The Rock-cut Temples of India
PRINTED BY R. CLAY, SON, AND TAYLOR.
During a lengthened residence in India it was my good fortune to be able to visit in succession all the principal groups of Rock-cut Temples which, were then known to exist in that country.
In 1836 those of Cuttack were first examined. In 1838 an extended tour was made for the purpose of exploring those of Western India, and in 1841 the investigation was completed by a visit to those of Mahavellipore, in the Madras Presidency The intervals that elapsed between these several dates were useful for correcting the vagueness of first impressions, and in enabling me to fill up the gaps in my knowledge of Indian architecture, by examining cotemporary structural buildings, and studying other cognate sources of information.
The results of these investigations were embodied in a paper which was read to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1843, and published in the Eighth Volume of its Journal.
This paper was afterwards republished in 1845, accompanied by nineteen lithographic plates, in folio, illustrating the principal types of Rock-cut Architecture in India.
In consequence of the interest which these publications excited among those interested in the study of Indian Antiquities, a memorial was addressed to the Court of Directors of the East India Company, praying them to take steps to prevent further desecration and destruction of these venerable monuments of the past, and above all to appoint some one to make drawings of the fast perishing Frescoes of Ajunta, before decay and the recklessness of Tourists had entirely obliterated them.
One result of these representations was, that Captain,—now Major Gill, was appointed to copy the paintings in Ajunta; a task for which he proved himself thoroughly competent, by the artistic skill displayed in the copies of these paintings which he has sent home, as well as by the truthfulness and fidelity which pervade all he has done.
The pictures sent home by Major Gill during the first few years of his residence at Ajunta are now exhibited in the Indian Court of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, and convey a perfect idea of the style of the paintings at Ajunta; but unfortunately they have not been accompanied by any explanation, or any indication of the localities in which they are found. The only attempt to elucidate their history, which has yet been published, will be found in Mrs. Spier's "Life in Ancient India," published in 1856.
For many years past no further drawings have reached this country, but instead, Major Gill sent home in the spring of this year to Mr. Laard nearly two hundred stereoscopic views of Indian subjects.
About one-half these were scenes of the chase, of Indian life, and illustrations of the Mahometan buildings and of the scenery in the neighbourhood of Ajunta. Of the remaining half, many were duplicates, but those forming the illustrations of the present volume, have been selected as being all those in the collection which could fairly be considered as representing Rock-cut Architecture.
The text which accompanies them is not intended to be a complete and scientific elucidation of the subject. Those who desire fuller information are referred to the works mentioned above: but it is hoped that it is sufficient to render the subject of each Photograph intelligible. This seems to be all that is necessary, for the Photographs tell their own story far more clearly than any form of words that could be devised, and even without the text they form by far the most perfect and satisfactory illustration of the ancient architecture of India which has yet been presented to the Public.
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