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General view of the Pancha Rathas, Mamallapuram

General view of the Pancha Rathas, Mamallapuram

Photographer: Rea, Alexander

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1885

Shelfmark: Photo 1003/(2223)

Item number: 10032223

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Pancha rathas at Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections taken by Alexander Rea in the 1880s. Mamallapuram, a tiny village south of Madras, was a flourishing port of the Pallava dynasty during the 7th-8th centuries. The site is famous for an early group of monolithic temples, known as the 'Pancha Ratha' and some monolithic sculptures assigned to the 7th century reign of Narasimhavarman Mahamalla (r.c.630-668). The rathas or chariots are monolithic buildings carved out of granite and are so-called as their shape is similar to that of the temple chariots used to take the deities in procession during the temple festivities. They were never completed and could have been used as models for different buildings. This is a view from the south-west corner looking north. In the right foreground is the Dharmaraja Ratha, with the Bhima Ratha beyond. The Nakula Sahadeva Ratha is at the extreme left, with the nearby stone elephant largely concealed by a palm tree.

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