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Indian temple architecture ‘Devayatanam’

  • IASbaba
  • February 25, 2022
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Indian temple architecture ‘Devayatanam’

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-1: Indian culture

Temple has always been an integral part of the Indian life and its ecosystem in its own ways. Temple construction was practiced as a pious act not only in the subcontinent but the idea also travelled to the nearest neighborhood such as south-east and East Asia; therefore, it becomes an interesting study as to how the art and technique of temple architecture spread from India to other regions and how this art was modified.

The architectural principles of temples in India are described in Shilpa Shastra – 

  • Nagara style: The style of temple architecture that became popular in northern India is known as Nagara. Nagara style was developed regionally each region manifesting its own particular qualities.
  • Dravida Style: Dravida style of temple architecture became popular in South India. Dravida style of temples was developed dynastically, however the major features of these temples remained common across the dynasties.
  • Vesara Style: In the mid-seventh century, a distinct style of temple architecture grew in Karnataka region under the patronage of Chalukya rulers. The temples in this region follow a hybridised style which combines the features of both Nagara and Dravida styles.

Similarities and differences of three styles:

Nagara Dravida Vesara
Northern region Southern region Deccan region(Between the Vindhyas and Krishna river)
Developed regionally each region manifesting its own particular qualities Developed dynastically Mixture of two styles Hybrid style. It was developed both regionally and dynastically.
Ground Plan: Mostly Square shaped Ground Plan: Mostly Square shaped Ground Plan: increasingly complex, including start like plan
Curvilinear tower (Shikhara built over garbhagriha) gradually curving inward Pyramidical Tower (Vimana) with several stories in receding dimension The shape of tower was Pyramidical but height was reduced (Miniature Vimanas)
Multiple Shikharas Subsidiary shrines are either incorporated within the main temple tower, or located as distinct, separate small shrines beside the main temple. Multiple shrines are present side by side
Squared hall Squared hall Squared hall
Sanctum Garbhagriha Sanctum Garbhagriha Sanctum Garbhagriha
Gopurams are absent Gopurams are present Gopurams may or may not be present
A water tank may or may not be present A water tank is present at the front of temple from where water is drawn for sacred purposes A water tank may or may not be present
Compound walls are absent enclosed within a compound wall Compound walls may or may not be present
Examples – Dashavatara temple (Deogarh), Vishwanatha temple(Khajuraho), Lakshman Temple (Khajuraho), Jagannath temple (Puri) Examples – Shore temple (Mahabalipuram), Brihadiswara temple (Thanjavur), Meenakshi Temple (Madurai) Examples – Badami temple, Durga Temple (Aihole), Virupaksh Temple (Pattadkal), Keshava Temple (Somnathpur

Must Read: Link 1 + Link 2 + Link 3

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