Early Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1960 | 105,501 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Parantaka I to Rajaraja I in the timeframe A.D. 907-985. The Cholas of Southern India left a remarkable stamp in the history of Indian architecture and sculpture. Besides that, the Chola dynasty was a successful ruling dynasty even conquering overseas regions....

The Draupati ratha at Mamallapuram is a monolithic temple dedicated to Durga and its entrance is surmounted by a beautiful makara-torana. The sikh-aras of the Bhima and the Ganesa rathas in the same place furnish the prototype for the wagon-roof feature of the later gopurams (Sala-type pavilion).

The taller structural shore-temple at Mamallapuram has a gateway in the front wall of the sanctum topped by a Sala type pavilion. There are guardian deities on either side of the gateway. Here for the first time in South India, the tor ana has given way to a new style of gateway. It is not yet, as in later developments, a separate structure in front of the sanctum and detached from it.

There is further evolution in the Kailasanathar temple at Kanchipuram. The sanctum is surrounded by a few closely built-in sub-shrines (anga-alaya). There was a detached ardhamandapa, later linked to the sanctum by a new mandapa. All these parts and the prakara were enclosed by a wall of chapels, consisting of two storeyed pavilions about fifty in number. On the north and south sides of this wall of enclosure opposite to the centre of the sanctum where the linga is installed, these are taller chapels. But on the western side of the wall of chapels, there is a real gateway with guardian deities; but this has been later walled up and closed. In front of the temple on the east, there is a separate structure with entrances on both sides leading to the prakara, with a wagon-roof pavilion on the top. This was the embryonic gopuram. But Mahendravarman III, son of Rajasimha (a.d. 8th century) built an additional shrine co-axial with the main shrine built by his father. But it is an unusual feature to find a small subsidiary shrine erected in front, and obstructing the direct view, of the main shrine, a departure from the original plan.

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