Close to the modern civil station of
Tezpur is a small village of Dah Parbatiya
which possesses the unique distinction of having within its limits the
ruins of the oldest temple in Assam. The ruins consist of the remains of a
brick temple of Shiva, of the Ahom period, erected upon the ruins of a
stone temple of the later Gupta period, Circa 6th century AD.
Specimen's Of The Art Of Gupta Period
The former collapsed, during the earthquake of 1897, revealing the doorframe of the older structure, which belongs to the Pataliputra School. The doorframe belongs to the Gupta period because of its use of:
This beautiful lintel is one of the best specimens of its
class of the Gupta period. The carving ran the jambs are continued
overhead in four out of the five bands. The lower part of the jambs
consists of single panels, in very high relief against which are the
figures of the river goddesses with female attendants on each side. The
river goddesses exceed the limits of the panel but the attendant figurines
have been kept well within bounds.
The Exquisite Sculptures
The ruins have revealed some of the best sculptural specimens. Among them is the ceiling slab, which bears the carving of an embossed lotus or "Visva Padma". The second vessel of the Visva Padma bears in relief the figure of a Vidyadhara holding a scarf or a necklace with both hands and hovering in the sky as if to make obeisance to the deity below.
His legs are so arranged as to be symmetrical with the circular course of the seed-vessel, a feature generally met with in Gupta and Pala sculptures of Bengal. While the facial type is local, the decorative and anatomical details of the Vidyadhara recall late Gupta and Pala features. A high crown known as "Kirita-Mukuta" with a frontal coronet adorns his head, perforated "Patra-Kundala" are seen in the ears while his under-garment reaching the ankles has an elegant central tassel.
Another frieze shows a royal archer shooting a deer couple when in coition. According to T. N. Ramachandran, the scene seems to represent the Mahabharata story of Pandu, the father of Pandavas, who was cursed to die with his sexual desires ungratified as a result of his having shot a deer couple (really a sage and his wife in the guise of deer) in coition.
A more interesting and complicated dancing figure of the time is recovered from the ruins. Here is shown a 'Sikhara' of foliage with 'Amalaka' and lotus-bud finial flanked by a Gods and Goddesses both dancing with their legs resting on elephants in turn supported by lotuses. Both the Gods and Goddesses have four hands holding bow, arrow, rosary and sword (staff) and with perforated Patra-Kundala in the ears and a Kirti-Mukuta on the head with a frontal tiara.
The temple walls were generally decorated with sculptures depicting various scenes from the Epics and the social and domestic life led by the people of that particular period. These sculptures give one some glimpse of the contemporary life of the people.