Usually the temple construction involves complex processes which starts from selecting a proper site and layout. It involves various subjects like Vastu, Shilpa, Agama etc. for the whole process of temple making. Usually there are not many differences in the basic structure of the temples.
Ponds may not be mandatory for shivalayas because there are many temples which do not have ponds.
Temple tanks are not exclusive for Shiva temples alone. There is pushkarni in Rajagopala Swami temple, Mannargudi also in Venkatesha temple, Tirumala. Even famous temples like Sri Varadharaja of kAnchi and Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam have their own tanks.
The Shiva temples too have their own configuration. In a Siva temple,
the Shivaliga would be placed at the Brahma sthana, the shrines are
dedicated to Parvathi, Ganapati, Subramanya , Veerabhadra and
Candesvara would placed in the surrounding cells of the temples Vastu
Purusha Mandala; as illustrated in the following typical layout of the
famous Shiva temple at Gangaikondacholapuram(mid 11th century).
Similarly in the Sri Kailasanathaswamy and Nithyakalyani Amman Temple,
Ilayathakudi ( near karaikudi), Shiva shrine is at the Brahmastana,
opposite to Shiva is lined Nandi, Bali pita and Dwajasthamba. The
shrine of Nitya_kalyani Amman is located independently in the North.
In the Mantapa adjoining the Sanctum are Ganapathi, Durga and Skanda.
The Saptha Mathrikas, the seven female divinities, have their shrine
in the Prakara behind the shrine.
One of the main resources for a practicing shilpi is the collection of
Before a shilpi starts on a project to sculpt an image, he needs to be
clear in his mind on its form, its aspects, its countenance, the
details of its physiognomy, its facial and bodily expressions; its
posture, details of the number of arms, heads and eyes; and details of
its ornaments, ayudhas (objects it holds in its hands) etc. For this
purpose, the Shilpis generally refer to a wonderful collection of most
amazingly articulate verses called Dhyana Shlokas, the verses in
contemplation. These verses culled from various texts of Shipa
Shastra, the Agamas and the Puranas; and also from Buddhist and Jain
texts, describe, precisely, the postures (dynamic or static, seated or
standing), the Bhangas (flexions – slight, triple, or extreme bends),
Mudras (hand gestures), the attitudes, the nature, the consorts and
other vital details of each aspect that provides the deity with power
and grace. it is said that there are about 32 aspects or forms of
Ganapathi, 16 of Skanda, 5 of Brahma, 64 of yoginis, and innumerable
forms of Vishnu, Shiva and Devi .Each one of those forms has a Dhyana
shloka illustrating its aspects and attributes.
Sukhasana is sitting with one leg bent at the knee and across; and the
other leg down and almost touching the ground. The deity is in a
relaxed position looking happy, peaceful and joyous. Images of
Padmapani , Vishnu, Shiva or Devi in Sukhasana are the most common
According to Tantrasara Vishnu has 19 mudras (shankha, chakra, Gadha,
padma etc.), which mean attributes; Shiva has 10 mudras (yoni.
Trishula, linga tc.); Ganesha has 7(ankusha, dantha, modaka etc.);
Saraswathi has 7(maala, pusthaka, veena, etc.); and Agni has 7
(flames, horns etc,) and so on. The Tantrika also include Jata,
Tilaka, Bhasma, Chandana etc.
A. Maps of Madurai and Sri Rangam
By courtesy of Kultur in Indien
B.Other pictures from Internet.
C. Devalaya Vastu by Prof. SKR Rao
D. Vastu – Astrology and Architecture
E. Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple,