Dravida Vs Nagara Architecture – UPSC Prelims

Dravidian Architecture
  • Two broad orders of temples in the country are known as:
    • Nagara in the north and
    • Dravida in the south.
  • At times, the Vesara style of temples as an independent style created through the selective mixing of the Nagara and Dravida orders is mentioned by some scholars.
Features of Nagara and Dravida Orders of Temples:
  • 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.
  • In the South Indian temple, 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 amlak and kalasha of North Indian temples.
  • Whereas at the entrance to the North Indian temple’s garbhagriha, it would be usual to find images such as mithunas and the river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna, in the south one will generally find sculptures of fierce dvarapalas or the door-keepers guarding the temple. It is common to find a large water reservoir, or a temple tank, enclosed within the complex.
  • Nagara Style: Kandariya Mahadeva Temple (Khajuraho), Madhya Pradesh
  • Dravidian Style: Brihadeshwara Temple and Mahabalipuram Temple, Tamil Nadu

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