Nagara, Dravida & Vesara Temples

  • Temple architecture evolved slightly differently in different regions, such as the distinct features of Orissa, Kashmir and Bengal temples, but it can be generally classified under three categories- Nagara (North), Dravida (South) and Vesara styles.
  • The shikhara tower in Nagara temples has a sloping curve as they rise and are topped by an amalaka (a large fluted disk) and also a small spherical pot known as the kalash.
  • The Nagara style of temples were generally built on upraised platforms.
  • Kandariya Mahadeva temple at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh is one of the best expression of Nagara temple architecture.
  • In contrast, Dravida towers (known separately as vimana) are in the form of a stepped pyramid that rises up linearly rather than curved.
  • There is only one vimana in the Dravidian architecture on top of the main temple. The subsidiary shrines do not have vimanas, unlike in Nagara architecture.
  • The presence of water tank inside the temple enclosure is a unique feature of the Dravidian style.
  • Southern Indian temples are typically enclosed within a walled courtyard with a gate (gopuram) which over time had become even more massive and ornate than the temple itself.
  • The 11th century A.D. Brihadishwara Temple complex (built by Rajaraja I of Imperial Cholas) at Tanjavur is a wonderful example of Dravida temple which incorporates all of these features.
  • Vesara style of temple architecture flourished under the later Chalukya rulers in the 7th century A.D.
  • Vesara style had combined features of both Nagara school and Dravidian school and resulted in a hybridised style.
  • Durga temple at Aihole, Karnataka is a prominent example of Vesara style temple.

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