This handbook is a comprehensive study of the archaeology, social history and the cultural landscape of the Hindu temple. Perhaps the most recognizable of the material forms of Hinduism, temples are lived, dynamic spaces. They are significant sites for the creation of cultural heritage, both in the past and in the present.

Drawing on historiographical surveys and in-depth case studies, the volume centres the material form of the Hindu temple as an entry point to study its many adaptations and transformations from the early centuries CE to the 20th century. It highlights the vibrancy and dynamism of the shrine in different locales and studies the active participation of the community for its establishment, maintenance and survival.

The illustrated handbook takes a unique approach by focusing on the social base of the temple rather than its aesthetics or chronological linear development. It fills a significant gap in the study of Hinduism and will be an indispensable resource for scholars of archaeology, Hinduism, Indian history, religious studies, museum studies, South Asian history and Southeast Asian history.


Chapters 1, 4 and 5 of this book are available for free in PDF format as Open Access from the individual product page at www.routledge.com. They have been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

chapter |6 pages


Hindu temples: social histories

section Section I|89 pages

The temple and royalty

chapter 2|19 pages

The sacred geography of a medieval capital

Hampi-Vijayanagara – a case study

chapter 3|17 pages

Beyond the king–brahmana–temple paradigm

Mapping the socio-cultural landscape of Hindu temples in central India (c. 4th–6th centuries CE)

chapter 4|39 pages

Constructing temple, constructing power

Temple reconstruction process in 10th-century Tamil-speaking South with special emphasis on Govindapputtur 1

section Section II|68 pages

Temple rituals

chapter 6|15 pages

The stepwell as gift of water


chapter 7|19 pages

Medieval food as deity worship

The elaboration of food offerings in Chola-era ritual practice

chapter 8|20 pages

Social History of the Western-Himalayan Temple

Rituals and Priests

section Section III|74 pages

Temple as social space

chapter 10|22 pages

Methods for murals

Temple painting in southeastern India

chapter 12|21 pages

Amour and upahāra in the garbha-gṛḥa

The temple as social space in the Kathāsaritsāgara

section Section IV|81 pages

Temple landscapes

chapter 14|26 pages

Temples of Swat

The Śāhi archaeological landscape of Barikot

chapter 15|18 pages

Shared spaces

Cultural landscapes and early Hindu temples in peninsular India

chapter 16|23 pages

Sacred spaces and local places

Temples and shrines in the religious landscape of Tekkalakota

section Section V|72 pages

The temple and beyond

chapter 18|26 pages

Movement across the divine threshold in medieval Tamil Nadu

Dynamics and interactions in the space of the temple and beyond

chapter 20|18 pages

Building belonging

Shaiva temple communities in South and Southeast Asia

section Section VI|92 pages

The colonial interlude

chapter 22|26 pages

Symbiotic sacred spaces

An indexical study of premodern Malabar

chapter 23|23 pages

From the forest to the valley

Temple architecture, landscape and history in Goa

chapter 24|16 pages

The afterlife of temples

Western India