|Significance:||Pioneer in Dravidian style monoliths|
|Other Nearby Attractions:||Shore Temple, Krishna Mandapa and Varaha Cave.|
|Best Time:||Throughout the year|
Mahabalipuram is a temple town that is situated along the Coromandel Coast 55 kilometers off Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu. The place is famous for its Ratha temples that are a part of the famous shore temple complex. The Pallava king Narsimha built the magnificent ‘Ratha’ cave temples of Mahabalipuram.
The beauty of the sculptural art of the rock-cut temples tells about the architectural contribution of the erstwhile Pallava rulers. These 7th century temples are regarded the pioneer of an entirely revolutionary style of architecture that came to be known as Dravidian architecture style.
These ‘Ratha’ temples of Mahabalipuram are commonly called the Pancha Pandava Ratha. These temples are considered pioneer of the Dravidian monolith era and mark the point of transition between the earlier tradition of rock-carved temples and the later tradition of freestanding stone structures.
There are actually eight Rathas at Mahabalipuram out of which five are named after the five Pandavas of Mahabharata and one after Draupadi. The five rathas that can be seen are Dharmaraja Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Draupadi Ratha and Nakul Sahadev Ratha.
The interesting features among all these Ratha temples are the fact that all of them are monolith and are based on the Buddhist Viharas and Chaityas. The largest and the smallest among them are three-storied Dharmaraja Ratha and one-storied Draupadi Ratha respectively. The magnificent way in which these Monolithic Cave Temples were excavated by scooping out the scarp of the hill from front to back is a real treat for the eyes.
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