Temple construction

Nandimandapa - some Shaivite temples have a separate housing for the idol of Nandi, outside the sabhamandapam, and this is called the Nandimandapa.

Temple construction

Deepasthambha/deepamala is a stone lamp pillar that is mainly illuminated during festivities. It was a later addition to the temple's various elements.

Temple construction

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.

Temple construction

Shilalekhs (right) are inscriptions carved in stone that mention the patron of the temple, the date of construction, and related information.

Temple construction

Jaali is a latticed window on the temple wall.

Temple construction

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.

Temple construction

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 / rituals.

Temple construction

Makar torana is the design on the doorstep of the temple.

Temple construction

There is also the presence of a Tulsivrindavan or a mud or stone enclosure for the sacred basil plant (tulsi).

Temple construction

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)...

Temple construction

...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).

Temple construction

Veergals (hero stones in memory of deceased local warriors found mostly in the Deccan temples), usually positioned in the courtyard.