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COMPOSITION ON Temples of India ,art and Sculpture

Updated on July 8, 2016
Rock cut temple of Mahabalipuram
Rock cut temple of Mahabalipuram

Journey of a Rock

The enduring quality of the rocks versus changing times filled with ephemeral kingdoms, kings and people shows the destruction of the rocks we are witnessing today,In the ancient times, the rocks were never destroyed fully. Respect for them as an instrument of permanence in our world and as ecological allies kept them close in the form of idols, in places of worship, as decoration etc.

But the modern has undertaken irrevocable destruction of the rocks. In a construction site masses of underground granite and boulders are cut open. Blasting a rock is irreversible, The rocks are converted into cement to fuel constructions.We simply ignore the ecological losses.

And most of the sculptures are not maintained properly. we can find some carvings on sideways of highways which are given least or no importance.some can even be found as remains in jungles or under thick bushes.


A stone carver from Madhya Pradesh at the premises of  KHAJURAHO
A stone carver from Madhya Pradesh at the premises of KHAJURAHO

Beauty of the Carved Stone

The sculptures and stone carvings always remind us of the kings of the ancient times who gave great importance to them and thus have remained eternal in these motionless and speechless yet beautiful carvings.

These sculptures are so well shaped that even a layman can enjoy the beauty and a blind person imagine them.Though we need a guide to understand the exact history of the temple and meaning of each carving they have got their own way to express themselves.

Some carvings list the different military forces a kingdom had,how they used to fight for their kingdom and the after effects of a battle.While some carvings show the stories and epics related to Hindu gods and goddesses.In some others we can find all the emotions prevalent in every human being and how to control them.

.All these carvings describe the skill of the people of those times and the art of expression and beauty of imagination they had.

Some of the temples have been constructed using a single stone.All the sculptures were made on the same rock.Some temples have got pillars which are musical in nature.The basics of the music or the seven ragas can be heard by slightly striking them.And some are more scientific where we can find the inverted shadow of a person standing outside a room which is almost similar to a cave.

These carvings teach us that though the kings and kingdoms are no more, they witness the past and remain intact for the future spreading the vast history of sculptures in their own way of expression .....though speechless and motionless !

Significance of Temples

A temple is a place for pilgrimage.It is a sacred place whose ambiance and design extends the faith of Hindu way of life. All the cosmic elements that create and sustain life are present in a Hindu temple - from fire to water, from images of nature to deities, from the feminine to the masculine, from the fleeting sounds and incense smells to the eternal nothingness yet universality at the core of the temple.

A Hindu temple project would start with a patron , and include a spiritual guide and architect-priest, an architect who would design the building, a surveyor and many workers, masons, painters,and sculptors.

While the temple is under construction, all those working on the temple were revered and considered sacerdotal by the patron as well as others witnessing the construction. It was a tradition that all tools and materials used in temple building and all creative work had the sanction of a sacrament. For example, if a carpenter or sculptor needed to cut a rock or tree offer his prayers, seeking forgiveness for cutting it from its surroundings, and explaining his intent and purpose. The axe used to cut the tree would be applied with butter to minimize the hurt to the tree. Even in modern times, in some parts of India, Visvakarma Puja (VISVAKARMA is believed to be the architect consulted by gods in heaven) is a ritual festival every year where the craftsmen and artists worship their arts, tools and materials.

Fight between A KING AND A LION  in KHAJURAHO
Fight between A KING AND A LION in KHAJURAHO
Temples of western group at night -KHAJURAHO
Temples of western group at night -KHAJURAHO
Inscriptions on walls - KHAJURAHO
Inscriptions on walls - KHAJURAHO
Jagadamba devi temple -KHAJURAHO
Jagadamba devi temple -KHAJURAHO

Famous Temples and Sculptures of India

The "Khajuraho " is a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh state of India which is about 175 kilometers southeast of JHANSI the capital city of queen Laxmi Bai, famous for their "Nagara-style " of architectural symbolism and their sculptures.

These were actually 85 temples built by the "Chandela" dynasty out of which only 20 have survived mainly due to the Sikander Lodi's temple destruction campaign.

The art works cover numerous aspects of human life and values considered important. Further, the images are arranged in a configuration to express central ideas of Hinduism.The Khajuraho and Kalinjar region is home to superior quality of sandstone, which can be precision carved. The surviving sculpture reflect fine details such as strands of hair, manicured nails and intricate jewelry.The temples have several thousand statues and art works, with Kandarya Mahadeva temple alone decorated with over 870.

Top view of the Meenakshi temple
Top view of the Meenakshi temple
Entrance of the temple
Entrance of the temple
Inside the temple
Inside the temple
Sculptures on the pillars
Sculptures on the pillars

The MEENAKSHI temple at Madurai ,Tamil Nadu. It is dedicated to PARVATHI, known as MEENAKSHI , and her consort, SHIVA, here named Sundareswarar.The temple is the geographic and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai and one of the largest temple complexes in Tamil Nadu. The temple complex is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular enclosures contained by high masonry walls. It is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu to have four entrances facing four directions.The temple is surrounded by gateway towers - There are 14 gopurams the tallest of which, the famous southern tower, rises to over 170 ft (52 m) and was built in 1559.Each gopuram is a multi-storeyed structure, covered with thousands of stone figures of animals, gods and demons painted in bright hues. The outer gopuram presents steeply pyramidal tower encrusted with plaster figures, while the inner gopuram serves as the entrance to the inner enclosure of Sundareswarar shrine.The golden top can be seen from a great distance in the west through the apertures of two successive towers.The tall sculpture of lord Ganesha carved of single stone located outside the Sundareswarar shrine in the path from Meenakshi shrine is called the Mukuruny Vinayakar.

The temple is believed to have been sacked by the infamous Muslim invader MALIK KHAFUR in 1310 and all the ancient elements were destroyed.Only a fraction of 17th and 18th century paintings of Nayak period survives and one such portion is found in the small portico on the western side of the tank. It depicts the marriage of Sundareswarar and Meenkashi attended by Vijayaranga Chokkanatha and Rani Mangammal. The painting is executed on a vivid red background, with delicate black line work and large areas of white, green and ocher. The celestial couple is seated inside an architectural frame with a flowering tree in the background.

The Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam ("Hall of 110 pillars") has two rows of pillars carved with images of mythological beast with body of lion and head of an elephant commonly used as the symbol of Nayak power. It is situated to the north of Sundareswarar flagstaff hall. The Thousand Pillar Hall contains 985 (instead of 1000) carved pillars The hall was built by ARIYANATHA MUDHALIAR in 1569 and blends engineering skill and artistic vision.There is a Temple Art Museum in the hall where icons, photographs, drawings, and other exhibits of the 1200 years old history of the temple are displayed. Just outside this hall, towards the west, are the Musical Pillars. Each pillar, when struck, produces a different musical note.

virupaksha temple
virupaksha temple
stone chariot at hampi
stone chariot at hampi

Hampi is a village in northern KARNATAKA ,India. The name hampi can also mean "champion" is located within the ruins of the city of VIJAYANAGARA , the former capital of the VIJAYANAGARA EMPIRE.Hampi has various notable temples with some mythology inside the temples, some of which are still active places of worship.

Hazara Rama Temple Complex: This ruined temple complex well known for more than many thousand carvings, inscriptions on and in the temple depicting the mighty epic story of Ramayana. Vittala Temple Complex:This is perhaps the most famous and well-known among the ruins of Hampi..The temple houses the famous musical pillars.

Wheel at the konark similar to sundial.
Wheel at the konark similar to sundial.
Statue of the guardian of the simhadwara at jagnnath temple
Statue of the guardian of the simhadwara at jagnnath temple
JAGANNATH temple, Puri
JAGANNATH temple, Puri

Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Sun Temple also known as the Black Pagoda, at KONARK, in ODISHA ,India. It is believed that the temple was built by king NARASIMHADEVA 1 around AD 1250 . The temple is in the shape of a gigantic chariot with elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. A major part of the structure is now in ruins.

The original temple had a main sanctum, which was supposedly 229 feet tall. Due to the weight of the superstructure (70m tall) and weak soil of the area the main sanctum fell in 1837. The audience hall, which is about 128 feet (30 m) tall, still stands and is the principal structure in the surviving ruins. Among the structures, which have survived to the current day, are the dance hall Nata mandira and dining hall Bhoga mandapa

The wheels of the temple are sundials which can be used to calculate time accurately to a minute including day and night.

The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous, sacred temple dedicated to lord JAGANNATH and located on the eastern coast of India, at PURI , in the state of ORISSA.

The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions, particularly worshipers of Krishna. Even though most deities that are worshiped are made out of stone or metal, the image of the lord is wooden. Every twelve years these wooden figures are ceremoniously replaced by using sacred trees, that have to be carved as an exact replica. The reason behind this ceremonial tradition is the highly secret Navakalevara ('New Body' or 'New Embodiment') ceremony, an intricate set of rituals that accompany the renewal of the wooden statues.


Amaravathi temple
Amaravathi temple
Bodh gaya temple
Bodh gaya temple
Nandi at Mysore
Nandi at Mysore
A temple at jodhpur,Rajasthan
A temple at jodhpur,Rajasthan

The description of each and every sculpture of every temple will go on....we can't just condense it to a small article as the subject itself is as vast as it has got the history within itself.But this vast subject is now rapidly reaching an end point which has to be checked and steps have to taken to preserve it.

We need to take care of these monuments as its our heritage,our culture and our richness, speechless and motionless yet expressive!

Learn Through Books

ONE MAY HAVE THE ZEAL TO TRAVEL ALL OVER INDIA AND KNOW THE VAST CULTURE AND HERITAGE AND ENJOY THE RICHNESS AND BEAUTY OF IT. BUT, UNLESS ONE HAS A BRIEF IDEA OF A PLACE , ONE CAN'T CHERISH THE WONDERFUL EXPERIENCES.

REFER TO A GOOD TRAVEL GUIDE BEFORE YOU EXPLORE A PLACE PRACTICALLY. THE FOLLOWING BOOK MENTIONED IS A VERY GOOD GUIDE TO KNOW ABOUT DIFFERENT PLACES IN INDIA AND YOU CAN PROCEED YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS THE PLACE ONCE YOU HAVE THE THOROUGH GUIDANCE OF THE "BLUE GUIDE".

DO PURCHASE IT AND LET ME KNOW HOW YOU FELT ABOUT THE GUIDE THROUGH YOUR COMMENTS.

HAVE YOU SEEN THE 1000 PILLAR TEMPLES

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