|A kovil in Negombo, this one has three increasingly smaller gates on top of the main gate|
Tamil temples are called Kovil. The architectural style is different from North Indian mandirs.
Kovils are colorful and more ornate. Most of the work is focused on the entrance to the temple. Its built as a large gate with multiple levels stacked on top of each other. The ground level is the actual gate that people use to go inside. There are sculptures of two mythical guards, sporting more than one pair of hands and carrying big scary weapons, on either side of the door. The guards are sometimes accompanied by other mythical figures. Above the ground level gate is another smaller gate with its own set of guards, deities and mythical creatures. Above this is even smaller one and it goes on. Every single detail is painted to distinguish from the back ground and other neighboring elements. It's an work of art.
There probably is some kind of encoding in the architecture. By selection of mythical figures, their position and ordering etc. the architect may send out a message. Its beyond my abilities to interpret the message now, but I would like learn this language some day. For the time being, I'm admiring the kovils for their beauty.