Reason to include Cyclopean wall as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
It is among the oldest examples of cyclopean masonry in the world.
It is believed that the Cyclopean Wall at Rajgir is similar to “Frontiers of the Roman Empire” that runs through Germany, the UK and Northern Ireland which was already included on UNESCO’s world heritage list in 1987.
Megalithic Stone Jars in Assam
The discovery of a number of megalithic stone jars in Assam’s Dima Hasao district has brought to focus possible links between India’s Northeast and Southeast Asia, dating back to the second millennium BC.
About the Megalithic Stone Jars in Assam
Megalithic Stone Jars were first sighted in Assam in 1929 by British civil servants James Philip Mills and John Henry Hutton. They recorded its presence in six sites in Dima Hasao district, Assam.
These discoveries were followed up only in 2014 when a study was again undertaken. The study discovered two more sites in 2016 and six more in 2020.
For instance, at one site, Nuchubunglo, as many as 546 stone jars were found. This is arguably the largest stone jar site in the world.
Significance of these discoveries
Link Between India’s Northeast and Southeast Asia: The study said that links can be drawn between Stone Jars found in Assam and Jars found in Laos and Indonesia. There is no reported parallel anywhere else in India apart from the northeast.
Hence, this points to the fact that once upon a time a group of people having similar kinds of cultural practices occupied the same geography between Laos and Northeast India.
Link to Mortuary Practices: In Laos, there was a “strong association” between the stone jars and mortuary practices, with human skeletal remains found inside and buried around the jars. In Indonesia, the function of the jars remains unconfirmed, although some scholars suggest a similar mortuary role.
Similarly, the study has suggested that the jars found in Assam were also associated with mortuary rituals. They referred to the practices of ancestral bone repositories of tribes like Mikir, Sakchips, Hangkals, Kuki, Khasi and Synteng and evidence of cremated bone fragments placed in one of the jars.
This study calls for more research to understand the “likely cultural relationship” between Assam and Laos and Indonesia, the only two other sites where similar jars have been found.
Lingaraj temple, Odisha
The Central government has told the Odisha government that its ordinance to bring the Lingaraj temple and its associated temples under a special law is outside the legislative competence of the state legislature.
It also said the ordinance is in conflict with the rules laid down under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958(AMASR Act).
About Lingaraj Temple
Lingaraj temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Built by: It is believed to be built by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty with later additions from the Ganga rulers. It was constructed by King Jajati Keshari in the 10th Century and completed by King Lalatendu Keshari in the 11th Century.
Architecture: The temple is a classic example of Kalinga style of architecture.
Style: It is built in the Deula style that has four components: vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), nata mandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings).