Hindu temple architecture as the main form of Hindu architecture has many varieties of style, though the basic nature of the Hindu temple remains the same, with the essential feature an inner sanctum, the garbha griha or womb-chamber, where the primary Murti or the image of a deity is housed in a simple bare cell. Around this chamber there are often other structures and buildings, in the largest cases covering several acres. On the exterior, the garbhagriha is crowned by a tower-like shikhara, also called the vimana in the south and Meru tower in Balinese temple. The shrine building often includes an ambulatory for parikrama (circumambulation), a mandapa congregation hall, and sometimes an antarala antechamber and porch between garbhagriha and mandapa. There may further mandapas or other buildings, connected or detached, in large temples, together with other small temples in the compound.
Hindu temple architecture reflects a synthesis of arts, the ideals of dharma, beliefs, values and the way of life cherished under Hinduism. The temple is a place for Tirtha—pilgrimage. All the cosmic elements that create and celebrate life in Hindu pantheon, are present in a Hindu temple—from fire to water, from images of nature to deities, from the feminine to the masculine, from kama to artha, from the fleeting sounds and incense smells to Purusha—the eternal nothingness yet universality—is part of a Hindu temple architecture. The form and meanings of architectural elements in a Hindu temple are designed to function as the place where it is the link between man and the divine, to help his progress to spiritual knowledge and truth, his liberation it calls moksha.
The architectural principles of Hindu temples in India are described in Shilpa Shastras and Vastu Sastras. The Hindu culture has encouraged aesthetic independence to its temple builders, and its architects have sometimes exercised considerable flexibility in creative expression by adopting other perfect geometries and mathematical principles in Mandir construction to express the Hindu way of life.