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Pancha Rathas

What shall i talk proudly about? Whether the architecture style (Indian rock-cut) ? Or about the Pallavas who were the brains for this kind of sculpture without any precedent in Indian architecture ?

Let me help you with name ‘Pancha Rathas’; Ratha in Oriya means chariot. Pancha Rathas also called as Pandava Rathas is a historical monument located at Mahabalipuram or Mammallapuram. This is one of the perfect example of Indian rock-cut architecture.  It is associated to the reign of King Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I (630–698 AD; also called Mamalla, or “great warrior”) of the Pallava Kingdom.

What is so special about this monument? First and foremost is that each of the chariots (rathas) are sculpted out of a single rock. These sculptures are named after the epic Mahabaratha fame ‘Pandavas’. Each of the chariots is a monolith.


In architecture, the term monolith is normally used for prehistory and also used in the contexts of rock cut architecture that remains attached to solid rock, as in this historical monument. Each chariot has a different layout, such as square, rectangular. The largest of the chariot measures 42 by 35 feet (13 m × 11 m), and the tallest is 40 feet (12 m) high.

This place is where most of the architecture students do their research and this remains as the best study guide for every architect. The rathas have been preserved well on account of the sturdiness of their material, granite, and in spite of constant salty winds from the Bay of Bengal and catastrophic tsunami in 13th century and in 2004.

The structures are part of the nine monolithic rock cut structures seen here.The Pancha rathas represent the diversity of Dravidian architecture of the time and it is likely that their original design traces back to wood constructions of temple chariots and were scale models or templates for much bigger temples built subsequently in Tamil Nadu.