CHITRASUTRA, the ancient Indian treatise on painting, began in the oral tradition before it was recorded on paper sometime in the fifth century C.E. The renowned art historian Benoy K Behl set out to study this treatise in the process of documenting Indian art, beginning in 1991 with the exquisite paintings of Ajanta. He soon realised that Indian art had taken over his life. “I was deeply moved by the world which was presented in the paintings of Ajanta…. The thousands of figures, painted on the walls of the caves, each radiated a warmth and concern for others. It was a love for all beings which pervaded this body of art,” he says. His travels took him across the length and breadth of the country and Asia—ranging from the eighth century Sun temple at Martand in Kashmir, which in its time may have been one of the grandest structural temples standing in India; the trans-Himalayan Buddhist monasteries; the breathtaking architecture of the Ramanathaswami Temple in Rameswaram; the rock-cut Jaina reliefs at Kazhugumalai; the glory of the Konark Temple in the east; the Jaina temples in Rajasthan; to the Sun Temple at Modhera in Gujarat, one of the most profusely carved in the subcontinent.

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