Deep and meaningful relationship prevails between the five pancha mahabhutas and our five senses. These five senses enable us to experience these pancha mahabhutas. Five major senses have traditionally been considered as hearing, touch, vision, taste, and smell.
Space – shabda, naad (hearing)
Air – sparsh, touch (kinesthetic)
Fire – tej, roop (vision)
Water- jal, rus (taste)
Earth- pruthvi, gandha (smell)
The level of experience is accentuated from tangible to intangible. Earth being most tangible the level of experience is heightened towards space. In Indian philosophy it is described as from sthool to sukshma. So is the experience in the temple. The experience is very much at the sthool level when we talk and experience the structure of the temple. The temple structure is able to give the sensation of Prithvi tatva with the building material experience level is elevated to the final knowledge of presence of lord almighty, that ultimate parbrahma. Temple is designed to take bhakta gradually through these experiences.
The experience is always holistic, however when the importance of one of the elements out of these five has to be understood, emphasis is given to one of these elements in the design of the temple. As seen in the temple examples.
Ekambareswarar Temple of Shiva at Kanchipuram is famous for its ‘Earth’ element. It is a Shiva temple located in the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. The temple is also known as Ekagreshwar temple with Kamakshi in Kanchipuram. The temple complex covers 25 acres, and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the southern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 58.5216 metres (192 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India. The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Ekambareswarar and Nilathingal Thundam Perumal being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls; the most notable is the thousand-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period.
Shivalinga of this temple is in the Earth element. Parvati is named Kamakshi here. Shiva and Kamakshi together depict the most common element of human existence, kaam, the basic desire of the human body, which is made of Prithvi tatva. Research can only unfold the relationship of the temple design and the importance of Earth element in the design.