Throughout major parts of India, the sanctuary is known as the Vimana, of which the upper and the tapering portion are called the Sikhara that means tower. Inside that there is a small dark chamber called garbhagriha. In front of this is the Mandapa which is the pavilion for the assembly of the devotees. There are various other subsidiary structures.
It was an epoch of Bhakti to that wave of passionate building which swept over India in the middle ages. The religious motive was predominant in the temple architecture. Style has been highly emphasised though as a whole art of building was based on certain common fundamental principles. There is a standard artistic and structural procedure, which implies that the master masons were working by means of some comprehensive and well-established technical code. This was brought about by the guilds of craftsmen with their canons of art. The Indian masons showed strict adherence to the laws of gravity, an appreciation of the grandeur of mass and rich value of shadows.
Some of the important temples built during this period were the rock temples at Ellora, Elephanta, the temples of Tanjore and Madurai. In Northern India, the Khajuraho temples in Central India are a class apart. Then the famous temples of Orissa, the Jagannath temple at Puri and the remains of the temple of the Sun at Konark are illustrious examples of exquisite temple architecture during that period. The Lingaraja templeranks as one of the finest architectural productions of the country. There are many shrines and chapels around the main temple. The most impressive is the great tower of the Sri Mandir. The greatest and grandest achievement of the Eastern school of architecture is the Temple of the Sun at Konark. The temple is dedicated to Sun. The masons tried to represent the traditional description of the sun-god as given in the Vedas visualizing the deity standing in winged chariot with his team of seven horses, with which he blazes his way through the heavens. The temple marks the evolution of Tantrism in Orissa.
The Khajuraho temples most refined and finished manifestations of Indian architecture is visible. They are distinguished by their elegant proportions, graceful contours and rich surface treatment. The halls are abundant in sculpture. They are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and to the Jain deities.
There are various dismantled and fragmentary temples in northern India owing to the onslaught of the Muslim rulers. Many temples survive in these places. Maha-Mandir of Jodhpur and Eklinga temple of Udaipur can be cited as examples. On Mount Abu besides other Jain temples, there is the temple of Vimala which was built during this period. Practically every surface is elaborated with sculptured forms. Very less original fabric of Somnath remains there so as to speak of its architecture. In the Deccan there are a number of temples of this period like Ambarnatha in Bombay Province, the Sas Bahu Mandir in Gwalior district and the Gondeswara temple at Sirnar in Nasik. There are temples with multiple roofs as in Kashmir.
There is the art of Kashmir which is distinctive from the designs and styles so far seen and resembles both the Gandhara School and the Gupta School. Kashmir developed its artistic genius during the rule of Lalitaditya and Avanti-Varman in the eighth and the ninth centuries respectively. The best style is that of the Sun temple of the Sun at Martand. It is a central structure standing within a rectangular courtyard. In a skilful manner all its parts are adjusted and treated in such a way that it gives the temple its supreme aesthetic and architectural character.
|More Articles in Indian Temple Architecture (3)|