Indian Temple Architecture

Temple Architecture in हिंदी के लिए यंहा Click करें……

Temple Architecture is a very vast and interesting subject in Architecture. In Hinduism, Temples are considered as an auspicious and peaceful place. It is a place which is free from negative energy and various cosmic rays. The temple construction began in Gupta’s Period. On that era, temples are built with locally available materials like stones. Temples were built-in high raised platforms. Also, the position of ‘Deity or God‘ is placed, according to the direction of the sun.

Temple Architecture differs from place to place. The details and the carvings in temple design are different from the Northern area and the Southern area of India. The difference between various design elements or the parts of temples is seen in most of the areas. It is also based on the culture or values of the particular areas of India.

In this post, we are discussing the evolution of temple architecture, its classification’s, elements and it’s importance.


  •  Beginning of Hindu Temple is in the Gupta period or dynasty.
  • The Gupta’s were the first architects, who built to purpose Hindu temples (but sometimes also Buddhists). It was evolved from the earlier tradition of rock-cut shrines. Gupta Dynasty, founded by the Chandragupta I ruled in North Central India between the 4th to 6th centuries. This period is also considered as a ‘Golden Age of India’ with artistic accomplishment.
  • Brahmanical order was revived during this period. Temples were constructed because of the religious spirit.

DEVELOPMENT of Temple Architecture

  • India’s Temple Architecture is developed from the creativity of Sthapati’s and Shilpi’s both of whom belong to the larger community of craftsmen and artisans called Vishwakarma.
  • Hindu Temple architecture reflects a fusion of arts, the ideals of dharma, beliefs or faith, values, and morals as well as the way of life under Hinduism.
  • The architectural principles of Hindu temples in India are described in ShilpaShastras and VastuSastras,  with proper relation of cosmic values, directions, and alignments.


  • Small Hindu Temples consist of an inner sanctum (the Garbhagriha-the womb), in which the deity or idol of god is placed. A congregation hall, and an antechamber or porch, often called Pradakshina path or circumambulation. The Garbha Griha is crowned by a tower called Shikhara.
  • Gupta period – Temple architecture is very diverse in style and design.

Features of Gupta’s Temples

  1. Temples are constructed on high platforms; there were steps on all four sides to reach the platform.
  2.  Earlier temples had flat roofs but later temples had a decorated Shikhara on them.
  3. The outer walls of the temples are to be plain & simple without any ornamentation. The stone masonry is finely dressed.
  4. Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) is a place of god or house of an idol or deity. The entrance gate was decorated with carvings. Also, they were used to be a statue of Ganga and Yamuna on the entrance pillars.
  5. A Pradakshina path (Circum-Ambulatory path) was provided around Garbhagriha.
  6. The roof of the temple was supported on four ornamental columns. A square stone piece is used as the capitals of the four columns. Each of these square blocks uses to support statues of four half lions seated back to back, this decorative column called Stambha. (Most of the times these are used in pillared entrance foyer or verandah in front of temples called Mandapas).

Gupta Period Temples can be classified into two different categories based on  their architectural styles and elements:

  1. Early Gupta Period (319-550 AD), temples are designed with flat roofs. Bhoomra’s Shiv Temple and Nachna’sParvati temples are the examples.
  2. Late Gupta Period (551-605 AD), temples are designed with a decorative Shikhara on it. An example is the Dashavatar Temple at Deogarh.

In Gupta’s Architectural period, the square was considered as the most perfect form. Temples were designed to be appreciated or accessible from all the sides.


  • According to the Indian history, at the turn of 1st Millennium CE. There are two major types of temples can be existed. It can be distinguishable by the shape and decoration of their Shikhara’s and they are:
  1. The Northern or Nagarian Style
  2. The Southern or Dravidian Style 
Vishnu Temple in Nagara Style ©wikipedia

In the design of a Temple, there are several elements or parts are considered in Architecture and these are:

  1. JAGATI: It is a raised platform, surface, or terrace upon which the temple is rest. 
  2. ANTARALA: It is a small antechamber or foyer between Garbhgriha or the Mandapa’s. Antarala is more common in North Indian Temples.
  3. MANDAPA: It is a pillared outdoor hall or a pavilion for public rituals. Mandapas or Mandapam is also spelt as Mantapaor Mandapam in Hindi /Sanskrit.
  4. GRABH GRIHA or SREEKOVIL: It is the main part of a temple in which the idol or deity of god is placed or housed in Hindu Temples. It is also called Sanctum Santorum.
  5. SHIKHARA or VIMANAM: It is the most prominent and visible part of a Hindu Temple. It also refers to the rising tower over the Garbhagriha where the preceding deity or shrine is preserved. It literally means ‘mountain peak’.
  6. AMALAKA: It is a stone disk, often decorated with ridges, that sits on a temple main tower i.e. Shikahara and also holds a Kalasha over it.
  7. GOPURAM: It is a monumental entrance tower or the elaborate gateway tower. It is usually decorated, at the entrance of Hindu Temple, in the Dravidian Architecture of Southern India.

To see more interesting posts related to architecture, you can visit the home page of Architecture In Hindi. Click here for the home page.

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