Discuss the development of temple architecture in eastern India

Discuss the development of temple architecture in eastern India


  • Introduce by mentioning the areas having significant temple architecture in Eastern India.
  • Point out one by one the key features of temple architecture in these areas i.e. Bengal, Odisha and Assam.
  • Conclude appropriately.
Model Answer :

Temple architecture provides a narrative of the history and culture of India. Most of the art and architectural remains that survive from Ancient and Medieval India are religious in nature. Important regional variants of the dominant schools of temple architecture in India are found in the North-East (mainly in Assam), Bengal and Odisha.

  1. Bengal:
  • The popular style of architecture between ninth and eleventh centuries in Bengal and Bihar is known as the Pala style.
  • Palas were patrons of Buddhism and their temples were made in local Vanga style.
  • Early Pala style had tall curving shikhara crowned by a large amalaka which is similar to temples of Odisha.
  • Later they have a curving or sloping side like that of the bamboo roof of a Bengali hut.
  • The temples have pillars made of black to grey basalt and chlorite stone and also have arched niches. Terracotta was the main medium of construction.
  • Terecotta temple at Vishnupur is an excellent example of Pala style.
  1. Odisha:
  • The main architectural features of Odisha temples are classified as rekhapida, pidhadeul and khakra.
  • The temples of Odisha had a distinct substyle within the Nagara style. The shikhara, called Deul, is vertical almost until the top which curves sharply inwards.
  • Deuls are preceded by mandapas called jagamohana.
  • The ground plan of the main temple is square, which becomes circular in the crowning mastaka.
  • The exterior of the temples is lavishly carved while their interiors generally quite bare.
  • Temples usually have boundary walls.
  • Puri Jagannath temple and Konark Sun temple are among the most remarkable constructions of Odisha style.
  1. Assam:
  • A distinct regional style developed in Assam by the twelfth century before which influence of Gupta style of architecture could be seen.
  • This distinct style known as the Ahom style came with the migration of people from Upper Burma and had the influence of Pala style of Bengal as well.
  • Terracotta was principle medium of construction and a number of temples have been renovated in course of time.
  • Kamakhya temple in Guwahati is an excellent example.

These architectural marvels are not only the standing examples of diversity and richness of art forms in India but also gives a glimpse of the kind of society that made these.

Subjects : History and Culture