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|Title Review |
Looming large on a narrow strip of solitary of a solitary hill, about 170 meters above the plains, are today seen the remains of Rajasthan''s greatest fortified citadel. It is Chittorgadh -- the capital for over eight centuries: AD 734-1567, of Mewar State and strikingly reminiscent of the heroic, stranger-than-fiction sagas of valiant Rajput warriors, of men who''d rather break than bend, of brave women who''d rather die of self-immolation than suffer dishonour. Chittorgadh not merely counts among the strongest forts of northern India, but was also the one-time major religio-cultural centres of Jainism, Saivism and Vaisnavism.
In this fort stands imposingly the Kirttistambha, popularly known as the ''Vijayastambha'': the Tower of Victory. Built by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar (1433-68 AD), it is exquisitely covered all over: from top to bottom, inside and outside, with multitudes of sculpted images, vividly representing nearly the whole host of Hindu divinities. Which prompted the eminent historian: V A Smith to declare it as the Illustrated Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and an invaluable Key to Brahmanical Iconography. Kirttistambha, for sure, is a marvel of Indian architecture and sculptural art.
Professor Nath here offers a historical study of this great monument, the so-called Vijayastambha. But, questions Nath, is it really a ''Vijayastambha''? Was it really meant to commemorate a military event? If it is not a mundane memorial, what was the ''idea'' that led to its incarnation in a form which is known worldwide for its architectural grandeur and elegance? The book looks at these and other relevant questions in meticulous detail -- in six crisp chapters full of narrative drive and free of jargon.
Suggesting that the monument has been understood a little and misunderstood a lot, the author asserts that ''Vijayastambha'' is no better than a ''misnomer'' -- for it is not a Tower of Victory as many historians have designated it. R Nath, thus, explores the ''idea'' behind this so-called Tower of Victory: its vast classical background, its philosophy, and the stages of its development. And yet more significantly, he examines the whole multitude of sculptures covering the Tower, together with all its architectural attributes. Supporting the narrative here are numerous beautiful illustrations, besides as many as 12 appendices setting out various Vastu- texts on Kirttistambha.
R Nath, an eminent art historian and prolific author, retired as Professor of History from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur.
Architectural Texts and Relics -- Defensive Wars and a Fictitious Victory -- The Misnomer: ''Vijayastambha'' -- Gaumukha-Tirthasthala -- Mahameru-Kirttistambha -- Vedic ''Skambha'' and ''Trailokya-Mahagrha'' -- Garuda and Janardana Dhvaja-Stambha -- Architecture and Sculpture of the Kirtti-Stambha.
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Chittorgadh kirtti stambha of Maharana Kumbha the idea & the form 1440 60 A.D.