By Swami Harshananda
Antarāla literally means ‘that which exists in between’.
Temples or houses of God, have been in existence since a long time. The earliest of the temples as we see them today might have been built during the third or fourth centuries A. D. The most important part of the temple is the sanctum sanctorum known as garbhagṛha, the ‘womb House,’ housing the image of the deity.
Antarāla is the narrow passage that connects this garbhagṛha to the large hall or pavilion, called maṇdapa which is normally used for congregational religious acts. This antarāla is also called ardha- maṇdapa or śukanāsi.
In temple symbology, the antarāla represents the neck of the deity, if the whole temple complex represents the body of the deity.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore