Śikhara, a Sanskrit word translating literally to "mountain peak", refers to the rising tower in the Hindu temple architecture of North India. Sikhara over the sanctum sanctorum where the presiding deity is enshrined is the most prominent and visible part of a Hindu temple of North India.
These are not to be confused with the elaborate gateway-towers of south Indian temples, called "Gopurams", which are perhaps the most prominent features of those temples.
- the Dravidian style prevalent in southern India : The tower/sikhara consists of progressively smaller storeys of pavilions. The dravidian style is highly ornated.
- the Nagara style prevalent almost everywhere else : The tower/sikhara is beehive/curvilinear shaped.
- the Vesara style, a synthesis of the two others, seen mostly in Karnataka and most commonly in Hoysala and later Chalukya temples.
In every style of Sikhara/Vimanam, the structure culminates with a "Kalasha", or sacred brass receptacle, at its peak.
In the vesara style, the dome tends to be highly ornate and emerges from the Sukanasa or richly carved horizontally treated outer walls of the temple.
|The three main styles|
Originally, the sikharas were homogeneous. But with time, secondary sikharas (sometimes called urushringas), smaller and narrower, were plated on the sides of the main sikhara : they are heterogeneous sikharas.
Some tertiaries sikharas sometimes exist near the ends of the side or in the corners.
- Volwahsen, Andreas (1968). Inde bouddhique, hindoue, jaïn (Architecture universelle ed.). Fribourg (Suisse): Office du Livre. pp. 143–147.
- Photo of the sikhara of the Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneshwar, Orissa
- Photo of the sikhara of the Temple of Brahma in Pushkar
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