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Dashavatara Temple, Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh

Dashavatara Temple was the first North Indian temple with a shikhara or tower, although the shikhara is curtailed and part of it has disappeared. The temple has a high plinth and is set with a basement porch. It has a simple, one cell square plan and is one of the earliest Hindu stone temples still surviving today. Built in the Gupta Period, the Dashavatara Temple at Deogarh shows the ornate Gupta style architecture. The Dashavatara temple has a compelling presence in spite of its dilapidated condition.

A protective wall made of undressed stone was built around the temple after it was first discovered. However, the idol of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is missing, believed to have been relocated elsewhere. The ancient treatise Vishnudharmottara Purana describes several temples including a “Sarvatobhadra temple”, which has been identified by archaeologists and Indologists with the Dashavatara Temple.

The temple at Deogarh is dedicated to Vishnu, but includes in its small footprint images of Shiva, Parvati, Kartikeya, Brahma, Indra, River goddesses Ganga and Yamuna, as well as a panel showing the five Pandavas of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The Temple was built out of stone and masonry brick. Legends associated with Vishnu are sculpted in the interior and exterior walls of the temple.