Nagara style is one of the styles of temple architecture. It is the temple construction style of North India. In this style of the temple, there is only one peak or Shikhara.
Key Features of Hindu Temples
There are some common elements of every Hindu temple, across the country irrespective of the architectural style.
These can be mentioned as follows:
- Garbagriha – It is the main part of the temple. It is the place the chief deity lives. The word Garbagriha means “womb chamber”.
- Pradikshina Patha – It is a circumambulatory path around the Garbagriha.
- Mandapa – It is a columned hall where devotees gather for prayers. At times, temples may have more than one mandapa of varied sizes. On the basis of their sizes, mandapas are named Ardhamandapa, Mandapa, and Mahamandapa.
- Shikara or Vimana – The spire standing like a mountain is known as Shikara (north) or Vimana (south). While the Vimana is pyramidal, the Shikara is a curved structure.
- Amalaka – It is a disc made of stone atop which the Kalash (Kalasha) sits. It is mostly found in the Shikaras of northern temples.
- Kalash or Kalasha – It is a pot-shaped formation above the Amalaka which forms the apex of a temple.
- Antarala or vestibule – The transitional way that connects the Garbagriha and mandapa is known as Antarala.
- Jagati – The raised floor on which the temple is built is called “Jagati”.
- Vahana – Every god has a Vahana (vehicle) and every temple houses the Vigraha of the temple’s chief deity’s Vahana along with the Dhvaj pillar.
Features of Nagara Style of Temple Architecture
These are the some important characteristics of Nagara Style of Architecture
- The entire temple is built on high stone platforms.
- Generally, they do not have large enclosures and entrances.
- The temple had only one peak or shikhara above the Garbagriha.
- There was a Kalasha placed on the Shikara of a temple.
- In front of the main shrine, there are meeting halls called mandapas.
- Sikhara(the tower) slowly bending inwards and capped by a spheroid plate with ribs around the edge (Amalaka) give the height.
Sub-Types of Nagara Temples Depending upon the shape of Shikhara
- Rekha Prasad – They have simple Shikara, square at the base and the walls curve inward to a point on the top. The top is called the “Rekha Prasad” type of Shikhara.
- Phamsana – They are broader and shorter than the Rekha Prasad type of Shikhara. Their roofs are made of several slabs that smoothly rise to a single point over the center of the building, unlike the Rekha Prasad ones which look like sharply rising tall towers. They do not curve inwards, rather, they slope upwards on a straight slope. In many North Indian temples, Phamsana was used for mandapa and the Rekha Prasad for Garbhgriha.
- Valabhi – A rectangular structure with a roof that extends into a round chamber. They are usually called wagon vaulted buildings.
Three sub-schools of Nagara Temple Architecture
Nagara architecture is classified into three broad sub-schools:
- Odisha School – The most obvious characteristic trait is the Shikara which extends vertically before curving inwards at the top. The main type is square while the upper reaches are circular. These temples have intricately patterned surfaces and normally open interiors. Unlike Nagara temples of the north, most Odisha temples have boundary walls. These are some important features:
- While the exterior walls were elaborately decorated with excellent sculptures, the interior walls were plain.
- The roof of the porch was supported by iron girders rather than pillars.
- They had roofs that dramatically curved inward from nearly vertical.
- Chandel School – Unlike the Odishan style, these temples are considered as a single unit and have Shikaras that curved from bottom to top. There are a number of miniatures Shikaras arising from the central tower and towers that slowly rise up to the main tower cap both the patios and halls. Some important features are:
- These temples have intricate carvings that adorned both the interior and external walls.
- The sculptures frequently have sensual themes and were inspired by Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra.
- Sandstone made up the temples’ construction.
- Solanki School – They are related to the Chandel School but that they have carved covers that appear like a true dome. The distinctive feature of these temples is the minute and elaborate ornamental subjects. Except for the central shrine, one can find carvings on both the inner and outer sides of the walls. Features are as follows:
- On the walls of the temple, there were no sculptures.
- Both internally and externally, the garbhagriha and the mandapa were connected.
- The porticos have elaborate torans, which are arched doorways.
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