Definitions

sikhara

sikhara

[shik-er-uh, shik-ruh]
or shikhara

A sikhara of the bhumija type, Udayesvara temple, Udayapur, Madhya Pradesh, India, elipsis

Tower characteristic of Hindu temples of northern India. The sikhara over the sanctuary of a temple is usually tapered convexly, consisting of piled-up roof slabs of diminishing size. The surface is covered with vinelike candrashala (ogee arch) tracery; at the top is a cushion-shaped grooved disk (amalaka), and above that a pot with a crowning finial. The sikhara developed during the Gupta period (4th–6th century AD) and steadily grew taller and more elaborate, as in the soaring tower of the 11th-century Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar. In a variation of the basic form, half spires are added on either side of the sikhara; excellent examples are the 10th-century Laksmana and 11th-century Kandarya Mahadeva temples at Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. In addition to the curved sikhara, there is a smaller, rectilinear type frequently used above the temple mandapas (halls).

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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.

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

Among several styles of Sikharas that obtain in Hindu temple architecture, the three most common ones are the "Dravidian" style prevalent in southern India and the "Nagar" style prevalent almost everywhere else and the third style born from the synthesis of the other two called the Vesara style, seen mostly in Karnataka and most commonly in Hoysala and later Chalukya temples..

While both Nagara and Dravida styles feature a tall and tapering tower, the dravidian style is highly ornate, as seen at the Tirupati temple (left). The "Nagar" style (right) is simpler and consists of a curvilinear dome. Very often, the cone-like shape is repeated several times, beginning with a broad base and tapering to the top; here is a fine example. In every style of Sikhara/Vimanam, the structure culminates with a "Kalasham", or sacred brass receptacle, at its peak. In the vesara style, the dome tends to be highly ornate and emegres from the Sukanasa or richly carved horizontally treated outer walls of the temple.

See also

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