A study of various types of pillars in temples as described in Maanasaara

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Devalaya kambagalu – A study of various types of pillars in temples as described in Maanasaara

Author:  C. S. Aparna

Place: Hampe, Gangavara, Sirivala, Lepakshi, Bengaluru, Narasamangala, Kambadahalli, Badami, Pattadakal, Belur, Gadag

The strength of a temple always depends on its pillars. The pillars are highly helpful in determining the time period of temple and dynasty who built the temples. Many canonical texts on temple architecture like Manasara, Mayamata, Kamika- gama, Suprabhedagama, etc.,  give details about pillars, their various parts and varieties.

In this article, the author presents a detailed study of  varieties of pillars and their parts as described in the Manasara (in comparison with other texts) and its application in temples across Karnataka.

The main parts of the pillar can be recognised as pita (pedestal), pada (base), danda (shaft) and the next parts are called, kalasa, harika, arya, tatika, kantha, kumbha, nimnaka, phalaka, veerakantha and bodhika according to Manasara. These parts are decorated in different varieties and wrought in different types. On the basis of these varieties, they are identified with different names. Such as : padmakanta, chitraskambha, samyogastambha, koshtastambha.

Padmakantha pillars can be identified in the kalyana-mantapa’s of the Achyutaraya temple and Hazara Rama tem- ples at Hampi. Its sub-variety called chitraskambha can be seen at Chokkanatha Temple, Bangalore and  Someshvara temple at Tavarekere. Samyogasthambhas are seen in the Vithala temple at Hampi and Koshtastambhas at Saraswathi temple at Gadag, Narasimha pillar at Belur temple, etc.

Author aspires that this type of study will result in finding out the names of all types of pillars which are named in our ancient texts. We can also try to identify the text which was followed in a particular time and place.


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