Dharmaraja Mandapa, Mahabalipuram

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Dharmaraja Mandapam, Mahabalipuram
Dharmaraja Mandapam. / Thamizhpparithi Maari, / CC BY-SA 3.0
The simple, even ascetic Dharmaraja Mandapa is somewhat less noticed rock-cut temple in Mahabalipuram.

This temple is located near the Olakkannesvara Temple and an interesting, unfinished sculpted rock which resembles the famous Arjuna’s Penance further north.

Description

Dharmaraja Mandapa is facing east. Its architecture is simple but elegant. The front part has three openings with two pillars. Inside is a simple hall divided by two more pillars. At the back wall, three – four steps lead up to three cells – shrines. Most likely the central, larger cell was devoted to Shiva, two others – to Brahma and Vishnu.

The only ornamentation inside has been two dvarapalas (mythical guards), “guarding” the central shrine. Both reliefs have been chiseled off in later times, possibly, during the Vaishnava resurgence in the 14th – 15th centuries.

History

An interesting detail in this temple is an ancient inscription in Grantha writing and Sanskrit language, with fourteen lines. Most likely, it was made upon the completion of the temple. In other cases, these inscriptions help to understand the time of the construction, but not this time. The inscription is rather chaotic and lists several rulers of the Pallava dynasty without mentioning which one of these rulers ordered the temple.

The simple design of the temple is characteristic for comparatively early rock-cut temples. Some researchers consider that the temple was built during the time of Rajasimha I (reigned in 735 – 765 AD). Nevertheless, more researchers are inclined to think that it was built earlier, during the times of Paramesvaravarman I (reigned in 670 – 695 AD).

Vaishnavas occupied this temple during the 13th – 19th centuries.

References

  1. Saurabh Saxena, Mamallapuram – Dharmaraja Mandapa, July 16, 2016. Accessed on the 18th May 2019.
  2. K. R. Srinivasan, Cave Temples of the Pallavas, Archaeology Survey of India, 1964. Accessed on the 18th May 2019.

Dharmaraja Mandapam, Mahabalipuram on the map

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Dharmaraja Mandapam, Mahabalipuram 12.614809, 80.191597 Dharmaraja Mandapam
Location, GPS coordinates:12.6148 N 80.1916 E
Categories:Hindu shrines, Rock-cut architecture and sculptures, Rock-cut temples and monasteries
Values:Art, Architecture, Archaeology
Rating:2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)
Where is located?Asia, India, Tamil Nadu, south of Chennai, Kanchipuram district, Mahabalipuram town, southern part of the temple hill
Alternate names:Atyantakama cave temple
Age:Late 7th century AD or middle of the 8th century AD
Religion:Hinduism
UNESCO World Heritage status:Part of "Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram", 1984, No.249

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Wondermondo considers that India is the second richest centre of architectural heritage in the world after Europe and maybe no single country of the world can match it in this respect.

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