From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
By Swami Harshananda
Amṛtakalaśa literally means ‘chalice containing ambrosia’.
During samudramanthana (churning of the milk-ocean) several celestial objects manifested themselves, the last of which was amṛta or ambrosia in a golden vessel (kalaśa) carried by Dhanvantari, the celestial physician, considered as an aspect of Viṣṇu.
The finial of a temple is shaped like the amṛtakalaśa, symbolizing immortality, the state to which the devotee aspires to rise.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore