Professor Adam Hardy is a well-known architect and architectural historian. He is currently working as a Professor of Asian Architecture at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. He is also the Director of PRASADA, a center bringing together research and practice in South Asian art and architecture. He has done extensive research on South Asian Architecture involving studies of Indian, Buddhist, and Jain temples.

‘Typology of Indian Temples’ is a video available on Professor Hardy’s youtube channel – Adam Hardy Indian Temple Architecture. The video is about one hour and six minutes long, but Professor Hardy is engaging enough that you hardly notice the time flying by. The video is a deep, focused look at various types of Hindu temple architecture and how the forms have evolved over the years throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Youtube for Architects: Typology of Indian Temples by Adam Hardy Indian Temple Architecture - Sheet1
Adam Hardy ©

The video starts with a discussion on the various categories that temple architecture is divided into – mainly Nagara style (for Northern India) and Dravida style (for Southern India). This is followed by a detailed look into how these styles have formed and evolved. All temple styles can be traced back to design elements and structures of wooden architecture which was prevalent during Vedic times. In those days, wood was majorly used for the construction of all kinds of structures like houses, temples, towers, etc. 

Later on, the stone began to be used extensively for construction. Even though most of the wooden architecture has not survived, their imagery has been preserved in the form of sculptures done later in stone. Various sculptures in temples show scenes from the Vedic period like festivals, processions, scenery, etc. From these images, the origins of the later temple styles can be understood. When creating stone architecture, the builders replicated various features of wooden architecture like a thatched roof, balconies, rooftops, floor slabs, levels, etc. in stone. These elements started as individual designs in stone and later merged to form various typologies. 

The video discusses various typologies and prototypes of wooden shrine forms like – kuta, shala, gopurams, proto valabhi(replication of barrel-shaped wooden roofs), phamsana(replication of thatched roof), amalaka (replication of towers), etc, and its various combinations in construction. All of these elements would eventually become the seeds of all later temple architecture. 

Youtube for Architects: Typology of Indian Temples by Adam Hardy Indian Temple Architecture - Sheet2
Imagery showing origins ©

Next, the video focuses on how these various typologies were combined and later built in stone. The different elements were fused in various combinations to form different types of forms for Indian Temple architecture. These include forms like latina (from kuta and shala), valabhi (from proto valabhi), phamsana (from proto phamsana), etc. These forms were then again combined to form even more typologies. The Latina, phamsana, valabhi typologies were again combined further to form more shikhara and mandapa variations.

Thus the development of Indian Temple architecture involved a repeated process where initial forms derived from wooden architecture were combined to get secondary forms. These secondary forms were then combined in various ways to get a set of tertiary forms, which were again combined to get even more variations. Examples are given for the various typologies from various Hindu and Buddhist temples and buildings across India. The examples give insight into what kind of forms developed in different parts of India and the timeline of this development in Indian architecture. The difference in the combination of these elements is what causes the difference in the styles of architecture in different parts of India. The video talks about the difference in the combinations in Nagara and Dravida styles as well as other less defined styles that exist as a combination of the North and South Indian styles.

Youtube for Architects: Typology of Indian Temples by Adam Hardy Indian Temple Architecture - Sheet3
Various elements and their combinations ©

In the video, Professor Hardy gives detailed explanations for each and every type, combination, and element along with clear images and sketches that make the concepts very easy to understand. The topic is very engaging, especially if you are interested in Indian architecture and Hindu and Buddhist temple architecture. The video gives a detailed view of the development of Indian temple architecture, which will allow you to identify those elements in real life the next time you visit a Hindu temple.

The video is a very in-depth look into the subject, so if you are looking for a more general, brief explanation this might not be the video for you. You need to put in the time to watch the whole video to truly grasp the concepts. It might be useful to take notes along the way since there are many terms to remember and maybe even make your own sketches of the various elements. This will make it easy to refer back to if needed. Professor Hardy’s youtube channel also features several other videos that also discuss various aspects of Indian temple architecture. 

Overall, the video is a definite must-watch for anyone interested in doing a serious study of Indian temple architecture, with all its intricate elements, details, and history spanning hundreds of years.


Link to the video –

Link to Professor Adam Hardy’s youtube channel –


Aishwarya G is a student of architecture, who strongly believes in the power of words to change the world. She is very interested in the way that architecture can be expressed through writing, and made accessible to anyone. She is also an avid reader, dancer and loves to travel.