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Hindu temple

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1 The signicance and meaning of

a Hindu Temple

A Hindu temple (Sanskrit: - Mandir, Prasada) is a house of god(s).[1] It is

a space and structure designed to bring human beings and gods together,
infused with symbolism to express the ideas and beliefs
of Hinduism.[2] A Hindu temple, states George Michell,
functions as a place of transcendence, where man may
cross over (do tirtha) from the world of illusion to one of
knowledge and truth.[1]

Hindu temple reects a synthesis of arts, the ideals of

dharma, beliefs, values and the way of life cherished under Hinduism. It is a link
between man, deities, and the
Universal Purusa in a sacred space.[14]

The symbolism and structure of a Hindu temple, states

Stella Kramrisch,[2] are rooted in Vedic traditions. A
temple incorporates all elements of Hindu cosmos - presenting the good, the evil
and the human, as well as the
elements of Hindu sense of cyclic time and the essence
of life - symbolically presenting dharma, kama, artha,
moksa and karma.[3][4]



Brahma Padas

The spiritual principles symbolically represented in

Hindu temples are given in the ancient Sanskrit texts
of India (for example, Vedas, Upanishads), while their
structural rules are described in various ancient Sanskrit treatises on
architecture (Brhat Samhita, Vastu
Sastras).[5][6] The layout, the motifs, the plan and the
building process recite ancient rituals, geometric symbolisms, and reect beliefs
and values innate within various
schools of Hinduism.[2] A Hindu temple is a spiritual destination for many Hindus
(not all), as well as landmarks
around which ancient arts, community celebrations and
economy ourished.[7][8]

Devika Padas
Manusha Padas
Paisachika Padas

Parama Sayika Mandala - Hindu Temple 81 padas

The 9x9 (81) grid Parama Sayika layout plan (above) found
in large ceremonial Hindu Temples. It is one of many grids used
to build Hindu temples. In this structure of symmetry, each concentric layer has
signicance. The outermost layer, Paisachika
padas, signify aspects of Asuras and evil; while inner Devika
padas signify aspects of Devas and good. In between the good
and evil is the concentric layer of Manusha padas signifying human life; All these
layers surround Brahma padas, which signies creative energy and the site for
temples primary idol for
darsana. Finally at the very center of Brahma padas is Grabhgriya (Purusa Space),
signifying Universal Principle present in
everything and everyone.[2]

Hindu temples come in many styles, diverse locations,

deploy dierent construction methods and are adapted
to dierent deities and regional beliefs.[9] Yet, almost all
Hindu temples share certain core ideas, symbolism and
themes. They are found in South Asia particularly India
and Nepal, in southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and islands of
Indonesia,[10][11] and countries such as Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, South
Africa, Europe and North America with a signicant
Hindu community.[12] The current state and outer appearance of Hindu temples reect
arts, materials and designs
as they evolved over several millennia; they also reect
the eect of conicts between Hinduism and Islam since
the 12th century.[13]

In ancient Indian texts, a temple is a place for Tirtha pilgrimage.[2] It is a

sacred site whose ambience and design attempts to symbolically condense the ideal
tenets of
Hindu way of life.[14] All the cosmic elements that create and sustain life are
present in a Hindu temple - from
re to water, from images of nature to deities, from the
feminine to the masculine, from the eeting sounds and
incense smells to the eternal nothingness yet universality
at the core of the temple.[2]
Susan Lewandowski states[5] that the underlying principle
in a Hindu temple is built around the belief that all things
are one, everything is connected. The pilgrim is welcomed through 64-grid or 81-
grid mathematically structured spaces, a network of art, pillars with carvings and
statues that display and celebrate the four important and
necessary principles of human life - the pursuit of artha
(prosperity, wealth), the pursuit of kama (pleasure, sex),
the pursuit of dharma (virtues, ethical life) and the pursuit
of moksha (release, self-knowledge).[15][16] At the center
of the temple, typically below and sometimes above or
next to the deity, is mere hollow space with no decoration,
symbolically representing Purusa, the Supreme Principle,
the sacred Universal, one without form, which is present
everywhere, connects everything, and is the essence of
everyone. A Hindu temple is meant to encourage reection, facilitate purication of
ones mind, and trigger
the process of inner realization within the devotee.[2] The
specic process is left to the devotees school of belief.
The primary deity of dierent Hindu temples varies to
reect this spiritual spectrum.


2.1 The site

The appropriate site for a temple, suggest ancient Sanskrit
texts, is near water and gardens, where lotus and owers bloom, where swans, ducks
and other birds are heard,
where animals rest without fear of injury or harm.[2]
These harmonious places were recommended in these
texts with the explanation that such are the places where
gods play, and thus the best site for Hindu temples.[2][5]

In Hindu tradition, there is no dividing line between the

secular and the sacred.[5] In the same spirit, Hindu temples are not just sacred
spaces, they are also secular
spaces. Their meaning and purpose have extended be- Hindu temple sites cover a wide
range. The most common sites
yond spiritual life to social rituals and daily life, oering are those near water
bodies, embedded in nature, such as the
thus a social meaning. Some temples have served as a above at Badami, Karnataka.
venue to mark festivals, to celebrate arts through dance
and music, to get married or commemorate marriages,[17]
The gods always play where lakes are,
commemorate the birth of a child, other signicant life
the suns rays are warded o by umbrelevents, or mark the death of a loved one. In
leaf clusters,
and economic life, Hindu temples have served as a venue
waterpaths are made by swans
for the succession within dynasties and landmarks around
the white lotus hither and
which economic activity thrived.
where swans, ducks, curleys and paddy birds
are heard,
and animals rest nearby in the shade of Nicula
trees on the river banks.
The gods always play where rivers have for
their braclets
2 The forms and designs of Hindu
the sound of curleys and the voice of swans for
their speech,
water as their garment, carps for their zone,
the owering trees on their banks as earrings,
the conuence of rivers as their hips,
Main article: Hindu temple architecture
raised sand banks as breasts and plumage of
swans their mantle.
Almost all Hindu temples take two forms: a house or a
The gods always play where groves are near,
palace. A house-themed temple is a simple shelter which
rivers, mountains and springs, and in towns
serves as a deitys home. The temple is a place where
with pleasure gardens.
the devotee visits, just like he or she would visit a friend
Brhat Samhita 1.60.4-8, 6th Century
or relative. In Bhakti school of Hinduism, temples are
venues for puja, which is a hospitality ritual, where the
deity is the honored, and where devotee calls upon, attends to and connects with
the deity. In other schools of While major Hindu temples are recommended at
Hinduism, the person may simply perform jap, or medi- sangams (conuence of
rivers), river banks, lakes and
tation, or yoga, or introspection in his or her temple.
seashore, Brhat Samhita and Puranas suggest temples
A palace-themed temples are more elaborate, often mon- may also be built where a
natural source of water is not
umental architecture.
present. Here too, they recommend that a pond be built

The plan

preferably in front or to the left of the temple with water gardens. If water is
neither present naturally nor by
design, water is symbolically present at the consecration
of temple or the deity. Temples may also be built, suggests Visnudharmottara in
Part III of Chapter 93,[20] inside caves and carved stones, on hill tops aording
peaceful views, mountain slopes overlooking beautiful valleys,
inside forests and hermitages, next to gardens, or at the
head of a town street.


The manuals

Ancient builders of Hindu temples created manuals of

architecture, called Vastu-Sastra (literally, science of
dwelling, Vas-tu is a composite Sanskrit word Vas means
reside, tu means you); these contain Vastu-Vidya (literally, knowledge of
dwelling).[21] There exist many VastuSastras on the art of building temples, such
as one by
Thakkura Pheru, describing where and how temples
should be built.[22][23] By the 6th century AD, Sanskrit
manuals for constructing palatial temples were in circulation in India.[24] Vastu-
Sastra manuals included chapters
on home construction, town planning,[21] and how ecient villages, towns and
kingdoms integrated temples,
water bodies and gardens within them to achieve harmony
with nature.[25][26] While it is unclear, states Barnett,[27]
as to whether these temple and town planning texts were
theoretical studies and if or when they were properly
implemented in practice, the manuals suggest that town
planning and Hindu temples were conceived as ideals of
art and integral part of Hindu social and spiritual life.[21]

temples prevalent in eastern states of India. Other ancient texts found expand
these architectural principles,
suggesting that dierent parts of India developed, invented and added their own
interpretations. For example,
in Saurastra tradition of temple building found in western
states of India, the feminine form, expressions and emotions are depicted in 32
types of Nataka-stri compared
to 16 types described in Silpa Prakasa.[29] Silpa Prakasa
provides brief introduction to 12 types of Hindu temples. Other texts, such as
Pancaratra Prasada Prasadhana compiled by Daniel Smith[30] and Silpa Ratnakara
compiled by Narmada Sankara[31] provide a more extensive list of Hindu temple
Ancient Sanskrit manuals for temple construction discovered in Rajasthan, in
northwestern region of India,
include Sutradhara Mandanas Prasadamandana (literally, manual for planning and
building a temple).[32] Manasara, a text of South Indian origin, estimated to be in
circulation by the 7th century AD, is a guidebook on South
Indian temple design and construction.[5][33] Isanasivagurudeva paddhati is another
Sanskrit text from the 9th century describing the art of temple building in India
in south
and central India.[34][35] In north India, Brihat-samhita by
Varhamihira is the widely cited ancient Sanskrit manual
from 6th century describing the design and construction
of Nagara style of Hindu temples.[28][36][37]

Elements of a Hindu temple in Kalinga style. There are many

Hindu temple styles, but they almost universally share common
geometric principles, symbolism of ideas, and expression of core
Ancient India produced many Sanskrit manuals for Hindu temple
design and construction, covering arrangement of spaces (above)
to every aspect of its completion. Yet, the Silpins were given wide
latitude to experiment and express their creativity.[28]

The Silpa Prakasa of Odisha, authored by Ramacandra Bhattaraka Kaulacara sometime

in ninth or tenth
century CE, is another Sanskrit treatise on Temple
Architecture.[29] Silpa Prakasa describes the geometric
principles in every aspect of the temple and symbolism
such as 16 emotions of human beings carved as 16 types
of female gures. These styles were perfected in Hindu

2.3 The plan

A Hindu temple design follows a geometrical design
called vastu-purusha-mandala. The name is a composite
Sanskrit word with three of the most important components of the plan. Mandala
means circle, Purusha is universal essence at the core of Hindu tradition, while
means the dwelling structure.[38] Vastupurushamandala is
a yantra.[22] The design lays out a Hindu temple in a symmetrical, self-repeating
structure derived from central be-


liefs, myths, cardinality and mathematical principles.

The four cardinal directions help create the axis of a
Hindu temple, around which is formed a perfect square in
the space available. The circle of mandala circumscribes
the square. The square is considered divine for its perfection and as a symbolic
product of knowledge and human
thought, while circle is considered earthly, human and observed in everyday life
(moon, sun, horizon, water drop,
rainbow). Each supports the other.[2] The square is divided into perfect 64 (or in
some cases 81) sub-squares
called padas.[28][39] Each pada is conceptually assigned to
a symbolic element, sometimes in the form of a deity.
The central square(s) of the 64 or 81 grid is dedicated to
the Brahman (not to be confused with Brahmin), and are
called Brahma padas.





















Brahma Padas Aaryaka




Devika Padas




Manusha Padas





Above the vastu-purusha-mandala is a superstructure

with a dome called Shikhara in north India, and Vimana in south India, that
stretches towards the sky.[38]
Sometimes, in makeshift temples, the dome may be replaced with symbolic bamboo with
few leaves at the top.
The vertical dimensions cupola or dome is designed as
a pyramid, conical or other mountain-like shape, once
again using principle of concentric circles and squares
(see below).[2] Scholars suggest that this shape is inspired
by cosmic mountain of Meru or Himalayan Kailasa, the
abode of gods according to Vedic mythology.[38]




Beneath the mandalas central square(s) is the space for

the formless shapeless all pervasive all connecting Universal Spirit, the highest
reality, the purusha.[45] This
space is sometimes referred to as garbha-griya (literally
womb house) - a small, perfect square, windowless, enclosed space without
ornamentation that represents universal essence.[38] In or near this space is
typically a murti
(idol). This is the main deity idol, and this varies with
each temple. Often it is this idol that gives the temple a
local name, such as Visnu temple, Krishna temple, Rama
temple, Narayana temple, Siva temple, Lakshmi temple,
Ganesha temple, Durga temple, Hanuman temple, Surya
temple, and others.[14] It is this garbha-griya which devotees seek for darsana
(literally, a sight of knowledge,[46]
or vision[38] ).

Paisachika Padas



gKshatha Vithada



Manduka Mandala - Hindu Temple 64 padas

The 8x8 (64) grid Manduka Hindu Temple Floor Plan, according to Vastupurusamandala.
The 64 grid is the most sacred
and common Hindu temple template. The bright saron center, where diagonals
intersect above, represents the Purusha of
Hindu philosophy.[2][28]

The 49 grid design is called Sthandila and of great importance in creative

expressions of Hindu temples in
South India, particularly in Prakaras.[40] The symmetric Vastu-purusa-mandala
grids are sometimes combined
to form a temple superstructure with two or more attached squares.[41] The temples
face sunrise, and the entrance for the devotee is typically this east side. The
mandala pada facing sunrise is dedicated to Surya deity (Sun).
The Surya pada is anked by the padas of Satya (Truth)
deity on one side and Indra (king of gods) deity on other.
The east and north faces of most temples feature a mix of
gods and demi-gods; while west and south feature demons
and demi-gods related to the underworld.[42] This vastu
purusha mandala plan and symbolism is systematically
seen in ancient Hindu temples on Indian subcontinent as
well as those in southeast Asia, with regional creativity
and variations.[43][44]

A Hindu temple has a Sikhara (Vimana or Spire) that

rises symmetrically above the central core of the temple.
These spires come in many designs and shapes, but
they all have mathematical precision and geometric
symbolism. One of the common principles found in
Hindu temple spires is circles and turning-squares theme

The symbolism

(left), and a concentric layering design (right) that ows various principles and a
diversity of alternate designs for
from one to the other as it rises towards the sky.[2][47]
home, village and city layout along with the temple, gardens, water bodies and
In larger temples, the central space typically is surrounded
by an ambulatory for the devotee to walk around and ritually circumambulate the
Purusa, the universal essence.[2]
Often this space is visually decorated with carvings,
paintings or images meant to inspire the devotee. In some
temples, these images may be stories from Hindu Epics,
in others they may be Vedic tales about right and wrong
or virtues and vice, in some they may be idols of minor or
regional deities. The pillars, walls and ceilings typically
also have highly ornate carvings or images of the four just
and necessary pursuits of life - kama, artha, dharma and
moksa. This walk around is called pradakshina.[38]

Exceptions to the square grid principle

Predominant number of Hindu temples exhibit the perfect square grid principle.[50]
However, there are some
exceptions. For example, the Teli-ka-mandir in Gwalior,
built in the 8th century CE is not a square but is a rectangle in 2:3 proportion.
Further, the temple explores a
number of structures and shrines in 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 2:5,
3:5 and 4:5 ratios. These ratios are exact, suggesting the
architect intended to use these harmonic ratios, and the
rectangle pattern was not a mistake, nor an arbitrary approximation. Other examples
of non-square harmonic ratios are found at Naresar temple site of Madhya Pradesh
and Nakti-Mata temple near Jaipur, Rajasthan. Michael
Meister suggests that these exceptions mean the ancient
Sanskrit manuals for temple building were guidelines, and
Hinduism permitted its artisans exibility in expression
and aesthetic independence.[28]

Large temples also have pillared halls called mandapa.

One on the east side, serves as the waiting room for pilgrims and devotees. The
mandapa may be a separate
structure in older temples, but in newer temples this space
is integrated into the temple superstructure. Mega temple
sites have a main temple surrounded by smaller temples
and shrines, but these are still arranged by principles of
symmetry, grids and mathematical precision. An important principle found in the
layout of Hindu temples is mir2.4 The symbolism
roring and repeating fractal-like design structure,[48] each
unique yet also repeating the central common principle,
A Hindu temple is a symbolic reconstruction of the unione which Susan Lewandowski
refers to as an organism
verse and universal principles that make everything in it
of repeating cells.
function.[2][51] The temples reect Hindu philosophy and
its diverse views on cosmos and Truths.[48][52]
Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious
authorities, no governing body, no
prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose
to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monistic, or atheistic.[53]
Within this diuse and open structure, spirituality in
Hindu philosophy is an individual experience, and referred to as kaitraja
(Sanskrit: [54] ). It denes spiritual practice as ones journey towards moksha,
awareness of self, the discovery of higher truths, true nature of reality, and a
consciousness that is liberated and
content.[55][56] A Hindu temple reects these core beliefs.
The central core of almost all Hindu temples is not a large
communal space; the temple is designed for the individual, a couple or a family - a
small, private space where he
or she experiences darsana.
Darsana is itself a symbolic word. In ancient Hindu
scripts, darsana is the name of six methods or alternate
An illustration of Hindu temple Spires (Sikhara, Vi- viewpoints of understanding
Truth. These are Nyaya,
mana) built using concentric circle and rotating-squares Vaisesika, Sankhya, Yoga,
Mimamsa and Vedanta - each
principle. The left is from Vijayanagar in Karnataka, the of which owered into
their own schools of Hinduism,
each of which are considered valid, alternate paths to unright is from Pushkar in
derstanding Truth and realizing Self in the Hindu way of
The ancient texts on Hindu temple design, the Vastupurusamandala and Vastu Sastras,
do not limit themselves From names to forms, from images to stories carved into
to the design of a Hindu temple.[49] They describe the the walls of a temple,
symbolism is everywhere in a Hindu
temple as a holistic part of its community, and lay out temple. Life principles
such as the pursuit of joy, sex,
connection and emotional pleasure (kama) are fused into


this is discarded in favor of an open and diusive architecture, where the secular
world was not separated from
the sacred, but transitioned and owed into the sacred.[61]
The Hindu temple has structural walls, which were patterned usually within the 64
grid, or other geometric layouts. Yet the layout was open on all sides, except for
core space which had just one opening for darsana. The
temple space is laid out in a series of courts (mandappas).
The outermost regions may incorporate the negative and
suering side of life with symbolism of evil, asuras and
rakshashas (demons); but in small temples this layer is
dispensed with. When present, this outer region diuse
into the next inner layer that bridges as human space, followed by another inner
Devika padas space and symbolic
arts incorporating the positive and joyful side of life about
the good and the gods. This divine space then concentrically diuses inwards and
lifts the guest to the core of the
temple, where resides the main idol as well as the space
for the Purusa and ideas held to be most sacred principles in Hindu tradition. The
symbolism in the arts and
temples of Hinduism, suggests Edmund Leach, is similar
to those in Christianity and other major religions of the

2.5 The teams that built Hindu temples

Kma is celebrated in many Hindu temples, such as Khajuraho
and the Konark Temple (above).[58]

mystical, erotic and architectural forms in Hindu temples.

These motifs and principles of human life are part of the
sacred texts of Hindu, such as its Upanishads; the temples
express these same principles in a dierent form, through
art and spaces. For example, Brihadaranyaka Upanisad
at 4.3.21, recites:
In the embrace of his beloved a man forgets
the whole world,
everything both within and without;
in the same way, he who embraces the Self,
knows neither within nor without.
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 7th Century

The architecture of Hindu temples is also symbolic. The

whole structure fuses the daily life and it surroundings
with the divine concepts, through a structure that is open
yet raised on a terrace, transitioning from the secular towards the sacred,[60]
inviting the visitor inwards towards
the Brahma pada and temples central core, as well as lifting him upwards into a
symbolic space marked by its spire
(sikhara, vimana). The ancient temples had grand intricately carved entrances but
no doors, and lacked a boundary wall. In most cultures, suggests Edmund Leach,[60]
boundary and gateway separates the secular and the sacred, and this gateway door is
grand. In Hindu tradition,

Ancient Indian texts call the craftsmen and builders of

temples as Silpin (Sanskrit: [63] ), derived from
Silpa.[64] One of earliest mentions of Sanskrit word
Silpa is in Atharvaveda, from about 1000 BC, which
scholars have translated as any work of art.[65] Other
scholars suggest that the word Silpa has no direct one
word translation in English, nor does the word Silpin.
Silpa, explains Stella Kramrisch,[34] is a multicolored
word and incorporates art, skill, craft, ingenuity, imagination, form, expression
and inventiveness of any art or
craft. Similarly a Shilpin, notes Kramrisch, is a complex
Sanskrit word, describing any person who embodies art,
science, culture, skill, rhythm and employs creative principles to produce any
divine form of expression. Silpins
who built Hindu temples, as well as the art works and
sculpture within them, were considered by the ancient
Sanskrit texts to deploy arts whose number are unlimited,
Kala (techniques) that were 64 in number,[66] and Vidya
(science) that were of 32 types.[34]
The Hindu manuals of temple construction describe the
education, characteristics of good artists and architects.
The general education of a Hindu Shilpin in ancient India included Lekha or Lipi
(alphabet, reading and writing), Rupa (drawing and geometry), Ganana (arithmetic).
These were imparted from age 5 to 12. The advanced
students would continue in higher stages of Shilpa Sastra studies till the age of
25.[67][68] Apart from specialist technical competence, the manuals suggest that
Silpins for building a Hindu temple are those who know
the essence of Vedas and Agamas, consider themselves
as students, keep well verse with principles of traditional
sciences and mathematics, painting and geography.[22]
Further they are kind, free from jealousy, righteous, have
their sense under control, of happy disposition, and ardent in everything they do.

Step well temple compounds such as the Mata Bhavani, Ankol Mata and
Forest[74] temples such as Kasaun and Kusama[77]

According to Silparatna, a Hindu temple project would

River bank and sea shore temples such as Somnath.
start with a Yajamana (patron), and include a Sthapaka (guru, spiritual guide and
architect-priest), a Sthapati (architect) who would design the building, a
Sutragrahin (surveyor), and many Vardhakins (workers,
masons, painters, plasterers, overseers) and Taksakas
(sculptors).[22][36] While the temple is under construction,
all those working on the temple were revered and considered sacerdotal by the
patron as well as others witnessing the construction.[64] Further, it was a
tradition that all
tools and materials used in temple building and all creative work had the sanction
of a sacrament.[22] For example, if a carpenter or sculptor needed to fell a tree
or cut
a rock from a hill, he would propitiate the tree or rock
with prayers, seeking forgiveness for cutting it from its
surroundings, and explaining his intent and purpose. The
axe used to cut the tree would be anointed with butter to
minimize the hurt to the tree.[34] Even in modern times,
in some parts of India such as Odisha, Visvakarma Puja is
a ritual festival every year where the craftsmen and artists Hindu deities,
stepwell style.
worship their arts, tools and materials.[69]

The social functions of Hindu


Hindu temples served important social and economic

functions in ancient India. Burton Stein states that South
Indian temples managed regional development function,
such as irrigation projects, land reclamation, post-disaster
relief and recovery. These activities were paid for by the
donations (melvarum) they collected from devotees.[7]
Temples also managed lands endowed to it by its devotees
upon their death. They would provide employment to the
poorest.[70] Some temples had large treasury, with gold
and silver coins, and these temples served as banks.[71]
In contemporary times, the process of building a Hindu
temple by emigrants and diasporas from South Asia has
also served as a process of building a community, a social
venue to network, reduce prejudice and seek civil rights


Step well temples

In arid western parts of India, such as Rajasthan and Gujarat, Hindu communities
built large walk in wells that
served as the only source of water in dry months but also
served as social meeting places and carried religious signicance. These monuments
went down into earth towards subterranean water, up to seven storey, and were
part of a temple complex.[78] These vav (literally, stepwells) had intricate art
reliefs on the walls, with numerous idols and images of Hindu deities, water
spirits and
erotic symbolism. The step wells were named after Hindu
deities; for example, Mata Bhavani Vav, Ankol Mata
Vav, Sikotari Vav and others.[78] The temple ranged from
being small single pada (cell) structure to large nearby
complexes. These stepwells and their temple compounds
have been variously dated from late 1st millennium BC
through 11th century AD. Of these, Rani-ki-vav, with
hundreds of art reliefs including many of Vishnu deity
avatars, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage
Cave Temples

Hindu temples are found in diverse locations each incor- The Indian rock-cut
architecture evolved in Maharashtran
porating dierent methods of construction and styles:
temple style in the 1st millennium AD. The temples are
carved from a single piece of rock as a complete temple
or carved in a cave to look like the interior of a temple.
Mountain temples such as Masrur
Ellora Temple is an example of the former, while The
Cave[74] temples such as Chandrabhaga, Elephanta Caves are representative of the
latter style. The
Chalukya[75] and Ellora
Elephanta Caves consist of two groups of cavesthe rst


is a large group of ve Hindu caves and the second is a

smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves
contain rock-cut stone sculptures, representing the Shaiva
Hindu sect, dedicated to the god Shiva.

Arts inside Hindu temples

Images and idols inside Hindu temples vary widely

in their expression. Raudra or ugra images express
destruction, fear and violence, such as Kali image on
left. Shanta or saumya images express joy, knowledge
and harmony, such as Saraswati image on right. Saumya
images are most common in Hindu temples.
Another way of classication is by the expressive state of
the image:

Illustration of Chitrardha style of art work in a Hindu temple.

A typical, ancient Hindu temple has a profusion of arts from paintings to

sculpture, from symbolic icons to engravings, from thoughtful layout of space to
fusion of
mathematical principles with Hindu sense of time and
Ancient Sanskrit texts classify idols and images in number
of ways. For example, one method of classication is the
dimensionality of completion:[80]

raudra or ugra - are images that were meant to terrify, induce fear. These
typically have wide, circular
eyes, carry weapons, have skulls and bones as adornment. These idols were
worshipped by soldiers before going to war, or by people in times of distress
or errors. Raudra deity temples were not set up inside villages or towns, but
invariably outside and in
remote areas of a kingdom.[80]
shanta and saumya - are images that were pacic,
peaceful and expressive of love, compassion, kindness and other virtues in Hindu
pantheon. These
images would carry symbolic icons of peace, knowledge, music, wealth, owers,
sensuality among other
things. In ancient India, these temples were predominant inside villages and towns.

A Hindu temple may or may not include an idol or images, but larger temples usually
do. Personal Hindu tem chitra - images that are 3-dimensional and com- ples at
home or a hermitage may have a pada for yoga or
meditation, but be devoid of anthropomorphic represenpletely formed,
tations of god. Nature or others arts may surround him
or her. To a Hindu yogin, states Gopinath Rao,[80] one
chitrardha - images that are engraved in half relief,
who has realised Self and the Universal Principle within
himself, there is no need for any temple or divine image
chitrabhasa - images that are 2-dimensional such as for worship. However, for
those who have yet to reach
paintings on walls and cloths.
this height of realization, various symbolic manifestations
through images, idols and icons as well as mental modes
of worship are oered as one of the spiritual paths in
the Hindu way of life. This belief is repeated in ancient
Hindu scriptures. For example, the Jabaladarshana Upanishad states:[80]


|| ||
A yogin perceives god (Siva) within himself,
images are for those who have not reached this
knowledge. (Verse 59)
Jabaladarsana Upanishad, [81]

and Buddhism branched o from the religious tradition

later to be called Hinduism, the ideas, designs and plans
of ancient Vedic and Upanishad era shrines were adopted
and evolved, likely from the competitive development of
temples and arts in Jainism and Buddhism. Ancient reliefs found so far, states
Michael Meister,[82] suggest ve
basic shrine designs and combinations thereof in 1st millennium BC:
1. A raised platform with or without a symbol
2. A raised platform under an umbrella
3. A raised platform under a tree
4. A raised platform enclosed with a railing
5. A raised platform inside a pillared pavilion

Historical development and destruction

A number of ancient Indian texts suggest the prevalence

of idols, temples and shrines in Indian subcontinent for
thousands of years. For example, the 4th century BC text,
Astadhyayi mentions male deity arcas (images/idols) of
Agni, Indra, Varuna, Rudra, Mrda, Pusa, Surya, Soma
being worshipped, as well as the worship of arcas of female goddesses such as
Indrani, Varunani, Usa, Bhavani,
Prthivi and Vrsakapayi.[82] The 2nd Century BC Mahabhasya of Patanjali
extensively describes temples of
Dhanapati (deity of wealth and nance, Kubera), as well
as temples of Rama and Kesava, wherein the worship
included dance, music and extensive rituals. The Mahabhasya also describes the
rituals for Krsna, Visnu and
Siva. An image recovered from Mathura in north India has been dated to the 2nd
century BC.[82] Kautilyas
Arthasastra from 3rd Century AD describes a city of temples, each enshrining
various Vedic and Puranic deities.
All three of these sources have common names, describe common rituals, symbolism
and signicance possibly suggesting that the idea of idols, temples and shrines
passed from one generation to next, in ancient India, at
least from the 4th century BC.[82] The oldest temples,
suggest scholars, were built of brick and wood. Stone became the preferred material
of construction later.[83][84]

Many of these ancient shrines were rooess, some had

toranas and roof.
Ladkhan Shiva Temple in Karnataka from the 5th century.

From the 1st century BC through 3rd Century AD, the evidence and details about
ancient temples increases. The
ancient literature refers to these temples as Pasada (or
Prasada), stana, mahasthana, devalaya, devagrha, devakula, devakulika, ayatana and
harmya.[82] The entrance of the temple is referred to as dvarakosthaka in
these ancient texts notes Meister,[82] the temple hall is described as sabha or
ayagasabha, pillars were called kumbhaka, while vedika referred to the structures
at the boundary of a temple.

Early Jainism and Buddhism literature, along with Kautilyas Arthasastra, describe
structures, embellishments
and designs of these temples - all with motifs and deities
currently prevalent in Hinduism. Bas-reliefs and idols
have been found from 2nd to 3rd Century, but none of
the temple structures have survived. Scholars[82] theorize that those ancient
temples of India, later referred to
as Hindu temples, were modeled after domestic structure - a house or a palace.
Beyond shrines, nature was
revered, in forms such as trees, rivers, stupas before the
time of Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira. As Jainism A 7th century Chalukyan style
temple ceiling in Karnataka
With the start of Gupta dynasty in the 4th century, Hindu
temples ourished in innovation, design, scope, form,
use of stone and new materials as well as symbolic synthesis of culture and dharmic
principles with artistic
expression.[85][86] It is this period that is credited with the
ideas of garbhagrha for Purusa, mandapa for sheltering
the devotees and rituals in progress, as well as symbolic
motifs relating to dharma, karma, kama, artha and moksha. Temple superstructures
were built from stone, brick
and wide range of materials. Entrance ways, walls and
pillars were intricately carved, while parts of temple were
decorated with gold, silver and jewels. Visnu, Siva and
other deities were placed in Hindu temples, while Buddhists and Jains built their
own temples, often side by side
with Hindus.[87]


Nam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Destruction and conversion
With the arrival of Islam in South Asia, Hindu temples
along with the temples of Buddhists and Jains, became
targets of Islamic armies. Idols were broken up and damaged. Spires and pillars
were torn down by the invading armies from Persia, Central Asia and resident
Temples were looted of their treasury and parts reused to
build or to convert the temples into mosques.[91] During
some periods, Muslim emperors such as Akbar encouraged arts, helped repair and
protect Hindu temples. In
other periods, the Sultans and emperors led a campaign of
temple destruction as well as forbade repairs to damaged
temples.[92] Richard Eaton has listed 80 campaigns of
Hindu temple site destruction stretching over centuries,
particularly from the 12th through the 18th century.[93]
The religious conict and desecrations continued during
the British colonial era.[94]

The 4th through 6th century marked the owering of Vidharbha style, whose
accomplishments survive in central
India as Ajanta caves, Pavnar, Mandhal and Mahesvar. In
South India, this period is credited with some of the earliest stone temples of the
region, with Chalukya temples
dated to be from the 5th century by some scholars,[88] and
the 6th by some others.[89] Over 6th and 7th century, tem- The destruction of Hindu
temple sites was comparatively
ple designs were further rened during Maurya dynasty, less in the southern parts
of India, such as in Tamil
evidence of which survives today at Ellora and Elephanta. Nadu. Cave style Hindu
temples that were carved inside
a rock, hidden and rediscovered centuries later, such as
the Kailasha Temple, have also survived. These are now
UNESCO world heritage sites.[95]

7 Customs and etiquette

The customs and etiquette varies across India. Devotees
in major temples may bring in symbolic oerings for the
puja. This includes fruits, owers, sweets and other symbols of the bounty of the
natural world. Temples in India
are usually surrounded with small shops selling these offerings.

Many Hindu temples were destroyed and the remains used to rebuild Islamic mosques
between 12th and 18th century AD. Above
drawing by James Prinsep (1832) shows an overlay of a mosque
built over the ancient Hindu Vishveshvur temple.

It is the 5th through 7th century AD when outer design

and appearances of Hindu temples in north India and
south India began to widely diverge.[90] Nevertheless, the
forms, theme, symbolism and central ideas in the grid design remained same, before
and after, pan-India as innovations were adopted to give distinctly dierent visual

Jagannath Puri Temple Puri, one of Char Dham four Main spiritual center of Hindu

When inside the temple, devotees keep both hands folded

(namaste mudra). The inner sanctuary, where the murtis
During the 5th to 11th century, Hindu temples ourished reside, is known as the
garbhagriha. It symbolizes the
outside Indian subcontinent, such as in Cambodia, Viet birthplace of the universe,
the meeting place of the gods

North Indian temples

and mankind, and the threshold between the transcendental and the phenomenal
worlds.[96] It is in this inner shrine
that devotees seek a darsana of, where they oer prayers.
Devotees may or may not be able to personally present
their oerings at the feet of the deity. In most large Indian temples, only the
pujaris (priest) are allowed to enter
into the main sanctum.[97]
Temple management sta typically announce the hours
of operation, including timings for special pujas. These
timings and nature of special puja vary from temple
to temple. Additionally, there may be specially allotted times for devotees to
perform circumambulations (or
pradakshina) around the temple.[97]
Visitors and worshipers to large Hindu temples may be
required to deposit their shoes and other footwear before
entering. Where this is expected, the temples provide an
area and help sta to store footwear. Dress codes vary.
It is customary in temples in Kerala, for men to remove
shirts and to cover pants and shorts with a traditional cloth
known as a Vasthiram.[98] In Java and Bali (Indonesia),
before one enters the most sacred parts of a Hindu temple, shirts are required as
well as Sarong around ones
waist.[99] At many other locations, this formality is unnecessary.

South Indian temples have a large gopuram, a monumental tower, usually ornate, at
the entrance of the temple. This forms a prominent feature of Koils, Hindu
temples of the Dravidian style.[100] They are topped by
the kalasam, a bulbous stone nial. They function as
gateways through the walls that surround the temple
complex.[101] The gopurams origins can be traced back
to early structures of the Tamil kings Pallavas; and by
the twelfth century, under the Pandya rulers, these gateways became a dominant
feature of a temples outer appearance, eventually overshadowing the inner
which became obscured from view by the gopurams
colossal size.[102] It also dominated the inner sanctum in
amount of ornamentation. Often a shrine has more than
one gopuram.[103] They also appear in architecture outside India, especially Khmer
architecture, as at Angkor
Wat. A koil may have multiple gopurams, typically
constructed into multiple walls in tiers around the main
shrine. The temples walls are typically square with the
outer most wall having gopuras. The sanctum sanctorium
and its towering roof (the central deitys shrine) are also
called the vimanam.[104] The inner sanctum has restricted
access with only priests allowed beyond a certain point.

8.2 North Indian temples


Regional variations in Hindu

South Indian temples

Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand

The gopuram (tower) of Natarajar Temple, a typical

South Indian temple complex in Chidambaram, Tamil
Shiv Temple, Assam
North Indian temples are referred to as Nagara style of
temple architecture.[105] They have sanctum sanctorum
where the deity is present, open on one side from where
the devotee obtains darana. There may or may not be
many more surrounding corridors, halls, etc. However,
there will be space for devotees to go around the temple
Koneswaram Temple, a 6th Century BCE Tamil Saivate in clockwise fashion
circumambulation. In North Indian
temple in Tirukonamalai, Sri Lanka.
temples, the tallest towers are built over the sanctum sanctorum in which the deity
is installed.[106]


The north India Nagara style of temple designs often deploy fractal-theme, where
smaller parts of the temple are
themselves images or geometric re-arrangement of the
large temple, a concept found in French and Russian architecture such as the
matryoshka principle. One difference is the scope and cardinality, where Hindu
temple structures deploy this principle in every dimension
with garbhgriya as the primary locus, and each pada as
well as zones serving as additional centers of loci. This
makes a Nagara Hindu temple architecture symbolically a
perennial expression of movement and time, of centrifugal growth fused with the
idea of unity in everything.[105]


Temples in Tamil Nadu

Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneswar

Deula and Khakhara Deula houses the sanctum sanctorum while the Pidha Deula style
includes space for outer
dancing and oering halls.

The Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai .

8.5 Temples of Goa and other Konkani


Temple construction reached its peak during rule

of Pallavas.
They build various temples around
Kancheepuram and Narasimhavarman II built the Shore
Temple in Mamallapuram which is a UNESCO World
Heritage Site. The Pandyas rule created temples such
as the Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai and
Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli.[107] The Cholas were
prolic temple builders right from the times of the rst
medieval king Vijayalaya Chola. The Chola temples include Nataraja temple at
Chidambaram, the Sri Ranganathaswami Temple at Srirangam, the Brihadeshvara
Temple of Thanjavur, Brihadeshvara Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the
Airavatesvara Temple of
Darasuram which are among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Nayaks of Madurai
reconstructed some
of the well-known temples in Tamil Nadu such as the Saptakoteshwar Temple in Goa
Meenakshi Temple.[5][108]


Temples in Odisha

Odisha temple architecture is known as Kalinga architecture, classies the spire

into three parts, the Ba (lower
limb), the Gani (body) and the Cua/Mastaka (head).
Each part is decorated in a dierent manner. Kalinga architecture is a style which
ourished in Kalinga, the name
for kingdom that included ancient Odisha. It includes
three styles: Rekha Deula, Pidha Deula and Khakhara
Deula.[109] The former two are associated with Vishnu,
Surya and Shiva temples while the third is mainly associated with Chamunda and
Durga temples. The Rekha

The temple architecture of Goa is quite unique. As Portuguese colonial hegemony

increased, Goan Hindu temples became the rallying point to local resistance.[110]
Many these temples are not more than 500 years old,
and are a unique blend of original Goan temple architecture, Dravidian, Nagar and
Hemadpanthi temple styles
with some British and Portuguese architectural inuences. Goan temples were built
using sedimentary rocks,
wood, limestone and clay tiles, and copper sheets were
used for the roofs. These temples were decorated with
mural art called as Kavi kala or ocher art. The interiors
have murals and wood carvings depicting scenes from the
Hindu mythology.

Temples in Vietnam

Angkor Wat is just one of numerous Hindu temples in
Cambodia, most of them in ruins. Hundreds of Hindu
temples are scattered from Siem Reap to Sambor Prei
Kuk in central Cambodian region.[113]

8.8 Temples in Vietnam

There are a number of Hindu temple clusters along the
coast of Vietnam, with some on UNESCO world heritage
site list.[114] Examples include M Sn - a cluster of 70
temples with earliest dated to be from the 4th century
Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata
AD and dedicated to Siva, while others are dedicated to
Hindu deities Krishna, Vishnu and others. These temples,
internally and with respect to each other, are also built
8.6 Temples in West Bengal
on the Hindu perfect square grid concept. Other sites in
Phan Rang with the
In West Bengal, the Bengali terra cotta temple architec- Vietnam with Hindu temples
ture is found. Due to lack of suitable stone in the alluvial
soil locally available, the temple makers had to resort to
other materials instead of stone. This gave rise to using
terracotta as a medium for temple construction. Terracotta exteriors with rich
carvings are a unique feature of 8.9 Temples in Indonesia
Bengali temples. The town of Vishnupur in West Bengal is renowned for this type of
architecture. There is
also a popular style of building known as Navaratna (ninetowered) or Pancharatna
(ve-towered). An example of
Navaratna style is the Dakshineswar Kali Temple.[111]


Temples in Cambodia

Balinese Hindu temple in an open-air symmetrical layout

Art relief at the Hindu temple Banteay Srei in Cambodia

Angkor Wat was built as a Hindu temple by King

Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura (Khmer, present-day
Angkor), the capital of the
Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaiva
tradition of previous
kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. The
Spire in Khmer Hindu temple is called Giri (mountain)
and symbolizes the residence of gods just like Meru does
in Bali Hindu mythology and Ku (Guha) does in Burmese
Hindu mythology.[112]
Hindu temples of ancient Java, Indonesia, bear resemblances with temples of South
Indian style. The largest
of these is the 9th century Javanese Hindu temple,
Prambanan in Yogyakarta, now a UNESCO world heritage site. It was designed as three
concentric squares
and has 224 temples. The inner square contains 16 temples dedicated to major Hindu
deities, of which Siva temple is the largest. The temple has extensive wall reliefs
and carvings illustrating the stories from the Hindu Epic
In Bali, Pura (Balinese temple) is designed as an openair worship place in a walled
compound. The compound
walls have a series of intricately decorated gates without
doors for the devotee to enter. The design, plan and layout
of the holy pura follows a square layout.[117][118]


8.10 Temples outside Asia

10 Etymology and nomenclature

A Hindu temple in Hamm Germany, and Atlanta United

Many members of the South Asian diaspora have established Hindu mandirs outside
India as a means of preserving and celebrating cultural and spiritual heritage
Describing the hundreds of mandirs that can be found
throughout the United States, scholar Gail M. Harley observes, The temples serve
as central locations where Hindus can come together to worship during holy
and socialize with other Hindus. Temples in America re- Somnath
ect the colorful kaleidoscopic aspects contained in Hinduism while unifying people
who are disbursed throughout the American landscape.[119] Numerous mandirs in
North America and Europe have gained particular prominence and acclaim.


Temple Management


The Archeological Survey of India has control of most

ancient temples of archaeological importance in India.
In India, day-to-day activities of a temple is managed by
a temple board committee that administers its nances,
management and events. Since independence, the autonomy of individual Hindu
religious denominations to manage their own aairs with respect to temples of their
denomination have been severely eroded and the state
governments have taken control of major Hindu temples.


Candi in Indonesia, especially in Javanese, Malay
and Indonesian, used both for Hindu or Buddhist
Pura in Hindu majority island of Bali, Indonesia.
Wat in Cambodia and Thailand, also applied to both
Hindu and Buddhist temples.
Temple sites


Some lands such as Varanasi, Puri, Kanchipuram,

Dwarka, Amarnath, Kedarnath, Somnath, Mathura,
Rameswara and others, are considered holy in Hinduism.
Major Hindu temple sites for Tirtha and general tourism They are called ktra
(Sanskrit: [122] ). A ktra
in India. Orange markers are UNESCO world heritage has many temples, including one
or more major ones.
These temples and its location attracts pilgrimage called
tirtha (or tirthayatra).[123]
In Sanskrit, the liturgical language of Hinduism, the word
mandir means house. Ancient Sanskrit texts use
many words for temple, such as matha, vayuna, kirti,
kesapaksha, devavasatha, vihara, suravasa, surakula, devatayatana, amaragara,
devakula, devagrha, devabhavana, devakulika, and niketana.[120]
The following are the other names by which a Hindu temple is referred to in India:
Devasthana (

) in Kannada

Deul/Doul/Dewaaloy in Assamese
Deula (
Kosali Oriya

Konark Sun Temple panoramic view

) in Marathi
) in Oriya and Gudi in

11 See also

Gudi (
), Devalayam (
), Devasthanam Media related to Hindu temples at Wikimedia Commons
Kovela (
), Punyakshetram (
Hindu temple architecture
or Punyakshetralayam (
) in Telugu
Kovil, or k-vill () and occasionally
Aalayam () in Tamil; the Tamil word
Kovil means residence of the king and is used
to refer to a distinct style of Hindu temple with
Dravidian architecture

List of Hindu temples

Kshetram (), Ambalam (), or

Kovil () in Malayalam


Mandir () in Nepali, Punjabi, Marathi,

Gujarati and Hindi
Mandiram (


Mondir () in Bengali
In Southeast Asia temples known as:

List of largest Hindu Temples

List of Hindu deities

Tirtha, Jyotirlinga, Char Dham




[1] George Michell (1988), The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and
Forms, University of Chicago
Press, ISBN 978-0226532301, Chapter 4, pp 61-65
[2] Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Vol 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-
[3] Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Vol 2, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-
208-0222-3, pp 346-357 and
[4] Klaus Klostermaier, The Divine Presence in Space and
Time - Murti, Tirtha, Kala; in A Survey of Hinduism,
ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4, State University of New York
Press, pp 268-277
[5] Susan Lewandowski, The Hindu Temple in South India,
in Buildings and Society: Essays on the Social Development of the Built
Environment, Anthony D. King (Editor),
ISBN 978-0710202345, Routledge, Chapter 4
[6] MR Bhat (1996), Brhat Samhita of Varahamihira, ISBN
978-8120810600, Motilal Banarsidass
[7] Burton Stein, The Economic Function of a Medieval
South Indian Temple, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol.
19 (February, 1960), pp 163-76
[8] George Michell (1988), The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and
Forms, University of Chicago
Press, ISBN 978-0226532301, pp 58-65
[9] Alice Boner (1990), Principles of Composition in Hindu
Sculpture: Cave Temple Period, ISBN 978-8120807051,
see Introduction and pp 36-37
[10] Francis Ching et al., A Global History of Architecture,
Wiley, ISBN 978-0470402573, pp 227-302
[11] Brad Olsen (2004), Sacred Places Around the World: 108
Destinations, ISBN 978-1888729108, pp 117-119
[12] Paul Younger, New Homelands: Hindu Communities,
ISBN 978-0195391640, Oxford University Press
[13] For the eect on Hindu temples of Islams arrival in South
Asia and Southeast Asia, see:
Marc Gaborieau (1985), From Al-Beruni to Jinnah:
idiom, ritual and ideology of the Hindu-Muslim
confrontation in South Asia, Anthropology Today,
1(3), pp 7-14;


[15] Alain Danilou (2001), The Hindu Temple: Deication

of Eroticism, Translated from French to English by Ken
Hurry, ISBN 0-89281-854-9, pp 101-127
[16] Samuel Parker (2010), Ritual as a Mode of Production:
Ethnoarchaeology and Creative Practice in Hindu Temple Arts, South Asian Studies,
26(1), pp 31-57; Michael
Rabe, Secret Yantras and Erotic Display for Hindu Temples, (Editor: David White),
ISBN 978-8120817784,
Princeton University Readings in Religion (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers), Chapter
25, pp 435-446
[17] Pyong Gap Min, Religion and Maintenance of Ethnicity
among Immigrants - A Comparison of Indian Hindus and
Korean Protestants, Editor: Karen Leonard (Immigrant
Faiths), ISBN 978-0759108165, Chapter 6, pp 102-103
[18] Susan Lewandowski, The Hindu Temple in South India,
in Buildings and Society: Essays on the Social Development of the Built
Environment, Anthony D. King (Editor),
ISBN 978-0710202345, Routledge, pp 71-73
[19] Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Vol 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-
208-0222-3, page 4
[20] Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Vol 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-
208-0222-3, page 5-6
[21] BB Dutt (1925), Town planning in Ancient India at Google
Books, ISBN 978-81-8205-487-5; See critical review by
LD Barnett, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African
Studies, Vol 4, Issue 2, June 1926, pp 391
[22] Stella Kramrisch (1976), The Hindu Temple Volume 1 &
2, ISBN 81-208-0223-3
[23] Jack Hebner (2010), Architecture of the Vastu Sastra According to Sacred
Science, in Science of the Sacred
(Editor: David Osborn), ISBN 978-0557277247, pp 8592; N Lahiri (1996),
Archaeological landscapes and textual images: a study of the sacred geography of
late medieval Ballabgarh, World Archaeology, 28(2), pp 244-264
[24] Susan Lewandowski (1984), Buildings and Society: Essays on the Social
Development of the Built Environment, edited by Anthony D. King, Routledge, ISBN
9780710202345, Chapter 4
[25] Sherri Silverman (2007), Vastu: Transcendental Home
Design in Harmony with Nature, Gibbs Smith, Utah,
ISBN 978-1423601326
[26] GD Vasudev (2001), Vastu, Motilal Banarsidas, ISBN 81208-1605-6, pp 74-92

Richard Eaton (2000), Temple Desecration and

Indo-Muslim States, Journal of Islamic Studies,
11(3), pp 283-319

[27] LD Barnett, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African

Studies, Vol 4, Issue 2, June 1926, pp 391

Annemarie Schimmel, Islam in the Indian Subcontinent, ISBN 978-9004061170, Brill

Chapter 1

[28] Michael Meister (1983), Geometry and Measure in Indian

Temple Plans: Rectangular Temples, Artibus Asiae, Vol.
44, No. 4, pp 266-296

Robert W. Hefner, Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia,

Princeton University
Press, ISBN 978-0691050461, pp 28-29

[29] Alice Boner and Sadiva Rath arm (1966), Silpa

Prakasa Medieval Orissan Sanskrit Text on Temple Architecture at Google Books, E.J.
Brill (Netherlands)

[14] George Michell (1988), The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and
Forms, University of Chicago
Press, ISBN 978-0226532301, Chapter 1
[30] H. Daniel Smith (1963), Ed. Pncartra prasda prasdhapam, A Pancaratra Text
on Temple-Building, Syracuse:
University of Rochester, OCLC 68138877

[31] Mahanti and Mahanty (1995 Reprint), ilpa Ratnkara,

Orissa Akademi, OCLC 42718271
[32] Amita Sinha (1998), Design of Settlements in the Vaastu
Shastras, Journal of Cultural Geography, 17(2), pp 27-41,
[33] Tillotson, G. H. R. (1997). Svastika Mansion: A SilpaSastra in the 1930s.
South Asian Studies, 13(1), pp 87-97
[34] Stella Kramrisch (1958), Traditions of the Indian Craftsman, The Journal of
American Folklore, Vol. 71, No.
281, (Jul. - Sep., 1958), pp. 224-230
[35] Ganapati Sastri (1920), naivagurudeva paddhati,
Trivandrum Sanskrit Series, OCLC 71801033
[36] Heather Elgood (2000), Hinduism and the religious arts,
ISBN 978-0304707393, Bloomsbury Academic, pp 121125

[44] V.S. Pramar, Some Evidence on the Wooden Origins of

the Vstupuruamaala, Artibus Asiae, Vol. 46, No. 4
(1985), pp 305-311
[45] This concept has equivalence to the concept of Acintya,
or Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, in Balinese Hindu temples;
elsewhere it has been referred to as satcitananda
[46] Stella Kramrisch (1976), The Hindu Temple Volume 1,
ISBN 81-208-0223-3, pp 8
[47] Michael W. Meister, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol.
65, No. 1 (Mar., 2006), pp 26-49
[48] Trivedi, K. (1989). Hindu temples: models of a fractal
universe. The Visual Computer, 5(4), 243-258

[37] H Kern (1865), The Brhat Sanhita of Varaha-mihara, The

Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta

[49] S Bafna, On the Idea of the Mandala as a Governing Device in Indian

Architectural Tradition, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol.
59, No. 1 (Mar.,
2000), pp. 26-49

[38] Susan Lewandowski, The Hindu Temple in South India,

in Buildings and Society: Essays on the Social Development of the Built
Environment, Anthony D. King (Editor),
ISBN 978-0710202345, Routledge, pp 68-69

[50] Michael W. Meister, Maala and Practice in Ngara Architecture in North

India, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 99, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun.,
1979), pp. 204219

[39] The square is symbolic and has Vedic origins from re

altar, Agni. The alignment along cardinal direction, similarly is an extension of
Vedic rituals of three res. This
symbolism is also found among Greek and other ancient
civilizations, through the gnomon. In Hindu temple manuals, design plans are
described with 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36,
49, 64, 81 upto 1024 squares; 1 pada is considered the
simplest plan, as a seat for a hermit or devotee to sit and
meditate on, or make oerings with Vedic re in front.
The second design of 4 padas lacks the central core, and
is also a meditative constructive. The 9 pada design has
a sacred surrounded center, and is the template for the
smallest temple. Older Hindu temple vastumandalas may
use the 9 through 49 pada series, but 64 is considered the
most sacred geometric grid in Hindu temples. It is also
called Manduka, Bhekapada or Ajira in various ancient
Sanskrit texts.

[51] George Michell (1988), The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and
Forms, University of Chicago
Press, ISBN 978-0226532301, pp 21-22

[40] In addition to square (4) sided layout, Brhat Samhita also

describes Vastu and mandala design principles based on
a perfect triangle (3), hexagon (6), octagon (8) and hexadecagon (16) sided
layouts, according to Stella Kramrisch.
[41] Rian et al (2007), Fractal geometry as the synthesis of
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ISBN 81-208-0223-3
[43] Datta and Beynon (2011), Early Connections: Reections
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Asian Architecture and Urbanism : Proceedings of the
East Asian Architectural Culture International Conference, Department of
Architecture, National University of
Singapore, Singapore, pp 1-17

[52] Edmund Leach, .The Gatekeepers of Heaven: Anthropological Aspects of Grandiose

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one need not
be religious in the minimal sense described to be
accepted as a Hindu by Hindus, or describe oneself
perfectly validly as Hindu. One may be polytheistic or monotheistic, monistic or
pantheistic, even an
agnostic, humanist or atheist, and still be considered
a Hindu.;
Lester Kurtz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Violence,
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MK Gandhi, The Essence of Hinduism, Editor: VB
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[54] Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary,
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[ kaitraja ] [ kaitraja ] n. ( fr. [
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soul Lit. W.; the knowledge of the soul Lit. W.
[55] See the following two in Ewert Cousins series on World

Bhavasar and Kiem, Spirituality and Health, in
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John Arapura, Spirit and Spiritual Knowledge in the
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[56] Gavin Flood, Brills Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Editor:

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[59] Michael Rabe (1996), Sexual Imagery on the Phantasmagorical Castles at
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No. 3 (Autumn, 1983), pp
[61] Mary Beth Heston, Iconographic Themes of the Gopura
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[79] Rani-ki-vav at Patan, Gujarat, UNESCO World Heritage
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[81] Jabaladarsana Upanishad 1.59
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[69] Joshi (2013), Boon of astronomy: Rituals and religious

festivals in Odisha for a peaceful society, International
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[85] Banerji, New Light on the Gupta Temples at Deogarh,

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[122] Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary,
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[123] Knut A. Jacobsen (2012), Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: Salvic Space,
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External links

Stella Kramrisch, Hindu Temple, ISBN 9788120802223

Michael W. Meister, Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture, ISBN 978-
George Michell, The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and Forms, ISBN
Ram Rz, Henry Harkness (1834), Essay on the Architecture of the Hindus at Google
Books - on Hindu
Temple Vimana, Pillars and ilpa astras
Hindu Temple Collections
Hindu Temples outside of India
Hindu Temples in Canada
Hindu temple in Thirukalukundram



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