Architectural Design of Religious Temples

Category: Architecture, Design
Last Updated: 11 Apr 2021
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Over clip new innovations and finds have taken topographic point in conveying promotion to engineering. So the society, people, and their outlook gets adapted to the technological promotion. The things used by them acquire modified, so make their gustatory sensations. Similarly there is besides a immense alteration in the environment, architecture, the infinites they use, the type of nutrient they have, etc.

Sing these alterations in the society, there is besides a immense alteration in the manner a temple; a topographic point of worship is related to the society. Over centuries the temples’ map changed from a societal establishment to a topographic point of community assemblage, though there is no considerable alteration in its design. Is it due to imitation of the architectural signifier from one coevals to other? Does this piece of architecture Tells us about the society of this period as other pieces of architecture make? Make it still show the promotion in the engineering? Is it still run under high backing? This thesis attempts to consider upon these issues and to get on a solution on how a modern-day temple should look like.

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In Hinduism ‘TEMPLE’ ( mandir ) is a construction that houses the Gods ( Encyclopaedia ) . It was designed to be used as a focal point for all facets of life, viz. , spiritual, cultural, educational and societal. It helps a visitant to exceed from his universe so that he connects with the supreme authorization, the GOD. They are besides taken as topographic points of enlightenment and release. Hence the rules of planing temples were derived maintaining everything in head. Initially the temple did work the manner it was designed to be.

A piece of architecture is said to reflect the clip and the type of society to which it belongs. There is a alteration in everything around us. We started populating and working in multi floor flats with glass frontages go forthing behind the huts and cottages. But a considerable alteration in temples is non witnessed. After the development of the temple typology, subsequently was merely imitation or embroidery. ‘In existent universe of architectural building, temples were built by imitation: one coevals copying the predecessor or one challenger designer, but ever with some minor alterations to maintain client involvement alive.’ ( Oijevaar, 2007 )

Importance Of Temple In The Past

A Temple was one time the most of import edifice in the society. It proved to be the godly power, the tallest edifice in the society. The male monarch paid backing to the building of it. It besides symbolised the power and profusion of the land. Hence, a immense land was allocated and a immense sum of money was commissioned in the building. Lot of Masons, applied scientists, sculpturers and laborers were engaged in its design and executing. The devising of a temple was a large carnival which continued over old ages depending on the hugeness of the temple. There are temples that were built over the reins of two to three dynasties. The devising of temple was besides a manner of employment in the land.

Design Derivation

Temples marked the passage of the Vedic faith into Hinduism. The impression of symbolizing everything of import with a human figure and devising graven images to idolize them led to the outgrowth of a temple. Initially the typology was inspired from the Buddhist architecture. The first singular temple, the Durga Temple at Aiholi was said to be a chaitya hall with a peep on the top. The impression of ‘cave in a mountain’ was imitated by the designers of that period which led to the development of an interior sanctum or garbha griha, a topographic point where the graven image was placed. A pillared hall known as mandapa was designed in forepart of it so that people can stand and idolize. Hence the initial temple was merely a edifice made as a reproduction of a cave in a mountain with merely two suites viz. garbha griha for the graven image and a mandapa for other activities severally. These were square suites ( square taken as a sanctum form harmonizing to vastu shastra ) covered with a slab above so that the fans are non disturbed by any external elements. The illustrations of such temples are found in assorted topographic points around Karnataka ( Aihole ) which was taken as the topographic point of experimentation for temple architecture.

After the development of the basic program type in Aihole, now the job emerged in giving it a proper form so that it becomes a brilliant piece of architecture so that it overpowers the society. Hence the demand of a ascendant characteristic in the edifice emerged which subsequently gave rise to a perpendicular shrine or shikara. In initial illustrations one can detect shikara merely on the garbha griha with a level roof on the mandapa but in class of clip the level roof on mandapa was besides replaced by a shikara ( smaller than that on the garbha griha ) . Slowly the priest started populating following to the temple, the school ( Veda patashala ) where younger male childs were taught Vedas besides became a map of the temple which led to the development of more figure of little suites around the temple. Besides the maps like amusement in footings of dance or/and music public presentations for God, the topographic point to feed people with the prasadam led to development of more figure of mandapas. The temple with its mandapas, other little divinities ( by and large somehow related to the chief divinity ) , pundits’’ house, Veda patashala, temple armored combat vehicle, etc. came to be known as temple composite. Finally a immense wall was built around it to safeguard the topographic point allotted to temple with an entryway besides known as gopuram.

Besides the temples were developed in a manner that it gives a ocular banquet to the visitant come ining it so that he enters into a different universe mentally. This is done by planing the insides of temple and adorning them with sculptures, pictures and letterings from assorted books like bagawadgita, Ramayana, etc.

Though the development seemed to be really common all over the state, the facet of regionalism has played an of import function in the development of a temple’s design. Hence many differences have been noticed in the assorted temples of different parts. One known as the north Indian or the Nagara had a different attack of planing compared to the 1 of South Indian or the Dravidian. Still the indispensable characteristics of design viz. garbha griha, mandapa, shikara remain to be present in both the manners though they appeared otherwise.


Vimana/ Prasada/ Shrine:

‘The shrine proper is termed asVimana( measured out ) in the southern context, the northern equivalent beingPrasada( castle ; literally place of the divinity ) ’ ( Hardy, 2007 ) .

It contains a sanctum,garbha griha,normally square. While some early shrines seem to hold been level roofed, aNagaraorDravidashrine has a superstructure as an built-in portion. The inside of the ace construction is seldom accessible, and sometimes filled with solid and rubble. Shrines may be rectangular, apsidal, round or octangular. However thegarbha grihaby and large remains in square form, except for the rectangular shrines. Most of the programs are square or square generated giving importance to the four central waies. Generally square generated extraneous programs undergo maximal figure of projections and germinate towards a more marked cardinal accent.

Garbha Griha:

The interior sanctum is known asgarbha griha.Thegarbha grihais a little dark room in which the graven image is placed. Derived from the construct of ‘cave in a mountain’ .It is by and large square or derivative of square in form. Not accessible for general public, private infinite of God.


All the shrines have a porch which allows people or the god retainers to transport out their activities known asmandapa. Amandapamight be a closed one or an unfastened porch. The closedmandapasget light through the door ways. The figure of room accesss to themandapamay change from one to three. In add-on to it the thick walls ofmandapashold bright holes of rock traceries as Windowss for the visible radiation to perforate interior. Sometimes light pouches are besides given in the roof of the construction.

The visible radiation entered here reflects from the floor and reaches the ceiling making a Godhead consequence inside the mandapa. Hence the ceilings are carved in most of the mandapas. Themandapaswere constructed in station and beam building merely copying the wooden architecture that existed before. The distance between the columns depended on the length of the rock which itself is dependent on the class and distance of the prey. Spans barely exceeded 2.5m.

The initial mandapas( 6Thursday-7Thursdaycenturies ) had level roofs where a rock was laid out as a ceiling with a few carvings from indoors so as to make a sophisticated consequence. From 8Thursdaycentury onwards the mandapas started reflecting the shrine itself though in a relatively smaller graduated table. A cardinal bay started ruling the program which besides acts as the axis.

‘corbelled construction- the method of stepping horizontal classs increasingly frontward to cover a infinite, prevented from tumbling by the weight of masonry pressing down at the rear- developed well from the 10Thursdaycentury’ ( Hardy, 2007 ) .

Pradakshina patha:

The circumambulatory way one takes around the temple in a clockwise way is termed aspradakshina.Here the outside of the sanctum conveys the thought of an interior temple. For this particularly a way is built around the temple with rocks and this way is known aspradakshina patha.It is believed to be a frightened way. It is taken in clockwise way as suns way is clockwise.

Natya mandapa:

In ulterior clip there were a legion editions in a temple. The temple started developing more as a societal establishment ; therefore things like amusement besides became the portion of its rites. To go on these rites a different mandapa, by and large connected or a stand-alone construction in forepart of the jagmohana was built. This mandapa is known asnatya mandapa. There is a immense alteration in the manner thenatya mandapawas built when we compare fromlingarajtokonark. It has seen a immense development due to the addition of the undertaking size or backing.

Bhog mandapa:

Amandapawas besides designed in the later temples where people can sit and hold theprasadamof the temple. Basically they are pillared halls with attractively carved pillars where people sit and eat.Bhogsignificanceprasadamis how the name of it has been arrived. This is non normally found in big figure of temples. A characteristic nowadays in developedNagaratemples fromlingarajtopuri. It disappeared afterpuriinkonark.


The entryway gateway of a temple is known asgopuram. It was ab initio a grade able construction, smaller than the shrine proper to tag the entryway to a temple. Over clip it evolved to be the most of import construction and hence its size increased. The tallest and the most brilliantgopuramsare seen inmeenakshitempleMadurai, where thegopuramexpressions like commanding the nature around.Gopuramsare by and large found inDravidiantemples. Coming toNagaratemples, agopuramwas found inmukteswar, but in farther development it merely disappeared.


This typology is fundamentally defined to possess curvilineal steeples with square programs. After the experimentation of the basic design in Aihole, the farther development of this typology happened in Odisha near Bhubaneswar.

D:PicturesbsrDSC_0108.JPGD:PicturesbsrDSC_0106.JPGBhubaneswar became the experimentation land. The first noteworthy temple here is known asparasurameswar,a temple devoted for the GodShivabuilt in 7Thursdaycentury AD. ‘The temple has a level roofed rectangular pillared hall known asjagmohanaattached to atri-rathadeul( sanctum ) , which carried a chunky heavy- shoulderedshikara.The carvings are known for their appeal and inactive volume’ ( ASI ) .

D:PicturesbsrDSC_0145.JPGD:PicturesbsrDSC_0136.JPGFollowing remark-able development is marked by the temple of mukteswara, built in 10Thursdaycentury AD with the debut of a gopuram and a boundary wall to the temple. Mukteswara is defines as ‘a dream realised in sandstone’ ( Ganguly, 1961 ) , ‘a treasure in Odishan architecture’ ( ASI ) . Elegantly decorated from top to bottom it is designed with a low heighted boundary wall and an entrywaytorana. This temple is known for its sculptural beauty and besides its archeological promotion. From the level roof over the

D:PicturesbsrDSC_0165.JPGJagmohana it is developed into a pyramidic deul. This was achieved by little corbelling of the rocks, yet it was an achievement thought of the clip it was designed. The deul is pancha ratha on program and stands on a low platform. The peda deul ( pyramidic shikara ) has two latticed Windowss on north and South, where the outer most portion of the window depicts humourous scenes of a monkey’s life. The ceiling of jagmohana is intentionally carved in the signifier of a blown Nelumbo nucifera.

The pillars of this temple are really much noteworthy. The debut of serpent pillars, alleviation figures and statuettes, gaja simhason pilasters was all new. The torana, known asmakara toranahas two crocodiles’ caputs both towards two different sides and their dress suits run intoing each other. The carvings of different goddess besides present on it. The cellar of the pillars back uping the arch, square in subdivision contains on each face a illumination temple flanked at the top bygaja simhas. The sixteen- sided shafts consist each of four blocks of rock of which the topmost has cringles of pearl strings hanging down from the oral cavities of row of kritti mukhasabove.

The following temple that marked a singular development is the temple of Raja- Rani. Though it went a small off in the development procedure, it still has its ain part in the development of Nagara typology. The full Shiva temples end with the name of ishwar ex. Parasurameswar, mukteswara, etc. there is a narrative behind the name of this temple. This temple was expected to be a pleasance resort for the male monarch and the queen as the graven image is losing but M.M.Ganguly justly rejects it by speaking about the absence of the stallss, out houses, etc. ‘ The name Raja-Rani has been derived from really all right grain xanthous sandstone known as Raja Rani in common parlance’ ( Ganguly, 1961 ) .

Due to the missing of the divinity inside the temple, there are still confusions if the temple was dedicated to lord Shiva or Godhead Vishnu. ‘The subsequently milepost in development, the temple of Ananth Vasudev being a Vaishnavite temple and on the scrutiny ‘khura pristha’ or the upper pedestal carved as it is with the petals of Nelumbo nucifera it appears that the temple was meant for being dedicated to Vishnu’ ( Ganguly, 1961 ) . Hence there is no verification on the divinity of this temple. The torana that appeared in mukteswara was lost by the clip Raja Rani was made. There is non much difference in the program signifier. The deul is a pancha ratha program that stands on a certain pedestal.

In line following is the Vaishnavite temple, the temple of Vishnu in the signifier of lord Krishna known as Ananth Vasudev. Here two newmandapashave seen to be emerged in the regular program signifier. By so the function of temple in a society has drastically increased. The more now became more of a societal establishment instead than merely a spiritual topographic point. Hence the maps like amusement, contribution, etc. have come into the temple premises increasing the graduated table of the temple and giving rise to thenatyaandBhog mandapas. All thesemandapaswere covered by a pyramidaldeul ( pida deul ), except for the rekha deulon thegarbha griha. Rekha deulis tallest of all with diminishing tallness of eachdeulin order.

In program Lingaraj temple was really similar toAnanth Vasudevbut it is ashaivite temple. The program signifier has evolved to the proper extent inAnanth Vasudevand as clip passed the hugeness of the temple increased. Lingarajis the most noteworthy temple all over Odisha. It stands a mid of a legion little shrines. Like Ananth Vasudevit has a three Chamberss frontal portion consisting of jagmohana,natya mandapa and Bhog mandapa. There are clear groundss that the other three mandapasare ulterior add-on to the bing construction though there is a continuance of sculptures found.

Switching from Bhubaneswar the following singular temple was built in puri normally known as Jagannath mandir.For the first clip a temple was designed in the signifier of a chariot. Chariot being the vehicle of God, the temples besides have taken the signifier of a chariot. This temple has a garbha griha, jagmohana, natya and Bhog mandapas placed on a ratha. The ratha was fundamentally a raised platform with wheels carved on it. The graduated table of the temple was immense compared to Lingaraj, though the program signifier remained the same. A composite was designed for it with boundary walls and a proper entryway manner was provided. Inside the complex were legion little shrines dedicated to different Gods along with the chief shrine.

Konark temple defined as the ‘black pagoda’ ( Behra, 2007 ) is situated in Konark, a topographic point near Bhubaneswar. The graduated table of the temple is really immense compared to the remainder of the edifices of that epoch. It is considered as one of the best in footings of technological promotion of that clip. Coming to the program signifier, this temples’ signifier is a small different compared to the Jagannath mandir, though it is besides designed to be a chariot. A chariot of the Sun God which had 12 braces of wheels carved out on its pedestal. Over the chariot are the garbha griha and the jagmohana. A natya mandapa remains to be a standalone construction in the composite. The complex contains other smaller shrines along with the chief shrine.

All these temples represented the clip in which they were built. They represented the society, the profusion of the land, and the technological promotion of that clip which is non precisely what the temples of day-to twenty-four hours represent. Further I would wish to travel through the development in Dravidian typology, refer to the designing of temples today and there relation with society and engineering and would wish to stop with the parametric quantities required in planing a modern-day temple.


  1. Online lexicon ( hypertext transfer protocol: // )
  2. Oijevaar K.J, September 2007, The South Indian Hindu temple constructing design system on the architecture of shilpa shastra and the Dravidian manner, Delft University of engineering, Netherlands, pg.4
  3. Karuna Sagar Behra, 1993, Temples of Orissa, Orissa sahitya academy
  4. Krishna Chandra Panigrahi, 1961, Archaeological remains at Bhubaneswar, Kitab Mahal, pg.87-101
  5. Adam Hardy, 2007, The temple architecture of India, John Willey and Sons ltd. Britain, pg.90-105
  6. Karuna Sagar Behra, 2005, Konark – The Black Pagoda, Publications Division, Ministry of Information & A ; Broadcasting, Government of India

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