A GOPURAM or GOPURA (
The gopuram's origins can be traced back to early structures of the
Pallava kings, and relate to the central shikhara towers of North
India. Between the twelfth and sixteenth century, during the
Nayaka and Vijayanagara era when Hindu temples increasingly became a
hub of the urban life, these gateways became a dominant feature of a
temple's outer appearance, eventually overshadowing the inner
sanctuary which became obscured from view by the gopuram's colossal
size and courtyards. It also dominated the inner sanctum in amount of
ornamentation. Often a shrine has more than one gopuram. They also
appear in architecture outside India, especially
Khmer architecture ,
A large Dravidian-style temple, or koil, may have multiple gopurams as the openings into successively smaller walled enclosures around the main shrine, with the largest generally at the outer edges. The temple compound is typically square or rectangular with at least the outermost wall having gopuras, often from the four cardinal directions. The multiple storeys of a gopuram typically repeat the lower level features on a rhythmic diminishing scale. The inner sanctum and its towering roof (the central deity's shrine) is also called the Vimanam (shrine) , although in the south it is typically smaller than the gopurams in large temples.
* 1 Etymology * 2 Architecture * 3 See also * 4 Notes * 5 References * 6 External links
A gopura is a monumental gate, usually ornate with odd number of kalasa on top. It may have one or many storeys. Left: Single storey gopura; Right: Two storey gopura.
The Tamil derivation is from the two words: கோ (kō) and புறம் (puram) meaning 'king' and 'exterior' respectively. It originates from the Sangam age when it was known as ஓங்கு நிலை வாயில் (ōnggu nilai vāyil) meaning 'imperishable gateway'.
An alternative derivation is from the
Detail of a gopuram at
A gopuram is usually a tapering oblong in form with ground-level
wooden doors, often richly decorated, providing access. Above is the
tapering or "battered" gopuram, divided into many storeys which
diminish in size as the gopuram tower narrows. Usually the tower is
topped with a barrel vaulted roof with a finial. The form began
rather modestly in the 10th century, as at
The two tallest gopuras are both modern, at least in part. At the
Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam
Athi Koneswaram *
On left is a gopuram, to the right above the sanctum is vimana
* List of tallest
* ^ A B "gopura". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
* ^ Ching, Francis D.K.; et al. (2007). A Global History of
Architecture. New York: John Wiley and Sons. p. 762. ISBN
* ^ Ching, Francis D.K. (1995). A Visual Dictionary of
Architecture. New York: John Wiley and Sons. p. 253. ISBN
* ^ A B C Michell, George (1988). The Hindu Temple. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press. pp. 151–153. ISBN 0-226-53230-5 .
* ^ Sellby, Martha A.; Indira Viswanathan Peterson (2008). Tamil
geographies: cultural constructions of space and place in South India.
* ^ S. Sundararajan (1991). Ancient Tamil country: its social and
economic structure. Navrang.
* ^ Lienhard S., von Hinèuber O. (2007). Kleine Schriften:
Supplement (in French). Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 414. ISBN
* ^ Harle, 320-325
* ^ "Towers" on temple website; Tamilwebworld
* ^ "Murudeshwar Temple Now Tallest
Dallapiccola, Anna L. (2002). Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend . London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-51088-1 .
* Harle, J.C., The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, 2nd edn. 1994, Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, ISBN 0300062176
Look up GOPURAM in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.