Nandimandapa - some Shaivite temples have
a separate housing for the idol of Nandi, outside the sabhamandapam,
and this is called the Nandimandapa.
Deepasthambha/deepamala is a stone lamp pillar that
is mainly illuminated during festivities. It was a later addition
to the temple's various elements.
Gopuram (left) is found in Dravidian architecture and is an
ornate tower with vertically-arranged rows of niches that acts as a
gateway, leading one inside the temple courtyard.
Shilalekhs (right) are inscriptions carved in stone
that mention the patron of the temple, the date of construction, and
Jaali is a latticed window on the temple wall.
Dwarpala are engraved idols of the celestial
guards, usually to be found flanking the main doors. The temple walls/pillars
also display carvings or sculptures of other gods, goddesses, and other celestial
beings. Often, sculptures depicting stories from Hindu mythology and the epics
are found engraved on the walls, pillars, lintels and friezes.
The Water Wells (vihir/hauda) and water reservoirs
(jalakunda) are also essentials of a temple in which a devotee cleanses
himself before performing rituals or uses its water during the pooja /
Makar torana is the design on the doorstep of the
There is also the presence of a Tulsivrindavan or a
mud or stone enclosure for the sacred basil plant (tulsi).
The carvings or iconography in Hindu temples is
particularly interesting. For example (left), Shiva temples are conspicuous
in the presence of carvings of Sharabha (half beast, half bird,
said to be an incarnation of Shiva)...
...or (right) the Gandabherunda (a two headed bird, said
to be an incarnation of Vishnu), the Vyaal (tiger), Gaja (elephant),
the tortoise on the sabhamandap floor (probably Vishnu in his 'kurma' tortoise
incarnation, or perhaps comparing a tortoise withdrawing its head and limbs to a devotee
withdrawing his senses from the material world to concentrate on the Lord).
Veergals (hero stones in memory of deceased local
warriors found mostly in the Deccan temples), usually positioned in the courtyard.