Temple Architecture of Nepal

Posted in : 28th Nov, 2017

Pagoda Temples

These Newari style Pagoda temples are the distinctive feature of Kathmandu valley. The major feature of this architecture is the tiered roof, which may have one to five tier, the highest one being Nyatapola temple in Bahaktapur and Khumbeshwar temple in Patan (five tiered roof). The sloping roofs are covered with baked clay tiles, although some have one roof of glided copper too. These temples are built on a stepped plinth, which may be as high as or even higher than the temple itself.

Nyatapola temple, Bhaktapur

The most interesting feature is the detailed decoration which is only evident close up. Under each roof are often brass or other metal decorations. The other major decorative illustration is the wooden planks that support the roof. These wooden planks have intricate carvings of deities associated with the temple.


The Buddhists stupas of Kathmandu- Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are most impressive and most visited monument in Kathmandu. The lowest level of the stupa is plinth, which may simply be a square platform, but also may be terraced as in case of Boudhanath. On the top of the plinth there is a dome structure which is usually white washed every year.

Boudhanath Stupa , Kathmandu

On top of the dome is square base, with each side of it painted with the eyes, which represents all seeing nature of Lord Buddha. In between and above two eyes is the third eye and the nose like structure, which is not a nose, but Nepali number 1 which signifies ‘unity’. The square structure is topped by pyramid of 13 steps which represents the ladder to enlightenment. At the top of the pyramid is a gilded canopy/umbrella, completed with pinnacle above it. Long row of prayer wheels is mounted on the bottom structure of the stupa. These prayer wheels are carved with enlightening mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”.

The five elements are represented in the stupa’s structure: the base symbolizes earth; the dome water; the triangular shaped pyramid fire; the glided canopy/umbrella air; and pinnacle ether;

Shikhara Temples

These are second most common temples which have a heavy Indian influence. These temples are named due to its tapering tower which represents a Shikhara (in Sanskrit; mountain peak).

Krishna Mandir Patan

The main feature is tapering, pyramidal tower which is surrounded by four similar but smaller towers, and these may be located on the porches over the shrine’s entrances. The tower is usually built on a square stepped plinth. The Krishna Mandir and octagonal Krishna Temple, both in Patan Durbar Square, are excellent examples.

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