Why Different Hindu Temples are Shaped Differently

Characteristics of Hindu Temples' Architecture

The Evolution of Hindu Temples

1. First it started as caves hewn from the rock and shaped into pillared halls.

2. Then, they evolved to be free-standing stone structures.

3. Next, they started to include carved railings and gateways.

4. Sculptures started to be introduced in those spaces.

5. Last came the introduction of Hindu temples during the Gupta Dynasty (4th - 6th century).

Hindu temples contain 5 prominent areas

1. Shikara / Vimana: mountain-like spire at the top of the temple structure.

2. Garbhagriha: meaning, ‘womb-house’: cave-like sanctum where the main deity is housed

3. Antarala: transition area between Garbhagriha and Mandapa

4. Mandapa: pillared hall for large numbers of devotees to pray, and watch the priests performing the rituals

5. Vahana: the vehicle of the main deity

North India: Nagara Architecture

Temples in the north follow the Nagara style. Commonly seen built on a stone platform with steps leading up to it.

Example of Nagara Style Temple: Swaminrayan Akshardham Mandir New Delhi

South India: Dravida Architecture

Temples in the South are known for its pyramid style architecture. They're also marked by its colorful carvings of monsters, animals, instruments

and deities.

Prominent features:

1. Shikara: the crown

2. Compound Wall

3. Gopuram: the entrance gateway

4. Vimana: the main tower

Vesara Architecture Style

This style is a combination of Dravida and Nagara styles. These structures usually have a star shaped floor plan.

Example of Vesara Style Temple: Kailasa Temple Ellora


Enjoyed this article? 

Follow us on Instagram to read our weekly Theology Thursday posts!

Modi Toys is a children's brand of toys and books inspired by ancient Hindu culture. We exist to spread joy and to spark curiosity in the next generation through our innovative soft plush toys, illustrated children's books and free learning resources. Our weekly Theology Thursday series covers a wide range of topics rooted in Hinduism to help us better understand the origins of traditions, the symbolic meaning of rituals, and the stories behind Hindu holidays and festivals. The more we can understand "the why" behind this 4,000 year ancient religion, and make sense of it in this modern age, the greater we can appreciate and preserve our rich Hindu culture. While we take great care in thoroughly researching the information presented, we may occasionally get some things wrong. We encourage a healthy and open dialogue so we can learn together. Please leave a comment below or email us directly at support@moditoys.com to address any concerns. 


Shop Now