In the Hindu temple the mandapa is a porch-like structure through the (gopuram) (ornate gateway) and leading to the temple. It is used for religious dancing and music and is part of the basic temple compound. The prayer hall was generally built in front of the temple's sanctum sanctorum (garbhagriha). A large temple would have many mandapas.
If a temple has more than one mandapa, each one is allocated for a different function and given a name to reflect its use. For example, a mandapa dedicated to divine marriage is referred to as a kalyana mandapa. Often the hall was pillared and the pillars adorned with intricate carvings. In contemporary terms, it also represents a structure within which a Hindu wedding is performed. The bride and groom encircle a holy fire lit by the officiating priest in the center of the Mandapa.
- Artha Mandapam or Ardh Mandapam – intermediary space between the temple exterior and the garba griha (sanctum sanctorum) or the other mandapas of the temple
- Asthana Mandapam – assembly hall
- Kalyana Mandapam – dedicated to ritual marriage celebration of the Lord with Goddess
- Maha Mandapam – (Maha=big) When there are several mandapas in the temple, it is the biggest and the tallest. It is used for conducting religious discourses. Sometimes, the maha mandapa is also built along a transversal axis with a transept (bumped-out portions along this transversal axis). At the exterior, the transept ends by a large window which brings light and freshness into the temple.
- Nandi Mandapam (or Nandi mandir) – In the Shiva temples, pavilion with a statue of the sacred bull Nandi, looking at the statue or the lingam of Shiva.
- Ranga Mandapa
- Meghanath Mandapa
- Namaskara Mandapa
- Open Mandapa
In Indonesia, the mandap is known as a pendopo (ꦥꦼꦤ꧀ꦝꦥ). Unusually, Indonesian pendopos are built mostly for Muslim communities. Many mosques follow the pendopo design, with a layered roof to resemble Mount Meru.
In Tamil, this platform is the Aayiram Kaal Mandapam – a distinctly thousand pillared hall close to the vimana of the Koil which forms a distinct part of the site plan of classical Dravidian architecture.
A mandapa in Thai is a mondop (มณฑป). It features often in Thai temple art and architecture, either in the form of a Hor Trai (a temple library) or as an altar shrine such as the one in Wat Chiang Man in Chiang Mai.
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- Ching, Francis D.K. (1995). A Visual Dictionary of Architecture. New York: John Wiley and Sons. p. 253. ISBN 0-471-28451-3.
- "Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent - Glossary". Retrieved 2007-01-08.
- Thapar, Binda (2004). Introduction to Indian Architecture. Singapore: Periplus Editions. p. 43. ISBN 0-7946-0011-5.
- "Glossary of Indian Art". art-and-archaeology.com. Archived from the original on 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2007-01-08.