By Swami Harshananda
Garbhagṛha literally means ‘inmost house,’ ‘sanctum sanctorum’.
For centuries, temples have played a very significant part in the spiritual, religious and cultural life of the people. Temple is considered as the house of God (devālaya = house of God) and it's sanctum sanctorum, technically called as ‘garbhagṛha’ or ‘garbhamandira’, is related to the drawing room or private living room of God.
- The garbhagṛha is generally square in shape with a low roof and no doors and windows except for the front opening through which light falls on the image. Devotees can view the deity from this opening.
- The roof over the whole shrine is a small tower called ‘vimāna’.
- This tower is quite high in North Indian temples and of modest height in the South Indian ones.
- In some temples a pradakṣiṇapatha, a circum-ambulatory passage, is provided around the garbhagṛha to enable the devotees to go round the deity.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore