Schools of Architecture

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

In State Subordinate Exams, in Art & Culture topic Schools of Architecture is important, from which various questions related to Nagara, Hills, Hoysala, Dravida are commonly asked.

Schools of Architecture

The Nagara

In North India, an entire temple was built on a stone platform with steps leading up to it. Subdivisions of nagara temples depending on the shape of the shikhara:

(i) ‘Latina’ or the Rekha-Prasada type: It is square at the base and walls curve or slope inward to a point on top. Later on, the Latina buildings grew complex, the temple began to support many smaller towers, which were clustered together like rising mountain-peaks with the tallest one being in the centre, and this was the one which was always above the garbhagriha.

(ii) Phamsana: Tend to be broader and shorter than Latina ones. Their roofs are composed of several slabs that gently rise to a single point over the centre of the building. Phamsana roofs curve upwards on a straight incline. In many North Indian temples, phamsana design is used for the mandapas while the main garbhagriha is housed in a Latina building.

(iii) Valabhi: Rectangular buildings with a roof that rises into a vaulted chamber. The edge of this vaulted chamber is rounded, like the bamboo or wooden wagons that would have been drawn by bullocks in ancient times. They are usually called ‘wagon vaulted buildings’.


The Hills

  • Region: Hills of Kumaon, Garhwal, Himachal, and Kashmir.
  • Followed Ancient Gandhara Style (Kashmir’s proximity to Gandhara sites) by the fifth century CE. This began to mix with the Gupta and post-Gupta traditions that were brought to it from Sarnath, Mathura, and even centres in Gujarat and Bengal.
  • At several places in the hills, the main garbhagriha and shikhara are made in a Rekha-Prasada or latina style, the mandapa is of an older form of wooden architecture. Sometimes, the temple itself takes on a pagoda shape.
  • In the Karkota period of Kashmir: important temple is Pandrethan, built during the eighth and ninth centuries. Built on a plinth built in the middle of a tank. Dedicated to Shiva.
  • Samlaji, the sculptures at Chamba also show an amalgamation of local traditions with a post-Gupta style for e.g., the images of Mahishasuramardini and Narasimha at the Laksna-Devi Mandir. Both images show the influence of the metal sculpture tradition of Kashmir.
  • Nagara architecture in the region of Kumaon: Jageshwar near Almora, and Champavat near Pithoragarh, are classic examples of.

The Dravida or South Indian Temple Style

  • Enclosed within a compound wall.
  • Gopuram: The front wall has an entrance gateway in its centre.
  • The shape of the main temple tower known as vimana in Tamil Nadu is like a stepped pyramid that rises up geometrically rather than the curving shikhara of North India.
  • In the South Indian temple, the word ‘shikhara’ is used only for the crowning element at the top of the temple, shaped like an octagonal cupola, equivalent to the amlak and kalasha of North Indian temples.
  • Sculptures of fierce dvarapalas or the door-keepers guarding the temple are found.
  • Large water reservoir, or a temple tank, enclosed within the complex.
  • In many temples, the garbhagriha is located in the smallest tower. It is also the oldest.
  • The Srirangam temple in Tiruchirapally has as many as seven ‘concentric’ rectangular enclosure walls, each with gopurams.


Hoysala Architecture

  • The Hoysala era (1026 CE – 1343 CE) was known for its illustrious achievements in art, architecture, and culture.
  • After Chola and Pandya, the Hoysalas of Karnataka became the most important patrons centered at Mysore.
  • Remains of around a hundred temples have been found in southern Deccan: the temples at Belur, Halebid, and Somnathpuram are the most important.
  • The plan of these temples is known as a stellate plan. Made out of soapstone which is a relatively soft stone.
  • The Hoysaleswara temple (Lord of the Hoysalas) at Halebid in Karnataka was built in dark schist stone by the Hoysala king in 1150. Hoysala temples are sometimes called hybrid or vesara.
  • Highly original star-like ground-plans and a profusion of decorative carvings.
  • Dedicated to Shiva as Nataraja.
  • Halebid temple is a double building with a large hall for the mandapa to facilitate music and dance. A Nandi pavilion precedes each building.
  • The temple’s tower fell a long time back. The structure of the temple is evident from the detailed miniature ones at the temple’s entrance.
  • Very intricate and detailed carvings.


Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium