View of the valley and temple at Ahobilam. June 1810
Artist: Ward, Benjamin Swain (1786-1835)
Watercolour by Benjamin Swain Ward of the valley and temple at Ahobilam, dated June 1810. Inscribed on front in ink: 'Hawe Hobulum valley & Pagoda, June 1810.'
Ahobilam is a Hindu pilgrimage site dedicated to the worship of Narasimha, the lion-man 'avatara' or incarnation of the god Vishnu. It is believed that it was in Ahobilam that Narasimha emerged out of the pillar to kill the demon Hiranyakashipu. In the town, lower Ahobilam, is the large complex of the Narasimha Temple; further to the east, in the valley at upper Ahobilam, there is another complex of the same temple. The building of the temples was started in the 14th century by the Reddi rulers but was only completed in the 15th-16th centuries under the patronage of the Vijayanagara kings. The architecture of the temples is typical of the Vijayanagara style. They are entered through towered pyramidal 'gopuras' or gateways and have columned 'mandapas' or halls supported on carved piers decorated with figures of divinities, musicians and devotees.