The ‘Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture’ comprises a vast research on the architectural features of Indian temples spread all over the Indian subcontinent. This encyclopaedic study is divided into forty-five chapters which delineate the various characteristics of temple architecture starting from the Gupta period (4th c.A.D.) to the Kashi Vi„vanÈtha temple rebuilt by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore (1776 A.D.). The work begins with an insight into the Indus Civilization that flourished in the Indus Valley region (now in Pakistan) with the two most important sites of Mohanjo-daro and Harappa revealing a marked degree of controlled urban planning. As for the temple architecture, the Imperial Guptas had established their sovereignty over almost the whole of northern India and the regular building of structural temples in brick and dressed stone started in their regnal period. The period under their immediate patronage fully deserves the name ‘The Golden Age’ of Indian art and culture as aesthetic principles of architecture, sculpture and painting were formulated in their region. The Hindu temples evolved during that period with the basic features of the cella, the ma‡Çapa and the vestibule.
The temples of Post-Gupta period studied here indicate that most of the characteristic features of north Indian temple architecture, including the curvilinear superstructure („ikhara) and the repeated motifs extending from the niches of the wall had been developed. The beautiful architecture of the valley of Kashmir cannot be denied. The great temple of Elephanta is formed of a species of hard trap-rock about 4.5 miles in circumference. The shore-temple at Mammallapuram and the temple of KailÈ„a is the most sublime monument at Ellora. The ChÈlukyas of BÈdÈmi (500-757 A.D.) laid the foundation of stone architecture in Karnataka in the towns of BÈdÈmi, Aihole and Pa——aÇakal. The Pa——aÇakal is known as ‘cradle of temple’. The other dynasty rulers followed their different style, and named their own style as ChÈlukyan style, RÈ–—rakÊ—a style, Hoy„Èla style and Vijayanagara style. The RÈ–—rakÊ—as of Malkhand (757-763 A.D.) were enlightened rulers and their period witnessed a steady increase in the construction of KalyÈ‡a (973-1198 A.D.) contributed hundreds of temple of ƒiva, Vi–‡u and good number of JinÈlayas of architectural eminence. The Hoy„Èlas of DvÈrasamudra (1000-1346 A.D.) constucted more than hundred temples and basadis. The Pallava rulers (600-900 A. D.) were responsible for patronage of extensive rock-cut works at the seaport cityof Mamallapuram. The rock-cut temples known as the five rathas reveal the rich variety of south Asian architecture. The Cholas became chief power after Pallavas and built magnificent temples. The PÈ‡Çyas (1150-1350 A.D.) gained supremacy in the south when the Chola dynasty collapsed in the 13th century.
The book shows that there was tremendous progress in traditional temple styles as witnessed from Orissan temples (800-1200 A.D.). The temples of central India evolved from the northern NÈgara type (6th cen.) to distinctive central India style (8th cen.). The construction of temples proliferated in Rajasthan simultaneously with Orissa and central India but Muslim invaders mutilated them beyond repairs. Gujarat temple architecture developed in richest temple building in North India under the Solanki dynasty. Jaina temples spread in South India are detailed. The book explores the Hindu and Jaina rock-cut temples which came in effect under the patronage of ChÈlukyas and the succeeding RÈ–—rakÊ—as and the contemporary Pallavas. An outline of the Vijayanagara temples at LepÈk–i is a notable example of the Vijayanagara style of architecture. The book further deals with the architectural style of the KÈkatÏya temples of ¶ndhrade„a. Besides the study of various temples of south India, the book focuses on the Brahmanical temple of Bengal. The building of MarÈthÈ temple was discouraged under Muslim rule for a period of three centuries. However, the religious and funerary temple of Nagpur were greatly favoured under ƒivÈji. The ancient city of Prati–hÈn on the bank of the river GodÈvarÏ is remarkable for the Hindu temple and monasteries. At last the book deals with the Golden Temple at Amritsar and the religious temples of Varanasi and other temples.
The work is further embellished with the inclusion of about 300 coloured plates beautifully printed on art paper and enriched with about 450 plans of the different temples.