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Indian Heritage & Culture

Devayatanam: Conference on Temple Architecture

  • 26 Feb 2022
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: World Heritage site, Vesara, Nagara & Dravidian architecture.

For Mains: Indian Heritage & Culture, Temple Architecture.

Why in News?

Recently, the Union Culture Minister inaugurated Devayatanam, a one-of-a-kind conference on temple architecture of India, at Hampi, Karnataka.

  • It is a part of the celebration under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and is being organized on 25th-26th February by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) of the Ministry of Culture.
  • The temples of Hampi are already featured in the World Heritage List of UNESCO for their Sheer brilliance, Scale of imagination, and Scintillating architecture.
    • Approximately 10 of India’s 40 UNESCO World Heritage Inscriptions are Hindu Temples in different architectural styles, patterns and symmetry.
    • In 2021, Rudreswara Temple, (also known as the Ramappa Temple) at Mulugu district, Telangana has been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

What is the Significance of the Conference?

  • The conference provides a platform to discuss, deliberate and disseminate to the world the grandeur of Indian temples, art and architecture.
  • This was in line with the overall vision of the Prime Minister which is based on 5 V's, i. e. Vikas (development), Virasat (heritage), Vishwas (trust), Vignan (knowledge), which lead us to becoming a vishwaguru so that India shows the world the way.
  • Devayatnam, the house of god is not only a place to worship and perform rituals but also a centre for education, fine arts, music, science & technology, rituals & traditions or activities shaping the society.

How Has the Government Promoted Temple in Recent Times?

  • The Union Government has proposed Hoysala temples of Belur and Somnathpur to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • A grand temple of Lord Ram that is being built in Ayodhya.
  • After close to 250 years, the spiritual capital of India - Kashi, has been rejuvenated and has more accessibility with amenities and better infrastructure for devotees.
  • The state of Telangana has built 2 large stone carved temples worth Rs. 1,000 crores.
  • The focus is to make existing spiritual places accessible to devotees through better infrastructure and world class amenities.
    • PRASHAD and SWADESH DARSHAN Scheme to facilitate tourism infrastructure and provide better accessibility and experience at spiritual places with a budget of approximately Rs. 7,000 crores has been conceived.

What is the Significance of Indian Temples?

  • Temples have been centres of Indian art, knowledge, culture, spirituality, innovation and education.
  • There have been three major styles of setting up temples in India known as Nagara, Dravidian and Vesara.
    • Dashavatar temple in Devgarh is of Nagara style which is prevalent between the Himalayas and the Vindhya mountains.
    • The Kailasanathar temple in Kanchi is a Dravidian style temple, developed on the land of Krishna and Kaveri River.
    • Papanatha temple is one of the examples of Vesara style. Vesara is a hybrid form Nagara and Dravidian style.
  • A Hindu temple is a combination of art and science which includes Shilpa sastra, vasthu sastra, geometry and symmetry.
  • The temples promote unity, integrity, and civilization.
    • It was during the freedom struggle that all the freedom struggles were resolved before temple fire to fight for freedom of the country.
What is the difference between Nagara and Dravidian Style Temples?
Nagara or North Indian Temple Style Dravida or South Indian Temple Style
  • In North India it is common for an entire temple to be built on a stone platform with steps leading up to it.
  • Further, unlike in South India it does not usually have elaborate boundary walls or gateways.
  • While the earliest temples had just one tower, or shikhara, later temples had several.
  • The garbhagriha is always located directly under the tallest tower.
  • 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 a gopuram.
  • The shape of the main temple tower known as vimana in Tamil Nadu, is like a stepped pyramid that rises up geometrically rather than the curving shikhara of North India.
  • It is common to find a large water reservoir, or a temple tank, enclosed within the complex.
  • Subsidiary shrines are either incorporated within the main temple tower, or located as distinct, separate small shrines beside the main temple.
  • Temples became rich administrative centres, controlling vast areas of land.
  • There are many subdivisions of nagara temples depending on the shape of the shikhara.
  • There are different names for the various parts of the temple in different parts of India, however, the most common name for the simple shikhara which is square at the base and whose walls curve or slope inward to a point on top is called the 'latina' or the rekha-prasada type of shikara.
  • The second major type of architectural form in the nagara order is the phamsana, which tends to be broader and shorter than latina ones.
  • Their roofs are 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 tall towers.
  • The third main sub-type of the nagara building is generally called the valabhi type.
  • These are rectangular buildings with a roof that rises into a vaulted chamber.
  • Just as there are many subdivisions of the main types of nagara temples, there are subdivisions also of dravida temples.
  • These are basically of five different shapes:
    • square, usually called kuta, and also caturasra
    • rectangular or shala or ayatasra
    • elliptical, called gaja-prishta or elephant backed, or also called vrittayata, deriving from wagon vaulted shapes of apsidal chaityas with a horse-shoe shaped entrance facade usually called a nasi
    • circular or vritta
    • octagonal or ashtasra.
  • Khajuraho Group of temples, Sun temple, Konark, Sun temple at Modhera, Gujarat and Ossian temple, Gujarat.
  • Kanchipuram, Thanjavur or Tanjore, Madurai and Kumbakonam are the most famous temple towns of Tamil Nadu

Source: PIB

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