Temple at Mahavellipore
Lithographer: Dibdin, Thomas Colman (1810-1893)
Medium: Lithograph, coloured
This is plate 18 from James Fergusson's 'Ancient Architecture in Hindoostan'. The stone spire of the beautiful Shore Temple rising above the waves was a familiar sight to mariners passing the Madras coast. Mamallapuram, a tiny village south of Madras, was a flourishing port of the Pallava dynasty during the 7th and 8th centuries. Dating from the reign of Rajasima (100-728AD), it is one of the earliest stone temples in South India.
The complex has three sanctums. The rectangular sanctuary in the middle houses a statue of Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta. It is flanked by a main shrine and a smaller one, both dedicated to Shiva. These are capped with pyramidal towers. The temple was already much eroded by salt spray when Fergusson sketched it but he wrote "it is, with the single exception of the temple at Tanjore, the finest and most important vimana I have seen, or know of, in the south of India".