Many a time, temples are often known only as the abode of the deity. If that were the case, a question naturally arises – why did our ancestors build such grand and marvelous architectural wonders if all it was to be was the home of the god?
There is so much more to temples and temple architecture than meets the eye. Here, let us take a look at some of the reasons why the most beautiful temples of South India were built on such a grand scale.
Temples like Brihadeeswara temple, Virupaksha temple, Sri Venkateswara temple, the temples at Rameswaram and Madurai, and many more, ace the levels of architecture and beauty. In South India, most of the great temples are created in the Dravidian style, inscribed with patterns in gravel, tall mansions, statues, and detailed descriptions.
In the Hindu religion, the temple is the most sacred place a person goes to. It is the energy of the place that makes us feel at peace. This tradition of temples is very old. It has been said that in ancient times, only Vishnu temples used to exist. Slowly, many temples were created.
Here is how the tradition of grand temple architecture came into being.
- Temples were the heart of society
In ancient times, temples were not just a place of worship but also a home for the purohits and pandits. Many festivals and celebrations, even marriages used to happen in temples. The age-old tradition of devadasis where a young girl would be married to a deity for her devotion and would spend the rest of her life in the temple are some of the practices that made temples a home for many.
- Temples were a reflection of the ruling king’s devotion and his power
The grand temples built in the 2nd and 3rd centuries were often a reflection of the wealth of the ruler and the dynasty who built the temples.
The rulers of dynasties like Chola, Pandya, Pallava did this in two ways. Firstly, by creating enormous temples the kings highlighted the economic and architectural domination of the kingdom. Enormous temples like the Brihadeshwara temple were a statement to the rival kings contemplating an attack.
Secondly, influential rulers of the time were also very spiritual and religious. Building a temple was the most pious thing they could do for their subjects. The piety and devotion of the king led them to do a lot of daan-dharma at these temples.
- Temples were a source of positive energy
The enormous temple compounds, with the chanting of shlokas and mantras every day, created an enormous source of positive energy. They offered people a space where all the five senses, namely seeing, hearing, touch, smell, and taste, were conquered in a way that made the devotee feel as if they were in a different dimension altogether.
Even today, temples are not just the physical representations of the deities, they are a place of transition for us from a physical state to a complete spiritual and mental state.
Temples are not just built for the gods and goddesses, they are built for people too. The positive energy and the strength temples provide are enormous. To conclude, temples are a gateway for us to meet deities by entering a world of pure bliss! Our ancestors understood this, and hence, built such marvels of architecture that awe and inspire us even today!