back to top
Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeArticleNagara Style Temples in India

Nagara Style Temples in India

Must Read

Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.
  • The Nagara style of temple architecture was popular in northern India. In northern India, it is common for the entire temple to be built on a stone platform with a staircase leading to it. 
  • Another unique feature is the lack of elaborate boundary walls or gates. 
  • Garbhagriha is always under the tallest tower. 
  • There are many subdivisions in the Nagara temples, depending on the form of Shikhara. Amalaka or Kalash installed in Shikhara is another distinguishing feature of this form of temple style. 
  • The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in Madhya Pradesh is an example of Nagara-style temple architecture. 
  • Other examples of Nagara-style temples in India are the Sun Temple in Konark, the Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat, and the Ossian Temple in Gujarat. 

Classification of Nagara-Style Temple Architecture

1. Rekha-Prasad or Latina: These temples are characterized by simple shikhara with square bases and inwardly curved walls with pointed apexes. Early medieval temples such as the Markhera Sun Temple in Madhya Pradesh (MP). The Sri Jagannath Temple in Orissa was built in the Rekha Prasad Shikhara style.

2. Shekari: A variation of Latina, the Shikhara consists of a main Rekha-prasad Shikhara and one or more rows of his smaller towers on either side of the central tower. In addition, the pedestal and corners are equipped with mini Shikhara. Khajuraho Hokandari Yamahadev Temple is one of the most famous temples in this style.

3. Bhumija: Another type of Nagara temple that evolved from the Latina style was the Bhumija architecture developed in Malwa during the reign of the Paramara dynasty. These temples have flat, upward tapering projections consisting of a central Latin cusp and a miniature cusp on the quadrants formed by tapering spires. It is a mini Shikhara with horizontal and vertical carving. Example: Udayeshwar temple (MP).

4. Valabhi: This kind of style of temple is rectangular with barrel-vaulted roofs. Vaulted room roofs have earned the nickname wagon vaulted building/structure. His ninth-century temple, Telika Mandir, in Gwalior was built in this style.

5. Phamsana: A short, broad structure consisting of a roof with numerous slabs rising with a gentle slope above a straight slope, like a pyramid that meets at one point above the centre of the building.

Different Schools of  Nagara-style Temple Architecture

1. Orissa – The most prominent feature is the shikhara (deal), which rises vertically and curves inwards at the top. The main type is square while the top type is circular. It has beautifully carved exteriors and usually bare interiors. Unlike the Nagara temples in the north, most Orissa temples have perimeter walls.

2. Chandel – Unlike the Odisha style, these temples were designed as one unit of him, with Shikhara curving from bottom to top. Several shikhara miniatures rise from the central tower, and towers that gradually rise towards the main tower cover both the arcades and halls.

3. Solanki – Similar to the Chandel School, but with a carved ceiling that looks like a real dome. A distinctive feature of these temples is small and intricate decorative motifs. Carvings can be seen both inside and outside the walls, except for the central temple.

Famous Nagara Temples in Different Parts of India

1. Nagara Temples in Central India

  • Some of the oldest surviving Nagara-style temples, dating back to the Gupta period in Madhya Pradesh 
  • These are relatively modest-looking shrines, with his four pillars supporting a small mandapa that looks like a simple square porch-like extension in front of an equally small room that serves as a Garbhagriha. 
  • Deogarh (Lalitpur district, Uttar Pradesh) was built in the early 6th century AD and is a typical example of the late Gupta period temple type. The temple is in the Panchayatana architectural style, with the main shrine built on a rectangular base and four smaller sub-shrines placed at the four corners (it is called Panchayatana because there are five shrines in total).   A large, curvaceous shikhara also confirms this date. The presence of this curved Latina or Shikhara Rekha Prasada style also reveals that this is an early example of the classical Nagara temple style. 
  • Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Khajuraho’s Lakshmana Temple was built by Chandela King. At the corners of it are four smaller temples, all towering upwards in a curved pyramidal shape and towering high upwards, ending in a horizontal fluted disc called an Amalek topped with a Kalash or vase, the vertical propulsion of the temple Emphasizing power. The highest elements, Amalek and Kalash, are found in all Nagara temples of this period. 
  • The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in Khajuraho is typical of Central Indian Nagara-style temple architecture. The Khajuraho temples are also known for their rich erotic sculptures.

 2. Nagara Temples in Western Parts

  • These are located in Gujarat and Rajasthan. 
  • Modhera’s Sun Temple dates back to the early 11th century and was built in 1026 by Raja Bhimdev -I of the Solanki dynasty. The influence of the Gujarati wood carving tradition is evident in this temple. 

3. Nagara Temples in Eastern Parts

  • East Indian temples include the northeastern, Bengal, and Orissa temples. 
  • Until the 7th century, terracotta was the main building material and seems to have been used to form plaques depicting Bengali Buddhist and Hindu deities. 
  • The 6th-century carved door frames of antiquity from Daparvatia near Tezpur and some stray carvings from the Rangiora tea plantation near Tinsukia, Assam testifies to the importance of the Gupta style in the region. A style associated with the migration of Thais from Upper Burma merged with the predominant Pala style of Bengali to produce what later became known as the Ahom style in and around Guwahati. Kamakhya Temple, the Shakti Peeth, is dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya and was built in the 17th century. 
  • Pallas is celebrated as the patron saint of many Buddhist monasteries. Temples in the area are known for their representation of the local Vanga style. For example, his 9th-century Siddheshvara Mahadev temple at Barakar in the Burdwan district, featuring a tall curved shikhara topped by a large amalaka, is an early example of the Pala style.  It resembles modern temples in Orissa. The temple is also an example of regional variations in Nagara-style temple architecture. 
  • Temples in Orissa form a distinct sub-style within the Nagara Order. The shikhara here, commonly called the Odisha Deal, is almost vertical to the top and then sharply bends inwards. 
  • Konark, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, is home to the majestic ruins of the Surya or Sun Temple, built in stone around 1240. His Shikhara was a gigantic creation, said to be 70 meters high. 
  • Other famous Nagara temples in the area are Mukteshvara Temple, Rajarani Temple, Lingaraja Temple, etc. 

4. Nagara Temples in Mountainous Region

  • A unique architectural style developed in the hilly areas of Kumaon, Garhwal, Himachal, and Kashmir. Kashmir’s Proximity to Gandhara Sites. 
  • This began to mix with Gupta and post-Gupta traditions brought from Sarnath, Mathura, and even Gujarat and Bengali centres. As a result, the traditions of both Buddhism and Hinduism began to mix and spread across the hills. The hill also had a tradition of wooden construction with gable roofs.
  • Thus, in some places on the hill, we find the main Garbhagriha and Shikhara made in the Leka Prasada or Latina style, whereas the Mandapa is an older style of wooden construction.  The temple itself may take the form of a pagoda. 
  • Of the Kumaon temples, those at Jageshwar near Almora and Champawat near Pithoragarh are typical examples of Nagara architecture in the region.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!

Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

More Articles Like This