Classification of Hindu Temples
South Indian Temple Structure - Dravida Style
This is the style that developed
in the Dravida Desam. The Vimana and the Gopurams are the distictive characteristics
of the Southern style. The Vimana is a tall pyramidal tower consisting
of several progressively smaller storeys. This stands on a square base.
The Gopuram has two storeys seperated by a horizontal moulding. The Prakara
or the outer wall, envelops the main shrine as well as the other smaller
shrines, the tank.
The Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas,
the Vijayanagar rulers, the Nayaks all contributed to the Southern style
The Pallava shrines normally have
a Somaskanda relief panel.
Some of the Pallava temples:
Olakkanesvara temple Mukundanayanar
temple Shore temple at Mamallapuram Talagiriswara temple at Panamalai in
South Arcot Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram (Rajasimha & his son
Mahendravarman) Vaikuntha Perumal temple by Nandivarman
The Cholas erected several temples
and also renovated earlier brick structures in stone.
Early Chola temples:
Sundaresvara temple at Tirukattalai
(Aditya I) Vijayalaya Choleswaram at Narthamalai Komganatha temple at Srinivasanallur
(Parantaka I) Brihadiswara temple at Tanjavur (Raja Raja Chola) Brihadiswara
temple at Gangaikonda cholapuram (Rajendra Chola) Airavateswara temple
at Darasuram (Raja Raja II) Kamaparharesvara temple at Tirubuvanam (Kulotunga
The Pandyas mostly concentrated
on the Gopurams, the main entrance. The basic structure and style was maintained,
but the decorations on the Gopurams and the size characterises the Pandya
The typical Pandya style can
be seen in the
Sundara Pandya Gopuram added to
the Jambukesvara temple
Eastern Gopuram, Great Temple, Chidambaram.
The main contributions of the Vijayanagar
period were the tall massive gopurams and the multiple mandapas. Unlike
the Chola style, where the entire temple structure was usually a unified
whole, there were numerous mandapas, pillared halls, shrines to minor deities,
tanks, etc. Another major feature is the carved pillars - with the rearing
simhas (lions), yalis (lions with elephant trunks).
The important temples from the
Vitthala Swami temple, Vijayanager
The pillars and gopurams of the
The Madurai and Tanjavur Nayaks
made great contributions - the main characterictics of this period being
the elaborate mandapas of the hundred and thousand pillared type, the high
gopurams with stucco statues on the surface, the long corridors.
The main temples representing
this style in various portions are
The Ranganatha temple at Srirangam
- for the increase in the no. of enclosures
The temple at Rameswaram - for the
The Subramanya temple at the Brihadisvara
temple court at Tanjavur - for the fine vimana with ardha and maha mandapas.