'A column taken from the Temple of Vis Visha at Benares'. Engraving by T. Medland after William Hodges. Published in London, 1793
Engraver: Medland, Thomas (1755-1833)
Engraving by T. Medland after William Hodges of a column from the Vishvanatha Temple at Benares, published in London in 1793.
The old Vishvanatha Temple, the principal Hindu at Varanasi, was dismantled by order of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb at the end of the 17th century to provide material for the construction of a mosque nearby. The temple, as it stands today, dates from 1777. The sanctuary has a a tall clustered spire and the columns. Other shrines stand in the courtyard. The columns and beams are decorated with elaborate ornaments. While sketching a finely carved column from this temple, Hodges remarked a curious similarity of its ornamental parts with those of Grecian architecture. Though profoundly influenced by the dominant trend in eighteen-century European architectural theory which considered the Western classical tradition as superior to all others, he refused to accept that this tradition was the only rational one and defended Indian architecture from such a prejudicial way of thinking. The column in the engraving is actually of a standard Hindu type, with a square base, a shaft with octagonal, sixteen-sides and round sections showing typical decorations such as the bell and chain motif and a corbel type capital.