Early Temples in India

In the early part of the Vedic era there is no clear mention of temples. All worship and rituals were carried out before the holy fire, called the ‘yajnas’. However, in the later period of the Vedas, along with the ceremonial fire, idol worship also began to be practiced. These idols were housed in very elementary dwellings. The very first temples may have been simple earth mounds, later substituted by brickwork with grass roofs.

Early temples found in India before the distinctive styles emerged can be classified into following three types:

  1. Sandhara type (without Pradikshinapatha)
  2. Nirandhara type (with Pradakshinapatha) and
  3. Sarvatobhadra (which can be accessed from all sides)

Some of the important temple sites of this period are Deogarh in Uttar Pradesh, Eran, Nachna-Kuthara and Udaygiri near Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh. These temples are simple structures consisting of a veranda, a hall and a shrine at the rear.

Shiva temple at Nachna Kuthara in Madhya Pradesh