Two unfinished rathas, Mamallapuram 10032231
Photographer: Rea, Alexander
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of two unfinished monolithic temples or 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 (reigned 630-668 AD). Along a granite hill are some rock-cut caves and the celebrated sculptured rock depicting Arjuna's penance. 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.