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Kamakshi Amman Temple
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ISKCON is currently building the world’s tallest temple at Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. It will be 700 feet high and spread over 5.5 acres.

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Featured Temples

Temple Architecture

All Indian temples are constructed on similar basis and have broadly similar outlines, however there are different styles of architecture found in temples in India.

The Nagara architecture

These are commonly found in North Indian temples

Nagara architecture features an Indian temple which has a basic square shape with projections from each side of the square resembling a cruciform and has a number of angles.

The Shikara or tower resembles a beehive sometimes and inclines gradually inwards in a convex curve with a Amalika on the top. The vertical lines are emphasized in the Nagara architecture. An example of the Nagara architecture is found in the famous Indian temple Kandariya Mahadev at Khajuraho.

The Dravidian architecture

This style of architecture is commonly found in temples in South India especially in Tamilnadu.

Dravidian architecture features the square sanctum sanctorum with a multi-storied Vimanam. The vimanam is the tower that covers the sanctum sanctorum or garbha griha.

The Mandapas or halls usually pillared are always found before the doors that lead to the garbha grihah.

Pillared halls are found in all large south Indian temples and these were used for many purposes including dance and music competitions.

The Gopurams or gate towers dominate the skyline and are the most distinguishable feature of Dravidian architecture. Examples of Dravidian architecture are found in Brihadeeshwara temple at Tanjore and Airavatesvara temple at Kumbakonam.

Vesara architecture

These are commonly found in Hindu temples in the Deccan - modern Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Chalukya and Hoysala temples are known for their lower profile and more intricate carvings compared to the Dravidian or Nagara styles.

The distinguishing feature of the Chalukya architecture is architectural articulation which refers to the projections, recesses and decorations on the outer walls. The intricate carvings were another feature. Examples of famous Indian temples using this style are Chennakesava temple at Belur and Hoysaleswara temple at Halebeedu.

The Kalinga architecture

This is the eastern style which is found in Orissa.

Kalinga temples can be classified into three types – Rekha Deula, Pidha Deula and Kakhara Deula. The first two are normally associated with Vishnu, Shiva or Surya. The latter with Devi.

Examples of Rekha Deula temples are the Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneswar and the Jagannath temple at Puri.

An Example of Pidha Deula temples is the Sun temple at Konark .

Examples of Kakhara Deula temples are found at Varahi Deula, Chaurasi and the Durga temple at Baideshwar.

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Temple Plan

A temple in India is a place where the devotee can meet a representation of the Lord , pray and ask for blessings. A devotee may also celebrate music and dance and festivals in the temple. It is also a place for meditation and spiritual connect. Temples are places where Puja is performed. Hindu temples depict Good, Evil and Man. Hindu temples were initially built in Kshetras or holy places and near Thirtas or holy water bodies.

Temples in India may be simple like a small house or grand like a palace. The simple and small temples are built around shrines and are places where the common man goes for regular prayer and spiritual connect. The large and grand temple complexes were monuments built by kings honouring a deity , displaying intricate architecture. These became centres of commerce and religion.

  • The temple site

    A temple is normally built near a body of water such as streams and rivers, lakes and the sea. If water was not naturally present, then normally a well or a temple tank was built. Temples are also built on mountain slopes and hilltops.

  • Vastu Shastra

    These are temple building manuals. These ancient texts describe how temples and homes are to be built with proper positioning of doors, windows, hallways, kitchens and sanctum sanctorum.

  • The temple plan

    A typical Hindu temple is constructed as a perfect square, the square representing the divine. The circle that circumscribes this perfect square represents the earthly. Large temples are often built on an 8X8 square grid consisting of 64 squares. These sub-squares are called Padas.

  • Padas

    The central squares are dedicated to Brahman. The first concentric square surrounding the Brahma Pada is called Devika Pada, dedicated to good or Devas. The concentric square surrounding the Devika Pada is the Manusha Pada dedicated to man. The last concentric square surrounding the Manusha Pada is the Paisachika Pada representing evil or the Asuras. In large Indian temples the three Padas are decorated with murals, paintings and carvings.

  • Garbhagriha

    At the centre of the Brahma Padas is the Garbhagriha, a small windowless enclosed space in a square shape which represents the universal spirit or Purusha. This is the sanctum sanctorum wherein an idol or Murthi may be placed. This is the main deity of the temple.

  • Shikara or Vimanam

    Directly above and rising above the Garbhagriha or Brahma Padas is the spire or tower structure called Shikara in the north and Vimanam in the South. This is the defining structure in a Hindu temple and is normally the most visible part of the temple.

  • Antarala

    Antarala is a vestibule or an antechamber between the Garbhagriha and the Mandap. It is more commonly found in northern Indian temples.

  • Mandapa

    Mandapa refers to the pillared outer hall or pavilion. These could serve as waiting and assembly rooms for devotees(Asthana Mandapa ). Some Mandapas are called Kalyana Mandapas which symbolize the marriage of God with Goddess. Some were used for music, dance and prayer meetings.

  • Amalaka

    An Amalaka is the stone disk that sits on top of the Shikara or Vimanam. It may represent a lotus or the sun. On top of this is normally the temple banner or flag.

  • Gopuram

    The Gopuram refers to elaborate gate-towers commonly seen in South Indian and Dravidian temples. These are often larger than the Shikara or Vimanam.

  • Sthala Vruksham

    The sacred tree of the temple. Many temples in India would have an associated sacred tree which is also worshipped. Sometimes idols of Nagas or serpent gods are placed near the tree.

  • Thirtham

    This refers to the temple tank or well which is also associated with the temple. Devotees can wash themselves as a symbolic cleansing. Temple Flag post – Many temples , especially in the South have a flag post at the entrance where the festival flags are unfurled at the time of temple festivals.

  • Vahana

    Temples also have a temple chariot or Vahana, on which the idols of the deity are taken out on procession.

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