From a small corner of a closet to a dedicated devotions room, find out how to build an attractive space for prayer

A mandir or a puja room, a space named for prayer, is an essential part of many Indian homes. According to Vastu, the north-eastern corner of the home is confirmed as the area of worship, but you can place your puja room anyplace. Not only that, you can go beyond the usual decoration, too.

Today, you don’t have to be limited to bringing only a common look to your puja room. Here are some inspirational spaces that use advanced design elements, as well as give a twist to some of the old classic favourites.

1.
The backlit onyx adds sparkle and light to this mandir. Clever use of a mirror on the roof gives a sense of volume while the tall glass-panelled doors unlock up space further. The detailed silver idols and accessories add to the shine, as do the golden decorations on the sides.

Tip: To assure a neat look and easy preservation, try not to crowd the mandir with too many idols or photo frames.

2.
The golden idol and the suited pair of diyas (lamps) at its sides look divine, while slight scents of gold on the upholstery, cushions and the lampshade (don’t miss the slippers) add richness to space. Similar themes on the mandir backdrop, side panels and flooring pull the room collectively. The petal pattern on the sheer curtain makes depth.

3.
White marble has quite often been practised for temple interiors. In this image, carved panels of ivory have been installed on the walls and around the doorway. This detailing work is not easy in the pocket but the result can be astonishing.

Tip: Marble is very permeable, so at the time of carving and installation, apply several layers of sealant to make it stain-repellent. Routine cleaning should involve a regular dry wipe off the marble. For deeper cleaning use a light liquid of soap and water or a marble cleaner.

Take a look at the marble decoration that elegantly springs out from the wall and also serves as a row of little shelves. The mystic effect created by light smoothly filtering through the glass idols is mesmerising.

4.
How about taking some motivation from our Indian temple architecture? This puja room effortlessly takes in the old-world beauty of our ancient temples, with its sculpted lines, rustic flooring and large-sized idols. Also, note how the ceiling is adorned with a swirly design. The parallel light casts shadows and patterns to add further depth to space.

5.
Here, a puja room has been shovelled out from a corner of the living area. Isolated from the other spaces by a contemporary latticed cell (jaali), this is a great resolution to enclose and bring more secrecy to this space. Do note the use of steel at the opening and in the ceiling-mounted light – it blends with the look of the space and adds to the modern look.

Tip: You can customise any jaali design or even etch a picture of a deity on a Corian sheet. When backlit, it will produce a dramatic image of the divinity.

In this form, a conventional jaali frames the entrance and the same pattern is embossed on the backdrop of the sepulchre. The soft lighting adds comforting tones to space while the fresh flowers bobbing in a bowl of water and the pair of khadau chappals (wooden slippers traditionally used by divinities, sages and saints) extend the shrine towards the onlooker.

6.
In this house, the puja room is a space more adapted for reflection and meditation than for taking out ceremonies. Here, the figures of deities dwell in specially built niches in the wall, while a spotlight in each niche does sure these sculptures continue the centre of attention.

7.Don’t feel bad if you are slight of space. You can integrate a puja room within a niche or apply one section of the wardrobe to create a mandir in the bedroom. Here is a perfect example of a narrow puja room that is just 3 feet wide. Doesn’t space, done up in wood veneer and marble, look marvellous?

Consider free-standing glass racks for placing the idols or integrate them inside a display/utility cabinet when you are slight of space. See in this image, just how a top-hung cabinet reaches outwards to hold the mandir accessories, while the drawers are used for a storehouse.

8.
Who says that a puja room has to be within an embedded space? If you want it to be more convenient and informal, don’t hold back in presenting your mandir a focal point of the living area. How? Choose a well-sized figure that fits the scale of the space, adorns it with diyas and accessories, and places it on a platform near the door or in the family area. You could further differentiate this space with a fine rug or carpet.

9.
Why not take the more step and put in the kind of details that are so essential of our traditional temples? This is a classic example of a temple doorway in a city home with a hand-painted skirting at the base in deep yellow. The two beautiful jharokhas (traditional balcony windows) on its views add to the ethnic look.

Tip: Consider hanging some metal diyas and chimes from the ceiling or just place an ethnic sandook (box) in the mandir for the storehouse of all the puja items.

The abundances of bells hanging in temples are replicated here in their smaller versions. Instead of taking up the whole ceiling space, as they do in a sprawling temple, here they accessorise the mandir entrance.

10.
In this space, ancient Sanskrit verses or shlokas etched on a back-lit board set the state. This kind of space can also act as a sepulchre. Note the soothing atmosphere created with the help of bright colours and minimal accessories.

Though common puja rooms have figures of deities, one could also consider having only paintings or calligraphy mounted on the walls in innovative ideas like this for a more modern feel.

Tip: An internal-outside space, such as the balcony or a gazebo on the rooftop or garden, could also be an ideal spot for prayer. Give the space an atmosphere of piety with some symbolic artwork or carvings, puja asanas (prayer mats), diyas and a tulsi (sacred basil) plant.