Real Alcázar of Seville: Pedro I Palace

A masterpiece of Mudéjar art and architecture

The palace of Pedro I is considered a masterpiece of Mudéjar art and architecture and is a testament to Spain’s multicultural roots. It owes its name to King Don Pedro (1350 – 1369), an eccentric ruler of Castile and Leon known for his cruelty and also known for his open-mindedness toward different cultures. Christian, Jewish, and Islamic cultures flourished, and a harmonious relationship existed between these cultures during his reign.

King Don Pedro was a great admirer of Moorish culture and architecture. He built this magnificent palace using Mudéjar artisans from Seville, Toledo, and the Moorish kingdom of Granada. Mudéjar art and architecture, which emerged in Andalusia, Spain, in the 12th century, is a fusion of Islamic and Christian styles, best characterized by horseshoe arches, afarje ceilings decorated with interlaces star-like polygons, motifs on plaster with linear and curvilinear geometrical patterns, glazed ceramic tiles with geometrical patterns, beehive ceilings, and stalactites.

The Pedro I Palace is part of Real Alcázar of Seville, a large complex consisting of palaces, administrative buildings, and gardens built/rebuilt by different cultures from the middle ages to the modern era. A part of this palace is still being used as the royal residence. Designated in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site – along with the Seville Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies – the Real Alcázar is one of the most visited attractions in the world.

Path to the Real Alcázar Complex

To arrive at the Real Alcázar complex, visitors enter the Puerta del León (Lion Gate) and walk through the Patio del León and pass the arched doors of the ancient Moorish wall.

Puerta del León (Lion’s Gate)

The main entrance to the Real Alcázar is the Puerta del León, a gate built during the Almohad times, located on the Plaza del Triunfo and is close to the eastern end of the Seville Cathedral.

The image below shows the front facade of Puerta del León. Embedded into its wall above the door is a beautiful emblem of a lion carrying the cross, which is responsible for the name Puerta del León, which means Lion’s Gate in Spanish. Although the wall of this gate is from Almohad times, the emblem is recent, made in 1892 of Triana Ceramic tiles in a local factory named Mensaque.

The Puerta del León is not the only entrance to the Real Alcázar; There is another located at the intersection of Calle Menendez Pelayo and Calle San Fernando, used mostly for special occasions.

The Peurta del León opens into the Patio del León, a small courtyard with a path in the middle flanked by several rectangle-shaped hedges of neatly-trimmed myrtle bushes, which enclose tall trees, including cypress, and a variety of plants. The other end of the patio is the ancient Moorish wall. See the image below.

The view of the Patio del León shown in the image is from the Moorish wall. At the far end is the rear side of the Peurta del León.

Ancient Moorish wall

Visitors walk through ancient Moorish wall before entering into the Real Alcázar complex. The three arched doors were carved out of the defensive fortification to allow entry to the newly built Pedro I Palace. As you can see, there is a difference in construction methods. The brick-based archways were from the King Pedro era, whereas the stone-based rest of the wall was from the Almohad era.

Ancient Moorish wall in the Patio del León of the Real Alcázar, Seville, Spain
Ancient Moorish wall

Majestic exterior

King Pedro I Palace and Patio de la Montería - Real Alcázar of Seville, Spain
Pedro I Palace and Patio de la Montería (Courtyard of Hunting)

The building at the far end of the image is King Pedro I Palace, and the courtyard in front of it is known as Patio de la Montería (Courtyard of Hunting), i.e., the courtyard with the white crisscrossed lines. To the right of King Pedro I Palace is Casa de Contratación (House of Contracting). This view is captured from the middle arched door of the ancient Moorish wall, which separates the Patio de la Montería and Patio del León (Courtyard of the Lion).

Entrance to the King Don Pedro Palace at the Real Alcázar of Seville in Spain
Entrance to the Pedro I Palace

The Pedro I Palace has a beautifully-designed Mudéjar style facade and entrance. Mathematics played a vital role in creating beautiful art in the decoration of the facade. As you can see, the design is symmetrical about the vertical axis. The beam above the door has several voussoirs (wedge-shaped blocks) that are placed at regular intervals and slanted outwards. Flanking the door are the blind stilted arches with the space above them decorated with beautiful sebka decorative motifs.

This view was captured from the Patio de la Montería. You can see visitors entering into a narrow hall known as the vestibule, which has passageways at the ends leading to the other rooms.

Glamorous interior

Decorated by the Mudéjar artisans from Seville, Toledo and Granada, the interior is filled stunningly beautiful artwork containing mesmerizing geometrical patterns on the walls, ceilings and arches.

Layout of the Palace

Layout of the Pedro I Palace at Real Alcázar in Seville, Spain
Layout of the Pedro I Palace

The diagram shows the ground plan of the Pedro I Palace Note: This diagram is neither accurate nor drawn to scale. The purpose of this diagram is to show different halls and rooms and their locations within the palace.

Here is the list of the halls and rooms:

1. Vestibulo (Vestibule)
2. Alcoba Real (Royal Bedroom)
3. Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens) – Corridor
4. Patio de las Doncellas – Sunken Garden
5. Salón de Embajadores (Ambassadors’ Room)
6. Salón de los Sevillanos (Hall of the Sevillians)
7. Salón de los Toledanos (Hall of the Toledans)
8. Patio de las Muñecas (Patio of the Dolls)
9. Sala de los Infantes (Infants Room)
10. Sala de los Pasos Perdidos – Hall of the Lost Steps
11. Salón de los Reyes Católicos (Hall of the Catholic Monarchs)
12. Cuarto del Príncipe (Prince’s Room)
13. Salón del Techo de Felipe II (Philip II Ceiling Room)
14. Salón del Techo de Carlos V (Charles V Ceiling Room)

King Don Pedro lived in this palace and conducted his official here. As the name suggests, his bedroom is Alcoba Real (2). The halls he used for the official business are centered around Patio de las Doncellas (4). the queen and children used Patio de las Muñecas (8). Salón de Embajadores (5) was the throne room, and this was where King Don Pedro received emissaries and prominent people of his time.

Vestibulo (Vestibule)

The Vestibule (Section 1 in the layout) is the hall where visitors enter the Pedro I Palace. It is a narrow hall with passageways at the ends leading to the other rooms. The left passageway leads to the Patio de las Doncellas, which is the official section of the palace. The right passageway leads to the Patio de las Muñecas, which is the private section of the palace.

Mudéjar art on the ceiling of the entrance hall in the Real Alcázar of Seville in Spain
Mudéjar art on the ceiling of the entrance hall

The beautiful piece of work in wood shown in the image is on the ceiling of the vestibule. It is classic Mudéjar art. As you can see, enclosed within the central rectangle of the wooden panel is exquisitely decorated artwork containing gold inlaid shapes (medallions and polygons), with beautiful geometrical patterns interlaced around them.

Alcoba Real (Royal Bedroom)

Situated next to the vestibule, the Alcoba Real was King Pedro’s bedroom, which has two rooms, outer and inner. Check section 2 in the layout. As you can see, the inner room has only one door, which opens into the outer room.

All the three images shown above portray the beauty of Mudéjar art. The floor and lower part of walls is ornate with tile work covered with eye-catching geometrical patterns. It appears as though these patterns follow some mathematical equations. The arched door of the outer room opens into Patio de las Doncellas, and the wall surrounding it is embellished with arabesques and Islamic calligraphy. Covering the ceiling is a beautiful piece of artwork in wood. As you can see, this exquisitely decorated artwork contains gold inlaid shapes (medallions and polygons), with beautiful geometrical patterns interlaced around them.

Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens)

The Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens) is a rectangular courtyard with ornate corridors on all four sides. In the middle of the courtyard is a pool flanked by sunken garden with trees that include the famous orange trees of Seville.

Legend has it that the sultan of Cordoba demanded 100 virgins every year as a tribute from the Christian kings of the Iberian Peninsula. This courtyard owns its name to the maidens in the legend.

Ceiling of a corridor of the Patio de las Doncellas in the Real Alcázar of Seville, Spain
Patio de las Doncellas – Corridor

The courtyard was built by King Don Pedro and the upper gallery was a later addition built by Charles V.

This courtyard resembles many open courtyards in the Alhambra and Generalife in Granada. For example, Court of the Myrtles in the Nasrid Palaces, Patio de la Acequia (Court of the Irrigation Canal) in the Generalife. This is because King Pedro I loved Moorish architecture and decoration and had a cordial relationship with the Nasrids of Granada, who sent master craftsmen to help build and decorate the palace.

As you can see, the alfarje ( i.e., wooden panel on the ceiling) is exquisitely decorated with artwork containing gold inlaid shapes (medallions and polygons), with beautiful geometrical patterns interlaced around them. This beautiful piece of work is another excellent example of Mudéjar art. Check the Mudéjar art on the ceiling of the entrance hall.

Salón de Embajadores (Ambassadors’ Hall)

The Salón de Embajadores (room 5 in the layout) was King Don Pedro’s throne room, and this was where he received emissaries and prominent people of his time. It is the most elaborately decorated room in the Pedro I Palace. Adding to its beauty is the perfect symmetry with which it was built and decorated. The square-shaped room is symmetrical about both the principal axis.

The exquisitely decorated ceiling is an excellent example of geometrical artwork using Mudéjar style design. As you can see from the image, the view is dazzling and delightful to watch. Enclosing the perfectly circular shape is an octagram, a star-shaped polygon with eight angles, also a hexadecagon (a polygon with 16 sides).

The recessed circular panel is filled with small colorful polygons arranged in a geometrical pattern that radiates outwards from the star-like shape in the center. It gives an impression of the sky with a multitude of twinkling stars. The designers intended to make the people experience cosmic space in this room. It is believed that the artwork on the ceiling represents the cosmos, and the square room below represents the earth.

Each side of the square room looks similar, with a balcony made of wrought iron projecting out just below the ceiling. Below each balcony is a richly decorated arched door opening into another room. These balconies were added later, sometime in the 19th century.

Adjacent Rooms

The Salón de Embajadores opens into Salón de los Sevillanos (Hall of the Sevillians) and Salón de los Toledanos (Hall of the Toledans) on two of its sides. See the sections 6 and 7 in the layout. The Salón de los Sevillanos is dedicated the artisans from Seville who decorated this hall. Likewise, Salón de los Toledanos owes its name to the artisans from Toledo.

As you can see from the images, the triple horse shoe arches supported by marble pillars separate the adjacent halls from the Salón de Embajadores.

Patio de las Muñecas (Patio of the Dolls)

Patio de las Muñecas (Room 8 in the layout) got its name because of the dolls carved into the arches. The image on the left has dolls carved into the arch near its bottom. It is believed that there are nine dolls carved into arches of the Patio de las Muñecas.

During Don Pedro’s time, the queen and the children used this room. The space above the arch is ornate with beautiful sebka decorative motifs. The upper two floors are the newer and built in the nineteenth century.


Note 1: Mudéjars were highly skilled craftsmen of Moorish origin who remained in the Christian areas and worked as masons, carpenters, potters, glass-makers, etc. Their skills were highly sought after to build palaces and luxury homes for the nobility in the Christian and Islamic areas.

Note 2: Arabesque is a repetitive pattern of foliage or geometrical designs found in decorations of Islamic architecture.

Note 3: Alfarje is a wooden painted ceiling decorated with decoration based interlacing star-shaped polygons

Seville Pages and Posts
Seville Cathedral: An awe-inspiring architectural marvel
Sala Capitular – The Chapter House of the Seville Cathedral
Sacristía Mayor – The Main Sacristy of the Seville Cathedral
La Giralda: A harmonious blend of Moorish and Renaissance architectural styles
Las Setas of Seville – A modern artistic structure in a historical city
Alhambra Pages
Discover the Magic of Alhambra
Palacios Nazaríes – Nasrid Palaces – A Shining Example of Moorish Art and Architecture
Los Jardines del Partal — The Gardens of the Partal
Alcazaba – A Formidable Fortress of the Nasrids
Medina, the Bustling City
Alhambra – Christian-Era Monuments
Alhambra – Outer Monuments
Generalife – Heavenly Gardens of the Nasrids

Copyright © 2023 by YatrikaOne. All rights reserved.

Las Setas of Seville – A modern artistic structure in a historical city

Whether you love it or hate it, this unique and futuristic-looking structure, popularly known as Las Setas of Seville, stands in stark contrast to the rest of Seville that prides itself on world-famous historical monuments. Because it resembles mushrooms, it got its name Las Setas, which means ‘The Mushrooms’ in Spanish. However, it is officially known as Metropol Parasol because of its six umbrella-like structures, known as parasols.

The six parasols of Las Setas are connected and arranged into four levels. The underground level (Level 0) houses a museum known as Antiquarium. Designed by Felipe Palomino González – a renowned Sevillian architect who also participated in the Las Setas design – the Antiquarium is home to archaeological artifacts found in this area. The street-level (Level 1) houses a supermarket, Mercado de la Encarnación. The upper levels (Levels 2 and 3) have walkways and miradors (viewing points) for visitors to experience the 360-view of the city. There is a tapas restaurant in the central parasol.The area below the parasols is spacious and used for holding events

Designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer and completed in April 2011, Las Setas is the largest wooden structure in the world built by employing 3,500 pieces of Finnish pine (Kerto) joined by 3000 knots using 16 million screws and nails. This 26 meters high structure covers 3500 (150 x 70) cubic meters and weighs 1,300,000 kgs.

Although the Las Setas looks like an unconventional structure, the inspiration for Jürgen Mayer’s design came from a conventional source, i.e., Seville Cathedral. Beautifully designed vaulted ceilings connecting its towering columns seem to have influenced his design.

A bit of history

The site occupied by Las Setas is known as the Plaza de La Encarnación, which used to be the city center of old Seville, with a long history dating back to Roman times. It is apparent from the archeological artifacts found in this area that the Romans built their houses and industries in this area. The Almohads, a Moorish dynasty from North Africa who took over the city in 1248, also built houses that were part of their palaces.

The Plaza de La Encarnación got its name from the convent of the Incarnation of the Augustinian Religions that existed in this site for more than 200 years. It was built in 1591 and destroyed in 1810 by Napoleon’s army.

The ancient history of the Plaza de La Encarnación lay hidden for a long time until 2003 when the city council of Seville decided to build a plaza with an underground parking garage. The excavation for this garage led to the discovery of ancient ruins, which resulted in the city council abandoning the plan to construct the plaza.

Soon after, the city council announced an international competition to redesign the Plaza de La Encarnación in such as way that the ruins underneath are preserved. The German architect Jürgen Mayer won the competition, and the rest is history. The construction based on his design began in 2005, and as mentioned before, ended in April 2011.

Stunning views at the street level

Las Setas is an imposing structure and awesome sight to watch. At night, it is lit by colorful lights that make it appear like an alien ship. The street level (Level 1) houses a supermarket, Mercado de la Encarnación. There is a tapas restaurant in the central parasol. The area below the parasols is spacious and used for holding events.

Experience the 360-degree view of Seville at the upper levels

The upper levels (Levels 2 and 3) have walkways and miradors (viewing points) for visitors to experience the 360-view of the city. Visitors can climb and walk the paths on the upper levels and get a 360-degree view of Seville. Many prominent landmarks of Seville, including La Giralda, Seville Cathedral, Plaza de Espana, are visible from different vantage points. There are curved walkways that enable visitors to move from the elevator exit (21 meters) to the highest viewing point (28.5 meters).

Panoramic Views

The top left image shows the Iglesia de la Anunciación (Church of the Annunciation) at the near end. This church is on Calle Laraña, located next to the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Seville.

The tall building on the top right image is the Seville Tower, an office building with 40 floors that includes a shopping complex and a five star hotel. Designed by the Argentine architect César Pelli – who also designed many world’s tallest skyscrapers, including Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur – this elliptical-shaped building is the tallest in Andalusia.

The two towers on the left side of the bottom left image belong to the Plaza de España, a grand semi-circular building with a canal in front. Built at the two ends of this building are the two imposing towers that are seen in this image. The yellowish structure near the center of the image is the Iglesia de Santa Cruz, a Catholic church located on Mateos Gago Street in Barrio Santa Cruz. Built in the 18th century, the Iglesia de Santa Cruz is the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Santa Cruz.

The tower you see in the bottom right image is an iconic landmark of Seville, La Giralda, the bell fry of the Seville Cathedral, which is behind La Giralda.

Related Posts and Pages

Copyright © 2021- 2023 by YatrikaOne. All rights reserved.

Aihole Durga Temple

A masterpiece of Chalukya temple architecture

Undoubtedly, the Durga Temple at Aihole is an architectural masterpiece and a testament to the ingenuity and engineering skills of the Badami Chalukyas. With its unusual shape and structure, it stands out from the rest of the temples in this area. It could even be mistaken for a Greek or Roman monument because of its curved shape and massive columns that have beautifully-carved corbels at their capitals. It is generally believed that the inspiration for the architecture of the Parliament House in New Delhi came from this temple.

Although it is called Durga Temple, Goddess Durga is not its principal deity. It got its name for an unusual reason. In Kannada, durga means fort. Because the Durga Temple used to be part of a fort complex, people started calling it a temple at the durga, and the name eventually stuck.

Located in Aihole, about 22 miles from Badami and 6 miles from Pattadakal, the Durga Temple was built by the Badami Chalukyas sometime in the 7th or 8th century, although some experts dispute the dating. It is contemporaneous with the rock-cut caves of Badami, and they have a lot in common, especially the carvings. This page describes some of the similarities.

Harmonious blend of architecture styles

Rear view of the Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka, India
Rear view of the Durga Temple

Although architecturally classified as the Gajaprastha style – a subclass under the Dravida style – it is a fusion of many architectural styles, including the northern nagara and southern mantapa. In Kannada, Gajaprastha refers to the back-side of an elephant. The round rear-side of this temple does indeed resemble that. If a temple is curved at the back, then its architecture style is identified as Gajaprastha. However, such temples are rare in Southern India.

As you can see from the image, above the garbhagriha is the shikhara (a.k.a. vimana), a tower-like structure that appears to be of northern nagara-style design. Notice the round ridged object fallen on the ground next to the temple. Known as amalaka, it used to be part of the shikhara placed just below the kalasa (pinnacle).

East side view and entrance to the Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka, India
East side view and entrance to the Durga Temple

Just like the majority of Hindu temples, this temple faces east, but with an unusual entrance. Instead of a single flight of steps facing front, it has two staircases facing sideways (one facing south and the other north) that join at the top. Check the mukhamantapa image.

As you can see from the image, the temple is on an elevated platform with massive stone columns built at the periphery to support the roof.


South side view of the Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka, India
South side view of the Durga Temple

The two side-staircases join at the center and lead to the mukhamantapa (porch), which is a pillared hall with four pillars inside and several pillars at the periphery. The mukhamantapa design conforms to the Dravida-style architecture.

Richly decorated internal pillars are carved with exquisite stone artwork and sculptural reliefs on all four sides. All the pillars have finely-carved sculptures depicting mostly romantic couples, some of which can be described as mildly erotic, and are known as the mithuna shilpa.

At the center of the mukhamantapa is a flight of steps that leads to the sabhamantapa (congregation hall) and garbhagriha (inner sanctum). Surrounding them is a corridor used as the pradakshina patha (clockwise circumambulatory path), which starts from the left side of the mukhamantapa and ends on its right side. The outer edge of this corridor consists of columns that support the slightly slanted roof. Its inner side is a wall that surrounds the sabhamantapa and garbhagriha and has built-in dēvakōshtas (niches) and jālandharas (perforated stone windows).


Interior of the mukhamantapa (porch) of the Durga Temple at Aihole in Karnataka, India
Interior of the mukhamantapa (porch)

The floor space covered by the four internal pillars is elevated and is accessed through a flight of steps on the east end. Check the front view of the temple. The area covered by the internal pillars forms a small mantapa (hall) within the mukhamantapa. At the other end of this internal mantapa is the Dvārabandha, i.e., the entrance to the sabhamantapa and garbhagriha.

As you can see from the image, massive stone beams connect the internal pillars resulting in two deeply recessed square-shaped blocks on the ceiling. Carved into these blocks are the two beautiful bas-reliefs, Matsya Chakra and Coiled Nagaraja. Attached to the beam separating these blocks are the slightly-curved buttresses. The bottom part of these buttresses are the faces of Makara, a dragon-like mythical creature, projecting out of the capitals of the pillars. The roof above the recessed blocks is at a higher level than the rest of the mukhamantapa.

Matsya Chakra – A beautiful relief representing a cosmic pond

Matsya Chakra (Fish Wheel) carved into the the ceiling of the mukhamantapa of the Durga Temple at Aihole, Karnataka, India
Matsya Chakra (Fish Wheel)

Known as the Matsya Chakra (Fish Wheel), this intricately-carved relief covers a recessed block of the ceiling near the dvārabandha. As you can see, it is a wheel consisting of a hub at the center and 16 spokes of fish enclosed by a rim carved with beautiful patterns of flowers and leaves. The hub of the wheel is a medallion with a lotus flower pattern. The Matsya Chakra relief likely represents the cosmic pond.

This relief was likely inspired by the Matsya Chakra relief found on the mukhamantapa ceiling of Cave -3, the third of the four rock-cut caves of Badami.

Coiled Nagaraja – An exquisitely-carved relief depicting king of serpents.

Coiled Nagaraja carved into the ceiling of the Durga Temple at Aihole in Karnataka, India
Coiled Nagaraja

Carved into the other recessed block on the ceiling is another beautiful relief that depicts Nagaraja, the mythical king of serpents. As you can see, Nagaraja has multiple serpent heads, and at the center, there is a human head with the torso that extends into a spiraling serpent body forming a coil.

In this highly-detailed relief, Nagaraja is wearing a beautiful mukuta (headgear) and a variety of jewelry, including earrings, necklaces, bangles, and armbands. He is also wearing the yajnopavita, a looped thread sacred to Hindus worn across the chest from the left shoulder to the waist. He is holding a garland with his right hand and a bowl with his left hand.

This relief was likely inspired by the Coiled Nagaraja carving found on the ceiling of Cave -1, the first of the four rock-cut caves of Badami.

Pillars embellished with erotic art

As you can see, the pillar shown in the left image is ornate with a variety of bas-reliefs. The topmost carving is a mithuna shilpa, i.e., an erotic art form depicting a romantic couple. Below that is a carving depicting a series of male musicians playing different instruments. The frieze below that contains Kirthimuka, a decoration commonly seen in Indian and Southeast Asian temples.

Just above the bottom-most frieze is a Vidyadhara couple carved inside a circular frame. The bottom-most frieze contains a series of male figures, likely wrestlers.

Dvārabandha – An elaborate entrance to the sabhamantapa

Entrance to the sabhamantapa of the Durga Temple at Aihole in Karnataka, India
Entrance to the sabhamantapa

The facade of the entrance to the sabhamantapa (congregation hall) is ornate with an ensemble of decorations. At the center is the door that opens int to the main hall and leads to the garbhagriha (inner sanctum). Carved into the lintel is a beautiful relief depicting an imposing figure of Garuda, an eagle-like bird used by Vishnu as his vehicle, clasping nāgas (serpents) who have human heads. Surrounding the door frame are the finely-carved pilasters and vertical stone beams. Carved into the beams on the outer edge is a series of beautiful female figures, likely representing apsaras.

The stone pediment above the lintel consists of gods and demigods in the niches separated by geometrical patterns.

Garuda subduing the nagas

Garuda clasping snakes carved into the lintel of the sabhamanta door in the Durga Temple at Aihole in Karnataka, India
Garuda with nagas

This intricately carved relief is on the lintel of the dvārabandha depicts Vishnu’s vehicle Garuda, a mythical eagle-like bird with a human-like body with wings, holding nāgas, who have human heads and serpent bodies. As you can see, there are three nāgas on each side with their tails tightly held by Garuda’s hands. Notice the middle nāga on the left. He has seven serpent heads, indicating that he is the Nagaraja, the king of serpents.

Sabhamantapa and Garbhagriha

The door at the far end of the left image opens into the garbhagriha (inner sanctum) of the Durga Temple. The right image shows the interior of the garbhagriha. As you can see from this image, there is just a pedestal on which the principal idol of the temple once stood. Because this idol is missing, nobody is sure to whom this temple was dedicated. Historians believe that it was likely a Surya or Vishnu temple.

There are eight pillars, four on each side, in the main hall that is in front of the garbhagriha, virtually dividing the hall into a grid of three longitudinal aisles and five transverse sections.

In a typical Dravida-style architecture, the mantapa in front of the garbhagriha has two halls: antarala (ante-chamber) and sabhamantapa (congregation hall). In this temple, the first transverse section in front of the garbhagriha is narrower than the other four. So, it can be considered as the antarala. The rest of the main hall is the sabhamantapa.

An oblong-shaped wall, one side of which is semi-circular, surrounds the garbhagriha and the main hall. The semi-circular part appears like an apsidal structure, and this design resembles a Christian Church (sans transepts). Experts believe that it was influenced by the architecture of Buddhist Chaitra halls.

The surrounding wall was built with large perfectly-fitting stones, some of which were cut with precise curvature. It is amazing how the builders achieved this high level of precision without the aid of sophisticated machinery.

Corridor used as the Pradakshina Patha

The Durga Temple has a covered Pradakshina Patha (clockwise circumambulation path). As you can see from the images, the corridor used for performing the circumambulation has a slightly slanted roof supported by the stone pillars at the periphery. The other side of this corridor is a wall that surrounds the garbhagriha and the mantapa (covered hall) in front of it. The upper half of this wall alternate between dēvakōshtas (niches) and jālandharas (perforated windows). Occupying the dēvakōshtas are beautifully carved sculptures, each depicting a god or goddess. The jālandharas provide light and ventilation into the interior.

Because the Durga Temple is apsidal, the corridor is bent at the far end, which in other words means its rear side covering the garbhagriha is round.

Dēvakōshtas – Niches with finely-carved sculptures

There are six dēvakōshtas built into the inner wall of the corridor. The jālandharas occupy the space between the dēvakōshtas.

Shiva with his vehicle NandiSouth – EastCalm and serene Shiva leaning against Nandi, his vehicle
Narasimhavatara, the fourth avatar of VishnuSouth – MiddleVishu’s incarnation as lion
Vishnu riding GarudaSouth – WestVishnu with his consort Lakshmi and vehicle Garuda
Varahavatara, the third avatar of VishnuNorth – WestNarrative sculpture depicting boar faced Vishu’s incarnation slaying Hiranyaksha, an evil demon
Durga as MahishasuramardiniNorth – MiddleNarrative sculpture depicting Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasura
HariharaNorth – EastFusion of Shiva and Vishnu

Sculptures in the dēvakōshtas

As you can see, each sculpture is installed between kudyastambhas (pilasters).