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Gopuram of the Sri Chamundeshwari Temple , Mysore

Gopuram ( Tamil கோபுரம் kōpuram , "royal festivals") is a gate tower in southern Indian religious architecture that grants access to the temple area enclosed by a wall.

History and architecture

Gopurams originated in the late 7th century in the southern Indian area of ​​today's Tamil Nadu , where the largest number now exists. For example, they can be found at the Kailasanatha Temple in Kanchipuram (around 700) or at the Brihadishvara Temple in Thanjavur (around 1000); however, most are more recent. They are a characteristic feature of the Dravidian Hindu temple architecture . They primarily serve to delimit the sacred area of ​​the temple to the outside world and are visible from afar and consist of a stone pedestal structured by niches and adorned with guardian figures ( dvarapalas ), on which there is a multi-tiered, multi-tiered, mostly with overbordered stone and stucco and often polychrome sculptural decoration rises. The sculptures and figures represent themes from Hindu mythology, especially those associated with the presiding deity of the temple. The upper end is usually formed by transverse long roofs, the fronts of which are richly decorated. The floors of the younger Gopurams, which are shortened towards the top, can be accessed inside by means of stairs on the side.

The central openings in the center of each floor allow impressive views over the temple and the respective city. Gopurams were individual buildings at the beginning; later, however, two and even four temple entrances were built in all four directions. Larger complexes, so-called “temple cities”, have several concentric rings of enclosing walls with central gopuram entrances. The size of the gopurams decreases from the outside to the inside. The 21-storey and highest to date with a height of around 76 m is the Gopuram , which was built from 1990 to 2008 and belongs to the Murudeshwara Temple. It is the only one of all gopurams to have a lift.

In Germany so far there is a temple with a gopuram in its original form, namely the Sri-Kamadchi-Ampal-Tempel Hamm . Worldwide temples equipped with gopurams are still being built by devout Tamils .

Gopurams in Southeast Asia

Also in the Southeast Asian regions of today's Cambodia , Vietnam and Thailand , which were influenced by Indian culture and religion early on, gopurams formed the entrance portals of temple complexes. Starting from Angkor , they were built on Buddhist temple areas , although they originally came from Hinduism .

See also

  • Torana - free-standing gates at North Indian temples
  • Torii - free-standing gates to Japanese shrines that mark the boundary between sacred and profane realms


  • Emily Cole (Ed.): Styles and Epochs of World Architecture. Fleurus Idea, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-89717-350-6 .

Web links

Commons : Gopurams  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Murudeshwar Temple Now Tallest Gopuram in Asia., 11th 2008 (accessed February 27, 2018)