What is the difference between Dravida and Nagara style of architecture?

Most of the art and architectural remains that survive from Ancient, Medieval and Modern India are religious in nature. The distinct architectural style of construction in different parts was a result of geographical, climatic, ethnic, racial, historical and linguistic diversities.

Difference between Dravida and Nagara style of architecture


Dravida style of architecture

Nagara style of architecture


According to the Silpasastras, those temples which are situated between the Krishna River and Kanyakumari are Dravida style.

According to the Silpasastras, north Indian temples are Nagara style.

Central Tower

It has pyramidical shaped central tower (called Vimana in Dravida style). In this style, there is only one single Shikhara or Vimana.

It is characterized by a beehive shaped curvilinear tower (called a Shikhara, in northern terminology) made up of layer upon layer of architectural elements and a cruciform ground plan. In this style, there is a multiple Shikharas.


Gopuram is the most prominent. It is stylized and big in size.

In Nagara style, the Shikhara remains the most prominent element of the temple and the gateway is usually modest or even absent.


In this style, temples have elaborated boundary.

In this style, boundary has less emphasised.


In this style, Dwarpalas are there on the entrance.

In this style, Ganga and Yamuna rivers are depicted in personified form at the entrance of Garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum.


In this style, there is always a single tower.

In this style, there are multiple towers. For example- Khajuraho temple.


In this style, pedestals are more or less at ground level.

In this style, pedestals are higher than ground.

Deities on the outside

In this style, temples have deities outside.

In this style, temples have deities inside.


Temples in South have not only been religious centres, but were also used for administrative activities, controlling vast areas of land and were also centres of education.

Most of the temples in Nagara style had only religious purpose.

The iconography is consists of identification of images based on certain symbols and mythologies associated with them. Every region and period produced its own distinct style of images with its regional variations in iconography. The temple is covered with elaborate sculpture and ornament that form a fundamental part of its conception.

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