The Hindu temples of India are an example where the perfect fusion of art and engineering has reached its desired results
The concept of Moksha in Indian philosophy drives all kinds of people to visit the holy shrines in pursuit of liberation and freedom from the pains of an ephemeral life. In this regard, India has always witnessed a massive movement of temple building right from its ancient times and this land is adorned with uncountable number of religious structures from various faiths, giving shelter to all the devotees who appear there with their various kinds of pleas.
The Hindu temple architecture has seen various styles over the years, the most common being the Nagara Style of North India and the Dravidian Style of South India. Some of the Hindu temples with intricate carvings on their huge Gopuram entrance towers, along with the richly curved Garbha Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum) and the wide long Mandapa, are so beautiful that they have enthralled visitors and experts with equal awe, inspiring the quest for the geometrical precision in other structures too around the world.
The Hindu temples of India are an example where the perfect fusion of art and engineering has reached its desired results. Some of the famous ones are:
Ramakrishna Temple, Belur Math: The Belur Math Complex in Belur near Kolkata is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission movement and is situated on the bank of the river Ganges. It is said that if you visit the Ramakrishna Temple there, you have witnessed the best architectural styles of not only some of the major art movements of the world or some of the major religions of the world, but this temple also carries elements from some of the best architectural wonders of the world and hence is in itself a wonder.
The germination of the idea of such a temple, lies in the travels of Swami Vivekananda to various parts of India and the world, where he must have observed minutely the finer aspects of various architecture from around the world which he envisioned to create later an all embracing edifice which will be a true representation of one God.
After his passing away, Swami Vivekananda’s idea was put into action by Swami Vijnanananda, another disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who employed M/s Martin Burn and Company to give it the ideal shape. Inside this temple, the white marble statue of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was sculpted by Sri Gopeswar Pal and the drum shaped marble platform on which the idol sits, was designed by Sri Nandalal Bose who also designed some of the motifs on the main entrance. As their introductory phrase says, it is truly a symphony of architecture.
Jageshwar Temple, Uttarakhand: A beautiful drive through the Himalayan roads of Uttarakhand from the hill station of Almora for about an hour will take to you to a mesmerising valley of tall Deodar trees where the Jageshwar Temple complex of around 124 small and big structures sits amidst a deafening silence of the thick vegetation all around. Jageshwar is believed to be the eight Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva amongst a total number of 12 and hence is considered very sacred.
According to a legend, on this place Lord Shiva meditated once which made the local women all around the villages come to watch him. According to another legend, the Pandavas came here near the river Jata Ganga performed their last rites before ascending to the heavens. Historically, these temples are believed to be from a period of anytime between seventh to 12th centuries CE.
Parashurameshwara, Odisha: Parashurameshwara Temple built in the North Indian Nagara Style, and situated in the city of Bhubaneswar is one of the oldest existing Hindu temples of Odisha and this small temple packs quite a punch when it comes to its architecture. Beautiful will be an understatement to describe it. Though experts have doubts over its exact period of founding, it is believed to have been built by the Shailodbhava Dynasty of the sixth to eighth centuries CE. The word ‘Shailodbhava’ probably translates to ‘born out of rocks’ in English.
Lingaraja Temple, Odisha: Not only the largest, Lingaraja Temple is definitely the most popular Hindu temple in the city of Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha. This massive temple is beautiful and aesthetic in its architecture and to enter it, one has to leave behind all the personal belongings like mobile phones etc. It is visited by millions of tourists. Some form of this temple was constructed in the sixth century CE as per some evidence though the current structure was probably completed in the 11th century CE under the aegis of first Somavanshis and later the Ganga Dynasty.
Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand: One of the Char Dhams of the state of Uttarakhand, the shrine of Kedarnath is beyond the ability of any scribe to describe its magnificent ethereal beauty. Not only the architecture of the temple, the Himalayan cover all around this structure, the stillness of this place, the pious feeling that it generates, reminds people of a bygone era probably from the Mahabharata time.
True to this feeling, legend has it that it was originally built by the Pandavas. Kedarnath is considered to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, and a long hike is required to reach this shrine. Kedarnath is of course one of the Panch Kedar, all supposedly built by the Pandavas as per legends when they wanted pardon from Lord Shiva as an atonement towards their sins committed during the Kurukshetra War. The temple architecture of India is truly something to behold for eternity. (HT Media)