By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Sikhara, Zikhara, shikhara
Śikhara literally means ‘that which has a top’.
The words gopura, śikhara and vimāna are generally assumed to be synonymous but factually they are not. They can be explained as belows:
- Gopura is the huge tower built over the entrance of big temples.
- Vimāna is a small tower built over the garbhagṛha to indicate the place where the chief deity is installed.
- Śikhara is the uppermost tapering part of the Vimāna.
- Garbhagṛha means sanctum sanctorum.
- Āmalaka means myroballan-shaped structure.
- Kalaśa means finial.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore