Temple architecture in Nagara style (North India)

nagaraClassification of Indian Temples

  • Nagara (North India)
  • Dravida (South India)
  • Vesara style

Nagara School of Architecture

  • Nagara style popular in northern India.
  • A square temple with a number of graduated projections (rathakas)
  • A tower (sikhara) gradually curving inwards & capped by a spheroid slab with ribs round the edge (Amalaka) give the elevation
  • Nagara temples have 2 distinct features: In plan, the temple is a square with a no. of graduated projections in the middle of each side giving a cruciform shape with a no. of re entrant angles on each side.
  • In elevation, a Sikhara, i.e., tower gradually inclines inwards in a convex curve in north & eastern India magnificent temples were also constructed and the style followed by them is referred to as the Nagara style.
  • Most of them consisted of the shikaras (spiral roofs), the garbhagriha (sanctum) and the mandap (pillared hall).

“Division of 3 subtypes of Nagara temples based on the shape of Shikhara”

nagaraRekha Prasad

  • Simple Shikhara; Square at the base & the walls curve inward to a point on the top.
  • Latina types are mainly used for housing the garbhagriha.
  • Top is called ‘latina’ or the ‘rekha-Prasad type of Shikhara.


  • They broader & shorter than latina buildings.
  • Roofs are composed of several slabs that gently rise to a single point over the center of building, unlike the latina ones which look like sharply rising tall towers.
  • Do not curve inwards, instead they slope upwards on a straight incline.
  • In North Indian temples it is used for mandapa & latina for Garbhgriha.


  • Rectangular building with a roof that rises into a vaulted chamber.
  • Usually called as wagon vaulted buildings

“3 sub schools developed under Nagara style”

Odisha School

  • Located in ancient Puri & Konark.
  • Shikhara, called deul in Odisha, is vertical almost until the top when it suddenly curves sharply inwards.
  • Deuls are preceded, as usual, by mandapas called ‘jagamohana in Odisha.
  • Ground plan of the main temple is square, which, in the upper reaches of its superstructure becomes circular in the crowning mastaka.
  • Exterior of the temples are lavishly carved, their interiors generally quite bare.
  • Usually have boundary walls.
  • The sun temple at Konark was built in 13th century by the eastern Ganga ruler Narshimha Deva I.

  • The temple is dedicated to Sun & has been designed as a twelve-wheeled chariot.

  • Ex:- Lingaraja temple built by the Ganga rulers & the Mukteshwara temple at Bhubaneshwar & the Jagannath temple at Puri.

Khujuraho school

  • Khajuraho temples are known for their extensive erotic sculptures.
  • Regarded as one of world’s greatest artistic wonders.
  • Shaivite temple known as Kandariya Mahadev, built around 10th century by King Ganda was the finest among them.
  • Standard type of Khajuraho temple has a shrine room, an assembly hall, and an entrance portico.
  • Entities were treated as a whole, whereas in the Odishan style they were conceived as separate elements.
  • Sikhara is curved for its whole length, & miniature sikharas emerge from the central tower.
  • Halls & Porticos of the temple are also crowned with smaller towers which rise progressively upto the main tower.
  • Ex:- The temple complex at Khajuraho was built by Chandella rulers between the tenth and eleventh centuries in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. Most important among them is the Kandariya Mahadev temple.nagara

Solanki School

  • Patronized by Solanki rulers of Gujarat (11th to 13th century).
  • Vimala, Tejpala & Vastupala temples at Mount Abu exhibit this style.
  • These were built in pure white marble & adorned with exquisite sculpture.
  • Ex:- Dilwara temple in Mt. Abu, dedicated to Jain tirthankaras.


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