It is believed that construction of temples started in Kaliyug. In the earlier Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dwapar Yuga, the devotees were able to make direct union with God.

Meaning of Go Puram

Tamil terms like 'ko' 'koil' in Tamil makes us wonder whether the word gopuram was

originally pronounced as 'kopuram' but transformed into 'gopuram' as the word came to symbolise the temple gopuram in sanskrit. The word 'ko' in Tamil

stands for king and also God. In early works, ko+il
(koil) was meant for the king's palace and it came to signify temple only much later. Similarly, ko+puram might have meant the outer portion of the king's / god's dwelling

Another interesting theory :

"gopuram" comes from "go puram" where "gO" probably refers to cows or cow-shed, "gO shAla", and "puram" means "city", "neighbourhood" or "residence".

In ancient days, temples in India did have separate quarters inside the temple precincts to house many cow-sheds. Often these cowsheds were built abutting the temple tower (as can be seen even now in the Kanchi Varadaraja temple), giving hence the temple-tower its unique name of "gO puram" - the "residence of cows".

The very soil inside a temple is said to be supremely sacrosanct. We should ask ourselves why it is so. If there are indeed any "gO shAla-s" within a temple and the herds are often led about, here and there, within the precincts, then the soil they trample upon is said to become "gO dhULi" -- the dust thrown up by cow-hoofs. This fine dust blown off the hoofs of cows is held to be sacred since in the 'Krisha-avatar

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Now, whenever a pilgrim in India enters into the portals or the "gOpuram" of any temple, he is expected to mentally re-live the scenes of the "krishnAvatAra" and imagine too, as well, the "gO dhULi" spread fine all across the cowherd, Krishna's person.
The tower that guards the sacred, "sAttvic" soil of "gO dhULi" strewn and spread all across the temple grounds -- such a tower, quite appropriately, gets the name "gO puram".

Gopura Darshan in Temples

As soon as we enter into the temple (or even before entering) we should do pranams (Namaskarams ) to the Gopuram.
In fact those who are in a hurry and who do not have time to enter into a temple will have the blessing of the almighty just by doing worship to the Gopuram.

But some people take it for granted that it is just enough if they worship the Gopuram and they need not even enter into the temple.

What is the significance of the Gopuram?

Our scriptures confirm that the Gopuram is nothing but the symbol of the feet of God!

When we have the darshan of the feet of God- what else do we need?

Now you can guess why the Gopuram was built so high! You can have the darshan of the Gopuram- rather the feet of god from any distance! Thus away from temple may not make us away from GOD! God's grace is very high! That is why Gopuram is very high!