The temples of India represent the heights attained by the ancient and medieval craftsmen of India in temple architecture all over the country. India has cradled many religions over the course of its long history. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are the main religions that have produced a tradition of temple building that still continues today. The temples of India are also among its major tourist attractions. Tourism in India benefits a lot from these temples as tourists from all parts of the globe visit these temples. On a tour of India, you should not miss out on the major temples of the country which preserve the history, culture, and architectural traditions of the country.
The religious architecture of India has been a result of constant amalgamation of newer elements brought in by the hordes of immigrants over a period of thousands of years. The Buddhist temple, including Stupas and Chaityas are among the oldest religious structures of India.
The extant Hindu temples have evolved over the years into three or four major classes. These can be broadly divided into two categories – the North Indian temples and the South Indian temples.
The north Indian temples feature a shikhara or spire that tops the inner sanctum and curves inward towards the top. This spire is typically toped by a circular ribbed motif, called the amalaka. This is again crowned by a finial in the shape of a pot, which is called the kalasha.
The south Indian temples, on the other hand, feature multi level, pyramidal spires called vimanas. They also feature large spaces and courtyards, as well as pillared halls that lead to the garbhagriha, the small chamber inside the temple where the residing deity is worshipped. The garbhagriha is found in the north Indian and other Indian temples too.
The Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh are among the best known north Indian temples. The temple of Somnath, the Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, and other modern temples like the Akshardham temple in New Delhi are among the well known temples of north India.
The temples in Orissa are known for their distinct style. The main temple has a curving spire which is called the Deul. The amalaka, and the kalasha finial are seen here as well, but they have a distinctive assembly hall adjoining the main building, which is called the Jagamohana. The Konark Sun temple and the Mukteshwara temple are typical examples of this style.
The other regions of India also have their own temple architecture and patterns. The temples of Kerala and Bengal have their distinctive styles that have resulted as a result of various cross cultural influences.
Among the most famous temples of India is the rock cut Kailasanatha temple located in the Ellora. Carved out of a single rocky hill, it is one of the most remarkable structures you will come across in India.
Many of these temples are today under conservation, and strict vigil. Most of the ones named above have been declared as world heritage sites by the UNESCO.
Find out more about the temples in India and other aspects of tourism in India in touristplacesinindia.com.