Temple Architecture of South India

Temple Architecture of South India

The South Indian Temple Architecture is divided into 4 styles that were developed over the period of time. They are

  • Dravidian
  • Vesara
  • Nayaka
  • Vijayanagara

Mamallapuram cave temples – panchapandava, varaha Descent of ganga and arjuna’s penance . Pancha pandava raths and 2 pidari raths – Narasimhavarman II. Shore temple at mamallapuram and kailasanath temple at kanchi – structural temples. Kailasanth temple – barrel vaulted pyramidal tower

Pallava school of temple architecture emerged in 4 stages

STAGE I: MAHENDRA GROUP 

Temple Architecture of South India
  • Rock cut architecture
  • Word mandapa is used instead of temple

STAGE II: NARASIMHA GROUP

  • Decoration in rock cut caves
  • Mandapa became rathas
  •  Biggest rath – Dharmaraja rath
  • Smallest – draupadi rath
  • Dravidian style – dharmaraj rath was a precursor

STAGE III: RAJASIMHA GROUP

  • Development of real structural temples
  • Shore temple and kailasanath temple

STAGE IV: NANDIVARMAN GROUP

  • Development of small temples
  • Dravidian style continued

DRAVIDIAN STYLE:

Brihadeshwara temple at Thanjavur

It is the Oldest style of architecture. Dravida style of temples are founded more in southern India. Here the shikara reduces in size along certain steps and not in a curve. Dravidian – only one vimana, crucified ground plan, uprised platform Dravidian style started during pallavas but flourished during the rule of cholas

4 parts – differ according to ages in which they are executed

  1. Principal part – temple > vimana – square in plan & pyramidal proof – image of god is placed
  2. Mandapas – covers and precede the door leading to the cell
  3. Gate – pyramids, gopurams > principal features in quadrangular enclosures
  4. Pillared halls or chaultris – various purposes

Shikara is a crowning element at the top of the temple – octagonal cupola – equal to “AMALAK” & “KALASH” of nagara style. Ex: Brihadeswara temple at tanjore – RAJARAJA I, Gangaikonda cholapuram – RAJENDRA, SON OF RAJARAJA I

FUNCTIONS OF TEMPLES:

  • Religious
  • Administrative centre
  • Controlling vast areas of land in terms of revenue collection
  • Centre of education
  • Various sources of revenues of temples – donation and revenue collection

CHOLAS:

Vijayalaya – choleswara temple at Narttamalai > earliest chola temple

Brihadeswara temple – great pyramidal tower (vimana) crowned by dome (kalasa) set the style for dravidian shikhara

Rajendra I introduced the mahamandapa before the ardhamandapa in the Brihadeswara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram

VESARA STYLE/ CHALUKYA STYLE/ KARNATAKA STYLE

  • Features of both Nagara and Dravidian style
  • 2 principal components – vimana and mandapa > joined by Antarala
  • Don’t have covered ambulatory around sanctum
  • Pillars, door frames and ceilings are carved Ex: doddabasappa temple at dambal Lad khan temple at aihole and temples at badami
  • Developed in mid 17th century

NAYAKA STYLE

The best example of Nayaka style of temple architecture is the world famous the Meenakshi temple at madurai.

MEENAKSHI SUNDARESWARAR TEMPLE, Madurai

Meenaksi was the daughter of a pandyan king who married Sundereswara (Siva). In the temple all the features of dravidian style are present. Additional feature – prakarns.  Prakarn – huge corridors along with roofed ambulatory passageways. Interior carvings are seen on temple walls.  The tank was added. Constructed with initiative of Tirumalai Mid 17th century

VIJAYANAGARA STYLE

Some variations from Dravidian style in temple architecture

  1. Gopuram now enlarged
  2. High enclosure walls
  3. More decoration
  4. Sculpture of motif of supernatural horse
  • God’s chief wife AMMAN was provided with a separate shrine
  • Kalyana mandapam – god and goddesses married
  • Mandapa – 1000 pillared hall
  • Decorative motifs like prancing horses, leoglyphs and monsteres were added
  • These additions can be seen at vittalswami temple at hampi
  • Secular structures – vijayanagar throne room gateways in rajasthan and entrances to wells in gujarat
  • The concept of secular buildings was introduced by vijayanagar empire. Ex: lotus maha

Click here to learn more about the cultural contributions of vijayanagara empire