5851 GA Hwy 85, Riverdale, GA 30274
Phone: (770) 907 - 7102
HTAManager@hindutempleofatlanta.org
Tax ID: EIN-58-1602137
Temple Timings
Friday & Saturday 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday - Thursday 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
INDIANIZATION OF THE TEMPLE


The bland masonry structure was yet to become a full-fledged Indian temple as designed by Silpakalamani, Silparatnakara, Padmasrri Muthaiah Sthapathi. He prepared for us a master plan incorporating the styles reminiscent of those that flourished in the times of Pallava and Chola dynasties of India a thousand years ago. According to Sri Muthiah, the plans are based on Maricha Samhita and Vaikhanasa Agama texts which contain the principles of temple construction and provide instructions on temple building. The design is very similar to that of Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirumalai.

However, this second phase of construction could not even start until the Silpis (the sculptors) arrived from India. In November 1993, when we received the word that visas were finally approved for the Silpis, we were all excited. One month later they were on the soil of the United Sates. There were some anxious moments in the Los Angeles Airport, but it was a relief to see them in on December 23, 1993.

The completion of the project - that is, converting the masonry structure into an ornately sculptured and architecturally attractive temple - was, at last, near. The two and a half years that passed since then, were a fantastic learning experience for me and others who watched closely the work of the Silpis. Probably the actual learning process started when we went to watch the work already in progress at the Nashville temple. Mr. Dayal who supervised the temple construction there was kind enough to educate us with all the necessary details, such as procuring suitable materials for use by the Silpis.

To start with is the human aspect - orienting the Silpis to the ways of the land. Their leader Mr. Subrahmanyam did a superb job in maintaining cohesion in the group and in instilling a spirit of cooperation among them. They were all provided shelter inside the premises of the temple in the lower level. Organizing volunteer help to take care of their food supplies and recreational activities, a major task, was admirably undertaken by Mr. Vijaya Kumar.

Our temple complex incorporates several of the traditional elements of an authentic 'South Indian' temple:

    1.    Four Vimanas (or shrines), one each for Venkateswara, Sridevi, Bhudevi and Durga. Each one has a garbhagriha (sanctum). The Venkateswara sanctum has a mukha mandapa (entrance hall) structurally connected to the main assembly hall. The other three sanctums have artha mandapas to connect them to the main hall.
    2.    Mahamandapa, the main assembly hall in which the devotees gather.
    3.    An entrance mandapa (the front lobby).
    4.    Rajagopuram (gate-way tower) over the entrance mandapa raising above over all other strucures.
    5.    A separate shrine for Ganesha inside the main hall.
    6.    An altar for Navagrahas.
    7.    A separate shrine for Anjaneya in front of the main structure.
    8.    Dhwajasthambham ( a flag pole)
    9.    Balipitham, a dispensing seat in the form of a flat lotus in bloom.
    10.   Yagasala for performing 'havan' and other oblutions.
    11.   Front entrance mandapa.

The walls inside and outside, the vimanas, the gopuram and the entrances would all be decorated with ornate sculptures based on Maricha Samhita and Vaikhanasa Agama. Of these eleven elements, 8,9 and 11 are still to be completed.

In the lower level we have a kitchen (paka sala), dining hall (kuta), and an auditorium for assembly (kalyana mandapam). We do not have a temple tank and a compound wall (prakara) in our plans. In short we have a traditional South Indian Hindu temple.

The transformation of the building into a magnificent temple started with drawings on paper by the Sthapathi. All the necessary measurements and details were incorporated into the drawings. The initial drawings of Raja Gopuram, Durga and Lakshmi shrines are shown earlier. These are transferred onto 4x8 plywood planks so that an actual working size design of the various sections of the entire structure is available for the Silpis to follow. Depending upon the weather in the season, the Silpis worked either inside or outside of the building complex. Every phase of the work was carefully scrutinized and passed for quality by the Sthapathi before the Silpis could go on to the next stage.

To start the brick work on the gopuram and vimannas, a grid (pramana suthram) was laid on the floor incorporating every intricate detail and containing all the precise measurements. The accompanying picture depicts the grid of the Raja Gopuram. It is vital that this grid be accurate because it guides the Silpis in the construction starting from the bottom of the towers all the way up to the top. Even a small error that is made in the bottom is magnified into a major flaw at the top. Only on one occasion did they have to undo and redo some of the work. They found that the grid was in error by about half an inch, and two to three layers of brick work had to be redone.

 

The flat ceiling (prastara) that covers all the halls and the sanctums is about 20 feet above the ground level (upapitha). The four vimanas and the gopuram rise from above the ceiling of the building complex.

 

The Rajagopuram rises approximately 40 feet high above the ceiling level, rising tier upon tier (up to five tiers) and tapering into a wagon-roof sikhara with a mahanasi (fanlike motif) on either side. The gopuram is 22x14 feet at the base. Each story has four corners called karnakutas. There are seventy six pillars on each story. There are four faces to the gopuram. On the east face and west face the area with dwarapalakas is called 'mukha sala'. The structure on either side of this is called 'koshtam'. The horizontal area with designs adoring the koshtam is called 'kapotham'. The south face of the Raja Gopuram is decorated by a 'mahanasi' on top, followed by Lord Narasimha on the top level, followed by Sri Mahavishnu in various poses in the next three levels. The lower most level is decorated by Sri Narasimha again. On the north face, Mahavishnu is on the top and lower levels and Narasimha in the three middle levels. The sculpturing of the ornamental work is a very tedious process. It took nearly seven months to complete the work on Rajagopuram. One has to watch the work in progress to comprehend the complexity of the process.

 

 

 


Sri Venkateswara (Balaji) shrine

Balaji

This shrine is designed in Chola architecture with extensively detail work on the outside . The top of this shrine is known as Vishnukantha Vimana. It is octagonal in shape with Garuda statues at the four corners. The Vimana is divided into three parts - vedika, kantham and sikharam. Facing east we have a statue of Balaji, facing south is Dakshinamurthy, facing west is Narasimha, and facing north is Adi Varaha. This vimana is 36 feet tall and 17 feet wide.

 

 

 

 


Durga, Lakshmi and Bhudevi shrines:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lakshmi,Bhudevi, and Durga Temples

These three shrines are of similar dimensions, 27 feet tall and 12.8 feet wide. Statues on the vimana for Lakshmi are of Mahalakshmi in different poses and for Bhudevi shrine are those of Bhudevi. For the Durga shrine the architecture is slightly different. It is in the Pallava style and is a four-sided Brahma kantha vimana. Durga in different forms is depicted on this vimana. These three shrines have about 112 pillars in addition to other decorative sculptures.

 

Sri Anjaneya shrine:

This shrine, 20.6 ft high and 10.8 ft wide, is located at the front entrance of the temple complex. The vimana has four different statues of Anjaneya.

Sri Ganesha shrine:

The Ganesha shrine is 11.3 ft high and 5.2 feet wide, smallest in size and located inside the temple, in the mahamandapam, next to the Durga shrine. The vimana is decorated with ornate designs and statues of Ganesha.

The Navagrahas
These nine planet gods are installed on a open vedika inside the mahamandapam.

The door ways connecting the sanctums to the mahamandapam (the assembly hall) are decorated with sculptured details. There are three of them in addition to the one connecting to the entrance mandapa. Starting from the bottom layer adhishtana, elaborate carvings reach up to the ceiling ending in arched and decorative mythological motifs.

Sri Muthaiah Sthapathi designed a unique interior incorporating statues of deities from various Indian temples. In niches flanked by carved pillars (sthambhas) adorning the side walls are sixteen statues. Facing Lord Venkateswara, we have on the right wall the statues in the following order starting from the sanctum end: Adi Varaha, Narasimha, Satyanarayana, Venkateswara, Rama. Krishna, Dakshinamurthi and Chandrasekhara. On the left wall we have Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Meenakshi, Kamakshi, Rajarajeswari, Kamakoti Sakti, Durga, Subrahmanya Swami and Ganesha. Most of the work on the statues was done on site. It begins with a drawing and then the Silpi takes copper wire and builds an anatomical structure to support the body and limbs of the statue. Into this frame, small pieces of brick and cement are attached to create a rough solid form. In the hands of an expert Silpi this rough shape is transformed into a beautiful statue as wet cement is molded on to it and carved.. Please see pictures below

There are some repetitive forms such as the pillars and small lion-heads and small plaques. For these, the silpis have devised a time-saving method. They make first a perfect cement form and then they use a rubber product to make a mold out of it. The rubber mold is used to make as many reproductions as needed. The molds still need hand work, with attention to detail. By the Kumbhabhishekam time, ninety percent of the work is expected to be completed and the rest of the project will be finished by August 96.

Note:Most of the indianization was completed by May of 1996.