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Amalaka In Shikhara Of Hindu Temple – Crown Of Tower

Amalaka is the ornamented portion in the shikhara (crown of the tower) of early Hindu temples. These temples are generally known to be of Nagara type. No amalaka is noticeable on the top of South Indian temples of the Dravida type.

Symbolically, Amalaka is regarded as the symbol of exit from the world.

The amalaka stone is shaped either like a ring with cogged rim or an indented wheel, or the circle of filaments in a lotus flower. A Kalasha (ornamented pot with tapering top) made of gold, copper, silver or stone is placed inside the ring of the amalaka to form the upper crest. Besides the main shikhara, a temple can have other subordinate shikharas also to each of which an amalaka with a kalasha is fitted. The amalaka is sometimes given an additional support by images carved below it.

The earliest evidence of amalaka on the top of a temple has been unearthed at Nagari near Chittor (Rajasthan). It belongs to the fifth century CE. Many Gupta temples including those of Deogarh and Bhitargaon contain prominent amalaka stones on the Shikharas.

The Lakshmana temple at Sripur (650 CE) shows at least four storey demarcated by amalakas at the angles, and crowned on the summit by a larger amalaka.

Rajatarangini (7.526) of Kalhana sates that the king Kalasa (1063 – 1089 CE) constructed a temple of Shiva with a golden amalaka in Kashmir. Even the palaces of king Harsha (1089 – 1101 CE) of Kashmir are said to have been decorated with golden amalakas (Rajatarangini 7.938)