Temple architecture

Temple architecture

  • Temple Architecture The process of temple construction started from the Mauryan period but later it was improved and the Gupta period is seen to be equipped with the characteristics of temples.
  • Apart from the structural temples, there was another type of temple which was built by cutting rocks. Chief among these is the chariot-mandapa of Mahabalipuram which dates back to the 5th century.
  • The Gupta temples are very small in size – there is a square platform (of brick) on which there is a ladder to climb and in the middle there is a square cell which serves as a sanctum sanctorum.
  • The roof of the cell is also flat and there is no separate pradakshina path.
  • The following temples of this early period are the oldest structural temples in India: Vishnu Temple of Tigwa (Jabalpur, MP), Shiva Temple of Bhumra (Satna, MP), Parvati Temple of Nachna Kuthar (Panna, M.P.), Dashavatar Temple of Devgarh (Lalitpur, U.P.), Temple of inner village (Kanpur, U.P.) etc.
  • Other names related to temple architecture, such as Panchayatan, Bhumi, Vimana Bhadraratha, Karnarath and Pratiratha, etc. are also found in ancient texts.
  • By the sixth century AD, the temple architecture style in North and South India was almost identical, but after the sixth century AD, each region developed in different directions.
  • Further, three types of styles Nagara, Dravid and Besar style were used in the construction of temples of Brahmin Hinduism.
    Temple architecture
    Temple architecture

    Temple architecture

    Civil Dravid Baser
     Pal subgenre  Pallava Sub-style  Rashtrakuta
     Odisha Sub-style  Chola sub-genre  Chalukya
     Khajuraho sub-genre  Pandya sub-style  Kakatiya
     Solanki subgenre  Vijayanagar Sub-style  Hoysal
     Hero subgenre


Order Tample The site Periods
1. Circular brick and timber temple Bairat district rajasthan 3rd century BC
2. Sanchi Temple – 40 Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh) 3rd century BC
3. Sanchi Temple-18 Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh) 2nd century BC
4. Oldest Structural Temple Aihole (Karnataka) 4th century BC
5. Sanchi Temple-17 Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh) Fourth century
6. Ladakhan Temple Aihole (Karnataka) Fifth century AD
7. Durga Temple Aihole (Karnataka) 550 AD


Civil style

  • The word ‘Nagar’ is derived from the city. Due to the construction in the first city, it is called Nagar style.
  • This structural temple is a style of architecture that was practiced in areas ranging from the Himalayas to the Vindhya Mountains.
  • It was given adequate patronage by the ruling dynasties that existed in North India between the 8th and 13th centuries.
  • Identity characteristics of the Nagara style are found in the prominence of the peaks rising from the flat roofs. It is also called transverse and hoisting coordination.
  • The Nagara style temples are quadrangular from the base to the summit.
  • These temples are divided into eight parts in height, whose names are as follows – Mool (base), Garbhagriha Masarak (part between foundation and walls), Jangha (wall), Kapot (Carnis), Shikhar, Gal (neck) , Circular amalak and kumbha (urn including shul).
  • Temples built in this style were called ‘Kalinga’ in Odisha, ‘Lat’ in Gujarat and ‘Hill’ in the Himalayan region.

Dravidian style

  • From the Krishna River to Kanyakumari, Dravidian style temples are found.
  • The Dravidian style began in the 8th century and its long-term survival in far south India continued until the 18th century. Temple architecture
  • Identification characteristics of the Dravidian style include prakara (chahardivari), gopuram (entrance gate), square or octagonal sanctum (chariot), pyramidanuma shikhar, mandapa (Nandi mandapa), large concentric courtyard and octagonal temple structure.
  • The Dravidian style temples are multi-storied.
  • The Pallavas gave birth to the Dravidian style, attained heights in the Chola period and declined since the Vijayanagara period.
  • Sculpture and painting merged into Dravidian style architecture during the Chola period.
  • The Brihadeeswarar Temple of Tanjore (built by the Chola ruler Rajaraja) in the UNESCO World Heritage List is a living example of Dravidian style for 1000 years.
  • The Nayak style developed further under the Dravidian style, examples of which are Meenakshi Temple (Madurai), Ranganatha Temple (Srirangam, Tamil Nadu), Rameshwaram Temple etc.

Baser style

  • The mixed form of the Nagar and Dravidian styles is called the Basar style.
  • Temples of this style are found from the Vindhyachal Mountains to the Krishna River.
  • Basar style is also called Chalukya style.
  • The basar style temples are circular in shape (circular) or semi-circular from the base to the summit.
  • An example of the Basar style is the Vaishnava temple of Vrindavan in which Gopuram is built.
  • After the Gupta period, there is a new twist in the development of regional styles of architecture in the country.
  • In this period, the architecture of Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bundelkhand is more important.
  • Important temples were built in these places from the 8th to the 13th century.
  • It was during this period that Chalukya, Pallava, Rashtrakuta and Cholayugin architecture emerged in South India with its specialty.


  • General Studies-I
  • Temple architecture
  • History of ancient india
  • Cave architecture
  • Indian Architecture
  • Rock cut architecture

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