BEGINNINGS & PURPOSE
From the 1st century CE a new type of worship known as Bhakti or devotional Hinduism spread across the Indian sub-continent, and the old Vedic gods were replaced in importance by deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna,Brahma, and Devi. These gods would become the central figures of Hinduism and their worship required temples where the devoted could offer their thanks and reveal their hopes for a better life.
Buildings were constructed which could house a sacred symbol of a particular god, which could be decorated with sculptural figures of them so recalling episodes from their mythological adventures, and which provided a space for worshippers to leave offerings and perform rituals such as bathing and dancing by professional female dancers (devadasi).
The temple was considered the dwelling place of a particular god (devalaya). It was, therefore, a sacred place (tirtha) where heaven and earth meet and, as a god’s home, it must be a suitably splendid palace (prasada). The needs of the god would, additionally, be supervised by a dedicated body of priests (pujaris) who attended the temple.
Hindus need not attend regular services, but an occasional walk around the temple interior (circumambulation), known aspradaksina and done in a clockwise direction, was considered auspicious. Further, they could say prayers, look at the god’s representation – a specific act of piety known as darsan – and leave offerings of food and flowers (puja). Temples, inevitably, became the very centre of a community and, accordingly, their upkeep was guaranteed by land grants and endowments from the ruling class, as indicated by inscriptions on many temples.
The Earliest Hindu Temples
The earliest temple structures were not made of stones or bricks, which came much later. In ancient times, public or community temples were possibly made of clay with thatched roofs made of straw or leaves. Cave-temples were prevalent in remote places and mountainous terrains.
Temples of South India (6th - 18th Century AD)
Temples of East, West and Central India (8th - 13th Century AD)
Temples of Southeast Asia (7th - 14th century AD)
Influenced by early Buddhist structures such as the stupa, the first Hindu temples were built from rock-cut caves and repeated the idea of relief panels and the decorativegavaska window form. Then, with the arrival of Gupta architecture in the 4th to 5th century CE, the first free-standing Hindu temples were constructed with features such as towers and projecting niches.
The first materials used were wood and terracotta, but architects gradually moved on to brick and stone, especially sandstone, granite, schist, and marble. No mortar was used in the older temples and so precise cutting of dressed stones was required. Outstanding examples of influential cave temples include those at Udaigiri in Malwa and date to the 5th century CE. Early free-standing temples survive at Deogarh and include the 6th century CE Dasavatara temple dedicated to Vishnu.
How can Kaaba be a VEDIC Temple, when temples did not exist in Vedic age is the million dollar question ?