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Indian Temple Architecture-Analysis of Plans, Elevations and Roof Forms (Set of 3 Volumes)

Indian Temple Architecture-Analysis of Plans, Elevations and Roof Forms (Set of 3 Volumes)
Item Code: NAQ672
Author: Ananya Gandotra
Publisher: Shubhi Publications, Gurgaon
Language: English
Edition: 2011
ISBN: 9788182901278
Pages: 575 (Throughout Color & B/W Illustrations)
Other Details: 12.00 X 9.50 inch
weight of the book: 3.41 kg
About the Book

The book unravels with effective use of computer technology the uniformity, great proportions and geometry that the Hindu Temple Architecture is based upon. The book also challenges and readdresses the predominant theories of temple architecture like the Vastu Purush Mandala and the Sri Yantra. It sets forth the theory that there is an evident micro level integration of dimensions and proportions which all originate from the idol, set in the womb of the structure: the Garbhagriha.

The book unfolds the relationship between the 'square' and the 'circle' in a sequence which, with the help of the stellate square form with its intersecting points, the marmas, resonates throughout the temple's space and form in conjunction with its subsidiary shrines. It also establishes with the help of SCS, a strong relationship between the prasada and the mandapa. The potent intersection of the two SCS sets the canvass for erotic iconography as evident in temples of Khajuraho.

This three volume book establishes the interdependency of the temple's elevation and its roof form to the plan and its dimensions, setting forth the need for the scholarship to address the temple structure as a whole. With the use of examples from different time and space, the book establishes that the temples underlining design principles remain the same, smallest denominator being the unit dimension of the idol, Shiva lingam or the idol pedestal. Therefore, the later date typologies were of no relevance to the sthapatis of these manifestations.


This part of the study will establish the use of the SCS as a tool for derivation of the rekha. In order to establish this we shall be looking at the complete geometry of the plan and the subsequent use of the SCS proportioning system for the temple elevation and its parts. Mainly the curvatures of the main spire (mulamanjari) are shown but in the Shekhari types an occasional attempt is also made to study the curvatures of the urahshringas and the shringas as well. It will be shown how the inner dimensions as well as the proportions of the plan are directly translated on to the external elevation including the rekha of the temple structure. It will be shown that the curvature (rekha sutra) is derived from the Square-Circle-Sequence (SCS). The architects decision on which circle of the SCS is applied to define the curvature of the shikhara, would define its characteristic. The proportions of the deity /Iinga are repeated and translated in the complete temple plan and elevation. In some of the examples there is a possibility that the centre of the circle. used for the rekha curvature corresponds with the level of the first bhumi-amalaka. Another common phenomenon in most of the studied temples is that the shikhara profile starting from the base till the bottom of the first bhumi level is straight and then it curves in. The link between the SCS and the planning and design of an Indian temple can be further strengthened by observing that the area of the temple is sometimes equal to one of the square of the SCS .

The presence of a Square-Circle-Sequence (SCS) in the temple as a governing device was established for the plan in the previous chapter. It was found that it originates from the smallest circle (lingam/square of the image and the squares in the SCS sequence formed can be further developed into conjectural 16-pointeq constructional stars (16 petaled lotuses). These, as part of the SCS system, can then be used for analysing and possibly governing, the measurement and proportions of plan. It was shown to be useful for identification of all the edges and corners, including that of the wall of the sanctum (antarabhitti) and the external facade of the temple (prasada). For the larger temple complexes like Brihadeshvara, Tanjavur and Brahmeshwara, Bhubaneshwar the SCS was successful in relating the proportions of the main shrine to the subsidiary ones. To establish the principle Of design and planning for the temple elevation, smaller latina temples and a few shekhari types have been adopted for the analysis. But before that we will consider the basic principles of Rekha and the proportion of the temple elevation.

1.1 Geometry and Proportions of the Temple Elevation

The most important derivation of the Square-Circle-Sequence with respect to the elevation is its direct application to the Rekha profile. The SCS geometry can also be applied to derive the proportions of both the vertical wall-divisions (anga- bhanga) like the bhadra, pratibhadra and kama and the horizontal divisions viz., the platform (jagati), the moulded plinth base (pitha), the basal wall moulding above the pitha (the vedi-bandha), the wall frieze (jangha) and the spire (sikhara). Similarly, a relationships can also be established between the SCS proportions and the various diameters of the crowning parts of the Shikhara, the neck (griva), the myrobolan circular stone crownings (the amalakha and the amalsarika), and intermediate fluted melon-shaped mouldings (chandrika, kalasa and the vijapuraka) and the griva. The analysis of the rekha or curved profile can be applied to the study of Latina as well as the Shekhari form of temples which is the further development of the single spire form of the Latina temple structure.' The SCS as a common phenomenon has already been established in the Chapter on geometry.

1.2 Origins of the Sikhara form

The beginning of the curvilinear shikhara spire could be around late Kusana period which developed further through the Gupta period and reached a distinct though primitive form by the Sixth century. The curve reached its perfect form by the tenth century as can be seen in the Khajuraho temples. Although there are various hypothesizes about the possible origins of the Latina temple form and profile nothing can be said for definite.' Fergusson is satisfactorily convinced by the hypothesis that the form of the shikhara was a constructional necessity which he though expresses as not to be accounting for the conversion of the square in the plan to the curvilinear form in the elevation.' The theory assumes that a very tall well pointed arch fits the external form of the shikhara.He also hints at possible Persian origins to the use by the classically antiquated Hindus of the 'graceful curvilinear shape' than the straight line form as seen in Bodh-Gaya.

Taking Fergusson's theory forward that if we take a look at the construction and the possible origins of the techniques which even in the present time are very inspiring we can then trace its root to the other civilizations which had fully developed such techniques, at the time temple building activity was starting. Since the curvilinear Latina form is not the earliest form of the temple, there could be a possible origin from Egypt, not definitely for its meaning and interpretation of form but possibly for the know-how of structural and constructional principals. A possible study in the use of their techniques of measuring (including measuring distance, measuring inclinations, leveling, constructing the right angle and orientation) along with the possible ways of doing construction line and setting marks (including Setting lines, Leveling lines, Inclination lines, Setting marks for columns and pillars, Distance marks and also positioning marks) need to be studied and tested for the Hindu temples. Even though the question of the foreign origin can not be established we can make interesting observations like that the earlier Egyptian structures were brick which later developed to stone structure while still applying brick constructional principals like regular blocks set in a pattern of brick bonding and inwardly inclining rows and use of a lot of mortars . Only later there developed a proper system of stone masonry. Also the use of metallic dowels in joinery over the use of stone was practices in Egypt and also in India by the 10th Century.

The thing that surprises me immensely is the fact that all the research that has been conducted so far has been conducted single dimensionally. There has been a constant inability to connect the plan to its elevation and hence the mystery behind the evolving complexity has been left uncovered. Although the exactness in replication with finer changes to the iconography and the ornamentation of the 4 Fergusson, James, History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, 1876. Fergusson expresses a desire that one day we would know the method of reaching to this perfection. The development of the form has been without 'hesitation' from the beginning of the 7th century to the following twelve/thirteen centuries which has only seen it more and more 'attenuated'. 5 Arnold, Dieter, Building in Egypt - Pharonic Stone Masonry, 1991, Oxford University Press. surface facade has made the complete spectrum of temple architecture gain certain uniqueness and originality but one has time and time again not looked for answers which are hidden in its very form, both in the plan as well as the elevation.

Meisters's suggests that it was the need to further define the temple as a shelter for both the deity and the worshiper that resulted in the architects beginning 'to extend the measure of the sanctum's sacred central spaces in ways that could be made visible on the temple's outer wall. To this end, they fir t applied a broad central buttress to each wall on which a sculptured image representing one aspect of the inner deity could be placed.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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