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Indian architecture in

concept and execution

Case Study of Dravidian Temple Architecture
Types of Indian Temple Architecture
Chalukya Hoysala
Indian Temple Architecture
Gopuram: an elaborate gateway of south Indian temples, in the form of a tower.
Jagati: the platform on which the temple is erected.
Mandapa: a pillared hall for public rituals.
Antarala: an antechamber between the garbhagriha and the mandapa in north Indian temples.
Garbhagriha: the sanctum sanctorum where the presiding deity is kept.
Shikhara or Vimana: the tower over the garbhagriha

Dravidian vs. Nagara Temple Architecture
Dravidian architecture important
features are the vimana and
gopuram. Vimana is tall pyramidal
tower consisting of several
progressively smaller storeys, the
peak of the vimanas is known as
sikhara in south indian temples.
Gopurams the welcoming gate
became taller and taller
overpowering the main shrine and
its super structure and dominating
the whole temple complex.
In Nagara the beehived shaped
tower is the most distinguished
element called as shikhara.
The gateways are in the North
and they are plain simple and
Nagara style vs Dravidian style
Introduction to Dravidaian Temple Architecture
Pallava (600-900AD)
Chola (900-1150 AD)
Pandya (1100-1350 AD)
Vijayanagara (1350-1565 AD)
Nayaka (from 1600 AD)
Pallavas vs. Cholas
Dravidian architectures foundation laid
Pallavas great patrons of art and architecture
They used architecture to legitimize their rule
by richly endowing the shrines and by
naming the edifices after their kings. As a
result, a complex relationship began to grow
between the temple, community and the
Two phases
Mahendra and Mammala (610-690)
Rajasimha and Nandivarman (690-900)

Golden age for Dravidian architecture.
Proclaim their power through arts
Used temple to make unequivocal
statement about their political hegemony.
Brihadisvara temple (a royal monument of
Built by Raja Raja Chola
One of tallest (210 fts high) and largest
tower in India
Temple was built per ancient texts called
Vaastu Shastras and Agamas

Brihadeeshwara Temple
Axial and Symmetrical geometry rules temple layout.
The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the
bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is carved out
of a single stone and it weighs around 80 tons
Kumbam raised to its present height by dragging on an
inclined plane of 6.44 km
Inner mandapa which is surrounded by massive walls
that are divided into levels by sharply cut sculptures
and pilasters providing deep bays and recesses

Brihadeeshwara Temple
The two large gopuras in line are first introduced
here in Dravidian architecture.
The vimana is dvitala (double storied).
In the Dravida style, the Karuvarai takes the form of
a miniature vimana with other features exclusive to
southern Indian temple architecture such as the
inner wall together with the outer wall creating
a pradakshina around the garbhagriha
for pradakshina. The entrance is highly decorated.
The inside chamber housing the image of the god is
the sanctum sanctorum, the garbhagriha The
garbhagriha is square and sits on a plinth, its
location calculated to be a point of total equilibrium
and harmony as it is representative of a microcosm
of the universe. In the center is placed the image of
the deity.

Knowledge Systems
Vaastu Sastra
Floor Plan
Cosmic Being
Placing of Kumbam on top of the pyramidal tower
Shadow of gopuram never falls on the ground
Vastupurushamandala and Temple Plan
Vastupurushamandala derived from 3 words:
Vastu refers to physical environment
Purusha refers to cosmic being
Mandala refers to diagram
Square is a very fundamental form in Hindu philosophy.
Mandala is actually a square subdivided into smaller squares in the form of a grid with each unit
clearly making area of Gods.
Brihadeeshwara Temple as Padmagarbhamandala (16*16)
Most common mandalas are 64 and 81, these are common in Dravidian temples.

Brihadeeshwara Temple: Vaastu Sastra
Vertical Symbolism
The structure is so huge and it could signify Mt.Kailash
Horizontal Symbolism

It is hypothesized that the kumbam which weighs over 80 tonnes is of single rock and was rised to
its present height by dragging on an inclined plane of 6.44km.
A temporary inclined plane has been constructed and demolished after construction.
Elephants have been used to drag the stone up this slope.
Mathematical Calculations
= 0.01
m=72574.8 kg
F=7296.4N approx. 7.3kN
Weight a normal elephant can lift 300kg-500kg
No of elephants used: 7300/400=19
Force the inclined plane has to withstand:
No: of elephants*mass*g*sin+ Weight of kumbam
19*5000*9.81*0.01+7300=16619.5 N= 16.7kN
This shows how much force the temporary
inclined plane must withstand.
Cholas should have taken huge amount of
pain in constructing this.
Creating a temporary structure that could
withstand this much Force is a big deal.
This clearly shows how Cholas were
distinctly ahead in architecture and practical
use of mathematics.
They should have had a decent knowledge about path of the sun.
Combining this knowledge with their expertise in architecture they created a marvel.
Vimana doesnt cast a shadow on temple premises.
This not only shows their skill set but also the planning Cholas possessed.
The architect Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan should have thought of all these before
hand and then executed it.
Patterns in South Indian Temples
Sr. no Temples of South India Period In Plan Area Ratio
Total Area of the
temple (sq.m)
Total Wall
Area of the
temple (sq.m)
Total Wall
Area/Total, Total
Area of the
temple (%)
1 Ladh khan temple, Aihole, Karnataka 5th cent. 291.24 43.35 14.88%
2 Durga temple, Aihole, Karnataka 6th cent. 258.35 45.42 17.58%
3 Temple of papanatha, Pattadakal, Karnataka 7th cent. 199.42 58.07 29.11%
4 Temple of virupaksha, Pattadakal,Karnaataka 8th cent. 162.8 55.12 33.84%
5 Shore temple, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 8th cent. 32.91 20.59 62.56%
6 Jaina temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka 9th cent. 148.81 49.82 33.47%
Brihadeshvara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil
11th cent. 2179.29 737.15
8 Mallikarjuna temple, Sudi, Karnataka 11th cent. 176.19 78.51 44.59%
9 Gangaiacondacholapuran temple, Karnataka 11th cent. 2084 729.49 34.98%
10 Jain temple, Lakkundi, Karnataka 11th cent. 198.11 73.23 36.96%
11 Main Shrine , Itagi, Koppal district, Karnataka 12th cent. 378.72 131.98 34.98%
Temple of kallesvara,
12th cent. 459.92 232.63 50.56%
Virupaksha temple complex,
12th cent. 336.03 125.64 37.38%
14 Kesava temple, Aralguppe, Karnataka 13th cent. 472.12 214.6 45.43%
15 Isvara temple, Arisikerai, Karnataka 13th cent. 486.78 148.93 30.48%
16 Chandrasekara temple, Hampi, Karnataka 14th cent. 335.56 110.8 33.01%
17 Chandikeshawa temple, Hampi, Karnatka 14th cent. 106.21 36.62 34.42%
18 Vitthal temple, Hampi, Karnataka 15th cent. 769.04 397.54 49.95%
Patterns in Dravidian Architecture
Time vs. Area of Temple
Patterns in Dravidian Architecture
Time vs. Height of Temples