Hindu architecture

Hindu architecture is a traditional Hindu system of temple architecture, monasteries, mausoleums and other architectural religious buildings of Hinduism. The science of Hindu architecture (principles and standards, where and how temples should be built, design rules) in India is described in Hindu textsVastu shastra (Manasara etc), and Shilpa Shastras deal with forming statues, icons, stone murals, painting and others.[1][2] Due to Islamic conquests in the Middle Ages, many ancient Hindu buildings were destroyed.[3]

By far the most important, characteristic and numerous examples of Hindu architecture are Hindu temples, with an architectural tradition that has left surviving examples in stone, brick, and rock-cut architecture dating back to the Gupta Empire. These drew on earlier Buddhist (and to some extent Jain) religious architecture, but Hindu temples were shaped by their rather different religious requirements, which in essence have remained unchanged since the earliest period.

There is far less secular architecture that can really be called "Hindu" rather than "Indian". Very little early palace architecture survives, and the great majority of surviving palaces show clear influence from Indo-Islamic architecture, especially Mughal architecture, later joined by European architecture. The same is true of most samadhi, tombs or mausoleums, generally only built for ruling families or important religious figures. Burial by interment rather than cremation has traditionally been unusual in Hinduism, and elaborate memorial buildings are a custom largely influenced by Islamic examples.

Temples (mandirs)

Hindu temple architecture has many varieties of style, though the basic nature of the Hindu temple ("mandir") remains the same, with the essential feature an inner sanctum, the garbha griha or womb-chamber, where the primary murti or the image of a deity is housed in a simple bare cell. Around this chamber there are often other structures and buildings, in the largest cases covering several acres. On the exterior, the garbhagriha is crowned by a tower-like shikhara, also called the vimana in the south. The shrine building often includes an ambulatory for parikrama (circumambulation), a mandapa congregation hall, and sometimes an antarala antechamber and porch between garbhagriha and mandapa. There may further mandapas or other buildings, connected or detached, in large temples, together with other small temples in the compound.[4] There are examples of special dance pavilions (Nata Mandir), like in the Konark Sun Temple. The pool, temple tank (Kunda) is also part of the temple for ablutions.[5]


Essentially independent architectural structure is an element of the temple complex as gopuram, viz., gatehouse towers, usually ornate, othen with colossal size, at the entrance of a Hindu temple of Southern India.[6]

Monasteries (mathas)

Hindu monasteries such as Mathas and hermitages (Ashrams) are complexes of buildings include temples, monastic cells or the communal house and ancillary facilities[7]. In some currents of Hinduism, places of pilgrimage have become Bhajana Kutir, viz., meditation huts of the saints.

Tombs (samadhis)

Samadhi (shrine) is a tomb (mausoleum) which may or may not contain the body of the deceased. Samadhi sites are often built in this way to honor people regarded as saints.[8]


In some Hindu sites, there are shrines or buildings named rathas because they have the shape of a huge chariot.[9]

Toranas (archways)

Torana is a free-standing archway for ceremonial purposes seen in the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain architecture in front of the temples, monasteries and other objects, sometimes as single building.[10][11]

Stambhas (columns)

Stambha is used in the context of Hinduism and Jainism to denote pillar or column[12], e. g. dedicated to Vishnu «Tower of victory» (Vijay Stambha) at Chittorgarh fort, Rajasthan.

«Dhvaja-stambhas» are founding at the entrance of temples as flagstaffs, often with the image of lingam and sacred animals.


Chhatris are elevated, dome-shaped pavilions used as an element in Indian architecture, originating in Rajasthani architecture. They are widely used in palaces, in forts, or to demarcate funerary sites, etc.


Ghat is a series of steps leading down to a body of water, particularly a holy river or lake.


Goshalas are protective shelters for cows as sacred animals in India. Goshalas focus on treating cows well, because of their religious significance in Hinduism and consequent cultural sensitivity towards their welfare. There is the abode or sanctuary for cows, calves and oxen.[13]

See also


  1. Acharya 1927.
  2. Shukla 1993.
  3. Goel 1991.
  4. Michell 1988.
  5. Acharya 2010, p. 74.
  6. "Gopura". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
  7. Sears 2014, pp. 4—9.
  8. Glushkova 2014, p. 116.
  9. Harle 1994, p. 153.
  10. "Toraṇa | Grove Art". doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000085631. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  11. Dhar 2010.
  12. Acharya 2010, p. 533.
  13. "300 cattle head for goshala everyday". Times Of India. 2011-08-17. Retrieved 2013-02-06.


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