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Conference on Indian temple architecture ‘Devayatanam’ at Hampi

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    2nd Mar, 2022

Context

Archaeological Survey of India of Ministry of Culture organized a two-day international conference ‘Devayatanam - An odyssey of Indian temple architecture' at Karnataka's Hampi.

About

About the conference:

  • The conference aims to deliberate upon the philosophical, religious, social, economic, technical, scientific, art and architectural aspects of temple.
  • It also intends to initiate a dialogue on the evolution and development of the various styles of temple architecture such as the Nagara, Vesara, Dravida, Kalinga and others.
  • The conference will have eminent scholars discussing on the various facets of the great temples of India.

Significance of Temples:

  • Temple being an integral part of the Indian life and its ecosystem in its own ways since the time immemorial is perceived as the manifestation of Purush and Prakriti both and is seen as the mirror of the cosmos.
  • Temple construction was practiced as a pious act not only in the subcontinent but the idea also travelled to the nearest neighborhood such as south-east and East Asia.
  • The art and technique of temple architecture spread from India to other regions and how this art was modified; to suit the local requirements and it in turn inspired the development of new architectural styles.
  • For centuries, temples have been central to society and culture, to science and technology, to art and economy, to rituals and traditions, to devotion and spirituality, to the past and future.

About Hampi:

  • Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in India located near Hospet town in the Karnataka state, India.
  • This historic town is also the “World’s Largest Open-air Museum” and covers an area of nearly 29 sq km. 
  • Site of Hampi comprise mainly the remnants of the Capital City of Vijayanagara Empire (14th-16th Cent CE), the last great Hindu Kingdom. 
  • Hampi’s spectacular setting is dominated by river Tungabhadra, craggy hill ranges and open plains, with widespread physical remains. 
  • Dravidian architecture flourished under the Vijayanagara Empire and its ultimate form is characterised by their massive dimensions, cloistered enclosures, and lofty towers over the entrances encased by decorated pillars.
  • The Vitthla temple is the most exquisitely ornate structure on the site and represents the culmination of Vijayanagara temple architecture.
  • It is a fully developed temple with associated buildings like Kalyana Mandapa and Utsava Mandapa within a cloistered enclosure pierced with three entrance
  • In addition to the typical spaces present in contemporary temples, it boasts of a Garuda shrine fashioned as a granite rathaand a grand bazaar street.
  • This complex also has a large Pushkarani (stepped tank) with a Vasantotsava mandapa(ceremonial pavilion at the centre), wells and a network of water channels.

Different style of Indian Temple Architecture:

  • The Nagara or north 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
    • There are many subdivisions of Nagara temples depending on the shape of the shikhara. 

  • The Dravida or south Indian temple style
    • The dravida temple is enclosed within a compound wall and the front wall has an entrance gateway in its centre, which is known as a gopuram. 
    • 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. 
    • 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.
    • 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,
      • circular or vritta; 
      • Octagonal or ashtasra

  • Vesara temple style
    • It is a hybridised style of Nagara and Dravida style that became popular after the mid-seventh century in the southern part of the Deccan, i.e., in the region of Karnataka.
    • Perhaps the most characteristic feature of these temples is that they grow extremely complex with so many projecting angles emerging from the previously straightforward square temple, that the plan of these temples starts looking like a star, and is thus known as a stellate plan.
    • Since they are made out of soapstone which is a relatively soft stone, the artists were able to carve their sculptures intricately.

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