Narasimha

Rare Sri Narasimha sculpture in Ramtek temple with Prayogachakra pose near Nagpur

The hill is also known as Ramagiri, Sinduragiri, or Tapamgiri (Tapogiri).  On architectural, sculptural and epigraphical evidence these can be firmly dated at least to the first quarter of the fifth century A.D. the other Narasimha temple, which is referred to as the Ugra-Narsimha, and is not far from the first, seems to be older still. It is similar to the first in construction as well as in having the huge Narasimha idol installed. It is, however, less refined, lacking the two small windows and the ornamentation along the doorposts and on the outer walls. However, it has eight firepits (kundas)along its sides, above which are small pedestals constructed against the temple wall on which, originally, dikpala deities may have been installed. Two fragments of such images have been found and are at present stored in the Central Nagpur Museum. If the statement of Jamkhedkar quoted above proves to be correct, we should assign the earliest Narasimha temple to the beginning of the fifth century. However, stylistic considerations would favour a somewhat later dating, say, the end of the fifth century at the earliest, a date to which the two pieces of graffiti also seem to point.

Archaeological explorations in the Nagpur Plain during the last two decades have brought to light a great number of interesting sites belonging to the culture of the Vakatakas (fourth-fifth centuries), notably Nagardhan and adjacent Hamlapuri (7 km. south of Ramtek), generally considered to be the area of the Vakataka capital, Nandivardhana. The Rāmtek Kevala Narasiṃha temple inscription is an epigraphic record of the Vākāṭaka dynasty, documenting the construction of a temple dedicated to the Narasiṃha or lion-man incarnation (avatāra) of Viṣṇu. The inscription also dates to the fifth century CE. The inscription is presently built into an interior wall of the Kevala Narasiṃha temple at Ramtek. The inscription is written in 15 lines of Sanskrit but is damaged. It records the lineage of the Vākāṭaka rulers and the foundation of the temple. The inscription is composed in Puṣpitāgrā, Upajāti and Śloka metres.

Unfortunately, the oldest inscription, found in the Kevala-Nrsimha temple, cannot be presented here. Its publication is envisaged by the Archaeological Survey of India, and here we can only note what has been published about it so far. ‘During conservation (i.e. of the Kevala-Nrsimha temple), an inscription, covered with lime plaster, was discovered on the temple wall beneath the thick layers of white wash. This 14-line record in nail-headed Gupta Brahmi characters, caused to be carved by Prabhavati Gupta herself, refers to the god as Prabhavatisvamin. On the basis of the internal evidence the temple as well as the image can be dated to c. 415-425 A.D.

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