Nepali Architecture and its Characteristics

The temples found in Nepal can be divided into the following three types in terms of their architectural design and arts:

The Pagoda Style (Roofed Style)

These temples where lie the Gods the Hindus worship with faith   are   built   as   model   of Nyatapole Temple architecture to fulfill the purpose of devotion, worshipping and the path to go around.

nyatapola bhaktapur
Nyatapola Bhaktapur

There has been the tradition of building temples with various designs for this purpose and Nepali Pagoda Style is one of them. The Pagoda Style Temples are those which have several storeys and they have severallayered roofs.

Thus, they are also called multiple roofed temples or tiered temples.

The Characteristics of this Style

  • Artistic objects around the temples
  • Special type of adytum
  • Tiered roof
  • Use of Tundal (the wooden support for the projecting edge of the roof) and  Toran (a long festoon of flowers hung over gates and on walls on festive occasions)
  • Attractive combination of brick and wood
  • The middle part of the temple left hollow
  • Much decorated multitiered style of temples

Some of the temples with Pagoda Style are as follows:

  • Pashupatinath Temple
  • Changu Narayan
  • Nyatpole

Peak Style (Shikhar Style)

The temples of peak style can be of different forms and types. The temples are raised to the sky and look like a peak at a glance. They have no roof and thus the whole structure look like Gumbas making it safe from the sunlight and rain inside. This is called peak style in architecture.

Machchhendranath temple Bungmati, Lalitpur
Machchhendranath temple Bungmati, Lalitpur

The path to go around is made around the temple and the idol of the God is kept inside. Such type of temple used to be built at the time of Gupta Rajbamshi in India. Such temples are not found to have been built at the time of Lichchhavi Kings who were contemporary to Guptas.

But, many temples of this type were built in 17th and 18th century. Such temples are built with the pieces of flag stones joined with the paste whereas the temples made with bricks are cemented on the outer side to save it from rain and wind.

The temples of this style are Brahma temple, Shree Krishna temple of Patan and Mahabaudhha temple of Patan. The temples of this style are of Nagar, Dravid and Weshar types.

The Characteristics of this Style

  • Temples generally built over the multi-tiered platform
  • Only one pavilion built in front of the temples
  • Building the path to go around the temple
  • Placing the vessels for lighting the oil lamps
  • Installation of the idol of the main deity in sanctum
  • Not building several storeys
  • Using the summit itself as the roof, no need of roof in the temple
  • Building the structure that goes narrowing down towards the top
  • Using different Chariots
  • Using Urushringa
  • Imagining Trirath (three chariots), Pancharath (five chariots)and Saptarath (seven chariots)
  • Use of  Amalak  (myrobalan),  Chhatra  (parasol),  and  Gajur(pinnacle)

Temples built in this Style:

  • Brahma temple in the premise of Pashupati
  • Mahabouddha temple of Patan
  • Krishna temple of Patan
  • Vatsaladevi temple of Bhaktapur
  • Pratapur and Annatapur of Swayambhu
  • Chyasindeg of Patan
  • Jagat Narayan temple of Shankhamul, Patan
  • Machchhendranath temple of Bungmati, Lalitpur

Mixed Style

The Janaki temple of Janakpur that took 12 years to be built after starting 1895 BS by King Pratap Singh and Queen Brishavanu Kumari of Tikamgadh of India is an example of mixed architecture style. This is the temple of finest mixture of Rajput style and Mughal style peak and Gumbaj style.

Source: Government of Nepal Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Department of Information and Broadcasting.302/Nepal Parichaya

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