General view from the south-west of the Dharmaraja Ratha, Mamallapuram
Photographer: Rea, Alexander
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Dharmaraja Ratha at Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu, from the south-west, taken by Alexander Rea in the 1880s. Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu, derives its name from the title 'Mamalla', one of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram (reign 650-about 668 AD). The site is famous for an early group of monolithic temples, known as the 'Pancha Ratha’, named after members of the Pandava family in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Their shapes have no surviving precedents in earlier Indian architecture, and they appear to have provided the templates for the subsequent development of south Indian temple architecture. The Dharmaraja Ratha, built between 630 and 660 by the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I, is the most elaborate of the 'Pancha Ratha' group. The porch has columns with lion bases and leads to the sanctuary. The outer wall has sculpture panels depicting various Hindu gods and devotees. The roof-storeys are ornamented with miniature buildings representing the mythical dwellings of Shiva and the gods in the Mount Kailasa.