Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mahabalipuram: Land of Sculptures

Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) – five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi. An interesting aspect of the rathas is that, despite their sizes they are not assembled – each of these is carved from one single large piece of stone.

Mahabalipuram served as a school for sculptors. The tradition continues and many make a living out of sculpting. In this photo, Kundalam, a local, is engrossed in carving a hand-cum-snake depiction.
Shore Temple: A configuration of two Shiva shrines with the small Vishnu shrine in between. The two shikharas have a pyramidal outline, each individual tier is distinct with overhanging eaves that cast dark shadows.

Shore Temple: The outer wall of the shrine and the inner side of the boundary wall are extensively sculptured and topped by large sculptures of Nandi.

Detailing on Nakula Sahadeva Ratha. Pancha Rathas have been preserved very well thanks to sturdiness of their material - granite and in spite of constant salty winds from the ocean and catastrophic tsunami in 13th century.

Taming the Bull : Children enjoying a day out at Panch Rathas.

Built 1887. Inactive since 1900. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) square stone structure with gallery atop a monolithic stone temple (carved from a single rock), dating from around the start of the 8th century AD. Fires were lit atop this temple for centuries as a guide to seamen, and in 1877 the British placed a lantern atop the temple for the same purpose.

Mahabalipuram beach outside the Shore Temple

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