Temple Architecture in India : Dravida, Nagara, Vesara, Hindu, Buddhist & Jain Styles | UPSC Notes

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Temple Architecture in India : Dravida, Nagara, Vesara, Hindu, Buddhist & Jain Styles | UPSC Notes

Most of the ancient and mediaeval Indian temples that have been saved are holy in nature.

Temple is thought of as a small version of the whole universe. The word “temple” comes from the Latin word “templum,” which means “a holy place.” Temple is defined as a building where religious or spiritual actions like prayer, sacrifice, or similar rites take place.

In all of the old books, the word “temple” is written as “Devalaya,” “Devayatan,” “Devakula,” “Devagiriha,” etc., which means “house of the God.” The oldest temples in India date back to the second and first centuries B.C.

The Brahmi inscriptions from the second century BCE were found at Besnagar. They talk about how Heliodorus put up a holy column in honour of ‘Vasudeva’. An inscription found at Ghosundi says that a chieftain called Gajayana built a stone enclosure for the worship of “Sankarshana” and “Vasudeva” in the first century BCE. The enclosure was used to worship “Sankarshana” and “Vasudeva.”

The Arthasastra by Kautilya says that churches should be built on the divisions of the vastu, not just for the site gods (Vastu-Devata), but also for gods like Aparajita, Jayanta, Siva, and Vaisravana.

It is said that Kharavela fixed temples of different groups whose walls and towers had blown away in the wind. Gatha-Saptasati of Hala says that churches were around in the second century. In the Bilsad engraving, it says that Skanda-Mahasena had a temple. Based on the above data, it’s easy to say that India had temples before the sixth century BCE.

The first group of Gupta temples were built in the fifth century CE. They had a single-cell shrine with a portico called a “Mandapa” that was supported by four columns. Temple No. 17, Sanchi, Tigwa (Distt. Jabalpur, M.P. ), and Eran (Distt. Sagar, M.P.). The temple at Bhitargaon (Distt. Kanpur, U.P. ), which is made of bricks and shows the deeds of Vishnu and Durga, is the oldest one that has remained. The Gupta empire is said to have made it in the fifth century. Dasavatara temple in Deogarh was built around the same time and during the same kingdom. After that, during the times of Chalukya, Pallava, Rastrakuta, Chola, Pratihar, Parmar, etc., huge, tall, beautiful buildings were built.

As the Gupta Age was a time when religion was very important, many temples and holy buildings were built to honour Hindu gods like Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, Kartikeya, etc. Unfortunately, the Huna invaders burned most of these works, and a lot of them have also been lost over time.

It may be important to remember that Hindu shrines were not made for people to gather, but rather as a place for a god to live. Priests could give gifts to the gods in this beautiful house. People could also offer prayers, flowers, and food (called “puja”) to a holy object or figure of a god. As a part of their worship, believers would also walk around the building.

Functions of temples

• Religious

• Administrative centre

• Having control over large areas of land to bring in money

• Place of learning

• Temples get money from different places, such as donations and sales.

Free-Standing Temples

• A free-standing building is one that stands on its own and doesn’t need anything else to hold it up.

• Free-standing temples are made up of standardised parts that can be built separately, moved easily, and put together quickly. Unlike rock-cut structures, these don’t need special tools, methods, or environments to be built.

• During the Gupta Empire, people in India started building structures that stood on their own. Over time, these structures became more famous and important than cave structures. This can also be explained by the fact that these temples were often the places where people got together. In India, the oldest free-standing temples are the ones that still stand at Deogarh and the Dashavatara temple of Vishnu, which was built in the sixth century CE.

Temples Architecture at Pre-Gupta Period (Ancient India)

• A.L. Basham says that the oldest religious building that stood on its own was a small round hall at Bairat, near Jaipur, that was built in the 3rd century B.C.

• It was possibly made of brick and wood and held a Buddhist Stupa when it was first built.

The next important place was the temple at Jandial, which was built on one of Takshashila’s mounds and is now in NWFP, Pakistan.

It was probably Zoroastrian. It had a square inner sanctuary, a meeting hall, and a courtyard with two big Ionian-style pillars on either side of the outer and inner entrances.

Before the Gupta time, there are no ruins of Hindu temples that stood on their own.


Temples made during the Gupta Dynasty

• People often call the Gupta Period “India’s Golden Age of Art and Architecture.”

• During the Gupta Era, rock-cut building reached its peak, and this time period also saw the start of free-standing temples. Most of the temples made during the Gupta period had carvings of Gods and Goddesses, mostly avatara of Vishnu and Lingams.

Dasavatar Temple in Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh, is the most important temple from the Gupta period.

• During this time, the rules for drawing Brahmanical, Jain, and Buddhist gods were finalised and standardised.

• They were perfect examples of how art should be made in later ages, both in India and outside of it.

• It was a time when everything was perfect at home, in government, in writing (like Kalidasa’s works), in art, and in religion and philosophy, as shown by the widespread Bhagavata cult, which saw itself as a strict cult of beauty.

• There was a steady change from the early flat-roofed, monolithic buildings to the later sculpted’shikhara’.

• During the Gupta era, the basic parts of an Indian temple, like a square sanctum and pillared porch, were created. This gave temple design a strong base.

• The prayer ceremony at the Gupta temple included a covered path for walking around (called the Pradakshana Path).

• Earlier churches of the time had a flat roof made of a single piece of stone.

• A Shikhara was added to later shrines made of brick and stone.

• You can see how the Gupta style changed over time by looking at how the plan and decorations on the pillars and doorframe changed. For example, the doorframe added new decorative elements like goblins, couples, flying angels, door-keepers, and a figure relief in the middle of the lintel that represents the god who was worshipped in the temple.

• Images of gods, their wives, celestial beings, couples, directional gods, animals made up of parts of different animals, and decorative themes were carved into the walls and floors of temples.

• The deities in the sanctum were carved in strict accordance with religious rules, and they were put there after a special event.

Not all sculptures in temples were sacred. Many of them used non-religious themes and designs.

• Everyday scenes include military parades, scenes from the royal court, singers, dancers, acrobats, and couples in love.

• The Apsaras or Devanganas (heavenly women) and Vyalas (mixed animals) are another group of non-religious people.

Rock-cut temple sites from the Gupta era that are very important

• During the Gupta time, the architecture of the caves also got a lot better.

• The best examples of cave building from that time are the Chaitya and Vihara caves at Ajanta and the Ellora caves.

Ajanta Caves

• Chaitya Grihas and Viharas are the names of the two types of cave forms at Ajanta.

• Chaitya Grihas were places of worship. They were big, rectangular rooms divided by rows of pillars into a central nave, aisles on three sides for circumbulation during prayer, and a sanctuary opposite the entrance.

• Viharas, also called monasteries, were rooms in the shape of a rectangle with a row of small cells on each side.

Ellora Caves

• The modern Viharas, or monasteries, at Ellora are great examples of Buddhist rock-cut building, and they are built in the same style as Ajanta.

• At Ellora, Buddhists carved twelve rooms out of rocks to show how they believe.

• There are two subgroups in this series: Cave nos. “Dhedwada group” is what I-V are called. Each sub-group has a place to pray and a monastery connected to it. The next set of monasteries, nos. VI–XII stand out because of how big and far they are.

Udayagiri Caves

• Chandragupta II ordered a lot of carving and work to be done on it.

• The most well-known art is the huge statue of Vishnu as Varaha, who has a boar’s head.

Temples built during the Gupta Period

Temple of Bhitargaon

• The Bhitagaon Temple is one of India’s oldest brick temples that is still standing. It is in the Kanpur District of Uttar Pradesh.

• It was built during the Gupta Empire in the 5th century A.D.

• It is the oldest Hindu shrine made of clay that still has a roof and a high Shikhara (spire). It was the first temple in North India to be built in the elaborate Nagara style.

• How the Bhitargaon Temple was built

One of the first times a semicircular opening was used was at the entrance to the sanctum.

Alexander Cunningham, who started the Archaeological Survey of India in 1871, called this the “Hindu arch” because it was only found in India.

The inner chamber (garbha griha) of the temple is topped by a tall pyramidal spire (shikhara). This shikhara became a standard part of the design of Indian Nagara temples.

On the walls of the temple, there are terracotta sculptures of gods and goddesses like Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha, Vishnu, etc., on panels that are divided by strong, decorative pilasters. A pilaster is a rectangular column that sticks out a little bit from the wall.

Cunningham says that the temple was likely a Vishnu temple because there was an image of Varaha in the back.

Temple of Dashavtar

• The Dashavatara Temple is a Vishnu Hindu temple from the early 6th century. It is in Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh, about 125 kilometres from Jhansi in the Betwa River valley in northern-central India.

• It has a simple, square, one-cell design and is one of the oldest Hindu stone churches that is still standing.

• The temple at Deogarh is dedicated to Vishnu, but it also has pictures of other gods, such as Shiva, Parvati, Kartikeya, Brahma, Indra, the river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna, and the five Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharata, on its small footprint.

• Stone and bricks were used to build the Temple.

• The walls inside and outside of the building are carved with stories about Vishnu. Also carved are scenes from everyday life and couples in different steps of dating and getting close.

• People in the area call the Dashavatara temple “Sagar marh,” which means “the temple on the tank.” This name comes from the square water hole cut into the rock in front of the temple.

Other Temples: During the Gupta Era, there were also the following temples:

• The Tigawa Vishnu Temple in Jabalpur

• The Vishnu temple of Eran is in the Madhya Pradesh district of Sagar.

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• Temple of Shiva in Bhumara

• The Parvati Temple of Nachria Kathura

• Temple of Mukund Darra in Kota

• Raipur’s Lakshaman Temple

• Temple of Shiva in Koh.

• Bhitari Temple at Ghazipur

Sirpur Temple

• Sirpur is a town in the state of Chhattisgarh. It is 35 km from the city of Mahasamund and 78 km from the city of Raipur. It is on the banks of the river Mahanadi.

• In the past, Sirpur was the home of the Panduvanshi dynasty. The Sirpur Group of Monuments is in the village. It is made up of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain churches and monasteries. They were made between the 5th and 12th centuries.

• Lakshmana Brick temple

Laxman temple is a brick temple from the 7th century that is mostly broken and ruined.

The mother of Mahasivagupta, Vasata, built the Lakshmana temple.

The paintings on the tower and doors of the Lakshmana temple in Sirpur, as well as the garbhagriya entrance, are still in good enough shape to study. Above the lintel of the sanctum door, there are images of Vishnu lying down on Sesha (Anantasayana Vishnu) and a panel from the Bhagavata Purana that shows Krishna.

Around the door are bands of carvings that show the ten incarnations of Vishnu, as well as everyday life and partners at different stages of dating and mithuna.

The temple is built on a stone jagati base that is about 40 feet by 80 feet and is big enough to walk around. The carved stone frame around the grabha-griya (sanctum) is the only part of the temple that is not made of brick.

The entrance to the chamber faces east.


Evolution of Temple Architecture

You can divide the history of temple building into five stages:

First Stage of Temple Architecture

During this time, the following things happened to the temples:

• The roofs of the churches were flat, and their shapes were square.

• The portico was built with short, thin columns and sat on a low level.

• The whole building was made up of low levels.

• Had a single-chambered shrine with a shallow portico supported by four columns in front.

• Temple No. 17 in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, and Temple at Tigawa, also in Madhya Pradesh, are good examples.

Second Stage of Temple Architecture

• Most parts of the older buildings were still there during this time.

• On the other hand, the platforms were raised or made higher.

• There have also been temples found that are two stories tall.

During this time, a covered walk around the sanctum sanctorum or garbhagriha was also added.

• People used this road as a pradakshina route.

• In Madhya Pradesh, there is a temple for Parvati in Nachna Kuthara and a temple for Shiva in Bhumara.

• The Bhumara temple added two small shrines on each side of the entrance steps.

Third Stage of Temple Architecture

• Flat roof not seen

• At this point, instead of a flat roof, a shikhara showed up. Still, they were very low and bent, almost like squares.

• The Nagara style of temples grew out of this time.

• The Panchayatan style of making temples was used for the first time.

• The Panchayatan style of building a temple had four smaller shrines in addition to the main temple. The main structure was square, but a long mandap in front of it made it look like a rectangle.

• The idea of secondary shrines

• The secondary shrines were placed on either side of the mandap. This made the ground plan look like a cross.

• The Dashavatar Temple in Deogarh and the Temple at Bhitargaon are two examples.

The Durga temple is in Aihole, Karnataka. It is in Uttar Pradesh.

The Deogarh temple is on a platform that can be reached by stairs on all four sides. It is of the PANCHAYATAN type, which means that there are small shrines in each corner. It is one of the first temples to use the stories of Rama and Krishna.

Panchayatana Style

• Panchayatana is a way of building a temple with a central shrine and four other shrines around it.

• Temples that are examples of Panchayatana.

Udaipur’s Jagdish Temple.

 Lakshmana Temple in Khajuraho.

 Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in Khajuraho.

 Brahmeswara Temple in Bhubaneswar.

Fourth Stage of Temple Architecture

• The temples of this stage were almost the same, except that the centre shrine became more square.

• A rectangular temple, like the Kapoteswara temple at Chejarla, with an apsidal back and a barrel-vaulted roof.

• A good example is the Ter temple in Sholapur, Maharashtra.

The Ter temple in Maharashtra

Fifth Stage of Temple Architecture

• At this time, churches were built in a circle with shallow rectangle extensions.

• The rest of the features of the previous phase were kept.

• One example is Maniyar Math in Rajgir, Bihar.


Styles of Temple Architecture

In different parts of India, faiths like Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism led to different styles of temple architecture.

This is what a Hindu temple looks like at its most basic level:

• The Sanctum Sanctorum, also called Garbhagriha (which means “womb-house”), is a small room, usually a cell, where the temple’s main god lives.

• Mandapa: This is the temple’s door. It could be a portico or a hall, and it’s usually made to hold a lot of people.

• Shikhara: It looks like a rock peak. Shapes range from conical to rounded.

• Vahana: This is the main god’s mount or car. It is placed right in front of the sanctum sanctorum.

• Many Hindu shrines have sculptures of mithun, which represent a happy couple holding hands.

Usually, they are at the door of the temple or on an outside wall. They can also be on the walls between the mandapa and the main shrine.

• However, different styles of building grew up in different parts of India with the help of the local rulers.

• There are two main types of churches in the country:

Nagara, which is in the north,

In the south, Dravida.

• Some experts talk about the Vesar style of temples as a separate style that was made by combining parts of the Nagara and Dravida orders.

North Indian Temple Architecture from the Nagara School of Architecture.

• Nagara is the name of the style of temple building that became famous in northern India in the 5th century AD.

• Most temples in North India are built on stone platforms with steps going up to them.

• Also, unlike South India, it doesn’t generally have walls or gates with a lot of detail.

• The garbhagriha is always right below the highest tower.

• Nagara temples can be broken up into many different types based on the shape of the shikhara. In different parts of India, the different parts of the building have different names.

• The ‘latina’ or’rekha-prasada’ type of shikara is the most popular name for a simple shikhara with a square base and walls that curve or slope inward to a point at the top.

• The phamsana is the second most important type of building in the Nagara order.

• Buildings in Phamsana tend to be wider and shorter than those in Latina.

• Their roofs are made up of several flat pieces that rise slowly to a single point in the middle of the house.

• The roofs of Phamsana don’t curve inward; instead, they rise straight up.

• Most mandapas are made in the phamsana style, but the main garbhagriha is in a latina building.

• The vallabhi type is what most people call the third main sub-type of nagara buildings. These are rectangular houses with a roof that rises into a vaulted room.


• Most of the temples were built in the Panchayatan style, which was made up of smaller shrines set up in a cruciform pattern around the main shrine.

• There are gathering places, called mandaps, in front of the main shrine.

• Images of the river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna were put outside the garbhagriha.

• Most of the time, the temple grounds didn’t have any water tanks or pools.

• Most churches were built on platforms that were raised up.

• There were columns in front of the porticos.

• There were three main kinds of Shikharas:

Latina or Rekha-prasad: They were square at the bottom, and the walls curved inward to a point at the top.

Phamsana: They were wider at the bottom and shorter than the Latina ones. In a straight line, they slope up.

Valabhi: They had a rectangular base with vaulted rooms on the roof. They also went by the name “wagon-vaulted roofs.”

• At the top of the shikhara, there was a flat, curved disc called the Amalak. On top of that, a round form called the Kalash was put.

• The wall inside the temple was split into three upright sections, or rathas. These buildings were called triratha. Later, buildings like the pancharatha, saptaratha, and even navaratha were built. Different panels were made out of the vertical lines to make sculptures that told stories.

• The path that goes around the sanctum sanctorum, called the pradakshina walk, was covered.

The following three sub-schools grew out of the Nagara School:

1. The Odisha School:

This unique style of temple building grew up in different parts of the Kalinga kingdom. The main parts of Odisha temples’ designs can be put into three groups: rekhapida, pidhadeul, and khakra. Some of the things it had were:

• The outside walls were beautifully carved, but the inside walls were just plain.

• The porch didn’t have any supports. Instead of wooden beams, iron girders were used to hold up the roof.

• In the Odisha school, the shikhara was called rekha deul. They had roofs that were almost straight up and then suddenly turned sharply inward.

• In this part of the world, the mandap was called a jagamohan.

• The main building had a square floor plan.

• Temples had a wall around them, like the Dravidian style of temple building.

Odisha School of Architecture: The Basic Structure of a Temple

Some examples are the Sun Temple in Konark, which is also called the “Black Pagoda,” the Jagannath Temple in Puri, and the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar.

Sun temple

• At Konark, on the Bay of Bengal, the stone Surya or Sun temple, which was built around 1240, is in ruins. King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga family is said to have built the temple.

• European sailors called this temple the “Black Pagoda” as early as 1676 because it looked like a tall black tower with many levels.

• The Sun temple is built on a high base, and its walls are covered with a lot of intricate carvings.

• There are twelve sets of huge wheels with spokes and hubs that are sculpted to look like the wheels of the Sun god’s chariot. In mythology, the Sun god rides in a chariot pulled by seven horses, which are sculpted at the entrance stairs.

• Its shikhara was a huge structure that was said to have been 70 metres tall. It fell in the 1800s because it was too heavy for its location.

• The large complex is surrounded by a square-shaped area called a quadrilateral precinct. Of this area, only the jagamohana or dance-pavillion (mandapa), which is no longer open to the public but is said to be the largest enclosed room in Hindu architecture, has survived.

• There is a huge image of Surya made of green stone on the south wall.

Jagannath Temple (Puri)

• The temple is thought to have been built by King Anatavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty in the 12th century.

• The Jagannath Puri temple is called “Yamanika Tirtha,” and Hindus believe that the power of “Yama,” the god of death, has been taken away from Puri because Lord Jagannath is there.

• This temple was called the “White Pagoda” and is part of the Char Dham pilgrimages (Badrinath, Dwaraka, Puri, and Rameswaram).

• The temple has four gates: “Singhdwara” in the east, which is the main gate with two kneeling lions, “Ashwadwara” in the south, “Vyaghra Dwara” in the west, and “Hastidwara” in the north. At each gate, there is a carving of each form.

• The Aruna stambha, also called the “sun pillar,” is in front of the door. It used to be at the Sun Temple in Konark.

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2. Khajuraho School, also called Chandela School:

• In the middle of India, the Chandela kings made their own style of building temples. This style is called the Khajuraho School or the Chandela School.

• The temples of Khajuraho are known for their many erotic carvings.

• In the 10th and 11th centuries, the Chandela kings of Bundelkhand liked it.

• These 22 churches, out of the original 85, are thought to be one of the most amazing works of art in the world.

• The best of them is the Shaivite temple called Kandariya Mahadev. It was built by King Ganda around the year 1000.

• A typical Khajuraho temple has a shrine room, a hall for gatherings, and a porch at the front.

• The buildings had the following features:

Both the inside and outside of these buildings were decorated with carvings in a very elaborate way.

The themes of most of the statues were sexual, and they were based on Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra.

Sandstone was used to build the buildings.

There were three rooms in temples: the Garbhagriha, the Mandapa, and the ardhamandapa. Some shrines had a place called the antarala that led to the garbhagriha.

Most churches were built so that they faced either north or east.

Temples were built in the style of the Panchayatan. The rekha-prasad shikharas on the side shrines made it look like a mountain range.

The whole length of the sikhara is bent, and small sikharas come out of the middle tower.

The temple’s halls and porticos are also topped with smaller towers that get taller as they move towards the main tower.

The buildings are both Hindu and Jain, and they were built on fairly high platforms.

• Examples: Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Lakshmana Temple at Khajuraho, Visvanatha Temple etc.

• Khajuraho has a lot of temples, and most of them are for Hindu gods. There are some Jain shrines and one that is interesting because it is a Chausanth Yogini temple.

3. Solanki School, which is also called Maru-Gurjara school,

The Solanki kings of Gujarat, who later became the Chalukya, helped this school grow in the northwestern parts of India, like Gujarat and Rajasthan, from the 11th to the 13th centuries. Some things about this school were:

• There were no carvings on the walls of the building.

• Both the inside and outside of the garbhagriha were linked to the mandapa.

• The curved entrances to the porticos, called torans, were made to look nice.

• One of the most interesting things about this school is the step-tank, or suryakund, that is close to the temple.

• There are many small churches with wooden carvings on the steps of the tank.

• The Solankis built shrines out of sandstone, black basalt, and soft-marble, among other things.

• Most of the temples face east and are built so that the sun’s rays fall straight into the central shrine during the equinoxes.

For example, Bhima-I built the Modhera Sun Temple in Gujarat between 1026 and 1027.

Modhera Sun Temple

Pre Solanki Style: Samlaji Temple

• Shamlaji, which can also be written as Shamalaji, is an important Hindu religious site in India’s Gujarat state.

• The Shamlaji temple is a place where Vishnu is worshipped.

• Showing – earlier art styles from the area were mixed with a style that came after the Gupta dynasty. This gave rise to a unique style of sculpture.

• A large number of grey schist statues.

• Built between the 6th and 8th centuries CE. While people argue about who should pay for these.

• The temple is built in the style of the Chaulukyans.

• It also has a big place where people can meet called Uagati.

• It has a beautiful dome on top of an elegant elephant gate that faces the steps of the main temple that lead to the front hall.

• There is a big lake called Shyam Sarovar right behind the temple.

Temples in eastern India

• The North East, Bengal, and Odisha all have shrines in Eastern India.

• It looks like clay was the main building material in Bengal until the 7th century. It was also used to make plaques that showed Buddhist and Hindu gods.


• A carved door frame from the sixth century found in Dah Parvatia near Tezpur and a few other sculptures found in Rangagora Tea Estate near Tinsukia in Assam show that the Gupta language was used in that area.

• By the 12th to 14th centuries, Assam had created its own style.

When the Tais moved to Guwahati from Upper Burma, they brought with them a style that mixed with the dominant Pala style of Bengal. This led to what became known as the Ahom style in and around Guwahati.

• The Shakti Peeth Kamakhya temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya, was built in Assam in the 17th century.


• The style of sculptures made in Bengal (which includes Bangladesh) and Bihar between the ninth and eleventh centuries is called the Pala style, after the ruling family at the time.

• The style from the middle of the 11th century to the middle of the 13th century is named after the Sena kings.

• The Palas are known as the protectors of many Buddhist monasteries, but the style of the buildings in that area is known to be Vanga.

• The 9th-century Siddheshvara Mahadeva Temple in Barakar, Burdwan District, is an example of the early Pala style. It has a tall, curved shikhara that is topped by a big amalaka.

• The black to grey basalt and chlorite stone pillars and arched niches of Purlia temples had a big impact on the first Bengal sultanate buildings at Gaur and Pandua.

• During the Mughal era and afterward, a lot of clay brick temples were built in Bengal and Bangladesh. These temples were built in a unique style that borrowed from the way bamboo huts were built.

Temples on hills

• In the hills of Kumaon, Garhwal, Himachal, and Kashmir, a unique style of building grew up.

• By the 5th century CE, the area had a strong Gandhara impact because it was close to important Gandhara sites like Taxila, Peshawar, and the northwest frontier.

• This started to mix with the Gupta and post-Gupta cultures that came from Sarnath, Mathura, and even places in Gujarat and Bengal.

• Brahmin pundits and Buddhist monks often went between Kashmir, Garhwal, Kumaon, and religious centres in the plains like Banaras, Nalanda, and even as far south as Kanchipuram.

• Because of this, Buddhist and Hindu beliefs began to mix and spread through the hills.

• Wooden houses with pitched roofs were also common in the hills.

• In some places in the hills, the main garbhagriha and shikhara are built in the rekha-prasada or latina style, but the mandapa is built in an older style of wood.

• Sometimes the building takes on the shape of a pagoda.

• From an architectural point of view, the most important time in Kashmir was during the Karkota era.

• Pandrethan, which was built between the years 800 and 900, is one of the most important churches.

In keeping with the custom that the shrine should have a water tank, this temple is built on a plinth in the middle of a tank.

• Like the things found at Samlaji, the statues at Chamba are a mix of local styles and a style that came after the Guptas.

• The impact of the post-Gupta tradition can be seen in the statues of Mahishasuramardini and Narasimha at the Laksna-Devi Mandir.

• The shrines at Jageshwar near Almora and Champavat near Pithoragarh are great examples of nagara architecture in Kumaon.


Dravidian Style of Temple Architecture (South Indian Temple Architecture)

In the same way that different sub-schools of Nagara architecture grew up in the north of India, a unique style of temple architecture also grew up in the south.

Mahendravarman, a Pallava king, was the first person to build temples in South India. During the Pallava era, temples were built in the style of each ruler. They can be divided into four stages based on when they were built:

Mahendra Group:

• This was the first step in the building of Pallava temples. Under Mahendravarman, most of the shrines were cut into rocks. Under him, the shrines were called mandapas, which was different from the Nagara style, where mandapas only meant the meeting hall.

• The cave shrines at Mandagapattu, Pallavaram, and Mamandur are the best examples of the Mahendra group of sites.

Narasimha Group:

• This was the second step in how South Indian temple design changed over time. The rock-cut churches had sculptures that were very detailed.

• When Narasimhavarman was in charge, the mandapas were split up into their own rathas. The Dharmaraja ratha was the biggest one, and the Draupadi ratha was the smallest.

• The Dharmaraja ratha is the inspiration for the form of a temple in the Dravidian style.

Panch Pandava Rath:

Pancha Rathas, also called Five Rathas, Pandava Rathas, or Ainthinai kovil, is a group of monuments in Mahabalipuram, India. It is on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, in the Kancheepuram district of the state of Tamil Nadu, and it is in the Kancheepuram district of the state of Tamil Nadu. Pancha Rathas is an example of Indian building made from a single piece of rock.

They are the Dharmaraja Ratha, the Bhima Ratha, the Arjuna Ratha, the Nakula Sahadeva Ratha, and the Draupadi Ratha, in order of how big they are.

• i) Draupadi Ratha: Made for Durga, the goddess. shape of a south Indian hut; standing Durga with four arms and two male worshippers; in front, Durga’s lion car.

• The Dharmaraja Ratha is almost a copy of the Arjuna Ratha, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

• iii) Bhima Ratha: This one is for Vishnu while he is resting. It looks like a Buddhist chaitya and has no figures carved into it.

• iv) Nakula-Sahadeva Ratha: This one is for Indra and has an elephant figure. It is called Gajaprashta.

• v) Dharmaraja Ratha: Dedicated to Hari-Hara (Vishnu and Shiva) and Ardhanareeswara (Siva and Parvati together).

Rajasimha Group:

• Rajasimha was in charge of the third stage of building the temple. Under his rule, rock-cut temples were replaced by temples with real walls.

• Some examples are the Kailashnath Temple in Kanchipuram and the Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram.

Group of Mahabalipuram Monuments

Under the Pallava era in Tamil Nadu, the old port city of Mamallapuram grew and had a lot of beautiful buildings. This Pallava site from the 7th century was named a “Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram” UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

• Ratha Temples or Pancha Ratha: Also called Pandava Rathas, these are the oldest rock-cut temples in India. They are made up of Dharmaraja Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Nakula and Sahadeva Ratha, and Draupadi Ratha. They were built around the 7th century AD. Dharmaraja Ratha is the biggest of the five structures.

• Rock-Cut Caves: These include the Varaha Cave Temple, the Krishna Cave Temple, the Panchapandava Cave Temple, and the Mahishasuramardini Mandapa, which is a bas-relief of Goddess Durga killing Mahishasura.

• Open-Air Rock Reliefs: The Descent of the Ganges, also called Arjuna’s Penance or Bhagiratha’s Penance, is carved on two huge rocks. It tells the story of how Bhagiratha helped the River Ganga come down from heaven to earth. A big rock lump called Krishna’s Butter Ball is not far away.

• The Shore Temple Complex has two small temples and one big temple. It is surrounded by a two-tiered wall with images of Nandi, Shiva’s mount. Most of the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, but one of the three temples in the building has a statue of Anantashayana Vishnu.

Nandivarman Group:

During the Pallava time, this was the fourth step in the building of a temple. The buildings that were built were not very big. Some of the features were almost like the Dravidian way of building temples. After the Pallava dynasty fell, the Chola kingdom brought a new style to temple architecture. This style is called the Dravidian style of temple architecture. This was the beginning of a new time in the history of churches in South India. In later times, this area also saw the rise of the Vesara style, the Nayaka style, and the Vijayanagara style.

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Chola architecture is a type of temple architecture in the Dravidian style.

In South India, many temples were built with the help of the Chola kings. It was similar to the Pallava design that had come before, but there were some changes. This style of building temples came to be known as the Dravidian style. The Dravidian style, also called the chola style, has these traits:

• The Dravidian temples, unlike the Nagara temples, were surrounded by high walls.

• The front wall had a tall doorway called a gopuram.

• The temple grounds were set up in the style of panchayatan, with a main temple and four smaller shrines.

• In the Dravidian style, the top of the building is shaped like a stepped tower that goes straight up instead of being curved. It is called a “vmana.”

• The part at the top that looks like a hexagon is called the shikhara. It’s like the kalash in the Nagara temple, but it’s not round.

The idea that several shikharas should rise together as a clump was popular in North India, but not in South India.

• In Dravidian design, there is only one vimana on top of the main temple. In contrast to Nagara design, the side shrines do not have vimanas.

• A small tunnel called the antarala led from the gathering hall to the garbhagriha.

• Dwaarpal, Mithun, and Yaksha were carved into the door to the garbhagriha.

In the garbhagriha of a north Indian temple, you might find images of mithunas and the river gods Ganga and Yamuna. In the garbhagriha of a south Indian temple, you are more likely to see sculptures of fierce dvarapalas, who are the temple’s door-keepers.

• The Dravidian style was different from other styles because it had a water tank inside the temple.

• There are many different types of dravida temples, just like there are many different kinds of nagara temples. There are five general shapes to these:

 Kuta or caturasra – square

 Shala or ayatasra – rectangular

 Gaja-prishta or vrittayata (elephant backed) – curved

“Vritta” means “circular,” and it comes from the wagon-vaulted shapes of apsidal chaityas with a horseshoe-shaped entrance facade that is generally called a “nasi.”

 Ashtasra – octagonal

In 1011 AD, Raja Raja I built the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur. Rajendra I built the Gangaikondacholapuram Temple to remember his win in the Gangetic delta.

Chola Sculpture

One important thing about Chola buildings was that they put a lot of thought into decorating them with sculptures. The statue of Nataraja dancing the Tandava was an important piece of Chola art. Even though the Ravana Phadi Cave at Aihole is where the oldest known Nataraja sculpture was found, it was made when the early Chalukyas were in charge. However, the sculpture was at its best when the Cholas were in charge.

The Nataraja figure has some of the following:

• The drum, which is held by the upper right hand, is the sound of creation. The great sound of the damru is the source of all things.

• The hand in the top left corner holds the eternal fire, which is a symbol of death. Destruction comes before creation and is a necessary part of it.

• The lower right hand is raised in the abhaya mudra, which is a sign of blessing and a way to tell the believer not to be afraid.

• The way to salvation is shown by the lower left hand, which points to the raised foot.

• Shiva is dancing on a small tiny figure. The dwarf stands for a person’s lack of knowledge and their ego.

• Shiva’s thick and flowing hair looks like the flow of the Ganges River.

• One of Shiva’s ears has a male earring and the other has a female earring. This is often called ardhanarishwar, which means “the union of male and female.”

• Shiva has a snake wrapped around one of his arms. The snake is a sign of the power of kundalini, which is dormant in the spine. One can reach true awareness if they wake up.

• The Nataraja is circled by a nimbus of glowing lights that represent the vast, never-ending cycles of time.


Other Schools of Temple Architecture in South India

Nayaka School:

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, when the Nayaka were in charge, the Nayaka school of design did very well. It was sometimes called the Madurai School. It was built in a way that was similar to the Dravidian style, but it was much bigger. It was also shaped by Islam. Some of the things that make it unique are:

• There are Prakarms, or large passageways, in the portico and around the garbhagriha, as well as covered pathways for walking.

• Some of the largest gopurams were made when the Nayakas were in charge. The world’s largest gopuram is at the Meenakshi temple in Madurai. Under the Nayaka style, the art of gopuram hit its peak.

• The temple building was full of carvings that were very detailed.

Example: Meenakshi Temple Madurai, etc.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Vesara School:

It was made by the later Chalukya rulers in the middle of the seventh century AD. It is also called the Karnataka school of building. It took parts from both the Nagara school and the Dravidian school, making a style that was a mix of the two. Some things about it are:

• Emphasis on vimana and mandapa.

• Open ambulatory path.

• There were elaborate carvings on the pillars, doors, and ceilings.

Three important dynasties that built temples in the Vesara style were:

• Chalukyas of Badami and Kalyani.

• Rashtrakutas (750-983 AD). Like the Kailasha temple in Ellora and other places.

• Hoysala Dynasty (1050-1300 AD). Temples at Halebidu, Belur, etc.

The temples of Vesara have a square base and a shikhara with curved lines, which are both styles of Nagara. The Dravidian style can be seen in the Vesara temples’ detailed carvings and statues, as well as in the shape of the Vimana and the step or terraced Shikara.

Examples: Doddabasappa Temple at Dambal, Ladkhan Temple at Aihole, Temples at Badami etc.

Vijayanagara School:

The rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire, which was in place from 1335 to 1565 AD and had its capital in Hampi, Karnataka, were big fans of art and architecture. They used parts of the Chola, Hoysala, Pandya, and Chalukya styles of building.

Under them, the Indo-Islamic style of Bijapur started to show up in the architecture, which was mirrored in the temples built during this time. The churches had the following:

• Carvings and geometric designs were used to decorate the walls of the temples.

• Goupurams were once only on the front side, but now they were built on all sides.

• Rock supports that are one piece.

• Yali, a mythical creature, was often carved into shrine pillars.

• The walls around it were bigger.

• In each temple, more than one mandap was built. The main mandap became known as the kalyana mandap, which means “place of divine marriage.”

• During this time, the idea of putting non-temple buildings on temple grounds was also introduced.

• There were walls around the temple area.

For example, Hampi has the Vittalaswami Temple Complex, the Lotus Mahal, the Virupaksha Temple, and the Raghunatha Temple. At Hampi, the rock-cut figure of Narasimha on Shesha (snake) is a wonder in and of itself.

Badami Cave Temples

Badami, in the state of Karnataka, was the first capital of the Chalukyas. It has 4 cave shrines, 3 of which are Hindu and 1 of which is Jain. The Chalukyas made this type of building out of rock cuts in the sixth century AD. They are the oldest buildings ever found in the Deccan area.

• Cave 01: Shiva as Nataraja is a very important art inside this cave temple. A statue of Harihara, who is half Vishnu and half Shiva, can also be found there.

• Cave 2: This cave is mostly dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and the biggest sculpture inside is of Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama. In this cave, you can also find other forms of Vishnu, such as the Vamana avatar or dwarf avatar, the Varaha (boar) avatar of Vishnu saving goddess earth (Bhudevi), and so on.

•Cave 03 is the largest cave in the complex. It has reliefs of Trivikrama, Anantasayana, Vasudeva, Varaha, Harihara, and Narasimha that are made in a very detailed way.

• Cave 04 is a Jaina cave with intricate sculptures of Bahubali, Parshvanatha, and Mahavira, as well as a symbolic show of other Tirthankaras. Bahubali is standing in Kayotsarga meditating position. Parshvanatha is shown with the five-headed cobra hood. The relief of Mahavira is found sitting on a lion throne.

Other than these four caves, there may be Buddhist themes in some other caves near the Agastya Lake.

Hoysala Art:

In Karnataka, near Mysore, the Hoysala rulers made temples that had their own style. This style is known as the Hoysala School of art. From 1050 to 1300 AD, it grew, with Belur, Halebidu, and Sringeri as its most important cities. Some of the architecture’s features are: • Multiple shrines were built around a centre hall with pillars. • Unlike the Panchayatan style, which had a cross-shaped ground plan, the shrines were built in the shape of a star. The Stellate plan was the name for this.

The main building material was soft soapstone called Chorite schist. Sculptures were used to decorate the temple in a big way. Both the inside and outside walls, as well as the jewellery the gods wore, were carefully carved.

• Each room had a Shikhara, which was linked to the other Shikharas by horizontal lines and mouldings. This turned the tower into a neat line of tyres. The temples were built on a raised platform called Jagati that was about 1 metre high. The walls and stairs of the temples were built in a zigzag design.

Examples: Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, Chennakesava Temple at Belur, Chennakesava Temple at Somanathapura.

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Buddhist Architectural Developments

• Bodhgaya is the most important place for Buddhists. The Bodhi tree is very important, but the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya is a good example of how bricks were made back then.

• King Ashoka is said to have built the first shrine here. It was built at the base of the Bodhi tree.

• A lot of the figures in the temple’s niches are from the Pala Period, which was in the 800s. As it stands now, the Mahabodhi temple is mostly a reconstruction of how it looked in the 7th century, which was done during the British era. It is neither dravida nor nagara in the strictest sense. It is narrow like a nagara temple, but it rises straight up like a dravida temple. • The monastic university of Nalanda is a mahavihara because it is a group of different-sized monasteries. • Kumargupta I started building a monastery in the 5th century CE, and later kings kept it going.

• The stucco, stone, and metal sculptures of Nalanda were heavily influenced by the Buddhist Gupta art of Sarnath.The Nalanda sculptures initially depict Buddhist deities of the Mahayana pantheon such as standing Buddhas, bodhisattvas such as Manjusri Kumara, Avalokiteshvara seated on a lotus and Naga-Nagarjuna. • During the late 11th and 12th centuries, when Nalanda emerged as an important tantric centre, the repertoire came to be dominated by Vajrayana deities such as Vajrasharada (a form of Saraswati) Khasarpana, Avalokiteshvara, etc.

• After the 10th century, it became normal to show Buddhas with crowns.

• Over time, Odisha got more important Buddhist temples. The most well-known of them are Lalitagiri, Vajragiri, and Ratnagiri.

• Up until the Chola Period, the port town of Nagapattinam was also a major Buddhist centre.

Developments in Jain Architecture

• Like Hindus, Jains built a lot of temples, and you can find their holy sites and places of pilgrimage all over India, except in the hills.

• Bihar is home to the oldest Jain pilgrimage places. In the Deccan, Ellora and Aihole have some of the most important Jain temples in terms of their architecture. In central India, Deogarh, Khajuraho, Chanderi, and Gwalior have some great Jain temples.

• Karnataka has a lot of Jain sites and is home to the famous statue of Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola.

The granite statue of Lord Bahubali, which is 57 feet tall, is the world’s tallest monolithic free-standing structure. It was commissioned by Camundaraya, the General-in-Chief and Prime Minister of the Ganga Kings of Mysore. Vimal Shah built the Jain temples at Mount Abu, which are known for the unique patterns on each ceiling and the graceful bracket figures along the domed ceilings.There are a lot of temples at the big Jain pilgrimage place in the Shatrunjay hills near Palitana in Kathiawar, Gujarat.