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For the Australian car, see Holden Torana.

The Northern torana at the Great Stupa in Sanchi.
A Vesak Pandol in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Torana at Hindu Temple, Nagda, Rajasthan.

A torana is a type of gateway seen in the Hindu and Buddhist architecture of the Indian subcontinent.

Meaning and uses of torana[edit]

Toranas are associated with Buddhist stupas like the Great Stupa in Sanchi, as well as with Jain and Hindu structures, and also with several secular structures. Symbolic toranas can also be made of flowers and even leaves and hung over the doors and at entrances, particularly in Western and Southern India. They are believed to bring good fortune and signify auspicious and festive occasions. They can also serve didactic and narrative purposes or be erected to mark the victory of a king.[1]

During Vesak festival of Sri Lanka it is a tradition to erect electrically illuminated colorful Vesak toranas in public places. These decorations are temporary installations which remain in public display for couple of weeks starting from the day of Vesak.

Toranas are also referred to as vandanamalikas. There are many different types of toranas - dvara-toranas, patra-toranas, ratne-toranas and so on. These are mentioned in medieval Indian architectural treatises.[2]


The present torana at the Sanchi stupa was built around the transition from BCE to CE eras, by the Satavahana dynasty in ancient India.

Both Chinese paifang gateways and Japanese torii gateways might have been derived from the Indian torana. The functions of all three are similar, but they generally differ based on their respective architectural styles, such as having multiple tiered and arched roofs and various "supporting posts" that are prevalent in East Asian architectural style.[3][4]

The Korean gateway is also related to the Japanese torii, and similar structures exist in Thailand.

In Kalinga architecture we can see the Toran in many temples built from the 7th to 12th centuries. Jagannath Temple, Puri, Rajarani Temple and Mukteswar Temple are the few example of Kalinga architecture having torana.

A great deal of cultural exchange between these countries took place in ancient times, so that many Indian, Thai, Chinese, Korean and Japanese cultural practices are related. For example, Benzaiten is a Japanese name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati, and the ancient Siddhaṃ script, which disappeared from India by 1200 CE, is still written by monks in Japan.[citation needed]

Related styles
A Torana Phot(1890) of Jagannath Temple, Puri 
A Chinese paifang 
A Japanese torii 
A Korean hongsalmun 
Torana at Muktesvara deula 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Parul Pandya Dhar, (2010). The Torana in Indian and Southeast Asian Architecture, (New Delhi: D K Printworld,).
  2. ^ Parul Pandya Dhar (2010): The Torana in Indian and Southeast Asian Architecture. New Delhi: D K Printworld. ISBN 978-8124605349.
  3. ^ Ronald G. Knapp (2000). China's old dwellings. University of Hawaii Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-8248-2214-5. 
  4. ^ Simon Foster, Jen Lin-Liu, Sharon Owyang, Sherisse Pham, Beth Reiber, Lee Wing-sze (2010). Frommer's China. Frommers. p. 435. ISBN 0-470-52658-0. 
  • Joseph Needham: Science and Civilization in China, Vol 4, part 3, p137-138.
  • Ram Nath (1995): Studies in Medieval Indian Architecture. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. 172 pages. ISBN 81-85880-56-5
  • Nick Edwards, Mike Ford, Devdan Sen, Beth Wooldridge, David Abram (2003): The Rough Guide to India. Rough Guides. 1440 pages. ISBN 9781843530893.