Saturday, 23 July 2011

Temple-Architectural Styles of India

Dravida style of Architecture-
-       Developed during the Chola Empire, between 9th–12th Century AD, in S. India (Tamil Nadu, NW Karnataka).
-       Main feature of this style:
o   Vimana: were multiple storeys built above the garbhagriha (chief diety’s room). Number of storeys varied from 5-7.
o   Mandapa: a pillared hall with elaborately carved pillars and a flat roof was placed before the diety’s room. It acted as an audience hall which featured ceremonial dances too (by devadasis).
o   Circular passage around the garbhagriha to allow devotees to do pradakshina.
o   Courtyard and Gopuram: Entire structure was enclosed within a courtyard surrounded by high walls. This courtyard would have high gates to allow passage of people. Gates called gopuram
o   With time, the vimanas rose higher, number of courtyards increased and gopurams became more elaborate.  The temple became a miniature city with priests living in it. The temples enjoyed revenue grants for their upkeep.
         -       Examples of Dravida style
o   Rajarajeshwara / Brihadishvara temple at Tanjhavur –built in 1010 AD – by Rajaraja. Temple was named after the kings because Cholas had a practice of installing images of kings and queens in the temples (in addition to the diety).
o   Temple at Gangaikondacholapuram
o   Kailasanatha Temple at Kanchipuram- 8th century
 [Visit to see pics of Brihadishwara temple. The first picture shows clearly the vimana and mandapam. The second pic shows the gopuram (gate).]

Chalukyan style of temple architecture
After the fall of the Chola empire, temple-building activity continued under the Chalukyas and Hoysalas (Belur). The main feature of Chalukyan style is that “apart from the gods and their attendants, the temples contain finely sculptured panels showing a busy panorama of social life, dance,war, love etc. For the common man, the temple was not  just a place of worship but the hub of social and cultural life as well. Art of sculpture attained a high standard during this period.
            Best example is Hoysaleshwara Temple at Belur (Karnataka). Photo below is one of the several panels at the temple depicting daily life.

                                                                     Copyright: Spurthi Reddy.

Nagara style of temple architecture
-       Found in N.India and Deccan. Prevalent between 8th and 12th Century.    
-       Features:
o   Tall curved spiral roof over the garbhagriha
o   Manadapa was added sometimes.
-       Lingaraja temple- 11th Century (Bhubaneshwar)
-       Sun Temple of Konark – 13th Century
-       Jagannatha temple at Puri.

Reference: NCERT, 'Medieval India'  textbook.

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