Construction of Temple

There are many aspects involved in constructing a temple. Acarya, director for the temple construction and shilpi (sculptor) play major role in the construction of a temple. The temple acarya is expected to know silpa sastra although not in as much detail as a shilpi. Temple construction begins with search of a proper site. Soil and location are examined by acarya and shilpi. This is called Bhupariksha.

This is followed by nagara/grama nirmana. Here, the layout of town, its size, breadth of different levels of streets, locations and sizes of facilities like water tanks are determined based on the size of town. There are different names for different sizes of towns, like grama, kheta, kharvata, durga, nagara. Then the location of temple (brahma sthana) in the town is decided. Temple is usually in the center of village so that every villager has access to it. The entire arrangement is called grama vinyasa.

Then the size of temple is determined. For this, size of the image of main deity is to be known, since the size of a temple is always a fixed multiple of the size of image of main deity. Then wood/metal/stone is selected for the image. The icon has three parts, main icon (vigraha), pedestal (peetha) and platform (adhisthana or upa peetha). The tests to determine quality of stone are prescribed by the Agamas.

There are three kinds of stone, male female and neuter. When hit with an iron rod if the stone produces good sound and spark, it is male and should be used for the main icon. If it produces sound but not spark it is female and should be used for pedestal. If it produces neither, it is neuter and should be used for platform. There are various standards for the relative proportions of image, gopura, prakara etc. and also the relative proportions of various parts of the vigraha. The units for measuring vigraha are tala, angula and yava. Tala is a multiple of angula and angula is a multiple of yava. More than the specific size of each unit, the multiplicity and relative sizes are important.
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