5851 GA Hwy 85, Riverdale, GA 30274
Phone: (770) 907 - 7102
HTAManager@hindutempleofatlanta.org
Tax ID: EIN-58-1602137
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The Architecture of a Hindu Temple

The Architecture of a Hindu Temple

By

Padmasri S. Muthiah, Sthapathi

"Garbha greham sirasara proktam
Antaralam mukham tatha
Sukhasana ganam chaiva
Bahu chaiva artha mantapam
Maha mantapam kukshisyat
Itiyate lakshanam subham"

The plan of a temple closely resembles the plan of a human body in which the Sanctum Sanctorum (garbha gudi) is the head and the outer gate is the lower limb. The spine (gopuram) on the outer gate is the foot of the Lord. Even if a visitor does not enter the temple, he can as well contemplate on the gopuram and derive the benefit of a darshan.

Temple architecture developed in two streams, Saiva style and Vaishnava style. Silpa is the architecture and Agama is the mode of worship. Agama of the Saivas is different from that of the Vaishnavas. The Vaishnava worship is again in two different styles, the Vaikasana and the Pancharatra. In the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, the mode of worship is in the Vaikasana style.

There are eighteen schools of architecture founded by eighteen different authorities: Brighu, Atri, Vasistha, Vishwakarma, Maya, Narada Architect, Visalakha, Purandara, Brahma, Kumara, Nandisa, Saunaka, Bhirga, just to name of few. At present only some of them are available and the others are extinct.

There are 28 treatises of Indian architecture, of which about 15 or 16 are presently available. The subjects deal in the sciences of site selection, determining the direction of the main entrance, laying the foundation, size and shape of the sanctum, and the main hall, stage for performances, etc.

The structure of the main gate is called Vimanam and may consist of two to sixteen stories. The surrounding wall of the temple is called a prakara. It may consist of seven layers of walls the seven prakaras of large temples. The main front gate with all its vimanas (stories) is a tapering structure like a spire. It is also called Gopuram, which literally means the city gate. A single temple can be as big and complete as a city. The treatises also deal with the defense of the surroundings, boundaries, and the village. They also deal with the measurements of the component parts of the temple, the appearance of the various icons, the weapons adoring the deity, jewelry, color of the paints used and other details of interior decoration. A person well versed in all the details of temple architecture is called a Sthapathi. He will be in over all charge of the construction of a temple.

The temple in Atlanta is planned on the model of the Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirupathi in its features such as the sanctum sanctorum, the main hall, the spire and the boundaries. To the right of Lord Venkateswara is situated Sridevi an on the left is situated Sri Satyanarayana Swamy. Sri Durga is situated in a niche on the boundary wall. There are plans to provide a fag staff, Garuda, and a Balipitham (altar for sacrificial worship). There are separate shrines for Ganapathi, Anjaneya, and Navagrahas.

The main Vimana of Lord Venkateswara is called "Ananda Vimanam" and has three srories. Sridevi and Andal and Sri Durga will be provided with vimanas of two stories each. The main entrance will have a Raja Gopuram consisting of five stories . (Translated into English from Telugu by P.V. Jagannatha Rao, M.D.)