Early Hindu temples as asylums were associated with the cult of a deity. Their definite characteristic was the fact that they exhibited the main forms of the Vedic altar. At the same time, some new structural units, symbolizing the model of the universe, were presented in their architectural forms. The base of the temple plan was mandala, representing a schematic view of the universe.
The Medieval Hindu Art in India is marked by the rise of Hindu architecture and sculpture. In the times of Parallva dynasty reign, in the 7th and 8th centuries, an intense process of cave temples creation, modeling of temples, carved out of solid rock, took place (Craven 151). In the eastern part of South India Mamallapuram temple of Shiva was built in the beachfront (Craven 146). This site is a complex of buildings. Hindu temples in the medieval period are characterized by columns ornate with bell-shaped capitals, small in size and with flat roofs. The masonry was used without mortar and was very solid. In this era of architecture there were developed rules that are set forth in the canonical treatises. Characteristic features are presented in the elements of the temple Kaylasanatha that is carved out of solid rock. Later cave temples were presented by the temples of Elephanta Island near Mumbai. After this period the cave temple construction quenched. Black pagoda or temple of the sun at Karnack demonstrates a temple architecture that is characterized by unity, but it identifies two major styles and a lot of schools (Craven 182). Northern style is characterized by a tower with a rounded top and curved outlines, southern-style towers are performed in the form of a truncated pyramid. Most of the South Indian temples are dedicated to Shiva. Pallava style was developed during the Chola dynasty in the 10th-12th centuries. The style of this period is predominantly inherent pyramidal tower with a dome or spire. An example of the temple built in this style is the temple in Madurai (Craven 164). The temples of the later period are fanciful. They were built polygonal or star-shaped, set high on a platform of complex shape.
Medieval architecture is represented by the schools of Orissa, Gujarat, South Rajasthan and Bundelhanda (Craven 189). Shikhar Northern Indian temple has a special shape. At the level of about one-third the height of its walls the tower begins to narrow. The rounded top is crowned with a flat stone disc and a spire.
Roy C. Craven. Indian Art: A Concise History. New York, N.Y.: Thames and Hudson, 1997. Print.