Basic elements of a Hindu Temple – UPSC Prelims

Basic elements of a Hindu Temple:
  • Garbhagriha:
    • Literally means womb-house.
    • It is a cave-like sanctum which houses the main icon of the temple.
    • In earlier times, it was a small cubicle with one entrance.
    • In later periods, it grew into a larger chamber.

  • Mandapa:
    • It is the entrance to the temple.
    • It could be a portico or a collonaded hall where worshippers stand.
  • Shikhara/Vimana:
    • Noticed from the 5th century CE.
    • It is a mountain-like spire on top.
    • In north India, it is called Shikhara and is curving in shape.
    • In the south, it is like a pyramidal tower and is called Vimana.

  • Amalaka:
    • Stone-like disc seen at the top of the temple.
    • Mostly found in north Indian temples.
  • Kalasha:
    • It is the topmost part of the temple.
    • Mainly seen in north Indian styles.
  • Antarala:
    • It is a vestibule between the Garbhagriha and the Mandapa.
  • Jagati:
    • This is common in north Indian temples and is a raised platform where devotees can sit and pray.
  • Vahana:
    • It is the vehicle of the main deity which along with the standard pillar or Dhvaj which are placed axially