India | Orissa

Ancient Orissan Temple Architecture

The basic form of the early Orissan temple is that of a square or rectangular shrine which contains the image of worship, and a hall in front known as the ‘mukhasala’. The early ‘mukhasalas’ were rectangular, with six or eight pillars supporting the roof and with an equal number of pilasters against the side walls. At a slightly later period the pillars disappeared, resulting in an open rectangular hall. Later periods saw the establishment of a square hall. The temples usually faced east, so that the rays of the rising sun illuminate the image of worship. As per Orissan architectural text, a shrine containing an image of Lord Shiva or Vishnu should be square, while the shrine dedicated to the Goddess Devi should be rectangular. The earlier temples had an irregular placing of doors and windows.

In the ‘panchayantana’ type of temple, the main complex of shrine and ‘mukhasala’ is elaborated and extended with the addition of four shrines at the four corners of an open courtyard area. These four subsidiary shrines reproduce on a smaller scale all the features of the main shrine without the ancillary hall.

An extension to the ‘Panchayantana’ style is ‘astaparivara’ style. In this style, the temple consists of a main temple, four shrines at the four corners of the courtyard area, and three barrel-vaulted shrines that form part of the center of the courtyard walls enclosing the temple complex.

Updated on 21st November, 2005


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