Hindu Temple Architecture

A simple Hindu temple comprises the following the following parts essentially:

  • Garbhagriha: It is a cave-like sanctum. In the earliest temples, it was a small cubicle with a single entrance and grew into a larger chamber in time. The garbhagriha is made to establish the main diety. The establishment of the deity itself is a great ritual practice called Prana Pratishtha.
  • Mandapa: Mandapa is the entrance of the temple which may be a portico or colonnaded hall that incorporates space for a large number of worshippers.
  • Shikhara / Vimana: From the fifth century AD, the free standing temples started getting a tower which is called Shikhar in north India and Vimana in southern India.
  • Vahana: This refers to the mount or vehicle of the temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar or dhvaj is placed axially before the sanctum.

Different Temple Architecture Styles

A simple Hindu temple comprises the following the following parts essentially:

Garbhagriha

It is a cave-like sanctum. In the earliest temples, it was a small cubicle with a single entrance and grew into a larger chamber in time. The garbhagriha is made to establish the main diety. The establishment of the deity itself is a great ritual practice called Prana Pratishtha.

Mandapa

Mandapa is the entrance of the temple which may be a portico or colonnaded hall that incorporates space for a large number of worshippers.

Shikhara / Vimana

From the fifth century AD, the free standing temples started getting a tower which is called Shikhar in north India and Vimana in southern India. Vimana refers to the mount or vehicle of the temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar or dhvaj is placed axially before the sanctum.

Different Temple Architecture Styles

The temples can be distinguished with the Shikhara or Vimana. On this basis, there are two types of temple viz. Nagara which is North Indian and Dravida, which is South India.

  • The northern-style (Nagara), Shikhara is shaped like a beehive and is made up of layer upon layer of architectural elements called kapotas and gavakshas. The temple also has a very unusual, open ambulatory around the sanctum, with pillars and no wall on the outside.
  • In Dravida style, tower consists of progressively smaller storeys of pavilions.
  • The Vesara style has characters of both Nagara and Dravida.
  • The Gadag style is a feature of the Western Chalukya temples and it is characterized by ornate columns.
  • The Kalinga architecture is has Rekha Deula,Pidha Deula and Khakhara Deula types of temples. Out of them the Khakhara Deula is essentially of a female deity such as Durga or Chamunda. Konark Sun temple is a Pidha Deula.
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