General view of the Ganesha Ratha, Mamallapuram 10032228
Photographer: Rea, Alexander
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Ganesha Ratha 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. The Ganesha Ratha consists of a rectangular sanctuary with a columned verandah with two figures of guardians on either side. The columns with a seated lion at the base are typical of the Pallava style. The upper storey is covered by a large vaulted roof with arched ends and pot and trident finials.