Description : The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram were founded by the Pallava kings between 630 A. D and 800 A.D. Carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast, these monuments are known for rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open- air reliefs like the famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’, the temple of Rivage and thousands of sculptures dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Mahabalipuram was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas around 60 km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is believed to have been named after the Pallava king Mamalla. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th century.
Mamallapuram, the city of Mamalla, is after the title of great Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman-I (AD 630-68). It was a sea-port during the time of Periplus (1st century AD) and Ptolemy (AD 140) and many Indian colonists sailed to south-east Asia through this port town. While there is some evidence of architectural activity going back to the period of Mahendravarman-I (AD 600-30), the father of Mamalla, most of the monuments like rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna's penance, the caves of Goardhanandhari and Mahishasuramardini, the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex) are attributed to the period of Narasimhavarman-I Mamalla.
The monolithic rathas from single to triple-storeyed, display a variety of architectural forms. While the Dharmaraja, Arjuna and Draupadi rathas are square on plan, the Bhima and Ganesa rathas are rectangular and Sahadeva ratha apsidal. Though monilithic sculpturing, both cut-in and cut-out, continued even during later periods (Atiranachanda cave, Pidari rathas and Tiger-cave), the structural architecture was introduced on a grand scale by Pallava Rajasimha (AD 700-28), culminating in erection of the world famous Shore temple. After Rajasimha there is lull in the architectural activity of the place, save a few additions during late-Pallava and Chola times. The grandiose Vijayanagara phase here is represented by the Raja Gopurams and the Sthala-Sayana temple, juxtaposed to the carved boulder of Arjuna's penance.