Numerous monuments of architecture and art in Mahabalipuram show gradual movement from rock-cut architecture to structural buildings. Varaha Cave Temple in this sense is one of the most primitive buildings in Mahabalipuram.
But don’t be deceived by the word "primitive" because Varaha Temple is far from being primitive – it is sophisticated, architecturally rich structure. This small temple is shaped in low rock outcropping, only a bit higher than the temple itself.
Temple is entered through mandapa – beautiful verandah with two pillars and two semi-columns. All four contain doorkeepers – figures of horned lions at the bases of columns.
Entrance in the hall of temple is guarded by two gate keepers.
Side walls inside the temple are adorned with four large sculpted panels. Centrepiece of northern sculptural group is Varaha – avatar of Vishnu, similar to wild boar. Varaha holds up his wife Bhūmī – mother earth – he has saved her from Naga, the snake king. Southern sculpted panel shows Vishnu Trivikrama – as a dwarf with one foot on earth, another – in clouded sky. Third leg is on tyrant Bali, pushing him to underworld. Next to Vishnu stand Brahma, Shiva, Sun and the moon. Eastern panel shows goddess Lakshmi with two maidens and two elephants. Fourth panel shows goddess Durga standing on a lotus under umbrella.
Varaha Cave Temple is one of the greatest examples of Pallava art. It has been created during the reign of Narasimhavarman I Mahamalla (r. c. 630 – 668) and represents an early stage in Dravidian architecture with many elements of Buddhist design prevalent.
|Coordinates:||12.6179 N 80.1916 E|
|Categories:||Hindu shrines, Rock cut temples and monasteries|
|Values:||Art, Architecture, History, Archaeology|
|Address:||Asia, India, Tamil Nadu, south of Chennai, Kanchipuram district, in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) town, so called "hillock area"|
|Age:||the late 7th century AD|
|UNESCO World Heritage status:||Part of "Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram", 1984, No.249|
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