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Not to be confused with Shikara.
For other uses, see Sikhara (disambiguation).
"Shikhar" redirects here. For the film, see Shikhar (film).
Sikhara of Adinath Jain Temple, Khajuraho, India.

Śikhara, a Sanskrit word translating literally to "mountain peak", refers to the rising tower in the Hindu temple architecture of North India.[1] 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.[2]

In south India, the equivalent term for "Sikhara" is "Vimana".

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.

Major styles[edit]

Among several styles of Sikharas that obtain in Hindu temple architecture, the three most common ones are:[2]

  • the Dravidian style prevalent in southern India : The tower/sikhara consists of progressively smaller storeys of pavilions.[3] 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
Nagara sikhara of Rameshwar Temple in Bhubaneswar 
Dravidian sikhara (vimanam) of Murudeshwara Temple 
Vesara style of Keshava Temple, Somanathapura. Towers are in 16 pointed star plan. 


Homogeneous sikhara (but with rathas) of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar
On the left, the heterogenous sikhara of the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in Khajuraho

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.[4]

Some tertiaries sikharas sometimes exist near the ends of the side or in the corners.

One of the most notable examples of heterogeneous sikharas is those of Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in Khajuraho.[citation needed]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^,5
  4. ^ Volwahsen, Andreas (1968). Inde bouddhique, hindoue, jaïn (Architecture universelle ed.). Fribourg (Suisse): Office du Livre. pp. 143–147. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]