The temple site is in Deogarh ("fort of gods"), about 30 kms. from Lalitpur town (UP) in the
Betwa River valley at the border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Dashawatara Temple- The temple is also known as Dashawatara Temple because in 1899, P.C.
Mukerji surveyed the site on the behalf of Archaeological Survey of India. He noticed the
profusion of Vishnu imagery in the reliefs and accepted the local oral tradition that claimed that
the ten avatars of Vishnu were carved on the temple but are now missing. In his report, he
called it the Dashawatara Temple,
Sagar Marh- The Dashawatara temple is locally known
as Sagar marh, which literally means "the temple on the
tank", a name it gets from the square water pool cut into the
rock in front,
Deogarh Temple- The temple is
located on the foot hill of the
Deogarh hill that is why the temple
name is Deogarh too,
6. Conjectural view of
1. According to Madho Vats, Deogarh nestled within
picturesque hills in north, west and south along with
its abundant waters was conveniently located
between the major ancient economic centers such as
Pataliputra (Patna), Kashi (Varanasi), Sanchi,
Udayagiri, Ujjain, Bhilsa and Bagh,
2. Cunningham in 1875, noted that the inscriptions
he found in Deogarh during his tour were in Gupta
script and few others he could not decipher,
3. According to Alexander Lubotsky, this temple was
built according to the third khanda of the Hindu
text Vishnudharmottara Purana, which describes the
design and architecture of the Sarvatobhadra-style
temple, thus providing a floruit for the text and likely
temple tradition that existed in ancient India,
4. The temple was visited by Charles Strahan around
1871, who found it midst the jungle growth.
5. Excavation- Daya Ram Sahni yielded
evidence of more Brahminical shrines as
well inscriptions, Jain temples and Buddhist
8. Sculptural Remains-
• The temple at Deogarh is dedicated to Vishnu,
• but includes in its small footprint images of various gods and goddesses such as
o Vishnu and Lakshmi
o Shiva, Parvati, Shiva linga, Kartikeya, Ganesha,
o Mahishasura-mardini Durga
o River goddesses Ganga & Yamuna,
o In an excavation by M.S.Vats & D.R.Sahni- Krishna, Narasimha, Vamana, Balarama, Rama, and others.
• The outer wall of the sanctum on three sides have niches with sculptures of Vishnu legends: Gajendra-
moksha flying in with Garuda, Nara-Narayana seated in Lalitasana position, and Anantasayi Vishnu in
• Legends associated with Vishnu are sculpted in the interior and exterior walls of the temple.
• Also carved are secular scenes and amorous couples in various stages of courtship and intimacy.
• According to Vats, the evidence suggests that a large number of reliefs that existed in late 19th century
went missing in the first few decades of the 20th century.
• Much of the Dashawatara temple, along with Jain temples nearby, are in ruins and shows signs of damage.
• Archaeologists have inferred that it is the earliest known Panchayatan temple in North India constructed
in Nagara style.
9. Importance of the Temple-
Dashawatara = Das (10) + Avatara (Incarnation). The temple depicts the 10 avataras of
•First North Indian temple with a shikhara.
•Earliest known Panchayatana temple in North India.
•Two river goddesses, the Ganga and Yamuna, are mentioned as attendants of Shiva and
this occurs as a regular feature of temple architecture from the doorways of
the Dashawatara temple.
•There are 3 main reliefs of Vishnu on the temple walls:
• On the North – The Gajendramoksha is the story of achieving moksha, symbolically,
communicated by Vishnu’s suppression of an asura Who had taken the form of an
• On the East – The Nara-Narayan shows the discussion between the human soul and
the eternal divine,
• On the South – The Sheshashayana Vishnu panel is a superb piece of art,
11. Gajendra Moksha Panel
(The Liberation of Gajendra)
• Gajendra Moksha / गजेन्द्रमोक्षः) is a Puranic legend from
the 8th Skandha of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, one of the most
sacred books in Hinduism.
• In this episode, Vishnu came down to earth to protect
Gajendra, the elephant, from the clutches of Makara (But
here in this panel Instead of showing Crocodile, the Male
Snake who wrapped the Elephant shown with his wife),
the Crocodile, and with Vishnu's help, Gajendra
achieved moksha, or salvation.
• Gajendra then attained a form like that of the god (Sarupya
Mukti) and went to Vaikuntha with Vishnu.
• Hearing his devotee's call and prayer, Vishnu rushed to the
scene. As Gajendra sighted the god coming, he lifted a
lotus with his trunk.
• Seeing this, Vishnu was pleased and with his Sudharshana
Chakra, he decapitated the crocodile/Snake.
• This story was narrated by Sri Suka to Emperor Parikshit.
On the North Wall
12. • Naga referring to serpent beings and their kingdom.
• Instead of crocodile showing of the Snake is an enigma.
• Probably due to its strongly associated with fertility. Many
shrines are maintained by women who leave offerings to
On the east side is the Nara-Narayana alto-
relievo. Nara and Narayana are seated in
meditation in lalitasana. Both of them hold a
rosary in hand, are shown to be with closed
eyes and calm, as if lost in their meditation.
Apsaras are shown flying above with cusped
hands as if showering flowers. Below Nara
and Narayana sit lion and deer in peace and
without anxiety. The panel also has four
headed Brahma seated on lotus and in lotus
The tree dimensional effect is achieved in all
rounded sculptures of Gupta age. For making
rounded sculptures the Gupta artists used
stone, clay, wood and bronze. These
sculptures are highly expressive and
On the East Wall
• Nara-Narayana is the twin-
brother avatar of the God Vishnu
on earth, working for the
preservation of dharma or
• In the concept of Nara-Narayana,
the human soul Nara is the eternal
companion of the Divine Narayana.
• The epic Mahabharata identifies
the God Krishna (an avatar of
Vishnu) with Narayana and Arjuna-
the chief hero of the epic-with Nara.
• The legend of Nara-Narayana is also
told in the scripture Bhagavata
15. Anantasayi Vishnu-
He sleeps on Sesha whose 7-headed hood shades him.
Lakshmi is sitting near Vishnu's feet and shown
caressing his right leg. Vishnu is wearing an elaborate
crown (kiritamukuta) and neck, ear, arm and body
jewelry. A miniature four headed Brahma is above in
center, but he does not emerge from Vishnu navel (a
version found in later-dated Puranas).
In this sculpture the Buddhist narrative feature is
adopted for the first time in all its detail. Lord Vishnu,
one of the Trimurtis is portrayed as reclining on a giant
serpent with several hoods. He is the Preserver of the
world order and plans for its execution. The world
around him is in action. Brahma rising from umbilical
cord of Vishnu is associated with the celestials; Lakshmi
seated on the extreme corner and below a group of
celestials are guarding the abode of Vishnu. This is an
iconographic presentation of the Vishnu theme. The
artist has composed all the figures in upper, middle and
lower. Pandava & Draupadi
On the South Wall
16. Upper Part of Anantasayi Vishnu-
Brahma also has only two hands, with one holding his iconic kamandalu (water pot). Others
flanking Brahma are Indra and Kartikeya on one side, Siva and Parvati on Nandi, and a person
with a garland.
over an Elephant
A Person with
17. Full blossom Lotus over
it Brahman seated
Garuna Holded Snake
on his left hand
seven hoods form
a canopy over
crown of Vishnu
Middle Part of Anantasayi Vishnu- Vishnu without its attributes – Shankha, Chakra, Gadaa, Padma.
18. Lower Part of Anantasayi Vishnu-
Below the reclining Vishnu is a panel depicting the five males (Pandava) and one female (Draupadi) of
the Mahabharata legend. The identification with Pandava is still in debate.
Sahadeva, Nakul, Bhima, Arjun, Yudhisthir Draupadi
For more- http://creative.sulekha.com/pandavas-and-draupadi-in-gupta-deogarh-dashavatara-temple_637251_blog
20. Found from Deogarh Temple,
Displayed- National Museum, New Delhi.Ramayana scenes:
• A panel depicts the Ahalya-uddhara legend
where Hindu god Rama redeems Ahilya.
• The scene shows Ahilya in a reverential state
offering flowers, Rama and Lakshmana
holding their bows, and a rishi sitting nearby
with a rosary.
• Other legends include the departure of Rama,
Sita and Lakshmana for their exile; the three
arriving at sage Atri's hermitage;
the Surpanakha legend; the Dandaka forest
legend; the abduction of Sita by Ravana; the
bullying of Sita by Ravana legend; the Sugriva
victory legend and the Hanuman bringing the
herb containing mountain for Lakshmana