Kashyapa Shilpa-shastra (study)

by K. Vidyuta | 2019 | 33,520 words

This page relates ‘Conclusion (Mandapas)’ of the study on the Kashyapa Shilpa-shastra (in English) with special reference to the characteristics of Prakara (temple-components), Mandapa (pavilions) and Gopura (gate-house). The Silpa-Sastras refers to the ancient Indian science of arts and crafts, such as sculpture, architecture and iconography. This study demonstrates the correlatation between ancient Indian monuments (such as temples and sculptures) and the variety of Sanskrit scriptures dealing with their construction.

2. Conclusion (Maṇḍapas)

Among the maṇḍapas that decorate a temple, the 100 pillared maṇḍapas, 1000 pillared maṇḍapas and the Kalyāṇa maṇḍapas are to be seen frequently in great temples. These maṇḍapas fulfilled a variety of functions, from the performance of sacred ablutions to the exposition of various sciences. Though the maṇḍapas in the Pallava temples stood separately from the main sanctum, in the Chola period, they were integrated into the Vimāna. The front maṇḍapas that originally adorned the great temples of Tanjore and Gangaikondacholapuram, were probably two-tiered.

The most beautiful of all Chola maṇḍapa to have survived is the one at Darasuram, built in the 12th Cent. A.D. by Rājarāja II.

Chola Mandapa

[Courtesy: Wikipedia]

The hundred pillared and thousand pillared maṇḍapas at Chidambaram are intimately connected with the literary and religious history of the country. Some of them are in the form of chariots drawn either by horses or elephants.

Mandapas at Chidambaram

Mandapas at Chidambaram

[Courtesy: The old 100 pillared maṇḍapa and the Nṛtya maṇḍapa from the book Rājarājeśvaram.]

The Vijayanagara rulers erected many Kalyāṇa-maṇḍapas with intricately carved pillars as at Vellore and Kanchi:

Pillars as at Vellore and Kanchi

[Courtesy: This is the Kalyāṇa maṇḍapa of the Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kanchipuram.]

The thousand pillared maṇḍapas and the Vasanta maṇḍapa at the Mīnakṣi temple Madurai are some of the finest creations of the Nayak period:

Vasanta Mandapa

Old photo of Puthu Maṇḍapa of Madurai:

Puthu Mandapa

The pillars in Tamilnadu temples are often of exquisite beauty. From the early times, it attracted the skill of the sculptor. The pillar with liturgical significance called the “dīpa-sthamba”, stands in front of the Śrīmuṣṇam [Śrīmuṣṇa] temple of the Nayaka times:

Śrīmuṣṇam temple

Other than the common maṇḍpas mentioned in the Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra text, there are other maṇḍapas named after their architectural position like the Nīrā~i maṇḍapas and Śatastambha maṇḍapas; or due to their functional significance like Kalyāṇa maṇḍapas, Snapana maṇḍapa, Vāhana maṇḍapas and Vasanta maṇḍapas. Incidentally one can also see a Vanabhojana maṇḍapa in Mylapore, near Kapalīśvar temple but the date of construction is not known:

Vanabhojana Mandapa

Inscriptional details:

The details about the Snapana maṇḍapa is mentioned in an inscription dated 982 A.D. at Vṛddhagirīśvarar temple, Vriddhachalam built by the Chola queen Sembiyan Mādevī[1].

The Abhiṣeka maṇḍapa or Tirumañjana maṇḍapa is found mentioned in an inscription[2] of 13th C.A.D. belonging to the reign of Rajendra Chola III at the Śrī Varadarājasvāmi temple, Kanchipuram.

The Vyākhyāna maṇḍapa is a lecture hall built during the Chola times of the 10-11th Cent. A.D. in the Ādipurīśvarar Temple of Tiruvotriyur (Chennai). It localises the legend of Siva expounding the fourteen sūtras to Pāṇini[3].

Further, there are a number of instances in which temples or shrines were called after the ruling kings. For, example the Kailāsanatha temple at Kanchipuram was named Rājasiṃheśvaram after Rajasiṃha Pallava and the Bṛhadīśvara temple is called Rājarājeśvaram after Rajaraja I, their builders. Similarly, many of the maṇḍapas were named after their builders like the Sembian Mahadevi maṇḍapa built by Rajaraja I in Veṅkateśa Perumāḷ temple at Tirumukkudal near Kanchi, in honour of Sembiyan Mahadevi, the queen of Gaṇḍarāditya and mother of Uttama Chola[4].

Footnotes and references:


Annual Report of Epigraphy (A.R.E.) , 139 of 1900.


A.R.E., 595 of 1919.


ibid., 202 of 1912.


ibid., 243 of 1941.

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