Difference Between North and South Indian Hindu Temples

Mandirs are the traditional Hindu temple that is based on the ancient writings of India. There are a lot of temples in India but despite being a country we could the same religion changing from the North of the country to the south of the country.

The architecture of temples varies with the places and gods being worshiped over there. Let’s look what are the main differences in temples from the head to toe of the country.

North vs South Indian Hindu Temples

The main difference between North and South Indian Hindu Temples is size disparity in the north and the temples in the south are significant. Northern India’s temples are a fraction of the magnitude of their southern counterparts. South Indian temples are further distinguished by the presence of water tanks and shrines within the temple complex.

North vs South Indian Hindu Temples

The ceremonies at North Indian temples are more easygoing. Furthermore, the modality of rites is not consistent across all North Indian temples. This allows ordinary folks to touch the idols.

You may do abhishekam to Shiva Lingam in Kashi, and much better, you can embrace Pandurangan’s idol at Pandharpur. Because of rigorous agama, only temple priests are permitted to touch the idols and execute the ceremonies in the south.

South Indian temples adhere to a rigid agamam culture.

Agamam is a collection of texts that explain worship, temple customs, and ceremonial procedures. Saiva (for Hindu temples), Vaikanasam, and Paancharaatram are the three agamams (for Vishnu temples). Shaiva agamam are less formal and more straightforward.

Paancharatra agamam rituals are far more intricate than Vaikanasa agamam rites. Kerala temples, where tantric rites are performed, are an exception to this agamic tradition.

Comparison Table Between North and South Indian Hindu Temples

Parameters of ComparisonNorth Indian TemplesSouth Indian Temples
ArchitectureThe structure’s height is gradually increased, beginning with a low-rise gate and progressing to a lofty tower containing the sanctuary.Most temple gopurams in South India are exceedingly ornate and loaded with figures.
SizeNorth Indian temples are not big but they have natural beauty.Temples are bigger in south India.
Priests (Importance of saints)Priests are important but they are not indulged as compared to south Indian temples.Priests have very importance in south Indian temples.
CultureNot all North Indian temples have the same ceremonial modalities.Temples in South India have a strict agamam tradition
RitualsPeople offer abhishekam to Shiva Lingam at Kashi, and much better, embrace Pandurangan’s idol in Pandharpur.The three agamams are Saiva (for Hindu temples), Vaikanasam, and Paancharaatram (for Vishnu temples). Shaiva agamam are less formal.

What are North Indian Hindu Temples?

Traditional ceremonies at North Indian temples are laid-back. Furthermore, not all North Indian temples have the same ceremonial modalities.

The idols can even be touched by ordinary people as a result of this. You can offer abhishekam to Shiva Lingam at Kashi, and much better, embrace Pandurangan’s idol in Pandharpur.

Because of rigorous agamam, only temple priests are allowed to touch the idols and execute the rites in the south. The idols in most North Indian temples are shown in a very lowly manner, and there are no utsavar idols for processions.

In North Indian temples, white marble god representations are widespread, but in South Indian temples, black stone idols are prominent.

In addition, Tamil Nadu has a unique style of expressing Shiva in the form of a dance form known as Nataraja, which is highly significant to the Tamil people. Priests are important but they are not indulged as compared to south Indian temples. North Indian temples are not big but they have natural beauty. 

As already mentioned temples in North India are Nigara style which gives the temples distinct visible differences from south Indian temples.

Shikhara is the most prominent feature of the design in North Indian temples and only North Indian temples have multiple shikara designs.

What are South Indian Hindu Temples?

Temples in South India have a strict agamam tradition. Agamam is a collection of books that discuss worship, temple etiquette, and rituals.

The three agamams are Saiva (for Hindu temples), Vaikanasam, and Paancharaatram (for Vishnu temples). Shaiva agamam are more clear and less formal.

Vaikanasa agamam ceremonies are significantly more complicated than Paancharatra agamam rites. This agamic practice is broken only in Kerala temples where tantric rituals are done.

All Southern India temples both have moolavar (stone) & utsavaridols. Moolavar is a God that lives in temples and is generally made of hard rock and shown in black.

Temple processions employ utsavar, which can also be carried outside the temple during festivals.

The principal deity is even depicted in certain Vishnu temples. Moolavar, Utsavar (used for processions), Yaagaberar (used in yaagams), Kauthugarand theerthaberar are the panchaperar.

Priests have very importance in south Indian temples. Temples are bigger in south India. As mentioned earlier South Indian temples are based on the Dravid style which resembles a pyramid.

The main shape is pyramid-based so the temple has a pillar type design in the center. South Indian temples don’t have more than one shikhara.

Main Differences Between North and South Indian Hindu Temples

  1. The structure’s height is gradually increased, beginning with a low-rise gate and progressing to a lofty tower containing the sanctuary whereas most temple gopurams in South India are exceedingly ornate and loaded with figures.
  2. North Indian temples are not big but they have natural beauty whereas Temples are bigger in south India.
  3. Priests are important but they are not indulged as compared to south Indian temples whereas Priests have very importance in south Indian temples.
  4. Not all North Indian temples have the same ceremonial modalities whereas Temples in South India have a strict agamam tradition.
  5. People offer abhishekam to Shiva Lingam at Kashi, and much better, embrace Pandurangan’s idol in Pandharpur whereas The three agamams are Saiva (for Hindu temples), Vaikanasam, and Paancharaatram (for Vishnu temples). Shaiva agamam are less formal.
Difference Between North and South Indian Hindu Temples

Conclusion

Mandirs are traditional Hindu temples that are based on India’s ancient scriptures. There are many temples in India, yet even though it is a country, we can see the same religion altering from north to south.

Temple architecture varies depending on the location and divinity being worshipped.

The size difference between North Indian temples and South Indian temples is large in the north, while the size difference between temples in the south is significant. Northern India’s temples are a fraction of the size of those in the south.

The presence of water tanks and shrines inside the temple complex distinguishes South Indian temples even more.

North Indian temples are not big but they have natural beauty. Temples are bigger in south India.

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00043249.1990.10792723
  2. https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/87038/
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