Theses Doctoral

Forming Dorasamudra: Temples of the Hoysala Capital in Context

Kasdorf, Katherine Eaton

The village of Halebid, in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka, was once a city called Dorasamudra, capital of the Hoysala dynasty from the mid-11th to mid-14th centuries. Although the site is home to more than twenty temples and temple ruins, as well as the fragmentary remains of a fort wall and palace compound, the place name "Halebid" today is nearly synonymous with a single monument: the lavishly sculptural Hoysalesvara temple. This expansive, double-shrine temple would have been a dominant feature of the Hoysala capital from the time of its construction around 1120 C.E., but the near monopoly it has over the site in both popular and academic circles has caused other buildings to be overlooked. This focus on the Hoysalesvara temple has also isolated the building from its surroundings, obscuring its relationship to other features of the historical city.

In this dissertation I develop a fuller understanding of the Hoysala capital and its temples by expanding the scope of inquiry to include the whole city. Taking the archaeological material and published inscriptions of the entire site into account, I consider the ways in which a selection of Dorasamudra's temples relate to one another and to other features of their surrounding landscape. This site-contextualized study provides insight into the relevance of the temples' spatial and sculptural forms, ritual purposes, and patrons' goals. Comparison with monuments at other sites reveals that many temples of Dorasamudra contributed to the city's prestige through their distinctive visual properties or their association with important deities or authoritative institutions. In addition to offering new perspectives on individual temples of the Hoysala capital, this study provides a greater understanding of the social and architectural characteristics of distinct neighborhoods, routes of access to specific temples and throughout the city, and a dynamic urban landscape that would have been visually and spatially altered with each new construction.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Dehejia, Vidya J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 17, 2012