Latina in Khajuraho
Homogeneous Shikhara (but with rathas) of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar

Shikhara (IAST: ), a Sanskrit word translating literally to "mountain peak", refers to the rising tower in the Hindu temple architecture of North India, and also often used in Jain temples.

- Shikhara

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Vimana (architectural feature)

Structure over the garbhagriha or inner sanctum in the Hindu temples of South India and Odisha in East India.

A seven-storey vimana
The vimana of the Jagannath Temple at Puri in the Kalinga style of architecture
Golden shrine of Tirumala Venkateswara Temple
Vimanam and gopuram
Sirkazhi Temple vimanam
Tirunallur vimanam
Vimana, Mariamman temple, Bokkapuram village, Tamil Nadu, Mar '21

In typical temples of Odisha using the Kalinga style of architecture, the vimana is the tallest structure of the temple, as it is in the shikhara towers of temples in West and North India.

Jain temple

Place of worship for Jains, the followers of Jainism.

Palitana temples
Jain Tirtha, Shravanabelagola, with the colossal Gommateshwara statue.
Temple interior, Dilwara
Ellora Jain cave basadi
Jain Temple complex, Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh, before 862
Jal Mandir, Shikharji
Maladevi temple, Vidisha
Brahma Jinalaya, Lakkundi, 11th century
Akkana Basadi (1181) with lost superstructure.
Vasai Jain Temple, Kutch, Gujarat
Girnar Jain temples
Lodhruva Jain temple
Ranakpur Jain temple, Ranakpur, Rajasthan
Vanki - Patri Jain temple, Kutch, Gujarat
Saavira Kambada Basadi, Moodbidri, Karnataka
Hutheesing Jain Temple (1848)
Jal Mandir, Pawapuri
Calcutta Jain Temple in Calcutta (1867)
Pakbirra Jain temples, Purulia, West Bengal
Kulpakji Temple at Nalgonda, Telangana, with dravida (southern style) tower
Samovsaran Mandir in Palitana, Gujarat
Jain Temple, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
Godiji, Nagarparkar Temples, Pakistan
Jain temple, Antwerp, Belgium
Jain Center of Greater Phoenix (JCGP), Phoenix, Arizona

Temples may be divided into Shikar-bandhi Jain temples, public dedicated temple buildings, normally with a high superstructure, typically a north Indian shikhara tower above the shrine) and the Ghar Jain temple, a private Jain house shrine.


Monumental entrance tower, usually ornate, at the entrance of a Hindu temple, in the South Indian architecture of the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, and Telangana, and Sri Lanka.

Gopuram of Sri Mahamariamman Temple, a South Indian Koyil in Bangkok.
Detail of a gopuram at Chennai
Sri Kailasanathar Temple gopuram in Tharamangalam, Tamil Nadu, India
Nataraja Temple gopuram artwork in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu
Thiruvannamalai Annamalaiyar Temple Gopurams
Annamalaiyar Temple, Thiruvannamalai
Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam
Vadakkunnathan, Thrissur
Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram
Kuala Lumpur
Athi Koneswaram
Besakih, Bali
On left is a gopuram, to the right above the sanctum is vimana

The gopuram's origins can be traced back to early structures of the Pallava kings, and relate to the central shikhara towers of North India.

Dravidian architecture

Architectural idiom in Hindu temple architecture that emerged in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent or South India and in Sri Lanka, reaching its final form by the sixteenth century.

Vijayanagara style architecture characterized by Yali pillars at Vitthala Temple, Hampi
The Annamalaiyar Temple in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu
Typical layout of Dravidian architecture
An aerial view of the Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu, from the top of the southern gopuram, looking north.
Stone vel on a brick platform at the entrance to the Murugan Temple, Saluvankuppam, Tamil Nadu, 300 BCE-300 CE
The rock-cut Shore Temple of the temples in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, 700-728
Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka built in 740
The rock-cut Kailash Temple at Ellora
Doddabasappa Temple, Dambal, Gadag district, Karnataka
Srivilliputhur Andal temple
Detail of the main vimanam (tower) of the Thanjavur Temple-Tamil Nadu
A Dravidian architecture style pillar in Airavatesvara temple, Darasuram, Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu.
The Brihadeeswarar Temple (11th century), Tanjore has a vimana tower that is 216 ft (66 m) high, a classical example of Dravidian architecture. and The sikhara, a cupolic dome (25 tons), is octagonal and rests on a single block of granite, weighing 80 tons.
Symmetrical architecture on Jagati, Somanathapura, Karnataka
Virupaksha Temple at Hampi, Karnataka
Chera dynasty Style temple Layout
Vadakkunnathan Temple
Thirunelli Temple front view
Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple
Kandiyoor Sree Mahadeva Temple
Nallur Kandaswamy temple front entrance
Raja Gopuram of Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple.
Yamuna Eri, a 15th-century pond in Nallur.
Corridor of Naguleswaram Temple
Mantri Manai, the remains of the minister's quarters of Jaffna Kingdom. It is built in a Euro-Dravidian style.<ref name="Rajadhani">{{Cite web |url= |title=The Nallur Rajadhani}}</ref>

It is seen in Hindu temples, and the most distinctive difference from north Indian styles is the use of a shorter and more pyramidal tower over the garbhagriha or sanctuary called a vimana, where the north has taller towers, usually bending inwards as they rise, called shikharas.

Hindu temple architecture

Inner sanctum, the garbha griha or womb-chamber, where the primary Murti or the image of a deity is housed in a simple bare cell.

Architecture of a Hindu temple (Nagara style). These core elements are evidenced in the oldest surviving 5th–6th century CE temples.
The Meenakshi temple complex of Madurai, mostly built between 1623 and 1655 CE, a large complex in the Dravidian architecture of South India, dominated by gopuram gatehouse towers. The two main shrines are much smaller, with gold tops.
A Badami Shiva temple in Karnataka.
Kailasanatha temple, remarkably carved out of one single rock was built by Rashtrakuta king Krishna I (r. 756–773 CE)
17th-century palm leaf manuscript page on temple building, Odisha.
The 8×8 (64) grid Manduka Hindu Temple Floor Plan, according to Vastupurusamandala. The 64 grid is the most sacred and common Hindu temple template. The bright saffron centre, where diagonals intersect above, represents the Purusha of Hindu philosophy.
Dashavatara temple sculpture at Deogarh, completed about 500 CE.
Architecture of the Khajuraho temples
Dravidian (South Indian) Hindu Temple Architecture
Navlakha Temple, Ghumli, Gujarat, 12th century
Devotions in the Swaminarayan temple in Houston, Texas (2004)
The profile of the 13th-century Po Klong Garai Temple near Phan Rang includes all the buildings typical of a Cham temple. From left to right one can see the gopura, the saddle-shaped kosagrha, and mandapa attached to the kalan tower.
Nashik Maharashtra temple, cross section and plan (1910 sketch)
Vrindavan Uttar Pradesh temple plan
Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh temple plan
Puri Odisha temple complex plan
Bhubneshwar Odisha, a smaller temple plan
Halebidu Karnataka temple plan
Chidambaram Tamil Nadu temple plan
Thiruvallur, Tamil Hindu temple complex
Mandapa of a temple in South India. Much temple sculpture was originally painted.
Stepped floorplan of Dattatreya Temple (one side of the shrine) with five projections at Chattarki in Gulbarga district, 12th century CE
Shrine wall and superstructure in Kasivisvesvara temple at Lakkundi
Ornate Gadag style pillars at Sarasvati Temple, Trikuteshwara temple complex at Gadag
Mahadeva Temple at Itagi, Koppal district in Karnataka, also called Devalaya Chakravarti,<ref name="deva">Cousens (1926), p. 101</ref><ref name="fine">Kamath (2001), pp. 117–118</ref> 1112 CE, an example of dravida articulation with a nagara superstructure.
Single storey gopura (Dravidian architecture)
Two storey gopura (Dravidian architecture)
Pillar elements (shared by Nagara and Dravidian)
Athisthana architectural elements of a Hindu temple
Entablature elements
A vimana with mandapam elements (Dravidian architecture)

On the exterior, the garbhagriha is crowned by a tower-like shikhara, also called the vimana in the south.

Mahabodhi Temple

Ancient, but much rebuilt and restored, Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, marking the location where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.

Mahabodhi Temple
Ashoka's Mahabodhi Temple and Diamond throne in Bodh Gaya, built c. 250 BCE. The inscription between the Chaitya arches reads: "Bhagavato Sakamunino/ bodho" i.e. "The building round the Bodhi tree of the Bhagavat(Holy) Sakamuni (Shakyamuni)". Also interesting to note is the word Bhagavat for Buddha, as Hindus consider him an incarnation of Vishnu who is also called Bhagavat. The elephant-crowned pillar of Ashoka (now lost) is visible. Bharhut frieze (c. 100 BCE).
Another relief of the early circular Mahabodhi Temple, Bharhut, c. 100 BCE.
Bodhi Tree
Discovery of the Diamond throne, built by Ashoka c. 250 BCE.
Reconstitution of the Sunga period pillars at Bodh Gaya, from archaeology (left) and from artistic relief (right). They are dated to the 1st century BCE. Reconstitution done by Alexander Cunningham.
The stupa finial on top of the pyramidal structure.
A statue of Mucalinda protecting the Buddha in Mucalinda Lake, Mahabodhi Temple
The temple as it appeared in 1899, shortly after its restoration in the 1880s
Bodhgaya. Buddha image in the main temple.
Bodh Gaya quadriga relief of the sun god Surya riding between pillars (detail of a railing post), 2nd–1st century BCE.
The temple undergoing repairs (from January, 2006).
Bodh Gaya Chedi Replica at Wat Yansangwararam, Chonburi Province, Thailand
Bodh Gaya Sunga pillar.
Bodh Gaya Sunga railing.
Bodh Gaya Sunga railing.
Bodh Gaya Sunga railing.
Bodh Gaya Sunga railing.
1903 photograph.
Bodh Gaya original railings, Indian Museum, Calcutta.
Bodh Gaya original railings, Indian Museum, Calcutta.
Railing post.
Another railing post.
Bodhi tree.
Bodhi Tree.
Adoration of the Bodhi tree.
Winged lion.
Cow nourishing her calf.
The Jetavana Garden at Sravasti.
Padakusalamanava Jataka.<ref>The Padakusalamanava Jataka, in which a horse-headed ogress falls in love with one of her preys, and the Bodhisattva (the future Buddha) is born of their union. In: Didactic Narration: Jataka Iconography in Dunhuang with a Catalogue of Jataka Representations in China, Alexander Peter Bell, LIT Verlag Münster, 2000 pp. 15ff</ref>
Padakusalamanava Jataka.
Woman with child and goat.
Devotee and grottoe.
Amorous scene (drawing).
Amorous scene.
Miraculous River crossing.
Miraculous river-crossing (drawing)
Devotee and apsara.
Visit of Indra to the Indrasala Cave.
Kalpa drum.
Lakshmi lustrated by elephants.
Music scene.
Palace scene, Sibi Jataka.
Ploughing scene.
Apsara (drawing).
Vegetal medallion.
Plaster copy and reconstruction of original Sunga railing.
Post relief (plaster copy).
Adoration of the wheel of the Law (plaster copy).
Flower Design decorated with gold leaves.
Decorated railing.

The temple complex includes two large straight-sided shikhara towers, the largest over 55 metres (180 feet) high.

Hindu temple

Symbolic house, seat and body of divinity for Hindus.

Elements in a Hindu temple architecture.
The 9x9 (81) grid "Parama Sayika" layout plan (above) found in large ceremonial Hindu Temples. It is one of many grids used to build Hindu temples. In this structure of symmetry, each concentric layer has significance. The outermost layer, Paisachika padas, signifies aspects of Asuras and evil; while the inner Devika padas layer signifies aspects of Devas and good. In between the good and evil is the concentric layer of Manusha padas, signifying human life. All these layers surround Brahma padas, which signifies creative energy and the site for a temple's primary murti for darsana. Finally at the very center of the Brahma padas is the Garbhagriha (Purusa Space), signifying the Universal Principle present in everything and everyone.
Hindu temple sites cover a wide range. The most common sites are those near water bodies, embedded in nature, such as the Bhutanatha temple complex at Badami, which is next to a waterfall.
Ancient India produced many Sanskrit manuals for Hindu temple design and construction, covering arrangement of spaces (above) to every aspect of its completion. Yet, the Silpins were given wide latitude to experiment and express their creativity.
Chaturbhuj Temple at Orchha, is noted for having one of the tallest Vimana among Hindu temples standing at 344 feet.
The Golden Temple at Vellore is gilded with 1500 kg of pure gold.
Illustration of Chitrardha style of art work in a Hindu temple.
Jagannath Temple at Puri, one of Char Dham: the four main spiritual centers of Hinduism.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata
Bird's Eye view of one of the four Char Dhams, The Jagannath Temple at Puri, Odisha built using the Kalinga Architecture.
Saptakoteshwar Temple, Goa.
Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur, Kerala.
An aerial view of the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, from the top of the southern gopuram, looking north. The temple was built by the Pandyan Empire.
Pashupatinath Temple from the other bank of Bagmati river, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Art relief at the Hindu temple Banteay Srei in Cambodia.
The Besakih temple complex, largest Hindu temple in Bali, Indonesia.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Bali, Indonesia.
The Prambanan temple complex in Yogyakarta, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and the second largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia.
Partially ruined Mỹ Sơn Hindu temple complex, Vietnam.
Sri Mariamman Temple, Bangkok
The 5th-century Ladkhan Shiva Temple, in the Aihole Hindu-Jain-Buddhist temple site, in Karnataka.
Plan of 5th-century temples in Eran, Madhya Pradesh.
The early 6th-century Dashavatara Temple in the Deogarh complex has a simple, one-cell plan.
1880 sketch of the 9-square floorplan of the same temple (not to scale or complete). For better drawings:<ref>Madho Sarup Vats (1952), The Gupta Temple at Deogarh, Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India, Vol. LXX, pages 49-51 Plates 1-3</ref>
Layout of Cave 3 temple of the 6th-century Chalukyan-style Badami cave temples
Plan of the 6th-century main-cave temple at Elephanta.
The Elephanta main cave is thought to follow this mandala design.<ref>{{cite book|author1=Carmel Berkson|author2=Wendy Doniger|author3=George Michell|title=Elephanta: The Cave of Shiva|url=|year=1999|publisher=Princeton University Press (Motilal Banarsidass, Reprint)|isbn=978-81-208-1284-0|pages=17–21}}</ref>
A 7th century Chalukyan-style temple ceiling, also in Aihole.
Rani ki vav is an 11th-century stepwell, built by the Chaulukya dynasty, located in Patan. The stepwell remains well-preserved, but is partly silted over.
The Somnath temple in Gujarat was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. Here it is shown in 1869, after having been ruined by order of Aurangzeb in 1665. These ruins were demolished and the temple rebuilt in the 1950s.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple was destroyed by the army of Qutb al-Din Aibak in 1194 CE. Since then, it has been demolished twice (in the 1400s, and 1669 CE) and rebuilt four times (in the 1200s, twice in the 1500s under Akbar, and in the 1800s). Shown is the current 1800s temple, with the white domes and minaret of the co-located 1600s Gyanvapi Mosque in the background. The tonne of gold for the temple roof was donated by Ranjit Singh in 1835.<ref>{{cite book|url=|title=The Sacred City of the Hindus: An Account of Benares in Ancient and Modern Times|author=Matthew Atmore Sherring|publisher=Trübner & co.|year=1868|page=51 }}</ref><ref name="Madhuri_2007">{{cite book|author=Madhuri Desai|title=Resurrecting Banaras: Urban Space, Architecture and Religious Boundaries|url=|year=2007|isbn=978-0-549-52839-5 }}</ref>
An 1832 reconstruction of the 1500s temple Akbar funded. James Prinsep based the reconstruction on the foundations of the Gyanvapi Mosque. Many Hindu temples were rebuilt as mosques between 12th and 18th century CE.
Ruins of the Martand Sun Temple after being destroyed on the orders of the Sultan of Kashmir, Sikandar the Iconoclast, in the early 15th century, with demolition lasting a year.
In the 14th century, the armies of Delhi Sultanate, led by Malik Kafur, plundered the Meenakshi Temple and looted it of its valuables; it was rebuilt and expanded in the 16th century.
Kakatiya Kala Thoranam (the Warangal Gate) built in the 12th century by the Kakatiya dynasty; the Warangal Fort temple complex was destroyed in the 1300s by the Delhi Sultanate.<ref name=re2000>Richard Eaton (2000), Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States, Journal of Islamic Studies, 11(3), pp 283-319</ref>
Artistic rendition of the Kirtistambh, a surviving portion of the 10-11th century Rudra Mahalaya Temple. The temple was partly destroyed by the Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khalji, in 1296 CE, with part converted into a mosque and further parts destroyed by Ahmed Shah I in the fifteenth century.
Exterior wall reliefs at Hoysaleswara Temple. The temple was twice sacked and plundered by the Delhi Sultanate in the early 14th century, and abandoned in the mid 14th century.<ref name="Bradnock2000p959">{{cite book|author1=Robert Bradnock|author2=Roma Bradnock|title=India Handbook|url=|year=2000|publisher=McGraw-Hill|isbn=978-0-658-01151-1|page=959}}</ref>
The 12th-century Mahadev Temple is the only Kadamba-period temple building to survive the Goa Inquisition.
The Ganesh temple of Hindu Temple Society of North America is the oldest Hindu temple in the Western hemisphere, in Flushing, Queens, New York City.
Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey, U.S., is the largest Hindu temple in the Western hemisphere.<ref name="World'sLargestHinduTempleNJ">{{cite web|url=|title=World's Largest Hindu Temple Being Built in New Jersey|author=Frances Kai-Hwa Wang|publisher=NBC News|access-date=April 23, 2019}}</ref>
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London, United Kingdom.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, Canada.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Los Angeles, United States.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Houston, United States.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, United States.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chicago, United States.

Above the vastu-purusha-mandala is a superstructure with a dome called Shikhara in north India, and Vimana in south India, that stretches towards the sky.


Sanctum sanctorum, the innermost sanctuary of a Hindu and Jain temples where resides the murti of the primary deity of the temple.

Devotees offering prayers at the Garbhagriha in Chennakeshava Temple, Belur, which houses the icon of the god Vishnu.
Garbhagriha at Pattadakal with the Lingam icon of the god Shiva.

In the great majority of temples with a tower superstructure, a shikhara (in the north) or vimana (in the south), this chamber is placed directly underneath it, and the two of them form the main vertical axis of the temple.


Double amalaka at the top of the Devi Jagadambi Temple at Khajuraho
Prominent amalakas at the Siddheshwar Mukteshwar Group Temple, Bhubaneswar
Door jab with amalaka, above a gavaksha, Dashavatara Temple, Deogarh
Detached amalaka stone of the Durga Temple, Aihole, 7th century
"Boxed" amalakas in the capitals outside Cave 17, Pandavleni Caves, 2nd-3rd century CE
"Boxed" amalakas in the capitals, Bedse Caves
Corner amalakas at the 7th-century Lakshamana temple in brick at Sirpur
7-12th century temples at Jageshwar, Uttarakhand. In some of them the amalakas are boxed to hold a roof.
Early, rounded, amalaka, with squared amalakas at the corners below, 8th century. Galaganatha Temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka

An amalaka (आमलक), is a segmented or notched stone disk, usually with ridges on the rim, that sits on the top of a Hindu temple's shikhara or main tower.


11th-century Nilakanthesvara (Udayesvara) temple in north Madhya Pradesh is the best example of Bhumija style.
The square and circle plan applied together
Bhand Deva temple, Rajasthan
Two Bhumija temples, Narmada river (Omkareshwar temples, Mandhata)
Bhand Deul (Jain), Arang, Chhattisgarh
Palasdev temple, Maharashtra (between Pune and Solapur)
Sadashiva Temple (1249 CE) at Nuggehalli, Karnataka
Small Bhumija-style shrines flanking the step before the main Belur temple, Karnakata
The Bhumija shikara of Galteshwar Temple

Bhumija is a variety of north Indian temple architecture marked by how the rotating square-circle principle is applied to construct the shikhara (superstructure or spire) on top of the sanctum.