With the coming of the Ithihasas - the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and Puranas ( such as the Bhagavata Purana ), the Bhakti or devotional traditions began to emerge out of Vedic Hinduism about 2000 years ago.
With them began the construction of Temples dedicated to various popular forms of the divine , as per the Agamas ( scriptures detailing the construction of temples and methods of worship ).
The earliest temples built of wood etc did not stand the test of time . Soon stone became the preferred method .
Today there are over a half a million hindu temples in worship around the world . about 4,50,000 are in India the rest in Nepal , Bali etc .
About 10% of them ( almost all of them in India ) or about 50,000 temples are very ancient , and of historical , archeological , architectural, cultural , religious and social importance .
About 3000 of the biggest temples in North India were razed to the ground during the 500 years of Islamic rule between the 13th and 18th centuries .
For that reason , north india does not have large ancient temples standing except in remote areas and forests .
Most are new, built in the last 300 years .
South India however ,has many huge beautiful ancient temples still standing , since the south escaped much of the devastation of the north .
Many have been in continous un-interrupted worship for 2000 years with the ancient daily rituals preserved intact .
Two pics have been added , one - a birds eye view of the temple complex of Arunachaleswara in south India and the other of a temple corridor in Rameshwaram also in south india .