Himachal Pradesh Temple Architecture: A Gateway to the Divine

Welcome to the world of Himachal Pradesh's temple architecture, where the rich tapestry of culture, history, and nature intertwines to create awe-inspiring structures. 


Himachal Pradesh, nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, is not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a treasure trove of rich cultural heritage. Nestled amidst the resplendent landscapes of the Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh beckons with more than just its breathtaking natural beauty. Within its verdant valleys and snow-capped peaks lies a treasure trove of cultural heritage, where temple architecture serves as a testament to the state's rich history and spiritual significance.

The Rich Heritage of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is widely recognized for its tranquil and picturesque landscapes; however, beneath the verdant greenery and pristine mountains lies a rich cultural tapestry. The state boasts a history that spans centuries, with temple architecture playing a vital role in preserving this legacy. The intricate designs and architectural styles of these temples reflect the ingenuity and creativity of the people who built them, and serve as a testament to the state's rich cultural heritage. These temples also provide a unique opportunity to explore the history of the region and gain a deeper understanding of its people and their way of life.

The temple architecture of Himachal Pradesh holds a profound historical and cultural significance. These temples are not merely stone and mortar but are revered places of worship that have shaped the spiritual identity of the region. The architectural styles reflect the beliefs, rituals, and traditions of the people of Himachal.

Historical Significance

The temples of Himachal Pradesh have a profound historical significance. Many of them are centuries old, reflecting the influence of various dynasties that have ruled the region. These temples have served as centers of worship and are repositories of history, culture, and spirituality.

Influence of Religion and Culture

The temple architecture in Himachal Pradesh is deeply intertwined with the religious and cultural fabric of the state. It reflects a beautiful amalgamation of Hinduism and Buddhism, with intricate details that pay homage to the local customs and beliefs.

Shikhar Style

Himachal Pradesh, the abode of the gods, is renowned for its diverse temple architecture. Among the various styles that grace this mountainous region, the Shikhar style temples stand out as towering testaments to both artistry and spirituality.

The Shikhar, a Sanskrit term that translates to "mountain peak," is the crowning jewel of North Indian temple architecture. Resembling the towering peaks of majestic mountains, these architectural marvels evoke a sense of spiritual awe and reverence.

Amalaka Crown: At the pinnacle of the Shikhar, one can often find the Amalaka, a circular sun-disc. This symbolic addition represents the circle of life and the eternal presence of the divine in the temple.

Essential Elements of a Hindu Temple: It's worth noting that Shikhar-style temples encompass all the essential elements of a Hindu temple - the mandap (porch), the garbh griha (sanctum sanctorum), and the shikhar (tower). These elements are meticulously integrated into the construction, creating a harmonious space for worship and spiritual reflection.

North vs. South: Shikhar and Vimana

AspectShikhar (North Indian Temples)Vimana (South Indian Temples)
ShapeCurving, mountain-like shapePyramidal-like structure
OrnamentationAmalaka at the zenithTypically lacks an Amalaka
AtmosphereRadiates grace and eleganceExudes a sense of stability
RegionNorth IndiaSouth India
Regional DistinctionCommon in North India templesPrimarily found in South India

Examples of Shikhar Style

  • Lord Vaidyanath’s Temple at Baijnath (Kangra)
  • The Luxmi Narayan Group of Temples at Chamba
  • Thakurwada at Masrur

Pent Roofed Temples:

Pent roofed temples, also known as 'Chhatrashala' or 'Chhajja' style temples, are designed with circular and rectangular structures crowned by a slanting, pent-shaped roof. 

Architectural Magnificence

Pent-roofed temples are renowned for their exceptional design, carefully crafted to withstand the harsh climatic conditions of Himachal Pradesh. The steep angle of the roofs, often decorated with rows of precisely positioned slates, not only represents an architectural feat but also serves the vital function of preventing the accumulation of heavy rainfall and snowfall on the temple's roof. This ensures the structural stability of the sacred space and allows uninterrupted accessibility even during inclement weather.

The Significance of Pradakshina

Pent-roofed temples have a fascinating characteristic - a covered veranda that encircles the sanctum sanctorum. This feature has a significant role in Hindu worship as it helps in performing the customary ritual of Pradakshina. This architectural aspect serves as a refuge for pilgrims during their sacred circumambulation by providing shelter and comfort during their devotional journey.

Distinctive Wall Construction

The hill temples are distinct because of the exceptional combination of wood and stone used in their walls. The wooden beams are perfectly aligned with the walls, creating a strong and durable framework. The gaps are carefully filled with stone, resulting in a seamless integration of materials that not only adds to the structural strength but also enhances the aesthetic appeal of these temples. This innovative design beautifully complements the architectural style of the region, expertly adapting to the unique climatic conditions of Himachal Pradesh.


  • BijliMahadev (Kullu): 
  • Lakshana Devi at Bharmour (Chamba
  • Shakti Devi at Chatrari (Chamba)
  • Hatkoti (Shimla)
  • Pagoda Style

Pagoda style

A pagoda is a distinctive tiered tower featuring multiple eaves. These temple structures have their origins in the stupa architecture of historic South Asia and were subsequently refined in East Asia. They are commonly found in countries like Nepal, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, and other parts of Asia. 

Characteristics of Pagoda Temples

What sets these temples apart is the multi-tiered pyramidal structure with progressively smaller square or circular levels, often crowned with an exquisite wooden spire. These elements create an intriguing sight against the backdrop of the Himalayan landscape.
These rectangular stone and wood buildings are characterized by their tiered roofs, which create the appearance of multi-story edifices in some cases. The architectural style of pagodas in Himachal Pradesh draws its influence from the Nepalese tradition.

Temples in Himachal Pradesh:

  • Prashar Temple (Mandi)
  • Hadimba Temple in Manali (Kullu)
  • Tripura Sundari Temple at Nagar (Kullu)
  • TriyugiNaryan Temple at Dyar (Kullu)
  • Adi Brahma Temple at Khokhan (Kullu)
  • Manu Temple at Shanshar (Kullu)
  • Maheshwar Temple at Sungra (Kinnaur)
  • Chagoann Temple (Kinnaur)

Dome Temples

Dome temples are architectural marvels characterized by their distinctive hollow upper half of a sphere. These remarkable structures boast an extensive historical lineage that stretches back into the annals of prehistory. Over time, various materials such as mud, stone, wood, brick, concrete, metal, and plastic have been employed in the construction of dome temples, each adding its own unique touch to these architectural wonders. 

Beyond their structural significance, domes hold rich symbolism, encompassing both celestial and governmental traditions that have evolved throughout history. This architectural style can be directly attributed to the influences of Mughal and Sikh rule. The shrines constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries under the patronage of local rulers exemplify the distinctive domed style.


  • Jwalamukhi Temple (Kangra)
  • Bajreshwari Temple (Kangra)
  • Chintpurni Temple (Una)
  • Naina Devi Temple (Bilaspur)

Flat roof:

A flat roof is a nearly level roof, in contrast to the various sloped roof types. Flat roofs have been utilized for centuries, primarily in arid climates, and offer the potential for the roof space to be utilized as a living area or even transformed into a "living roof." 
Flat Roofed temples often feature distinctive wall construction techniques. The combination of stone and wood, along with traditional Pahari-style carvings, enhances the temple's aesthetic appeal and historical significance.
In this context, shrines often feature plain walls constructed from mud and lime plaster, adorned with remarkable paintings executed in the traditional Pahari style, depicting stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.


  • Narbadeshwar at Sujanpur Tira, located in Hamirpur.
  • Ramgopal Temple at Damtal, situated in Kangra.


Himachal Pradesh's temple architecture is a true gateway to the divine. It reflects the state's rich history, spirituality, and artistic brilliance. Visiting these temples is an enriching experience that connects people to their roots and leaves them in awe of the intricate craftsmanship.

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