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Hindu temples

Hindu temples, homes for gods, dot India's landscape. Each temple houses a main deity and others. Worshipers bring offerings and visit in small groups. Temples feature a central tower, bathing ponds, and gateways. Some temples, like Khajuraho and Konark, are tourist attractions due to their unique sculptures and size. Created by Asian Art Museum.

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Video transcript

(mystical music) - [Instructor] Hindu temples can be seen throughout the villages, towns, and cities of India. A temple can be a simple structure by the side of the road or an entire complex of buildings. Regardless of its size, the Hindu temple is essentially a dwelling place for the gods. (bell ringing) A principal deity resides at the heart of each temple, like a king or queen in their palace. Other deities, attendants, and mythical figures can also be seen as part of the temple structure. Surrounding the temples are stalls selling offerings and souvenirs, such as fruit, flowers, sweets, and postcards. The atmosphere around the temple is lively and boisterous. The interior of a Hindu temple is not designed to hold large congregations. Worshipers come and go in small groups through a hallway leading to an inner sanctuary. Here, the image or symbol of the main deity is located. In an active temple, statues of the deities are covered with garlands and draped with rich fabrics. Above the sanctuary rises a central tower, often brightly painted. The shape of the tower resembles the mythical mountain home of the gods. Other features of temples include sacred bathing ponds, walled enclosures, and gateways in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here, at Madurai in southern India, the gateways tower above the temple complex and are covered with statues. Some temples are no longer in active use. At Khajuraho in central India, tourists now flock to see celebrated images of gods and loving couples adorning the exterior walls. In Konark, near the eastern coast, are the remains of one of the largest temples ever built in India. It was dedicated to the sun god Surya. The original tower no longer survives, and we can only imagine its size from the smaller buildings that still stand. (singing in foreign language) The immense variety of temples throughout India is the result of local styles and preferences and centuries of architectural developments. Each attest to the artistry of countless masons and sculptors. The sculptures of deities seen in the Asian Art Museum were once part of an active Hindu temple. They adorned the exterior walls, interior spaces, entranceways, high wall niches, and inner sanctuaries. (mystical music)