An Analysis of the Form of Hindu Temples and the Role of Myth in Shaping the Map and Facade of Temples

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Architecture, Birjand Branch, Islamic Azad University, Birjand, Iran


India is one of the lands that have been the cradle of many beliefs and religious and philosophical ideas of human societies. Circles and squares are among the basic forms in ancient art and architecture that have been used in the design of Hindu temples. The sacred geometry used in Hindu temples is based on the famous knowledge known as Vastu Shastra. The current research was carried out with a descriptive and analytical method, and it aimed to study the knowledge of the sacred art of Mandala and its effect on the formation and expansion of the architectural spaces of Hindu temples. This research came to the conclusion that Hindu temples can be examined from two perspectives. From the first view, temples were studied in terms of infrastructure and the way their maps were executed. From this perspective, the implementation of the instructions of Vastu Shastra Mandala was one of the requirements. The second view is in terms of their form and facade decorations. The result of the study showed that the changes applied in the superstructure of the temples were influenced by Indian myths and archetypes and the form and content of this superstructure expressed mythical concepts.


Main Subjects

Adirai, G. Ezhil. 2016. “Technological Methods in Making Sculptures”, in: Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol. 77, pp. 84-85.
Allen, Margaret Prosser. 1991. Ornament in Indian Architecture, University of Delaware Press.
Apte, V. S. 1957. "मकर". The Practical Sanskrit–English dictionary (Revised and Enlarged ed.). Poona: Prasad Prakashan.
Barker, L. M. 1969. Pears Cyclopaedia, London: Pelham Books Ltd.
Brown, Percy. 1942. Indian Architecture: Buddhists and Hindu Period, Bombay: Araporevala & Sons.
Chandra, P. (ed.) 1975. Studies in Indian Temple Architecture, Varanasi: American Institute of Indian Studies.
Chaudhary, Snigdha. 2017. “The Role of Five Elements of Nature in Temple Architecture”, in: International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, vol. 8, Issue 7, pp. 1149-1162.
Chawla, Raakesh. 2011. Ketab Kuchak Wasto (The Little Book on Vaastu), Translated by Human Babak, Tehran: Liyusa. [in Farsi]
Ching, Francis D. K.; et al. 2007. A Global History of Architecture, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Coomaraswamy, Ananda. 2003. Moghaddameh-yi bar Honar Hend (Introduction to Indian Art), Translated by Amir Hoseyn Zekrgu, Tehran: Aperture. [in Farsi]
Dokras, Uday. 2020. “Vastu Purusha Mandala of Property”, in: Journal of the Indo Nordic, vol. 17, pp. 1-28.
Dutta, Tanisha; Adane, V. S. 2018. “Patterns and Meanings in Indian Temple Architecture”, in: American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Vol. 6, No. 5, pp. 206-215.
Eliade, M. 1985. Symbolism: The Sacred, and the Arts, (D. Apostolos-Capadona, Ed.), New York: The Continuum Publishing Company.
Fletcher, Sir. Banister. 1952. The History of Architecture, New Delhi: CBS Publishers and Distributors.
Gopal, Madan. 1990. India through the Ages, Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
Hardy, Adam. 2007. The Temple Architecture of India, Great Britain: iley. Lourenco.
Hardy, Adam. 2012. “Indian Temple Typologies”, in: Glimpses of Indian History and Art Reflections on the Past, Perspectives for the Future, edited by Tiziana Lorenzetti and Fabio Scialpi, pp. 101-125.
Hopkins, Thomas J. 1971. The Hindu Religious Tradition, Belmont, California: Dickenson Publishing Company.
Jung, Carl Gustav. 2004. Rawanshenasi wa Shargh (Psychology and the East), Translated by Latif Sedghiyani, Tehran: Jami. [in Farsi]
Kak, Subhash. 2000. The Astronomical Code of the Rigveda, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.
Kak, Subhash. 2004. Space and Cosmology in the Hindu Temple, Presented at Vaastu Kaushal: International Symposium on Science and Technology in Ancient Indian Monuments, New Delhi, November 16-17.
Kramrisch, S. 1964. The Hindu Temple, Calcutta: University of Calcutta.
Kumar, Ajita. 2019. The Murder of Alexander the Great Book 2: The Secret War, Argead Star LLC.
Kumar, Meenal. 2018. “Pillars [stambha]–the Supportive Elements of Hindu Temples”, in: International Journal of Current Research, Vol. 10, Issue 6, pp. 70223-70228.
Kumar, N. May. 2003. The Hindu Temple-Where Man Becomes God,
Marshall, J. 1931. Mohenjo Daro and the Indus civilization (3 volumes). London: Arthur Probsthain.
Michell, G. 1977. The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to its Meanings and Forms, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Michell, G. 1988. The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to its Meaning and Forms, Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press.
Misra, R. N. 2011. “Silpis in Ancient India: Beyond their Ascribed Locus in Ancient Society”, in: Social Scientist, vol. 39, No. 7/8, pp. 43-54.
Orr, Leslie. 2010. Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, vol. II, Leiden: Brill, pp. 495-510.
Patra, Reena Thakur. 2014. “Town Planning in Ancient India: In Moral Perspective”, in: The International Journal of Humanities & Social Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 6, pp. 44-51.
Rian, I. M.; Park, J.; Ahn, H. U.; Chang, D. 2007. “Fractal Geometry as the Synthesis of Hindu Cosmology in Kandariya Mahadev Temple”, Khajuraho: Building and Environment, Vol. 42, Issue 12, pp. 4093-4107.
Smith, W. 1875. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Little Brown Publisher, Harvard University.
Staal, Frits. 1996. Ritual and Mantras: Rules Without Meaning, New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Vardia, Shweta. 2008. Building Science of Indian Temple Architecture, Thesis in Universidade do Minho, Portugal.
Vardia, Shweta; Lourenço, Paulo B. 2013. “Building Science of Indian Temple Architecture”, in: International Conference, Chennai, India, 13th –16th February 2013, pp. 167-178.