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Subjects /Art and Culture - UPSC & Other STATE PSC SSC & BANKING GK / Temple Architecture - Dravidian Style

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18 Jan 2021

  • 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:
    • Garbhagriha (cave-like Sanctum Sanctorum): Single entrance chamber to house main icon which is the focus of much ritual attention.
    • Mandapa: Entrance to the temple that incorporates space for large number of worshippers.
    • 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.
    • Vahan: mount or vehicle of temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar.
  • Broad orders of Temples
    • Nagara in North
    • Dravida in South
    • Vesara

Under Chola rulers, hundreds of temples were built in South India.

The different types of Dravida Styles were:

  • Square: Kuta or Caturasra
  • Rectangular: Shala or ayatasra
  • Elliptical: Gaja-prishta or vrittayata.

Features of Dravidian Style Temples

The features of the Dravidian style of temples were:

  • It is closed within a compound wall which includes:
    • Gopuram: the front wall with entrance gateway to centre.
    • Vimana: The pyramid that rises up geometrically rather than the curving shikhara.
    • Shikhara: The crowing element at the top of the temple. It is in octagon shape and not spherical as seen in Nagara temple. The subsidiary shrines do not have vimanas unlike in Nagara architecture.
    • Antarala: The assembly hall connected to the garbhagriha.
    • Garbhagriha: it has images of Dwarapalas and a large water tank is also found inside the temple.
  • The sites of temples include: Kanchipuram, Thanjavur, Madurai and Kumbakonam of Tamil Nadu.
  • Some important temples of this phase are:
    • Raja Raja I built Brihadeswara temple at Tanjore in 1011 A.D.
    • Rajendra I built Gangaikondacholapuram temple.
  • During 8th-12th Century, along with religious matters, these temples became rich administrative centers controlling vast areas of land.
  • The various temples built under Pallavas included:
    • Mahendravarman I of Chalaukya, Pulakesin II of Karnataka and Mamalla built rock-cut temples.
    • Narasimhavarman II built Shive temple at Mahabalipuram.

Chola Sculpture

Nataraja in Tandava Dance Posture is an important Chola sculpture that has been found in Chola temples.

Some features of the Nataraja Sculpture are:

  1. Small Dwarf: Shiva is dancing on the figure of small dwarf that symbolises ignorance and ego.
  2. Drums in upper right hand: It signifies the sound of creation.
  3. Drums in upper left hand: It holds the eternal fire representing destruction.
  4. Abhay Mudra by lower right hand: It signifies benediction.
  5. Lower left hand points towards the upraised foot and indicates the path of salvation.
  6. Ardhanarishwar: In one ear Shiva is wearing male earring while in other a female earring. This is referred as ardhanarishwar.
  7. Kundalini power: The snake around the arm of the Shiva.

Vesara Style of Architecture

It is also called Karnataka School of architecture and was conceptualised under the later Chalukya rulers.

The Vesara style is hybridised style of Nagara and Dravida styles.

Some features of the Vesara style are:

  • More emphasis was given on vimana and mandapa.
  • The ambulatory passageway was open.
  • The pillars, doorways ans the ceilings were decorated with intricate carvings.
  • Important temples of Vesara style are:
  • The Kailashnath Temple at Ellora built by Rashtrakutas (750-983 AD).
  • The Nataraja sculpture in Ravana Phadi Cave.
  • The Hoysaleshvara temple at Halebid in Karnataka was built by Hoysala king in 1150.
  • The Ladkhan temple at Aihole.