Overview for Nepalese Architecture
The present work is a welcome addition to the slender list of books on Nepal, which was a closed country until 1951. The book is the result of the keen observation of a seasoned archaeologist and art-historian and the combination of the study of literary and inscriptional sources which are plentiful in Nepal.
Dr. Banerjee has sought to encompass the entire miscellany of architecture as much as would have been possible within the scope of a single volume. The study has brought to light interesting results on the dates and details of the constructions of and periodicals repairs to all categories of the ensemble of Nepalese Architecture comprising the (i) dhungedharas, (ii) powahs, (iii) patis, (iv) temples, (v) monasteries,(vi) stupas or chaityas, (vii) common man’s houses, (viii) royal palaces, etc.
The inscriptions also mention the names of the texts on architecture followed by the ancient builders as also the processes and various stages of constriction, names of architectural parts, processes of repairs, etc. Among the multitudinous miscellany, the so-called Nepalese ‘pagodas’ with a serrated profile standing on a raised platform, itself the result of a series of receding tiers of plinths, stand out from the rest and have been dealt with comprehensively as a phenomenon in the whole of South and South east Asia.
The book attempts, among other things, to trace the evolution of the twin features of multiple piliths and roofs as architectural phenomena and their evolution, diffusion and eventual fusion and coal essences in Nepal with obvious interconnection with neighbors’. The Sikhara and Nagara style of temples in Nepal evolved on the native soil without the ancillary structures or mandapas. The medieval inscriptions and libratory records have named the style as granthakuta. The author has proposed to call the other, i.e., the so-called pagoda style or the multiple-roofed temples with a serrated profile, as the devala temples.
He has paved the way for a detailed study of each monument with the help of inscriptional and literary records. The book also provides a vivid insight into the land and people, the geographical setting, the historical and cultural melleu and the cross currents of the religions and life which have shaped the stream of the vast miscellany of the phenomenon called ‘Nepalese Architecture’ from the remotest times to the present day.
N.R. Banerjee (Author)
Nil Ratan Banerjee (B. 1922) a King Edward Memorial Scholar of the former C.P and Berar, obtained his Master’s degree in History from the Allahabad University in 1945. He was awarded a Fellowship by the German Academic Exchange Service to study West Asian Archaeology at the Free University at the Free University of Berlin (1959), and a Fellowship by the Royal Government of Netherlands (1961) to conduct research on the Iron Age of India in Amsterdam. The Calcutta University awarded him the D. Phil. degree in 1963 for his pioneering work on the subject.
Dr. Banerjee is one of the distinguished band field of archaeologists to be trained by the late Sir Mortimer Wheeler. Before his induction in the Archaeological Survey, he was a Lecturer in the Nagpur University. In 1947 he became a Scholar in the Survey for exploring the megalithic monuments in south India. In 1948 he was appointed to the post of Dy. Superintending Archaeologist, and thereafter the successfully rose to the position of Directory in the survey in 1976 he was chosen to head the National Museum, New Delhi as Director, which post he hold till date. For a short period between 1966 and 1972 he was Archaeological Adviser to H.M’s. Government of Nepal, when he extensively studied the art, archaeology and history of that country.
Dr. Banerjee has explored many archaeological sites in India and Nepal and has conducted a score of excavations both in this country and Nepal, notable among which are Sanur, Amirthamangalam, Sengamedu, Nagda, Ujjain, Ahichchhatra, Tilaurakot and Lumbini.
Dr. Banerjee is a member of several academic associations. He is the president of the Museum Association of India, a Member of the Board of trustees of the Indian Museum Calcutta and the Salarjung Museum, Hyderabad, besides the advisory and Art purchase Committees of many museums and Departments of Archaeology in India. He is a member of the Joint Museum Committee of the Indo-U.S. Sub Commission on education and culture.
Dr. Banerjee has authored several books and about a hundred research papers on diverse subjects encompassing art, archaeology, anthropology and museology. He was also associated with the starting of Ancient Nepal, The official Bulletin of the Deptt. of Archaeology, Govt. of Nepal.
Dr. Banerjee has travelled widely all over the world. Modest, soft spoken, and a distinguished scholar, he is also a linguist, being equally at home in Tamil, Hindi, Marathi, Nepalese Bengali, Sanskrit and German, besides English.