Hindu Temple Architecture

Hindu Temple Architecture

India's temple architecture is developed from the creativity of Sthapathis and Shilpis, both of whom belong to the larger community of craftsmen and artisans called Vishwakarma (caste). A small Hindu temple consists of an inner sanctum, the garbha graha or womb-chamber, in which the idol or deity is housed, often called circumambulation, a congregation hall, and sometimes an antechamber and porch. The garbhagriha is crowned by a tower-like shikara. At the turn of the first millennium CE two major types of temples existed, the northern or Nagara style and the southern or Dravida type of temple. They are distinguishable by the shape and decoration of their shikhara(Dehejia 1997).

  • Nagara style: The tower/shikhar is beehive/curvilinear shaped.
  • Dravida style: The tower/shikhar consists of progressively smaller storeys of pavilions.

The earliest Nagar temples are in Karnataka (e.g. Galaganath at Pattadakal) and some very early Dravida-style temples (e.g. Teli-ka-Mandir at Gwalior) are actually in North India. A complex style termed Vesara was once common in Karnataka which combined the two styles.

A complex style termed Vesara was once common in Karnataka which combined the two styles. This may be seen in the classic Hindu temples of India and Southeast Asia, such as Angkor Wat, Brihadisvara, Khajuraho, Mukteshvara, and Prambanan.

Read more about Hindu Temple Architecture:  History, Glossary, Gallery

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