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  • Expanding the Ghurid Architectural Corpus East of the Indus:The Jāgeśvara Temple at Sādaḍi, Rajasthan1
  • Alka Patel


As investigators of South Asia's visual history, we have all experienced the stuff of our discipline calling to us in unexpected ways. We may find, for example, a brief but curiously compelling reference to a textile, a temple, or a tomb in a historical text or a bilingual inscription, which leads us on a dogged and sometimes obsessive journey to engage with this object or structure—an engagement which can yield surprising results. It was just such a journey that brought me to a small structure in the remote town of Sādaḍi (Figs. 1, 2), in Pali District of southern Rajasthan, the region often referred to as Marwar (Fig. 3).2

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Fig. 1.

Structure known as the Jāgeśvara Temple. Sādaḍi (Pali district), southern Rajasthan. Constructed of reused materials, end 12th or 16th c.

Sometime in 1910 the eminent epigraphist D. R. Bhandarkar came upon the structure at Sādaḍi, then as now worshipped as a temple dedicated to the Śaiva deity Jāgeśvara. Bhandarkar was spurred on by what [End Page 33] would be an inverse motivation in art-historical terms: in his unrelenting search for Sanskrit and Prakrit inscriptions relevant to the Cāhamāṇa dynasty and its various lineages (ca. 750–ca. 1390 CE3), he meticulously examined Rajasthan's temples, chhatris (stone or brick pavilions), and other buildings, not for their stylistic or iconographic characteristics, but rather for all the historical graffiti and inscriptional fragments he could find.

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Fig. 2.

Jāgeśvara Temple. Sādaḍi. Ground plan (not to scale).

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Fig. 3.

Map of Marwar, Rajasthan.

At Sādaḍi Bhandarkar discovered four inscriptions on three separate pillars. Due to erosion he could date only two of the epigraphs to Vikrama saṃvat (VS) 1147 (1091 CE) and VS 1251 (1194 CE). The epigraphist tantalizingly observed that the inscriptions were "engraved on (pillars) in the temple . . . but as all the materials of this temple are said to have been brought from ruins elsewhere, it is clear that the inscription(s) did not originally belong to Sādaḍi."4 Following this observation, scholars have recently proposed that at least the two dated inscriptions (if not all four) were carved for a Lakṣmaṇaswāmi temple in the historically prominent town of Nāḍol. One work has suggested that these inscribed pillars, along with some other materials from the Lakṣmaṇaswāmi temple, were brought to Sādaḍi in the late 1500s and used in the construction of the present "hall temple" of Jāgeśvara.5 [End Page 34]

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Fig. 4.

Column. Sādaḍi.

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Fig. 5.

Plain bottom shaft of column. Sādaḍi.

Indeed, if the Sādaḍi structure had been a temple during the sixteenth century, as it has been since 1912, then it would constitute the first known temple rather than mosque to be constructed entirely of recycled materials. If such evidence could be corroborated, then the practice of complete and large-scale architectural dismantling and reuse could no longer be associated exclusively with Islamic buildings; it would have to be taken into consideration in studies of temple architecture as well.

The conclusion that the Sādaḍi structure was a temple erected of recycled materials in the sixteenth century certainly has its merits. Close examination of the extant physical, epigraphic, and textual evidence leads me to believe, however, that this so-called Jāgeśvara Temple had a different trajectory through time and space, extending well before the late 1500s, possibly as far back as the end of the twelfth century. I propose that this structure was originally a mosque constructed about 400 years earlier, in the last decade of the twelfth century, under Ghurid patronage. Both architectural analysis and historical circumstance seem to support this alternative proposal.



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