By Swami Harshananda
The most important part of a temple is the garbhagṛha (sanctum sanctorum) wherein is housed the idol of the deity. In front of it and contiguous to it is the mukhamaṇḍapa, also called śukanāsī and ardhamaṇḍapa. This is actually a passage, its proportion being relative to that of the garbhagṛha itself. Apart from being used as a passage it is also used to keep the articles of worship including food offerings on special occasions. The word is sometimes spelt as ‘ardhamanṭapa’ also.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore