Nagara temple. In these respects, the archetypes of the Nagara temple may
be seen in the third (sikhara) type of Gupta temples, in which these features
supposedly occur more or less in a rudimentary stage. A temple of South
India has the sanctum cella situated invariably within an ambulatory hall and
a pyramidal tower formed by an accumulation of storey after storey in
receding dimensions. These are to be regarded as the distinctive
characteristics of a Dravida temple. The second type of Gupta storeyed
temple, showing the beginnings of such a ground-plan and elevation, may be
identified as its precursor.
Nagara Style Initially, the temple originated as a flat-roofed square
structure in the form of a cell (shrine), with a pillared porch in front. Variants
of the flat-roofed structure persisted under the post-Gupta dynasties of north
and central India, and the nagara style emerged with the evolution of a
sikhara or superstructure over the square shrine. The subsequent
development of the nagara style can be traced through regional schools, of
which the major ones were those of Orissa (ancient Kalinga), central India
(ancient Jejakabhukti-Mahoba), Rajasthan (the home of the Rajput dynasties)
and Gujarat (ancient Gurjaradesa). These represent significant stylistic and
aesthetic developments and variations in the vertical ascent and horizontal
elaboration of the temple structure. In Uttar Pradesh (and its hill states),
Bihar, Bengal and Himachal Pradesh, temples of the northern style were
erected without architectural and stylistically significant differences. Kashmir
developed a distinct class of temples, away from the main nagara style.