The Shore Temple, Mamallapuram
Watercolour of the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, by an anonymous artist, part of the MacKenzie Collection, c. 1784. Inscribed on front in ink: 'Mahabalipur'; on back in ink: 'View of the ancient Hindu Temple on the Sea Coast at Mavelliporam-called the Seven Pagodas.'
Colin MacKenzie (1754-1821) joined the East India Company as an engineer at the age of 28 and spent the majority of his career in India. He used the salary he earned from his military career as a captain, major and finally a colonel to finance his research into the history and religion of Indian culture. During his surveys he collected and recorded details concerning every aspect of Indian history, architecture, language, life and religion, resulting in thousands of drawings and copies of inscriptions. Mamallapuram, a tiny village south of Chennai, was a flourishing port of the Pallava dynasty from the 5th - 8th centuries. The site is famous for a group of temples, a series of rock-cut caves and some monolithic sculptures created in the 7th century. This view shows the Shore Temple, built in the late 7th century by Rajasimha and is orientated east, towards the ocean. The temple consists of two spires; one contains a shrine for Vishnu and one for Shiva.