By Swami Harshananda
In the works on architecture like the Mānasāra, the word maṇḍapa is used in several senses. It is also spelt as maṇtapa. Generally it means a detached building, a pavilion or an open hall, with a roof supported on pillars, but without any wall-enclosure.
In temples, the small corridor in front of the garbhagṛha (santcum) is called śukanāsī or ardhamaṇḍapa or mukha-maṇḍapa. The general pavilion or hall is called maṇḍapa or nṛttamaṇḍapa which is used for congregational religious acts like singing, dancing or religious discourses. The maṇḍapa should be built to the northern or the eastern side of the temple.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore