Pancha Rathas of Mamallapuram


  • Mamallapuram sculptures rank among the best due to their very humane quality, says art historian.

Key Details about the findings

  • The varied architecture of the Pancha Rathas of Mamallapuram form the basis of temples in the Chola, Nayaka and Vijayanagar periods.
  • Citing the example of the bas-relief of River Ganga’s descent, even in such a large relief, the teeming world of nature had not been forgotten.

    Pancha Rathas of Mamallapuram
    Photo Credit: Swarajya
  • There were many archaeological sites in and around Mamallapuram which had yielded Roman potteries and coins.
  • The beginning of art and architecture in Tamil Nadu. One can see the transition from rock art to structural architecture here.

Back to Basics

  • Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram, is a town in Chengalpattu district in the southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, best known for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of 7th- and 8th-century Hindu Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram.
  • The ancient name of the place is Thirukadalmallai.
  • Mamallapuram was one of two major port cities in the Pallava kingdom.
  • The town was named after Pallava king Narasimhavarman I, who was also known as Mamalla.
  • Along with economic prosperity, it became the site of a group of royal monuments, many carved out of the living rock.
  • These are dated to the 7th and 8th centuries: rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), the giant open-air rock relief the Descent of the Ganges, and the Shore Temple dedicated to Shiva.
  • The temples of Mahabalipuram, portraying events described in the Mahabharata, were built largely during the reigns of King Narasimhavarman and his successor Rajasimhavarman and show the movement from rock-cut architecture to structural building. The city of Mahabalipuram was founded by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I in the 7th century CE.
  • The mandapa or pavilions and the rathas or shrines shaped as temple chariots are hewn from the granite rock face, while the famed Shore Temple, erected half a century later, is built from dressed stone. What makes Mahabalipuram so culturally resonant are the influences it absorbs and disseminates.

Source: TH & Wikipedia

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