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Mahabalipuram

Mamallapuram, the city of Mamalla, is after the title of great Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman-I (AD 630-68). It was a sea-port during the time of Periplus (Ist century AD) and Ptolemy (AD 140) and many Indian colonists sailed to South-East Asia through this port town. While there is some evidence of architectural activity going back to the period of Mahendravarman-I (AD 600-30), the father of Mamalla, most of the monuments like rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna's penance, the caves of Govardhanadhari and ahishasuramardini,the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex) are attributed to the period of Narasimhavarman-I Mamalla.

The monolithic rathas, from single to triple-storeyed, display a variety of architectural forms, While the Dharmaraja, Arjuna and Draupadi rathas are square on plan, the Bhima and Ganesa rathas are rectangular Sahadeva ratha apsidal. Though monolithic sculpturing, both cut-in and cut-out, continued even during later periods (Atiranachanda cave, Pidari rathas and Tiger-cave), the structural architecture was introduced on a grand scale by Pallava Rajasimha (AD 700-28), culminating in erection of the world famous Shore temple. After Rajasimha there is a lull in the architectural activity of the place, save a few additions during late-Pallava and Chola times. The grandiose Vijayanagara phase here is represented by the Raja Gopurams and the Sthala-Sayana temple, juxtaposed to the carved boulder of Arjuna's penance.
  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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