The Hindu Temple by Stella Kramrisch: A Classic Work on Hindu Architecture
The Hindu Temple is a two-volume book by Stella Kramrisch, a renowned scholar of Indian art and architecture. The book was first published in 1946 by the University of Calcutta and has since been reprinted several times by different publishers. The book is considered a classic and authoritative work on the history, symbolism, and aesthetics of Hindu temples.
The book covers various aspects of Hindu temple architecture, such as the origin and evolution of temple forms, the principles and methods of temple construction, the iconography and ornamentation of temple structures, the ritual and worship practices associated with temples, and the regional variations and styles of temples across India. The book also explores the philosophical and metaphysical concepts underlying the Hindu temple, such as the notion of the temple as a cosmic diagram, a manifestation of the divine, and a representation of the human body.
The book is based on extensive research and analysis of textual sources, inscriptions, sculptures, paintings, and actual temple sites. The book is richly illustrated with photographs by Raymond Burnier, drawings, plans, diagrams, and maps. The book also includes appendices, glossaries, bibliographies, and indexes.
The Hindu Temple is a must-read for anyone interested in learning more about the art and culture of India. The book is available for download from various online sources. However, readers are advised to respect the copyright laws and use the book for personal and educational purposes only.
In this article, we will explore some of the major styles of Hindu temple architecture that developed in different regions and periods of India. These styles reflect the diversity and creativity of Hindu culture and its adaptation to various geographical and historical contexts.
The Nagara style is the most common style of Hindu temple architecture in northern India. It is characterized by a curvilinear tower or shikhara that rises above the garbhagriha and represents the mythical Mount Meru, the abode of the gods. The shikhara is usually crowned by an amalaka, a ribbed stone disc, and a kalasha, a finial pot. The shikhara may have one or more smaller towers attached to it, forming a cluster. The temple may also have a mandapa or hall in front of the garbhagriha, which is connected by an antarala or vestibule. The temple is usually built on a raised platform or jagati, which may have steps and terraces. The walls of the temple are decorated with niches, pilasters, and sculptures of deities, scenes from Hindu mythology, and floral and geometric motifs.
The Dravidian style is the dominant style of Hindu temple architecture in southern India. It is characterized by a pyramidal tower or vimana that covers the garbhagriha and has a square base and horizontal tiers that diminish in size as they ascend. The vimana is topped by an octagonal dome and a kalasha. The vimana may be surrounded by smaller shrines and subsidiary towers. The temple may also have one or more mandapas or halls that serve various functions, such as assembly, dance, music, and ritual. The temple is usually enclosed by a high wall or prakara that has one or more gateways or gopuras. The gopuras are monumental towers that mark the entrance to the temple complex and have multiple storeys that are covered with elaborate sculptures of gods, goddesses, demons, animals, and mythical creatures. a474f39169