"Makara" is an integral part of Hindu and Buddhist temple architecture - 02

There is no Hindu temple, in particular, dedicated to God Shiva that does not have a fabled  weird creature called Makara. Cognated  to  a dragon, makara is depicted as a sort of crocodile, blended with  distinctive  features of other animals of both terrestrial and aquatic types or of origin.

Its iconography is complicated because it does not follow a set of specific  features both in the front and rear. The former may carry features of  a terrestrial animal:  primarily an elephant, or  may be other animal; the latter depicts  an aquatic animal a seal or a fish, rarely the tail of snakes and peacocks

Makara, Tibet art, Tanjore painting.Pinrest com

The origin of makara is briefly as follows:  According to the legend a strange creature half lion and half human  was created by God Shiva from his body upon reading a message carried by demon Ragu from Daksha, the father of Parvati that Shiva was unworthy to marry his daughter.  Furious Shiva had let demon Ragu go as it was undharmic to kill a messenger.  Out of his pent-up fury and anger  arose  the dragon monster  with insatiable hunger as he was unable to devor Rahu. In the absence of demon Shiva asked the  hungry demon to eat himself. The next moment the demon stated eating himself starting from the bottom and no only his face was left to be devoured. At that stage God Shiva  upon noticing his obliging nature  made him the sentinel or guard of the gate in his abode. So devotees passing through this gate had to pray to him and feed him to his heart's content.

So Makaras are said to the gate keepers and protectors of the Temples. However, the spiritual connotation is ''a Makara is  actually an embodiment of  your ego and  anger that may stand in your way to progress need to got rid of.". 

01. The portrayal of Makaras in the Hindu temples, particularly in Shiva temples  serves three purposes: 

a.  It sheds your negative elements in you when you are on the premises of the divinity.  In temple architecture Makara’s face alone is used as an  architectural element  called  kirtimukha “glory face”to remind the devotees entering the temple or sanctum to shed their ego. 

b. No black magic or spells will affect you, if prayed to him. 

c. Since he is created from God Shiva's body, the destroyer, a simple prayer to makara means he will protect you from your arch enemies  and other misfortunes in your like or at least reduce your burden to the minimum.

02.  In all Hindu temple, you find them in the facade or on the gopura. The amazing part of the temple is the frontal gate which is decorated with a large Makara terracotta.

Chennakesava temple at Somanathapura, KA, Flicker.com

Above image: The Makara is an imaginary beast with the body of a wild hog, the legs of a lion, the tail of a peacock and the trunk of an elephant;  Chennakesava temple at Somanathapura, Karnataka, India

03. This symbol was extensively used in all the Hoysala temple Architecture....

 04. Makara,  being a familiar one, is supposedly a loyal and fierce protector of the places of worship - thresholds,  throne rooms as well as entrance  to temples .  

05.  It is said that  in old-Greek Makara implies  ‘the blessed ‘and is root of Greek names such as Makarios.

06.  From iconography point of view  Makara, a native symbol of India, was  used as  a royal insignia and accepted as part of  embellishment and a symbol to remind us  to be  free from ego and 0 respect time factor.

07.  The Hindu  festival of  Makara Sankranti or Pongal as in Tamil Nadu  (in December/ January)  marks the end of winter solstice and the entering of the Sun into the tenth house of the Zodiac heading toward the northern hemisphere. It is the dawn for the gods. It also is the birth of time; and the first day of the New Year. 

08. Makara has close link with creation-process  and  is symbolic  of time and its cyclic nature. This is the reason why Makara is widely on display in Sun temples.  
Capricorn vedicastrozone.com

09. In astrology Makara is related to constellation of Capricorn (Makara-raasi) with Sea-Goat as its symbol. 

10. God krishna is wearing a pair of Makara Kundanalu depicting the sea monster. Lies embedded in this rare jewelry design is thousands of years of an ancient  culture and religion.  This ornament has a philosophical connotation carrying hidden semon to the devotees. One can conquer the deadliest of fear with sheer confidence and devotion to god.


 11. Makara-shaped earrings called Makarakundalas are sometimes worn by Hindu deities, for example Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, and goddess Chandi. 
Antique silver gada with makara face

12.  Makara is also the insignia of the love god Kamadeva, who has no temples dedicated to him  and is also known as Makaradhwaja, "one whose flag depicts a makara

13.  Makara symbolized in ornaments are also in popular use as wedding gifts for bridal decoration.

14. The  image of makara is incorporated in  toranas- archways at the entrance and doorways in the sanctum of temples. 

Ghanteshwar Mahadeva Temple, Rajasthan 

Ghanteshwar Mahadeva Temple, Rajasthan 

Above images:   Makara sculpture on the entrance arch  (torana) of mandapa of Ghateshwara Mahadeva Temple, Baroli, Rawatbhata, Rajasthan,........ 

15. The ancient Sanchi stupa in Bihar   and its  gateway  are decorated elaborately with  Makara toranas.