• The Nagara temple architecture style emerged in northern India during the fifth century CE, during the late Gupta dynasty.
  • North India, temples are typically constructed on a stone platform with steps leading up to them. Unlike South Indian temples, they do not usually have extensive boundary walls or gates.
  • Nagara temples are categorized based on the shape of their shikhara (tower).


  • Raised Plinth: Nagara temples are built on a raised platform, with the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum), where the deity’s idol is placed, being the most sacred part.
  • Garbha Griha: The sanctum is always located directly under the tallest tower.
  • Shikhara: The most distinguishable feature of Nagara temples, the shikhara resembles a mountain peak.
  • Circumambulatory Passage and Mandapas: Nagara temples typically have a circumambulatory passage around the garbha griha and one or more mandapas (halls) aligned with it.
  • Decorative Elements: Elaborate murals and reliefs often adorn the walls of Nagara temples.

Modes of Nagara Architecture

  • Valabhi: Resembles a barrel-roofed wooden structure, often associated with chaitya halls (prayer halls linked to Buddhist shrines).
  • Phamsana: Features multi-eave towers with a stacking of slabs.
  • Latina: Characterized by a single, slightly curved tower with four sides of equal length. From the tenth century onwards, composite Latina styles evolved, leading to Shekhari and Bhumija styles.
  • Shekhari: Has attached sub-spires or spirelets that echo the main shape and may run up most of the shikhara, in varying sizes.
  • Bhumija: Displays miniature spires arranged in horizontal and vertical rows, creating a grid-like effect on each face.


Unlike the Dravida style, where vimanas are smaller and gopurams (large gatehouses) are the most prominent, the Nagara style focuses on the shikhara as the defining element.

An example of Nagara architecture is the Ram temple in Ayodhya, inaugurated on January 22, which is designed in the traditional Nagara style.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish July 5, 2024