The Bhima ratha monolith, Mamallapuram.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Bhima Ratha at Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu, from the Album of Miscellaneous views in India, 1860s. 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 Bhima Ratha dates back to the 7th century and is a barrel-valuted structure, incomplete in its lower level. The entrance portico has four free-standing columns with seated lions at the base. This is a view from the south-east of the Bhima ratha monolith, with the Arjuna ratha partly visible in the background.