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    Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri And Sun Temple, Konark

    News: A high level team of ASI officials visits Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri and Sun Temple, Konark to assess the damage caused by cyclone Fani.
    Source: PIB

    History - The famed Puri “Jagannath Temple” attracts large crowds from all over India and its annual rathyathra is also very popular.

    Most theories have it that the main deity at Puri is a “SabaraDebata” (Adivasi god) who was named Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) by early Buddhists.

    Notably, Jagannath was established in Puri in the 9th century AD, and was usurped into the Brahminical fold after the decline of Buddhism.

    Some Hindutva ideologues decry this, but there is clear evidence that temple entry restrictions based on caste and religion was only after 16th century.

    1. Garbhagriha:

    • It literally means ‘womb-house’ and is a cave like a sanctum.

    • In the earliest temples, it was a small cubical structure with a single entrance.

    • Later it grew into a larger complex.

    • The Garbhagriha is made to house the main icon (main deity) which is itself the focus of much ritual attention.

    2. Mandapa:

    • It is the entrance to the temple.

    • It may be a portico or colonnaded (series of columns placed at regular intervals) hall that incorporates space for a large number of worshippers.

    • Dances and such other entertainments are practiced here.

    • Some temples have multiple mandapas in different sizes named as Ardhamandapa, Mandapa, and Mahamandapa.

    3. Shikhara or Vimana:

    • They are mountain like the spire of a free-standing temple.

    • Shikhara is found in North Indian temples and Vimana is found in South Indian temples.

    • Shikhara has a curving shape while vimana has a pyramidal-like structure.

    4. Amalaka:

    • It is a stone disc like structure at the top of the temple and they are common in North Indian temples.

    5. Kalasha:

    • It is the topmost point of the temple and commonly seen in North Indian temples.

    6. Antarala (vestibule):

    • Antarala is a transition area between the Garbhagriha and the temple’s main hall (mandapa).

    7. Jagati:

    • It is a raised platform for sitting and praying and is common in North Indian temples.

    8. Vahana:

    • It is the mount or vehicle of the temple’s main deity along with a standard pillar or Dhvaj which is placed axially before the sanctum.

    Classification of Indian Temples

    • Nagara (in North India)

    • Dravida (in South India)

    • Vesara style of temples as an independent style created through the mixing of Nagara and Dravida orders

    The Nagara or North Indian Temple Architecture

    • Nagara is the style of temple architecture which became popular in Northern India.

    • It is common here to build an entire temple on a stone platform with steps leading up to it.

    • Unlike in south India, it doesn’t usually have elaborate boundary walls or gateways.

    • Earliest temples had only one shikhara (tower), but in the later periods, multiple shikharas came.

    • The garbhagriha is always located directly under the tallest tower.

    Nagara temples can be subdivided mainly into three – based on the shikhara type.

    1. Latina/ Rekha-Prasada:

    • It is the simple and most common type of shikhara.Latina type Shikhara

    • It is square at the base and the walls curve or slopes inwards to a point on top.

    • Latina types are mainly used for housing the garbhagriha.

    • Later on, the Latina buildings grew complex, and instead of appearing like a single tower, the temple began to support many small towers, which were clustered together like rising mountain type with the tallest one being in the centre, and this was the one which was always above the garbhagriha.

    2. Phamsana type shikhara:

    • They are broader and shorter than Latina type.Phamsana type Shikhara of North Indian Temples

    • Their roof is composed of several slabs that gently rise to a single point over the centre of the building, unlike the Latina ones which look like sharply rising towers.

    • Phamsana roofs do not curve inwards; instead, they slope upward on a straight incline.

    • In many north Indian temples, the phamsana type is used for mandapas while the main garbhagriha is housed in a Latina building.

    3. Valabhi type shikhara:Valabhi type Shikhara

    • These are rectangular buildings with a roof that rises into a vaulted chamber.

    • The edge of the vaulted chamber is round, like the bamboo or wooden wagons that would have been drawn by bullocks in ancient times.

    • The form of this temple is influenced by ancient building forms that were already in existence.

    The Dravida or South Indian Temple Architecture

    Unlike the nagara temple, the Dravida temple is enclosed within a compound wall.

    The front wall has an entrance gateway in its centre, which is known as Gopura/ Gopuram.

    The shape of the main temple tower is known as Vimana (shikhara in nagara style).

    The vimana is like a stepped pyramid that rises up geometrically rather than the curving shikhara of north India.

    In south India, the word Shikhara is used only for the crowning element at the top of the temple which is usually shaped like a small stupika or an octagonal cupola (this is equivalent to the amalaka or kalasha of north Indian temples).

    In north Indian temples, we can see images such as Mithunas (erotic) and the river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna guarding the temple. But in the Dravida style of temple architecture, instead of these sculptures, we can see the sculptures of fierce dvarapalas or door keepers guarding the temple.

    A large water reservoir or a temple tank enclosed in the complex is general in south Indian temples.

    Subsidiary shrines are either incorporated within the main temple tower or located as a distinct, separate small shrine beside the main temple.

    The north Indian idea of multiple shikharas rising together as a cluster was not popular in Dravida style.

    At some of the most sacred temples in south India, the main temple in which the garbhagriha is situated has, in fact, one of the smallest towers.

    This is because it is usually the oldest part of the temple.

    The Vesara or the Deccan Temple Architecture

    The buildings in the Deccan region are hybridized style, which contains both elements from nagara and Dravida architectural styles and is known in some ancient texts as the Vesara style (not all temples of Deccan are the vesara type).

    The vesara style became popular after the mid 7th century.

    When the population and the size of the town associated with the temple increased, it would have become necessary to make a new boundary wall around the temple (and also associated structures).

    An example for this is the Srirangam temple at Thiruchirapally, which has as many as seven concentric rectangular enclosure walls, each with gopurams.

    The outermost is the oldest while the tower right in the centre housing the garbhagriha is the oldest.

    Just as the nagara architecture has subdivisions, dravida temples also have subdivisions. These are basically of five different shapes:

    • Kuta or caturasra – square

    • Shala or ayatasra – rectangular

    • Gaja-prishta or vrittayata (elephant backed) –elliptic

    • Vritta – circular

    • Ashtasra – octagonal