Day 1 – Q 3. If you were to take a cultural tour from Madurai to Kashi, what changes would you observe in temple architecture? Explain. 

  • IASbaba
  • November 28, 2022
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Art & Culture, GS 1, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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3. If you were to take a cultural tour from Madurai to Kashi, what changes would you observe in temple architecture? Explain. 

यदि आप मदुरै से काशी की सांस्कृतिक यात्रा करें, तो आप मंदिर की वास्तुकला में क्या बदलाव देखेंगे? समझाएं।


A simple straightforward question where candidates are expected to write about temple architecture forms of India and how it changes from south to north from Madurai to Kashi.


In ancient temple architecture there are Two broad orders of temples in the country are known as Nagara in the north and Dravida in the south.At times, the Vesara style of temples is also found as an independent style, created through the selective mixing of the Nagara and Dravida orders.


From Madurai to kashi temple acrhitecture changes from dravida style to vesara to Nagara.

Dravida Or South Indian Temple Style-

  • Unlike the nagara temple, the dravida temple is enclosed within a compound wall.
  • The front wall has an entrance gateway in its centre, which is known as a gopuram.
  • The shape of the main temple tower known as vimana in Tamil Nadu, is like a stepped pyramid that rises up geometrically rather than the curving shikhara of North India.
  • Kanchipuram, Thanjavur or Tanjore, Madurai and Kumbakonam are the most famous temple towns of Tamil Nadu.

Vesara type of architecture –

  • Vesara is a combination of Nagara and Dravidian style of temple architecture styles. The term Vesara is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit word vishra meaning an area to take a long walk. Many historian agree that the Vesara style originated in the what is today Karnataka.
  • The trend was started by the Chalukyas of Badami (500-753AD) who built temples in a style that was essentially a mixture of the Nagara and the Dravida styles, further refined by the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta (750- 983AD) in Ellora, Chalukyas of Kalyani (983-1195 AD) in Lakkundi, Dambal, Gadag etc. and epitomized by the Hoysalas (1000-1330 AD)
  • The Hoysalas temples at Belur, Halebidu and Somnathpura are prime examples of this style.

Unique features of Vesara style of temple architecture

  • Ornamentation: In case of ornamentation of temple walls and pillars, Chalukyan temple shows indigenous quality.
  • Transformation of Dravida tower: The Chalukyan builders modified the Dravida towers by minimizing 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 storey here modification is seen in the vertical shape of the tower.

Chalukyan architecture

  • Their architecture consisted of admixture of Nagara and Dravidian styles.
  • Temples built during this time can be found in- Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal.
  • Temples built during their time period do not have a covered ambulatory path.
  • The Virupaksha temple at Pattadakal built in imitation of Kailashnath temple is the jewel of Chalukyan architecture.

Rashtrakuta architecture

  • They were the successors of the Chalukyas.
  • Their temples were built mostly imitating the Chalukyan style.
  • The Kailas temple at Ellora, built during the time of Krishna II is the representative form of architecture of the empire.

Hoysala temple architecture

  • Kesava temple at Belur built during the time of Vishnuvardhana to commemorate his victory over the Cholas is a representative art of this period.
  • In this temple, there are multiple shrines grouped around a central pillared hall and laid out in the shape of an intricately-designed star.
  • Such an arrangement could be found in temples during this time in Halebid, Somnathpur and elsewhere.
  • Hoysaleswara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is another famous temple built during this period.

Nagara or North Indian Temple Style-

  • In North India it is common for an entire temple to be built on a stone platform with steps leading up to it.Further, unlike in South India it does not usually have elaborate boundary walls or gateways.
  • The garbhagriha is always located directly under the tallest tower.
  • There are many subdivisions of nagara temples depending on the shape of the shikhara.


Most of the architectural remains that survive from Ancient and Medieval India are religious in nature.In different parts of the country, distinct architectural style of temples was result of geographical, ethnic and historical diversities.


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