/shik"euhr euh, shik"reuh/, n. (in Indian architecture)
a convexly tapering tower, capped by an amalaka.
Also, sikra.
[ < Skt sikhara]

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or shikhara

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).

A śikhara of the bhūmija type, Udayeśvara temple, Udayapur, ...

P. Chandra

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also spelled  Shikara (Sanskrit: “mountain peak”) , also called  Sikar 

      in North Indian temple architecture, the superstructure, tower, or spire above the sanctuary and also above the pillared maṇḍapas (porches or halls); it is the most dominant and characteristic feature of the Hindu temple in the north. The North Indian śikhara is basically of two types: (1) the latina, curvilinear in outline, the type most usually found above the sanctuary; and (2) the phāmsanā, rectilinear in outline and capped by a bell-shaped member, the form more usually found above the maṇḍapa.

      The latina śikhara is composed of a series of horizontal roof slabs gradually receding toward the top and provided with projections that extend from the base and wall of the temple. The surface of the śikhara is covered with a vinelike tracery composed of diminutive candraśālās (ogee arches). Above the truncated top (skandha) projects a necking on which rests a large grooved disk (āmalasāraka), and above it sits a pot with a crowning finial. Each story is indicated by miniature āmalasārakas at the four corners, repeated all the way to the top. The latina śikhara has two further variations: the śekharī and the bhūmija. The śekharī consists of the central latina spires with one or more rows of half spires added on either side and miniature śikharas clustered along the base and corners. The śekharī was popular from the 10th century onward and can be observed on most Central Indian temples; the Lakṣmaṇa and Kaṇḍārya Mahādeva temples at Khajurāho, Madhya Pradesh, have excellent examples.

      The bhūmija variation has a flat vertical projection in the centre of each of the four sides, the quadrants between being filled with rows of miniature shrines all the way up to the top of the tower. The bhūmija temple was particularly popular in Mālwa, in the western part of Madhya Pradesh, and in the Deccan; a handsome example is the 11th-century Udayeśvara temple at Udayapur, Madhya Pradesh.

      According to South Indian architecture texts, the term śikhara is reserved for the dome-shaped crowning cap, though art historians have generally used the term to designate all temple spires, north and south. The South Indian spire, known as the kūṭina type, is quite different in shape from the North Indian śikhara, having a pyramidal storied arrangement, with each story (bhūmi) stepped and relatively realistically delineated.

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Universalium. 2010.

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