Temple of Hephaestus, a Doric Greek temple in Athens with the original entrance facing east, 449 BC (western face depicted)
The Angkor Wat Hindu temple in Cambodia, with the entrance facing west, is the largest temple in the world (early 12th century)
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem , an Islamic shrine at the Temple Mount with 4 entrances in the cardinal directions, stands on the site of the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, Israel
Longshan Temple in Taipei City with the entrance facing west; an example of architecture with southern Chinese influences commonly seen in older buildings in Taiwan (1738)
A temple (from the Latin word templum) is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A ‘’templum’’ constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word “ template,’’ a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out on the ground by the augur. Though a templum, technically speaking, is not a “house of the gods” but a diagram that for the Romans linked the geometries of heaven and earth, it was also indicative of a dwelling place of a god or gods. This tradition, of course, dates back to prehistoric times. For the ancient Egyptians, the word pr could refer not only to a house, but also to a sacred structure since it was believed that the gods resided in houses. The word ‘temple’ (which dates to about the 6th century BCE), despite the specific set of meanings associated with the religion of the ancient Rome, has now become quite widely used to describe a house of worship for any number of religions and is even used for time periods prior to the Romans. Stated differently, temple was once a species of sacred structures; today it is, in the English language, often used as a genus.
Ancient Near East
He stretched out lines in the most perfect way; he set up (?) a sanctuary in the holy uzga. In the house, Enki drove in the foundation pegs, while Nance, the daughter of Eridu, took care of the oracular messages. The mother of Lagac, holy Jatumdug, gave birth to its bricks amid cries (?), and Bau, the lady, first-born daughter of An, sprinkled them with oil and cedar essence. En and lagar priests were detailed to the house to provide maintenance for it. The Anuna gods stood there full of admiration.
A ziggurat (Akkadian ziqqurrat, D-stem of zaqāru “to build on a raised area”) was a temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley and Iran, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories or levels. Some modern buildings with a stepped pyramid shape have also been termed ziggurats.
Jewish synagogues and temples
Two different Jewish temples actually occupied this mountain at different times. The first was proposed by King David but was not built until his son, Solomon gained the throne. David made great preparation for the temple but, according to the Bible was not allowed to because of the wars he had fought. This temple stood for a number of years until it was destroyed by the invading armies of Nebuchadnezzar when Jerusalem fell and was taken into exile as captives. It was at this time that the Ark of the Covenant, which occupied the Holy of Holies (the inner sactuary of the temple)was believed to have disappeared from history). Roughly some 70 years later, under the leadership of Jewish leaders such as Ezra and Nehemiah and with the blessing of the Persian King Cyrus, the temple was again rebuilt and stood until the time of Jesus Christ, during the reign of King Herod. Herod refurbished the temple, built my Ezra/Nehemiah, making it into a grandiose building far excelling its previous glory and splendor. Unfortunately, this notoriety was short-lived, as the building was raized by the Romans, some 70 years later. The so-called “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem, is actually part of the original retaining wall built around the temple mount as a foundation for the original temple by King Solomon.
Since 1979, a Texas based religious denomination, known as The House of Yahweh, under the leadership of it’s Pastor, Elder Yisrayl B. Hawkins has promoted plans to rebuild the Jewish Temple on it’s original site. Due to the volatile political climb in the Middle East, this has understandably been a controversial undertaking. Their proposal suggests that the Jewish Temple, (called “La Bayit Yahweh” or “The House of Yahweh”) was originally located just north of the Muslim mosque’s present location, it’s main door directly in line with the Old City’s “Golden Gate” (since blocked). This suggestion is important in the fact that it means the Muslim mosque need not be removed in order for the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt, but instead they would share the Holy Site. The House of Yahweh points to prophesy in the book of Ezekiel to support their proposal, and has gone so far as to draw up patented and copyprotected blue prints based on the description given in Ezekiel and shown it to Israeli and Palestinian leaders for consideration. According to Hawkins, these leaders are seriously considering his proposal. This plan, would certainly seem to go a long way in establishing peace in this area of the world since both of these major religions lay claim to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Jewish tradition claims the temple mount, Mount Moriah as the site where the patriarch Abraham tested by being asked to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Islamic tradition, which actually shares quite a bit in common with Judaism, also claims this site as the place where the prophet Muhammad ascended into Heaven.
The rituals that located and sited the temple were performed by an augur through the observation of the flight of birds or other natural phenomenon. Roman temples usually faced east or toward the rising sun, but the specifics of the orientation are often not known today; there are also notable exceptions, such as the Pantheon which faces north. In ancient Rome, only the native deities of Roman mythology had a templum; any equivalent structure for a foreign deity was called a fanum.
Pathi (Tamil :பதி – “The place where God is”) is the name asserted to the primary centres of congregational worship for the South Indian religious system of Ayyavazhi, having a relatively large structure like that of a temple. They are five in number.
The Pathis obtain their significance from the fact that Ayya Vaikundar and his religious activities were historically associated with them. There are five Pathis, (“Five places where God is”) which appeared during the time of Ayya Vaikundar. According to Akilattirattu Ammanai the source of Ayyavazhi mythology, these Pathis are the places where Ayya Vaikundar performed the Avatara Ekanai. These are the sacred places for the people of Ayyavazhi. These five Pathis are collectively called as Panchappathis. Some times Vakaippathi and Avatharappathi is added to this list.
Architecture and Structure
Generally Pathis were structurally different from Nizhal Thangals. Unlike Nizhal Thangals the Pathis were not only considered as mere worship centers but also as holy places. Also each Pathis have their own significance due to the different activities of Vaikundar at each Pathis. In addition to the panividais at Palliyarai and Sivayi Medai, in each Pathis there are different Panividais performed at the exact spots where Ayya performed the religious activities. Also these particular places were considered sacred too.
Also in addition all Pathis will have a ‘ Pal Purai ‘ where the Nithya pal is consecrated every day for Ayya. Also all pathis has a Flag mast and a number of vahanas which are used to carry Ayya as processions during the festivals. And at present Swamithoppe and Ambalappathi has temple cars.
The Palliyarai designing in Pathis were different from that of Nizhal Thangals. No chairs or any other wooden structure are used but instead strictly rised pedastals in which a saffron cloth is wrapped. Above it there will be an armour-shaped brass structure which is called as Nama Vel ‘ is erected and a saffron or silk cloth wrapped around it forming the shape of an asana in which it is believed that, “The invisible God is seated”. In all other Pathis except Ambalappathi, saffron cloth is used. The Sivaye Medai in Pathis are similar to that of Nizhal Thangals.
All Pathis has an inner corridor around the Palliyarai and outer corridor surrounding the whole Pathi. The outer corridor is called as ‘ Santhana Veethi ‘.
Since a temple, in its traditional sense is viewed as a dwelling place of a god or gods and was in the days of early Christianity associated with the pagans, the word is rarely used in the mainstream of the Christian tradition where God is not believed to live in a church but is defined as omnipresent. The principal words for Christian architecture are: basilica, cathedral and church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church the use of the word temple is not at all unusual, but in English the term church is often substituted, and in Slavic languages ‘church’ and ‘temple’ are used quite interchangeably. For example Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade, Serbia. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, after the Enlightenment, some Protestant denominations in France and elsewhere began to use the word “temple” to distinguish these spaces from a Catholic church.
Other related sects
Temples in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints & related movements
Temples of LDS church
Shintoist temple (jinja).
Temple as Metaphor
The word ‘temple’ can be interpreted as metaphorical in English translations of the Bible, synonymous with Godhead. Two examples in the New Testament are: 1) Jesus and the money changers and 2) description of the rending of the veil covering the temple (in advance of his resurrection as the Christ) at the death of Jesus in Matthew 27:51.