Know interesting facts about South Indian temples and North Indian temples?
The Mandir is a traditional Hindu temple based on India’s ancient texts. India has many temples, yet the religion varies from one part of the nation to another.
Temples are built differently depending on the location and deities being worshipped. Look at the differences between temples in different parts of the country.
North Indian Hindu Temples have more detailed engraving and are bigger. South Indian Hindu Temples are smaller and with less external decoration. South Indian temples feature tall pyramidal towers while North Indian has one towering spire.
What are North Indian Hindu temples?
North Indian Hindu Temples are worship places that are usually dedicated to one or several Hindu gods. These temples are typically located in North India and feature distinctive architecture, including a tall spire called a shikhara. North Indian Hindu Temples usually have a rectangular or square floor plan with a central temple surrounded by a courtyard. Temple walls are decorated with miniature shrines, relief carvings, or paintings. North Indian Hindu Temples can also have a firepit for ceremonial purposes, along with other features like an assembly hall or living quarters.
What are South Indian Hindu temples?
South Indian Hindu temples are worship places dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Hindu god. The Dravidian architecture is predominant in South India. South Indian Hindu temples are characterized by the gopurams or pyramidal towers that serve as their main entrance. In the center of the complex is a shrine with a Vishnu statue. South Indian Hindu temples are some of the holiest places for Hinduism. They are popular tourist attractions, both among Hindus and those who are not Hindus.
Historical Background of South Indian Temples and North Indian Temples
Historical Background of South Indian Temples
South Indian temples have a rich historical background that dates back centuries. The Dravidian style of temple architecture, which is prevalent in South India, originated around the 7th century CE. This architectural tradition emerged during the reign of the Pallava dynasty and reached its peak under the Chola and Vijayanagara empires.
The historical background of South Indian temples is closely intertwined with the rise of various dynasties and rulers in the region. These temples were not only places of worship but also served as centers of patronage for art, culture, and literature. The rulers and patrons of South India played a significant role in promoting and developing temple architecture.
The construction of South Indian temples was considered a sacred duty of the rulers, and they commissioned these temples to showcase their power, devotion, and artistic sensibilities. The temples were built with meticulous attention to detail, incorporating intricate stone carvings, elaborate sculptures, and majestic gopurams (gateway towers).
Over the centuries, South Indian temples underwent various architectural advancements, reflecting the changing artistic and religious preferences of the time. The temples served as important cultural and religious centers, where rituals, festivals, and community gatherings took place.
Historical Background of North Indian Temples
North Indian temples have their own unique historical background, shaped by different dynasties and cultural influences. The development of temple architecture in North India can be traced back to the ancient period, with significant contributions from the Gupta and Maurya empires.
The North Indian temple architecture witnessed significant transformations during the medieval period under the patronage of various ruling dynasties, such as the Rajputs, Delhi Sultanate, and the Mughals. The blending of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles resulted in the emergence of a distinct Indo-Islamic architectural fusion.
During the reign of the Gupta dynasty, notable temple complexes like the Dashavatara Temple in Deogarh and the temples at Bateshwar and Tigawa were constructed, showcasing the early architectural styles of North India.
The medieval period saw the construction of magnificent North Indian temples, such as the Khajuraho temples, which are renowned for their intricate sculptures and erotic art. The Rajput rulers, known for their patronage of art and architecture, also contributed to the development of temples in North India.
The Mughal period witnessed the blending of Islamic architectural elements with traditional Hindu temple styles, resulting in the construction of notable temples like the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi and the Govind Devji Temple in Jaipur.
The historical background of North Indian temples reflects the cultural and religious diversity of the region. These temples became important centers of worship, pilgrimage, and cultural exchange, attracting devotees and visitors from far and wide.
The historical background of South Indian temples and North Indian temples highlights the intricate relationship between dynasties, rulers, artistic expression, and religious practices, shaping the diverse architectural styles and cultural significance of these temples.
Let’s know what the differences are between South Indian temples and North Indian temples
Many of the North Indian Temples lack surrounding halls and corridors. However, many South Indian Temples such as the Meenakshi Amman Temple located in Madurai do have these.
The tallest towers in North Indian temples often rise above the sacred sanctorum. South Indian temples are different.
In addition to the main deity, many South Indian temples also have deities that are made from panchaloha (an alloy of five metals). North Indian temples do not have these processional deities.
North Indian temples are much larger than their South Indian counterparts. The temples of the South are usually much larger. South Indian monarchs have put far more money in their temples compared to their palaces.
Srirangam Ranganathar Temple in Tamilnadu, which occupies 156 acres and is located there, is the largest operational religious building in the entire world. This is because the entire land area of Monaco (which is only two square kilometers) could not accommodate more than three Srirangam Temples. The size of the temples is unmatched in North India.
North Indian temples have preserved their natural beauty, which is testament to its rich culture. These temples are enhanced by the majestic Ganga River flowing through Rishikesh, or the Himalayan panoramas in Kedarnath or Badrinath.
Sanskrit is an ancient Indian language. It contains a beautiful phrase which can be translated to “feeling close to God.” The word for this is “sanidhyam.” Sanidhyam comes naturally to temples in North India.
North Indian Temples are more orthodox than South Indian Temples. In North Indian Temples everyone is allowed to enter the innermost sanctuary of the god, while South Indians temples have rules for entering the main and principal sanctum. Kerala temples have many rules and regulations for entering them. Most temples require men to enter with only a naked chest. The upper garment is not to be worn when entering temples.
The North Indian temples do not decorate the main deity with expensive jewelry because everyone is welcome to the principal sanctuary of the deity.
AGAMAM (RITUAL MODALITY)
When compared with the South Indian Temples, the North Indian Temples perform very simple rituals. South Indian temples use elaborate ritual methods.
In South Indian temples, rituals are performed strictly according to Sanskrit Agama scriptures.
Agamam, a South Indian cultural tradition, is followed with extreme strictness in temples. Agamams are a group of texts which outline worship, temple customs and ritual procedures. Three agamams exist: Saiva (for Shiva temples), Vaikanasam (for Vishnu temples) and Paancharaatram. Saiva is only used for temples that are dedicated to Shiva.
Shaiva agamam is known to be quite informal and straightforward. I find that the rituals of Vaikanasa Agamam and Paancharatra Agamam to be more complex. Temples in Kerala that practice tantric rituals are the exceptions to this agamic culture.
North Indian temples’ religious practices do not follow this framework. According to what I have observed, ceremonies at North Indian temples are more relaxed. The way in which the ceremonies are conducted varies greatly across North Indian temples.
It allows even regular people to interact physically with idols. It is possible to perform abhishekam at the Shiva Lingam of Kashi but it’s much more rewarding to embrace Pandurangan in Pandharpur. Temple priests can only touch idols in the South due to the strict agamam.
TEMPS CONTAIN MANY EXPRESSIONS ABOUT DIVINITY
In every South Indian temple, you will find both moolavar and utsavar, which are idols that were made from wood. They’re usually made out of the five metals panchalogam, or gold, silver copper iron lead. Moolavar is found inside temples. He is often shown to be made from hard rock and is dark in appearance. Utsavars are carried out of the temple at festivals, and also used in processions within the temple.
In some temples, Vishnu may be represented by as many as 5 different statues. The panchaperar includes the Moolavar (which can be used to process), the Utsavar, the Yaagaberar, which is often used during yaagams and the Kauthugar.
North Indian temples are largely devoid of utsavars and those that do exist, they’re displayed in a subdued manner. North Indian temples are the opposite of South Indian ones, which often depict the deities as black stones.
White marble is often used in the depiction of deities. The state of Tamil Nadu also has its own distinctive dance known as Nataraja. This style is very important to the Tamil Nadu people.
The formless manifestation Nataraja, the Hindu god of Chidambaram is worshipped. Hinduism does not practice this idea. Nataraja is said to dance in an eternal state of joy with his wife Shakti who represents the energy.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SAINTS
All of the South Indian Temples are influenced by saints. In temples dedicated Shiva, you can see idols of the 63 Shaivite Saints called nayanmars credited with writing Thirumurai (18549 Shiva hymns and 275 temples).
At Vishu temples (106 temples and 4000 hymns about Vishnu), you can see idols of Vaishnavite Saints called alwars. They are credited for writing Divya Prabandham. In Vishnu Temples, Vaishnavite pontiffs and thinkers, like Ramanujar are given a great deal of respect.
Due to the reverence for saints, the Vedas are not considered as important. Even the Tamil hymns written by Alwars or Nayanmars. The group reciting Tamil prabandham will always go in front, and the group chanting Sanskrit Veda, in the back, behind the idol. The purpose of this is to highlight the importance that these saints had in the tale.
A Dravidian Temple’s main entrance will usually have the “largest” tower, the Raja Gopuram. The sanctum sacrum would have a smaller one (except for Tanjore big temple). The gopurams in South Indian temples differ from those of other temples because they are more elaborate, and have a lot of figures. Tanjore Big Temple is an exception.
North Indian temples, on the other hand, gradually increase the height from the gate to the tower housing the sanctuary. South Asian temples are the complete opposite. The towers in North Indian temples often have a sparse and simple design, and may even be devoid of figures.
The amount of architectural detail varies greatly between states in South India. It is especially true for temples. Kerala’s temples are simpler and more straightforward in design than the intricate Chola or Hoysala structures. Northern India has so many rivers that it doesn’t need ponds. Gujarat is the only exception, as the state boasts some beautiful ponds.
In North India, prakarams are not common. South Indian temples, on the other hand, are made up of multiple levels with long hallways which surround the main temple building. Yali, a South Indian deity is frequently depicted on the walls of temples.
The creature is a mythical beast that has characteristics similar to lions and elephants. It also resembles horses and peacocks. Elephants are used in South Indian temples, as opposed to those of Northern India.
North Indian temples do not follow the agamic system. North Indian temples, from what I’ve seen, have more relaxed rituals. The rituals are not uniform in North Indian temples. It allows even the common man to touch idols. You can perform abhisheka on Shiva Lingam in Kashi and, even better, hug Pandurangan’s idol in Pandharpur. Only temple priests in the south are permitted to perform rituals or touch idols due to strict agama.
Impact of Tourism
The splendor and historical significance of South Indian and North Indian temples have made them popular tourist destinations. Tourists from around the world visit these temples to admire their architectural beauty, experience the devotional atmosphere, and learn about the rich cultural heritage of India. Temple tourism has contributed to local economies, infrastructure development, and cultural preservation in the regions where these temples are located.
Preservation and Conservation
As ancient structures, South Indian and North Indian temples require ongoing preservation and conservation efforts to safeguard their architectural legacy. Government bodies, cultural organizations, and local communities work together to protect these temples from natural disasters, urban development, and the passage of time. Conservation initiatives focus on maintaining structural integrity, preserving intricate carvings, and promoting sustainable tourism practices.
Within the broad categories of South Indian and North Indian temples, there are further variations based on the region. South India itself is home to various temple styles, such as the Dravidian style in Tamil Nadu, the Vesara style in Karnataka, and the Kerala style. Each region has its unique architectural nuances and ritualistic practices. Similarly, North India encompasses diverse temple traditions, including the Nagara style in Rajasthan, the Khajuraho style in Madhya Pradesh, and the Pahari style in Himachal Pradesh.
- The temples of both types are often brightly colored and decorated with intricate designs. They also feature many shrines, walkways, and other features.
- South Indian temples, on the other hand, tend to be smaller and less elaborate.
- South Indian temples tend to be more focused on carvings and paintings, while North Indian temples are usually more adorned with statues.
- The main languages of North Indian temples are Hindi and Tamil, whereas those in South India tend to use Tamil.
- North Indian temples are characterized by a curvilinear, tall tower known as a shikhara. South Indian temples use pyramidal towers, called vimanas.
- South Indian temples have elaborately carved entrances, while North Indian temples don’t.
- South Indian temples are larger and more complex, with more elaborate sculptural ornamentation.
Both North Indian and South Indian Hindu Temples have great spiritual and aesthetic significance.
Note 2: As far as I know, almost the entire North India region was influenced by foreign invaders. Almost all of the original structures in North India were sadly lost long back and weren’t reconstructed/stopped constructing new temples since the new rulers didn’t care about Hinduism. South India has also been plundered many times, but the invaders mostly just ransacked and looted. South India was given a chance to recover and rebuild their lost glory, thanks in part to the patronage of Hindu kings.
Comparison table between South Indian Temples and North Indian Temples
|Features||South Indian Temples||North Indian Temples|
|Architectural Style||Dravidian style with towering gopurams||Indo-Aryan style with prominent shikharas|
|Main Deities||Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Durga||Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Goddess Lakshmi|
|Rituals||Elaborate abhishekams, aratis, deity processions||Bhajans, aartis, prasad distribution|
|Festivals||Arudra Darshanam, Pongal, Onam||Diwali, Holi, Navratri|
|Structural Layout||Multiple concentric prakarams||Single sanctum and mandapa|
|Cultural Influences||Dravidian culture and artistic expressions||Indo-Aryan and Mughal influences|
|Regional Variations||Dravidian, Vesara, and Kerala styles||Nagara, Khajuraho, and Pahari styles|
|Popular Temples||Brihadeeswarar Temple, Meenakshi Temple||Golden Temple, Vaishno Devi Temple, Kashi Vishwanath|
|Architectural Features||Intricate stone carvings, vibrant murals||Ornate domes, detailed wall and pillar carvings|
|Spiritual Significance||Divine abodes, blessings, solace||Divine presence, blessings, prosperity|
|Impact of Tourism||Popular tourist destinations, economic growth||Boost to local economies, cultural preservation|
|Preservation Efforts||Government initiatives, conservation organizations||Preservation of structural integrity and carvings|
Importance of South Indian Temples and North Indian Temples for pious people
South Indian temples and North Indian temples hold immense importance for pious individuals, providing them with a sacred space for spiritual nourishment, devotion, and connection with the divine. These temples play a significant role in the religious and cultural fabric of India, attracting millions of devotees and pilgrims from all walks of life.
Here are some key reasons why these temples are important for pious people:
- Divine Abodes: South Indian temples and North Indian temples are believed to be the abodes of deities, where the divine presence can be experienced. For pious individuals, visiting these temples provides an opportunity to connect with the divine and seek blessings from the gods and goddesses worshipped there.
- Spiritual Solace: The temples offer a serene and sacred environment that allows pious individuals to find solace, peace, and spiritual rejuvenation. The atmosphere of devotion, the sound of prayers and hymns, and the scent of incense create a conducive atmosphere for introspection and deepening one’s spiritual connection.
- Fulfillment of Desires: Devotees visit South Indian and North Indian temples with the belief that their prayers and wishes will be heard by the deities. They seek blessings for various aspects of life, such as health, wealth, success, and overall well-being. The temples are seen as powerful centers for the fulfillment of desires and the seeking of divine intervention.
- Religious Rituals: The temples are places where elaborate religious rituals and ceremonies take place. Pious individuals participate in these rituals, such as abhishekams (sacred baths), gratis (devotional rituals), and processions, which are believed to bestow divine grace and purify the soul. These rituals provide a sense of spiritual engagement and devotion for the pious individuals.
- Cultural Heritage: South Indian and North Indian temples are not just places of worship but also bearers of rich cultural heritage. The intricate architecture, exquisite sculptures, and vibrant paintings in these temples reflect the artistic mastery of the past. Pious people appreciate the cultural significance of these temples and value them as symbols of the country’s artistic and architectural legacy.
- Community and Social Bonding: Temples serve as social and community centers where pious individuals come together to celebrate festivals, participate in religious processions, and engage in charitable activities. These temples foster a sense of belonging and unity among the devotees, strengthening the social fabric of the community.
- Scriptural and Philosophical Teachings: Many South Indian and North Indian temples have associated scriptures and teachings that provide spiritual guidance and philosophical insights. Pious individuals visit these temples to learn about the scriptures, listen to discourses, and deepen their understanding of the religious and philosophical aspects of their faith.
For pious individuals, South Indian temples and North Indian temples are not just physical structures but sacred spaces where they can connect with their beliefs, seek solace, and experience a profound spiritual connection. These temples hold deep religious, cultural, and social significance, making them an integral part of the lives of pious individuals in India.
The conclusion of the article is
South Indian temples and North Indian temples hold a special place in the hearts of pious individuals. These temples serve as divine abodes, offering solace, spiritual nourishment, and a connection with the divine. They play a crucial role in fulfilling the religious and cultural needs of people, attracting devotees from all over the world.
The historical background of these temples reflects the rich architectural heritage and the patronage of rulers throughout history. The intricate carvings, vibrant sculptures, and majestic structures bear testimony to the artistic mastery of the past and the cultural diversity of India.