The study of the shrine itself (mula-prasada, vimana) cannot be seen in isolation from the hall (mandapa) to which it is generally attached – its overall form with its roof shape, its pillars, its ceiling or ceilings. In northern traditions the mandapa usually follows the tiered Phamsana form (also a shrine form) or, from around the tenth century, the composite Samvarana form. In its proliferating evolution the Samvarana mirrors the development of the Shekhari shrine form, with which it is often associated, and a parallel pattern can be observed in the blossoming of multi-lobed corbelled ceilings.

A typical madapa structure is open at the sides, with a stone seat around the perimeter, pillars and beams, an awning-like eave slab (chhadya), and corbelled ceilings surmounted by a corbelled pyramidal roof. Indian temple studies have taken an armchair and arms-length course, and it is characteristic that not a single constructional cross-section of this kind of madapa has ever been published. We shall soon remedy this.

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