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Introduction
15 Jan 2021

Different styles of Temples found in India are:

  • Nagara in North
  • Dravida in South
  • Vesara – independent style created through the selective mixing of Nagara and Dravida.
  • Hoysala Style
  • Pala and Sena Style

Basic Structure of Hindu Temple

A gradual progression from the flat-roofed, monolithic temples to sculptured shikhara is seen in the temple architecture. However, the basic structure of the temples included:

  1. Garbhagriha (cave-like Sanctum Sanctorum): Single entrance chamber to house main icon which is the focus of much ritual attention.
  2. Mandapa: Entrance to the temple that incorporates space for large number of worshippers.
  3. Shikhar and Vimana: Free standing temples tend to have mountain-like spire which tool shape of curving shikhar in North India and pyramidal tower called Vimana in South India.
  4. Vahan: mount or vehicle of temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar.

North Indian Temple Styles-Nagara

  • The entire temple is built on single stone platform with steps leading up to it. It doesn’t have elaborate boundary walls of gateways.
  • Garbhagriha: It is always located directly under the tallest tower.
  • Assembly halls or mandaps: It is present in front of the main deity.
  • Pradakshina Path: The ambulatory path around the Garbhagriha is covered.
  • The temple wall is divided into vertical planes called rath:
    • If divided into 3 vertical planes, then called trirath.
    • If divided into 5 vertical planes, then it is called pancharatha.
    • Later on, saptaratha and navaratha temples came into existence.
  • Subdivisions of Nagar temples based on the shape of the Shikhara:
    • Rekha-prasada Type: Shikhara is square at the base and walls slope inward to a point on top called latina or rekha-prasada.
    • Phamsana: Buildings are broader and shorter than latina. Roofs are composed of several slabs that gently rise to a single point over the centre of the building. Phamsana roofs slope upwards on straight incline.
    • Valabhi Type: Rectangular buildings with a roof that rises into a valuted chamber. The edge of chamber is rounded.
  • In Nagar, different sub-schools emerged, namely:
    • Central Temple Styles
    • Western Temple Styles
    • Eastern Temple Styles
    • The Hills

Central India Temples

  • It includes the area of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • The temples are made of Sandstone.
  • At Deogarh temple:
    • It is in Panchayatana style i.e. main shrine built on rectangular plinth of four smaller subsidiary shrines at the four corners.
    • Tall and curvilinear shikhara.
    • It is a classic Nagar temple.
    • It is west-facing temple with female figures of Ganga and Yamuna on doorway.
    • The temple depicts Vishnu in various forms. Also, called Dasavatara temple.
    • Three main reliefs if Vishnu on the walls: Sheshashayana, Nara-Narayan and Gajendramoksha.

  • Lakshmana Temple dedicated to Vishnu is the grandest temple of Khajuraho built in 954 by the Chandela king, Dhanga.
  • He also founded Jain temple, Chausanth Yogini temple.


Western India Temples

It includes Gujarat and Rajasthan

  • The Sun temple, Modhera, Gujarat:
  • It was built by Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki dynasty (branch of later Chaulakyas).
  • It has Surya kund, a massive rectangular stepped tank.
  • Huge ornamental arch-torana leads one to the Sabha mandapa.
  • Mandapa: It housed the idol of the Sun God before being plundered by Mahmud Ghazni.
  • The walls of central small shrine are devoid of carvings.
  • At time of equinoxes, Sun shines directly into central shrine.
  • In 2014, the Modhera Sun Temple was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.