Temple architecture evolved slightly differently in different regions, such as the distinct features of Orissa, Kashmir and Bengal temples, but it can be generally classified under three categories- Nagara (North), Dravida (South) and Vesara styles.
The shikhara tower in Nagara temples has a sloping curve as they rise and are topped by an amalaka (a large fluted disk) and also a small spherical pot known as the kalash.
The Nagara style of temples were generally built on upraised platforms.
Kandariya Mahadeva temple at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh is one of the best expression of Nagara temple architecture.
In contrast, Dravida towers (known separately as vimana) are in the form of a stepped pyramid that rises up linearly rather than curved.
There is only one vimana in the Dravidian architecture on top of the main temple. The subsidiary shrines do not have vimanas, unlike in Nagara architecture.
The presence of water tank inside the temple enclosure is a unique feature of the Dravidian style.
Southern Indian temples are typically enclosed within a walled courtyard with a gate (gopuram) which over time had become even more massive and ornate than the temple itself.
The 11th century A.D. Brihadishwara Temple complex (built by Rajaraja I of Imperial Cholas) at Tanjavur is a wonderful example of Dravida temple which incorporates all of these features.
Vesara style of temple architecture flourished under the later Chalukya rulers in the 7th century A.D.
Vesara style had combined features of both Nagara school and Dravidian school and resulted in a hybridised style.
Durga temple at Aihole, Karnataka is a prominent example of Vesara style temple.