Ancient India Simplified: Pallava Dynasty and the start of Dravidian style of Temple Architecture

1. Pallava art and architecture represent an early stage of Dravidian art and architecture which blossomed to its fullest extent under the Chola Dynasty. 
2. The Pallava architecture shows the transition from the rock cut temples to the stone built temples.  The earliest examples of the Pallava art are the rock cut temples of the 7th century AD, while the later examples are of structural temples built in the 8th and 9th century. 
3. The lasting monolithic temples known as rathas and mandapas provide superb skill of sculptors of Pallava period.
4. The monolithic temples (Eg: Five rathas) gave way to structural temples like the Shore temple in Mamallapuram. 
5. They were instrumental in the transition from rock-cut architecture to stone temples.

Evolution of Temple Architecture during Pallava times.

Mahendra Varman I Style1. It was Mahendravarman I who introduced the practice of having temples cut out of solid rock in Southern India.
Mandagapattu inscriptions mention the beginning of constructions of rock-cut temples.
2. These small rock-cut temples were called ‘Mandapas’.
3. Assumed the title Chettakari (temple-maker).
4. The Rock-cut temples were excavated out of solid rocks and are characterised by cubical pillars, circular “lingams” and the existence of “Dvarapalas” at the gates.Such edifices were erected by Mahendra Varman at Dalavanur, Pallavaram and Vallum and they represent the Mahendravarman Style.
Narasimha Varman I Style1. His earlier shrines built at Pudukottai and Trichinopoly (such as those of Trimurti, DUrga and Varaha) are rock-cut caves like Mahendravarman style but they were more ornamental facades,  face of the building were octagonal, pillars were better proportioned and above all the pillars are sitting lions supporting the pillars.
2. In his new capital, Mahabalipuram, he got  “Five Monolithic Rathas”(named after five Pandavas) excavated out of boulder-like rocks standing on the sea shore.
Rajasimha Varman I Style1. The monolithic temples gave way to structural temples.
2. The chief examples of his style are the  structural shore temple at Mahabalipuram and Kailash temple at Kanchi.
3. Another feature of these shrines is that they are adorned by life-like images of Pallava kings and queens (In these temples the Pallava art is more evolved and elaborate).
Aparajitha Varman StyleThe lingams were cylindrical and the capital was more ornamental and conspicuous.
Example is a shrine at Bahur near Pondicherry.

Pancha Rathas (Five chariots:  are monolithic stone chariot structures dedicated to the five Pandava brothers and their wife Draupadi.)

Descent of the Ganga

Shore Temple: Mahabalipuram (It is a complex of three temples: two Shiva and one Vishnu shrine)

Kailasanatha Temple: Kanchi

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More about Pallavas Dynasty
Ancient India Simplified: Pallava Dynasty (275 AD TO 897 AD)

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