Wednesday, 17 February 2016


1.The Dravida or South Indian Temple Architecture :

 • 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 Gopura/ Gopuram.
• The shape of the main temple tower is known as Vimana (shikhara in nagara style).
• The vimana is like a stepped pyramid that rise up geometrically rather than the curving shikhara of north India.
• In south India, the word Shikhara is used only for the crowning element at the top of the temple which is usually shaped like a small stupika or an octagonal cupola (this is equivalent to the amalaka or kalasha of north Indian temples).
• In north Indian temples we can see images such as Mithunas (erotic) and the river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna guarding the temple.
• But in the Dravida style of temple architecture, instead of these sculptures, we can see the sculptures of fierce dvarapalas or door keepers guarding the temple.
• A large water reservoir or a temple tank enclosed in the complex is general in south Indian temples.
Subsidiary shrines are either incorporated within the main temple tower, or located as a distinct, separate small shrine besides the main temple.
• The north Indian idea of multiple shikharas rising together as a cluster was not popular in dravida style.
• When the population and the size of the town associated with the temple increased, it would have become necessary to make a new boundary wall around the temple (and also associated structures).
• An example for this is the Srirangam temple at Thiruchirapally, which has as many as seven concentric rectangular enclosure walls, each with gopurams.
• The outermost is the newest while the tower right in the centre housing the garbhagriha is the oldest.
• Just as the nagara architecture has subdivisions, dravida temples also have subdivisions. These are basically of five different shapes:
1. Kuta or caturasra – square.
2. Shala or ayatasra – rectangular.
3. Gaja-prishta or vrittayata (elephant backed) –elliptic
4. Vritta – circular
5. Ashtasra – octagonal


• The Pallavas were one of the ancient south Indian dynasties that were active in Andhra region from the 2nd century onwards and moved south to settle in Tamil Nadu.
• Although they were mostly Shaivites, several Vaishnava shrines also survived from the reign, and there is no doubt that they were influenced by the long Buddhist history of the Deccan.
• The early buildings of Pallavas were rock-cut; while the later ones were structural (structural buildings were well known to them when rock cut ones being excavated).
• The early buildings are generally attributed to Mahendravarman I, contemporary of Chalukya king, Pulikeshi II of Karnataka.
Narasimhavarman I, who was also known as Mamalla, acceded the throne around 640 CE.
• He expanded the empire and also inaugurated most of the building work at Mahabalipuram which is known after him as Mamallapuram.

The shore temple at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu :

• It is a structural temple and was built during the reign of Narasimhavarman II, also known as Rajasimha.
• The temple is facing to east towards the sea and has three shrines – east and west to Shiva and the middle for Vishnu (Anantashayana).
• This is unusual because temples generally have a single main shrine and not three areas of worship.
•This shows that it was probably not originally conceived like this and different shrine may be added at different times.
• Sculpture of the bull, Nandi, Shiva’s mount, lines the temple walls.

The Pallava temple architecture can be classified into four groups according to the rulers and the features of temples they constructed.

a. Mahendravarman Group:

• Early temples of the Pallavas belong to King Mahendravarman I (7th century).
• They were rock cut temples (may be influenced from rock cut architecture).
• g. Manndagapattu, Mahendravadi, Tircuchirapally, etc.

b. Narasimha/Mamalla Group:

• It is the second stage of Pallava architecture which started when Narasimhavarman I (Mamalla) came to throne.
• The architecture is represented by Monolithic rocks.
• The monolithic rathas and mandapas of Mamallapuram are examples.
• The five rathas are popularly known as Panchapandava rathas.

c. Rajasimha Group:

• The group was under Narasimhavarman II who was also known as Rajasimha.
• He introduced the structural temples and Gopura style in Pallava architecture.
• The Kailasnath temple at Kanchi and the Shore temple at Mahabalipuram are examples.

d. Nandivaram Group:

• Architecture mainly under the Pallava king, Nandivaram Pallava.
• They also represented structural temples.
• The temples were generally small compared to the other groups.
• The Vaikundaperumal temple, Tirunelveli and Mukteswara temple are examples.


• The best example of Chola temple architecture is the Brihadeswara temple at Tanjore.
• The temple is also known as Rajarajeswara temple.
• It was completed around 1009 by Rajaraja Chola.
• The temples pyramidal multi-storeyed Vimana rises a massive seventy metres, topped by a monolithic shikhara, and the kalasha on top by itself is about three metres and eight centimetres in height.
• The main deity of the temple is Shiva, who is shown as a huge lingam set in a two storeyed sanctum.
• Painted Murals and sculptures decorate the walls surrounding the sanctum.

2.The Vesara or the Deccan Temple Architecture:

• The buildings in the Deccan region are hybridized style, which contain both elements from nagara and dravida architectural styles and is known in some ancient texts as the Vesara style (not all temples of Deccan are vesara type).
• The vesara style became popular after the mid 7th century.

Chalukyas :

1. Ravan Phadi cave, Aihole, Karnataka:

• The Ravan Phadi cave at Aihole is an example of the early Chalukya style which is known for its distinct sculptural style.
• One of the most important sculptures at the site is of Nataraja, surrounded by a large depiction of saptamatrikas: three to Shiva’s left and four to his right.

2. Lad Khan Temple at Aihole, Karnataka:

• The temple is dedicated to Shiva and is one of the oldest Hindu temples.
• Built in the 5th century by the Kings of the Chalukya Dynasty.
• It seems to be inspired by the wooden – roofed temples of the hills except that it is constructed out of stone.
• The temple is named after a person named Lad Khan, who turned this temple into his residence for a short period.

4. Temples at Pattadakkal, Karnataka:

• There are ten temples at Pattadakkal including a Jain temple and is a UNESCO world Heritage Site.
• A fusion of various architectural styles can be seen here.
• Out of ten temples, four are in dravida style, four are in nagara style and one is Jain temple, while the Papanatha Temple is built in a fusion of both nagara and Dravida styles.
• The Jain temple (Jain Narayana temple) was built by Rashtrakutas in the 9th  century .
• The Virupaksha temple at Pattadakkal is also known as Sri-Lokeswar-Maha-Sila-Prasad, was built by Loka Mahadevi, the Queen of the Chalukya king Vikramaditya II (733-44).
• It was probably built around 740 CE to commemorate her husband’s victory over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram.
• It closely resembles the Kailasnath temple at Kanchipuram on plan and elevation.
• It represents a fully developed and perfect stage of the dravida architecture.

Rashtrakutas :

• By about 750 CE, the early western Chalukya control of the Deccan was taken by the Rashtrakutas.
• Their greatest achievement in architecture is the Kailasnath Temple at Ellora.
• The Jain temple at Pattadakkal was also built by Rashtrakutas.

• The three main temples of Hoyasala are the temples at Belur, Halebid and Somanathpuram.
• The most characteristic feature of these temples is that they grow extremely complex with so many projecting angles emerging from the previously straight forward square temple so that the plan of these temples starts looking like a star.
• As the plan looks like a star, it is known as stellate plan.
• They are usually made out of soapstone.

Temples at Halebid, Karnataka:

• The temple is also known as Hoyasaleswara temple.
• Built in dark schist stone by the Hoyasala king Vishnuvardhan in 1150.
• Dedicated to Shiva as Nataraja and contains a large hall for the mandapa to facilitate music and dance.


• The Vijayanagara Empire, which was founded in the 14th century, attracted a number of international travellers such as the Italian, Nicoclo di Conti, the Portuguese Domingo Paes, Fernao Nuniz and Duarte Barbosa and the Afghan Abd, al- Razzaq, who have left vivid accounts of the city.

• Architecturally, Vijayanagara synthesizes the centuries old dravida temple architecture with Islamic styles demonstrated by the neighbouring Sultanates.


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