New Delhi, March 29, 2017: In ancient times, the temples were social hubs where people used to assemble. They served as the centres of imparting skills and arts of dance, music and combat to subsequent generations. Today, the following temples are reminiscent of our past and craftsmen’s architectural brilliance in those days.
1. Brihadeshwara Temple, Tanjore, Tamil Nadu
This temple was dedicated to Shiva and is the magnum opus of Dravidian art. It was built by King Rajaraja Chola in 1002 AD.In ancient days, Thanjavur known as “The rice bowl of Tamil Nadu,” was an important city to the ancient Cholas. The Brihadeshwara temple amalgamates the best in the tradition of temple building – architecture, sculpture, painting and other allied arts. It is composed of many interconnected structures such as the Nandi pavilion, a pillared portico and a large hall. Its vimana (the roof like structure that towers above the sanctum sanctorum or main shrine) is 66 metres high.
2. Kailashnath Temple, Ellora
This was built as a dedication to Lord Shiva, the destroyer. It is symbolised as the Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. It is a tribute to man’s greatness, even though academia have not given it its due place in our school history syllabus. It was carved in immaculate proportion and alignment to its adjacent structures, which include columns, flying bridges, stone arches, and statues and buildings – all made out of a single piece of rock.
3. Chennakeshava Temple, Karnataka
Situated on the banks of the Yagachi river, this temple was an early masterpiece of the Hoysala Period. It was built in Belur, the capital of Hoysala kingdom. It was built by the Vijayanagara ruler to commemorate their victory over the Cholas and is solely dedicated to Vishnu as most of the figural carvings depict aspects of Vishnu, particularly the incarnations and the God seated with Lakshmi. Currently, Belur has been proposed as UNESCO world heritage site for its beautiful 10th century temples.
4. Tungnath Temple, Uttarakhand
At an elevation of 3680 metres above sea level, the Tugnath Temple is the highest elevated of the Panch Kedar, the others are Madhyamaheshwar, Kedarnath, Rudranath and Kalpeshwar. The temple is connected to the Ramayana where Lord Ram meditated to release the curse of Brahmahatya for having exterminated Ravana. The temple is quite small, and hence only 10 people are allowed in at a time. March to October, excluding the summer months of June to September, Tungnath temple best serves the tourists with natural beauty along with religious favor.
5. Adi Kumbeswarar, Tamil Nadu
Located in the temple town of India, Kumbhakonam, this temple dates back to the Vijaynagara period. Adi Kumbeswarar is the presiding deity of the temple and the shrine is located in the centre. Kumbeswarar is in the form a lingam believed to have been made by Shiva himself when he mixed the nectar of immortality and sand. The popular Hindu festival of Mahamaham is associated with this temple.
6. Jagatpita Brahma Mandir, Rajasthan
Although the structure of this temple dates back to the 14th century, this temple is said to be 2000 years old. The temple is mainly built of marble and stone slabs. It has a distinct red pinnacle and a bird motif. The temple sanctum sanctorum holds the central images of Brahma and his second consort Gayatri. It witnesses a festival dedicated to Brahma during the Kartik Purnima.
6. Jagatpita Brahma Mandir or Brahma Temple, Rajasthan
Although the edifice of this temple dates back to the 14th century, this temple is said to be 2000 years old. The temple is mainly built of marble and stone slabs. It possesses a distinct red pinnacle and a bird motif. The temple sanctum sanctorum holds the central images of Brahma and his second consort Gayatri. It witnesses a festival dedicated to Brahma during the Kartik Purnima.
8. Konark Sun Temple, Odisha
This temple was built by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty around AD 1250. This colossal temple is dedicated to Sun God. The name Konark is derived form the words Kona – Corner and Arka – Sun. The temple is in the shape of a gigantic chariot with elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. A major part of the structure is now in ruins. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
9. Dilwara Temples near Mount Abu, Rajasthan
Located about 2.5 km from Mount Abu, each of these five temples are unique in their own way and were built between the 11th and 13th century AD and are remarkable for their niches and carvings on marble. These five temples (Vimal Vasahi, Luna Vasahi, Pittalhar Temple, Parshvanatha Temple and Mahavir Swami Temple) are considered the most beautiful Jain pilgrimage sites in the world.
10. Pancha Ratna Temple, Bankura, West Bengal
Built in 1643 by King Raghunath Singha, this temple stands on a low square plinth and consists of an ambulatory pathway with a porch opened by three arches on the four sides of the temple. The central shikhara is octagonal, and the rest four are square. The walls are richly decorated with terracotta carvings featuring aspects of Lord Krishna’s life.
11. Badami Cave Temples, Karnataka
The Badami cave temples are a complex of temples located at Badami, a town in the Bagalkot District in the northern part of Karnataka, India. Badami was established by Pulakesin I in 6th century; however the architectural expansion was observed by the Chalukyas. They are considered an example of Indian rock-cut architecture.
12. Vittala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka
13. Orchha Temples, Madhya Pradesh
The Chaturbhuj temple is imposing with tall spires built atop a high platform. Its exterior is richly ornamented with lotus symbols. The Raja Ram Temple resembles a palace as the Ram is worshiped as a king here.
The Lakshmi Temple is an odd amalgamation of temple and fort and an unique mixture of concentric forms. It consists of an octagonal central tower inside a triangular temple. In line with this eccentricity, the entrance gate is set in a corner rather than the wall.
– by Sabhyata Badhwar. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse