Indian Traditions of Visual Arts (Drik Kala): Architecture and Sculpture - Temple Architecture




Temple architecture:

  • India's temple architecture started to take shape in the Gupta era, about the fourth century C.E. The only components of the early Gupta period temples were the Garbhagriha and a veranda with four columns.   
  • By the eighth century C.E., temple architecture in India had reached its pinnacle. 
  • The magnificent composition of Verul's Kailas temple testifies to this. By the medieval period, India had created a number of different temple architectural styles. 

1. Nagara Style or North India Temple style: 

Nagara Indian Style Architecture
  • The Nagara style of temple architecture became popular in northern India
  • The entire temple is built on a single stone platform with steps leading up to it. 
  • Another unique characteristic is that it does not usually have elaborate boundary walls or gateways.
  • Garbhagriha: It is always located directly under the tallest tower.
  • Assembly halls or mandaps: It is present in front of the main deity.
  • Earlier temples had one shikhara whereas the later temples had many.
  • Another distinguishing feature of this temple style is the installation of Amalaka or Kalash on Shikhara. 
  • Examples of Nagara Style of Temples are Kandariya Mahadev Temple in Madhya Pradesh, Sun temple in Konark, and Sun temple at Modhera. 

Kandariya Mahadev Temple 

Konark Sun Temple - Wikipedia

Sun temple in Konark

2. Dravida style of temple architecture:  

Dravida Style of Temple Architecture

  • The Pallavas, who ruled in parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and northern Tamil Nadu until the ninth century, pioneered the Dravidian style of temple architecture in South India.
  • The Dravida temple is surrounded by a compound wall. 
  • A Gopuram, or entrance gateway, is located in the centre of the front wall.
  • The main temple tower, known as vimana in Tamil Nadu, is shaped like a stepped pyramid that rises up geometrically, as opposed to the curving shikhara of North India. 
  • The term 'shikhara' is only used for the crowning element at the top of a South Indian temple, which is usually shaped like a small stupika or an octagonal cupola - this is equivalent to the amalak and kalasha of North Indian temples. 
  • The entrance to Garbhagriha is adorned with fierce Dvarapalas or temple doorkeepers. 
  • Within the complex, it is common to find a large water reservoir, also known as a temple tank. 
  • The Kailashnath temple in Ellora is a well-known example of a temple built entirely in the Dravidian style. Other well-known Dravidian temples in the south include Rajarajeswara or Brihadeshwara temple, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu's Annamalaiyar Temple, Meenakshi, and Airavatesvara temples.

Brihadeeswarar Temple- The UNESCO World Heritage Site

Brihadeshwara Temple

Annamalaiyar temple Thiruvannamalai | Timings, photos, address

Annamalaiyar Temple

3. Vesara style of temple architecture:  

  • Vesara is a hybridised architecture style that combines Nagara and Dravidian elements. 
  • Vesara is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit word vishra, which means a place to take a long walk.
  • Vesara style originated in Karnataka. 
  • The Chalukyas of Badami started the trend by building temples in a Vesara style, which was refined by the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta in Ellora, Chalukyas of Kalyani in Lakkundi, Dambal, Gadag, etc., and was epitomized by the Hoysalas.
  • Ornamentation: The ornamentation of the temple walls and pillars on the Chalukyan temple shows indigenous quality.
  • Transformation of Dravida tower: The Chalukyan builders altered the Dravida towers by reducing the height of each storey and arranging them in descending order of height from base to top, with much ornamentation in each storey.
  • Transformation of Nagara tower: Instead of inclined storeys, the vertical shape of the tower has been modified. 
  • Mantapa: The roof of the mantapa is divided into two types: dome ceilings (the dome-like ceilings standing on four pillars are very attractive) and square ceilings (these are vigorously ornamented with mythological pictures). 
  • Pillars: The miniature decorative pillars of Chalukya temples have their own artistic value. 
  • Examples - Kallesvara temple, Kukkanur; Ramalingesvara temple, Gudur; Mahadeva temple, Ittagi; Kasivisvesvara temple, Lakkundi (and several other temples at Lakkundi); Brahmadeva temple, Savadi – notable for being fully stellate; Mallikarjuna temple, Sudi (and Joda-kalasha temple)

Kalleshwara Temple, Hire Hadagali - Wikipedia

Kallesvara temple

Team G Square: The Mahadeva Temple, Itagi , Koppal
Mahadeva temple

4. Hemadpanti style of Temple: 

  • Temples in Maharashtra built in the 12th-13th centuries are known as Hemadpanti temples.
  • Temples at Hemadpanti are constructed with star-shaped exterior walls. The outer walls of the temple have a zigzag pattern in the star-shaped plan. This produces an intriguing impression of shifting between light and shadow.
  • The stonework of the Hemadpanti temple is a key feature. The walls are built without using any mortar, by locking the stones by using the technique of tenon and mortise joints.
  • Among the best examples of the Hemadpanti style is the Ambreshwar temple at Ambarnath near Mumbai, the Gondeshwar temple at Sinnar near Nashik, and the Aundha Nagnath temple in the Hingoli district. Their strategy resembles a star. There are various locations in Maharashtra where you can find Hemadpanti temples.

The Ambreshwar Temple of Ambernath

Ambreshwar temple

Gondeshwar Temple, Sinnar - Wikipedia

Gondeshwar temple

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