South Indian temple collage

India is a spiritually rich country with lots of ancient temple. And if you are a lover of historical temple in India then you must be aware of some of the below words to better understand the architecture. As a Traveler when I started exploring South Indian temple, being a North Indian I faced difficulty in understanding some of the below terms. Whenever you are visiting any temple even if you are an Indian still you will find this glossary helpful for you. So I thought to list them out for you, hopefully this will help:-

Glossary for Indian temple

Mandap or Mandapa or Mandapam A covered area or hall such as (Kalyan Madapam, Ardhamandapa, Nata mandapa, Nandi Mandapa)
Kalyan Mandapa A place where marriage ritual take place. (kalyanam means marriage and madapam means hall)
Bhoga Mandapa A hall or place of offerings, signifying enjoyment, wealth and possessions.
Artha Mandapam or Ardhamandapa An intermediary space or hall between the main shrine and the exterior of the temple
Sabha Mandapa or Ranga mandapa:- An assembly hall in a temple
Mukha Mandapa Front hall of a temple.
Dance Pavillion or Nata Mandir or Nata Mandapa Dance hall of a Hindu temple
Nandi Mandapa a pavilion which contains a statue Nandi, the Shiva vehicle.
Sreekovil or Garbhagriha The innermost place in the temple where primary deity of the temple reside
Gopuram Huge tower at the entrance of temple
Ghanta Bell
Asana or Asan Seat or throne, to be seated with leg folded or sitting postures practiced to pray deities.
Kalasa A pitcher or water pot. Mostly used to offer water to dieties mainly to Lord Shiva.
Tirth a place of pilgrimage(holy site)
Svastika An auspicious emblem, very commonly seen in every Hindu home or temple.
Devalaya or Mandir temple
Archana Worship of the deity by the priest with flowers or saffron in place of the devotees
Hundi A sealed box with a small slit in which devotees make offerings to a temple.
Abishekam or Abishek A ritual of washing deity with oil, milk etc.
Garuda A mythological bird, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu
Garuda A mythological bird, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu
Bhaktha, Bhakth Devotee
Asura Demon
Dwara Palakas Figures of guards of the deities found on either side of the entrance to the garb griha
Devasthanam A body administering the affairs of the temple
Darshan or Darisanam Sight of God or of holy men
Chapparam or Ratha Chariot
Bhajanai or Bhajan Group singing of divine songs
Avataram or Avtar Incarnation of God

Architectural Glossary of Indian Temple

Antarala A space between a temple’s main hall (Artha Mandapam) and the Garbha Griha.
Shikhara or Vimana Tower over the garbhagriha (main shrine) of Indian temple.(Vimana are normally seen in South indian architecture and shikhara in North indian)
Jagamohan Orissan architectural term for a mandapa
Torana An arch; a portal; or a gateway
Stambha A pillar; frequently a free-standing pillar.
Stupa Dome-shaped or rounded structure seen in Jainism and Buddhism temple
Pista In Orissa architecture, the platform or base comprising the lower portion of a temple
Pancayatna A group of five temple shrine, support, abode or resting place.
Adisthana Decorative raised platform on which a temple is built.
Alasa kanya Decorative female figure.
Nagara or Dravida Dravida is the style of southern temple architecture and Nagara is of North India temple.
Prakara A high wall which encloses a temple..
Temple tank A pool in Indian temple to take a holy bath.
Urushringa Smaller or subsidiary tower, usually joining or enclosing the main tower.

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