|Rectangle roof,Cherathrikovil Shreekrishna - Siva Temple kochi Kerala.www.hotfrog.in|
|Elliptical roof.Iswarar Temple,Adhur. Kerala. www.shaivam.org.|
|Elliptical roof. comarshavidyamruthavahini.blogspot.com|
|Conical roof, Maha Vishnu temple,Thrikodithanam www.thrikodithanam.org|
Temples have an important place in the lives of Keralites for centuries and there are numerous old temples dating back to centuries built by several kings belonging to different dynasties. There are some temples modeled after Dravidian style too, prevalent in neighboring Tamil Nadu.Though Agama Sastra tradition of worship is followed in numerous temples, 'Tantric tradition' of worship is quite prevalent, notably at Kali or Bhagavathy Amman(Goddess) temples. There is a wise saying in Tamil " Kovil ellaatha ooril kudi errukka vendaam'' meaning never live in a place where there is no temple or ambalam. This is also true of Kerala. A part of their social life is also associated with temples where there is space for dance or Koothu recitals.
Temple architecture is normally defined by Temple Sastras that recommend certain designs pertaining to the location of sanctum, prakara (walk path around the main shrine) , flag staff, etc. In Kerala the temple architecture is unique and different from that of other regions. Largely dictated by the geographical location and climate of the region that has lots of wooded areas, blessed with the bounties of the SW monsoons, here the structure of the temples is suitable to the coastal and rainy environment all within the ambit of temple Sastras. The wooden roofs are steep and pointed, and covered with copper sheets. The slanting roofs extend at least 2 feet out beyond the walls so that they will be kept dry free from rain and sun shine. The roof designs resemble those found in the Himalayan regions and those in East Asia.It is a way to counter the vagaries of climate, hot summer, high humidity, heavy downpour, etc.
|Pamanabhapurm palace. en.wikipedia.org|
Above image: Gabled roof and ceiling works are the prime features of Kerala architectural style.Classic overlooking roof.Pamanabhapurm palace.
The architecture of Kerala is a blend of Dravidian and Vedic architectural science (Vastu Shastra) that lasted over two millennia with local influence. It is believed, that the Tantra Samuchaya, Thachu-Shastra, Manushyalaya-Chandrika and Silparatna that are important architectural sciences, have had a considerable influence on the Kerala temple style.Many temples also show the influence of Buddhism. Dome shaped roofs resemble Buddhist stupa.
Just like other Hindu temples, the central part is Garbagraha (sanctum sanctorum) or ''Sri Kovil'' in local parlance, which is on a raised platform accessed by 3 or 5 steps called ''Sopanapada.''The sanctum is surrounded by a prakara, with one or more cardinal points where there are Gopura Dwaras (openings). Sri Kovil is the most sanctified place of the temple. Here the temple priests act as a medium between devotees and the God. Brahmin priests, well versed in Temple Agama Sastras, can enter the Sri Kovil. Others are not allowed. In Kerala only main priest (Thantri) and second priest (Melshanti) are only allowed to enter into Sri-kovil. Located directly in front of the sanctum or Sri Kovil is a Namaskara mandapam in the prakaram. Here devotees reverentially prostrate before th deity as a mark of ''surrender to thee.''The number of prakara varies from temples to temple in odd number. A small temple will have just one prakara. The prakaram also houses smaller sub shrines.
All Hindu temples have an exclusive kitchen (in Tamil ''Madapalli'') where the divine food - Naivaidhyam is referentially cooked by Brahmin cooks. It is is located in the south eastern corner of the prakaram called ''Thevarapura.''
|GuruvayurTemple flagstaff & flag. (Kotimaram). en.wikipedia.or|
The Mukha mandapam or Thalla mandapam is
part of''Chettuambalam'' which is integrated with the gopura entrance - an outer structure with the temple wall. The flagstaff or dwaja stambham is located outside of the main shrine facing Sri Kovil and is in the Mukha mandapam. It may be copper or, brass or gold plated. At some temples it is located in the open space facing the main shrine. The balipitham may be set in the mukha mandapam or in the outer courtyard. The outer prakaram or courtyard houses other sub shrines, and a temple tank. In many temples this part is open and does not have covered roof. Nalamblam is an enclosed hall for ritualistic worship and a divided part of it is meant for feeding Brahmins who conduct yagas called Agrasalas.
The Kuttambalam or the theater hall is an integral part of many Kerala temples and is built either as a part of the inner prakara, on the SE corner facing north, or as a separate hall outside the innermost prakaram, either facing into the temple or facing north. The Kuttambalam has a stage or platform well raised from the rest of the floor, and a backstage area for the artists. This theater hall is meant for staging the performance of Kathakali or Chakkiyar koothu recitals. It is a well ventilated auditorium where there is enough space for audience and the performing artists. Tourist visiting Kerala will understand to what extend the Kuttambalam plays a key role in the cultural fabric of this God's country, thus preserving the heritage of India and of Kerala, in particular. It is also a major center for learning Indian performing arts, especially those that developed in Kerala - Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kudiyattam, Nangiar Koothu, besides the traditional orchestra called Panchavadyam. Training is also given in various percussion instruments like chenda, maddalam and mizhavu. Kalamandalam follows the gurukula sampradayam, the ancient Indian education system based on residential tutelage. Koothambalam is the place that nurtures such traditional performing arts that exist for centuries.
|koodalmanikyam temple koothambalamwww.vaikhari.org|
Features that differentiate the Kerala temples are not only its simple, but elegant appearance, but also the construction materials that go into its building. The temple is made of a combination of stone,wood, stucco works and painting - put together in an exquisite manner that brings out the essence of colorful and active traditions of Kerala. The base and the structure above are made of granite and in some cases laterite stones respectively. The temple walls are made of coarse laterite stones plastered in mud and lime. Murals, using vegetable dyes, are seen on several of these temple walls. Careful use of enormous wood for the outer work and the inner skeletal work enhances the beauty and grandeur of the temple,
|Velukku madam.Sri Mahadeva temple, Vaikom, Keralawww.earthmemories.net|
A distinctive feature that is not found in Hindu temples of other parts of India is the use of ''vilakku maadam'', or the multi-tiered brass lamps stand in the front part of temples on the outer wall right below the slanting roof. Laksha Deepam (100,000 lamps) is a grand and spectacular celebration of traditional lighting where tiers of small oil lamps lining the outer walls of the inner prakaram are lit. Karthikai Deepam festival in Kerala is celebrated on a grand scale and the Villakku madam is extensively used by the devotees.