Constructing Kanchi
Constructing Kanchi
City of Infinite Temples
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
Asian Studies
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Introduction: All Streets Lead to Temples
An Ancient City
Layers of Time
Kanchi Known and Unknown

1 Sandstone and the City: Building Pallava-Kanchi (ca. seventh through ninth century)
From Brick to Stone (the Seventh Century)
Sandstone Temples in the City (the Eighth Century)
The Temples of Pallava-Kanchi
Everywhere but Kanchi (the Ninth Century)
Conclusion: Foundations Laid

2 Realignment: Kanchi in the Chola Era (ca. tenth through thirteenth century)
Orienting the Gods
Pilgrimage and Processions
From Ancient Village to Temple Town
Local Style
Conclusion: Urban Logic

3 The City and its Ports
Part 1: K.ETRA
The River Networks
Over the Hills
The Coast
Kanchi in a Buddhist World
The City and its Mirrors
Conclusion: From Kanchi to the Sea

4 Kanchi Under Colonialism: What Happened in Kanchi while those Towering Gateways Arose?
Embattled Territory
William Daniell’s Most Considerable Temple
James Wathen’s Soaring View
Henrietta Clive’s 'Hindoo Gods and Monsters'
Colonel Colin Mackenzie’s Search for the Jains
Surgeon George Russell Dartnell
James Fergusson's Downward Spiral
Prince Alexis Soltykoff's 'City of Infinite Temples'
Conclusion: Plastered Pasts

Epilogue: The Living Temple


Emma Natalya Stein

Constructing Kanchi

City of Infinite Temples

Constructing Kanchi: City of Infinite Temples traces the emergence of the South Indian city of Kanchi as a major royal capital and multireligious pilgrimage destination during the era of the Pallava and Chola dynasties (ca. seventh through thirteenth centuries). The book presents the first-ever comprehensive picture of historical Kanchi, locating the city and its more than 100 spectacular Hindu temples at the heart of commercial and artistic exchange that spanned India, Southeast Asia, and China. The author demonstrates that Kanchi was structured with a hidden urban plan, which determined the placement and orientation of temples around a central thoroughfare that was also a burgeoning pilgrimage route. Moving outwards from the city, she shows how the transportation networks, river systems, residential enclaves, and agrarian estates all contributed to the vibrancy of Kanchi’s temple life. The construction and ongoing renovation of temples in and around the city, she concludes, has enabled Kanchi to thrive continuously from at least the eighth century, through the colonial period, and up until the present.

Emma Natalya Stein

Emma Natalya Stein (PhD, Yale) is Assistant Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art. Her research investigates the relationships among sacred architecture, urban space, and tropical landscapes. Dr. Stein has conducted fieldwork throughout South and Southeast Asia.