Methods and First Results: Temple 5 rediscovered
The first temple that we have studied is Temple 5. A moulded platform (pitha) has survived, and most of the fragments have been laid out together, though until sorting is complete there will inevitably be material from other temples mixed in. Enough remains of temple 5 to work out the design of the mulaprasada. The proportion of surviving carved pieces may be less than 20% of the original. Further work is underway to determine the feasibility of different degrees of reconstruction and the options for meaningful display of the material.
Temple 5, though intimate in scale, is the most lavish of the Pratihara temples at Ashapuri. Its carving retains much of the freshness and sensuality of the three-centuries old mainstream central Indian Nagara tradition that created it, while arriving at an unprecedented degree of proliferation in its pancharatha (five projection) plan. We would place it towards the end of the 9th century or the beginning of the 10th. Temple 5 has a miniature shikhara crowning the bhadra to create a lesser temple form emerging at the centre of the whole. This is a beautiful precursor of the anekandaka (multi-spired) concept. Nothing quite like Temple 5 is known, and it occupies a distinct moment in the blossoming of the tradition.
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April 2014. And now we have completed the feasibility report for Temple 17, probably the earliest of the group, datable to the early-ninth century. A high proportion of the original material is available, so this will be a prime candidate for reassembly.