DMPQ: Mahabalipuram Architecture.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a historic city and UNESCO World Heritage site in Tamil Nadu, India. During the reign of the Pallava dynasty, between the 3rd century CE and 7th century CE, it became an important centre of art, architecture and literature.

Art & Architectural Masterpieces

Cave Temples

The Adi Varaha Perumal Cave Temple is the earliest of all Pallava structures in Mahabalipuram, yet the least visited one. The grandeur of the actual mandapa (pavilion) is hidden behind a rather ordinary looking latter-day structure. The construction of this site began before the reign of Mahendravarman I. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu (Varaha is an incarnation of Vishnu) and its execution follows the spirit of Vaishnava Agamic texts. Both the outer hall and sanctum sanatorium are adorned with elaborate relief sculptures. This temple houses two relief sculptures of Pallava kings, Simhavishnu (c. 537 CE – 570 CE) and Mahendravarman I, accompanied by their respective wives.

Descent of the Ganges

Alternatively known as Arjuna’s Penance, Descent of the Ganges is a gigantic open air bas-relief sculpted out of pink granite. The dramatic relief sculpture narrates the tales from Indian epics such as the Mahabharata. Nearby mandapas, particularly the Krishna Mandapa, however, showcase scenes of pastoral life amid mythical figures. Other similar rock artworks close by have been left unfinished due to some unexplained reason.

PanchaRatha

PanchaRatha (five chariots) is an architectural ode to Mahabharata’s five Pandava brothers Yudhistir, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, and their wife Draupadi. Thematically and structurally, each ratha is significantly different from the other ones, but all of them were carved out of a long stone or monolith.

Shore Temple

The Shore Temple is located on the beach and if local lore is to be trusted it is the one surviving structure of the legendary Seven Pagodas. Despite continuous erosive effects of the moist and salty sea air, the Shore Temple preserves its beauty in many parts. Built between 700 and 728 CE during the reign of Narasimhavarman II, this is indeed a remnant of a larger complex of temples and civil structures much of which lie under the depth of the sea now.

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