The Physicality and Spirituality of the Hindu Temples of Kerala
Every culture can stir a type of architecture that can range from landmarks to everyday homes. History has proved that the various architectural styles have developed in response to climate, lifestyle, geology and geography of a place, religious philosophy of the people and availability of building materials. Religion and lifestyle seem to be the most common influences overall. Culture, in fact, underlines the important role that economics, politics, religion, heritage and the natural environment play in shaping the built environment. Kerala (the southern-most state of India), the land of temples appears unique in this context as the temples here were the pivot of religious, social, economic and cultural life of every Keralite. The typical Hindu temples of Kerala stand out from among the Indian temple typology in its form, structural clarity, stylistic tradition, symbolism and above all, in its construction and craftsmanship in wood. They show a distinctive style which is a local adaptation of the Dravida or the South Indian tradition of temple construction, considerably influenced by the various geographical, religious, cultural and political factors. Most of the temples of Kerala are traditionally neighborhood institutions of worship, rich in both tangible and intangible cultural values. The spatiality of Kerala temples follows the general Indian philosophical concepts of the centre, axis and the human relatedness to cosmic reality, while its implementation in the built form follows the Vedic religious practices. This paper attempts to explore the evolution of the generic built form of temples of Kerala and the philosophical and spatial concepts of their architecture.
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