Pancha Pandava Rathas in Mamallapuram
Pancha Pandava Rathas when translated means the five pandava chariots. These five rathas (chariots) are mini shrines that have been carved in the form of chariots.
These rock-cut temples are considered as very fine examples of Pallava art and are named after the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata and their wife Draupadi.
These chariots have been modeled on disparate architectural styles however all of these are monolithic temples out of which four of them are said to be constructed from a single rock formation.
The Dharmaraja, Arjun, Nakula and Sahadeva chariots are as per the Buddhist viharas. Bhima’s chariot has a barrel roof and a longitudinal structure is in Vessera style as per the Buddhist Chaityas.
Draupadi’s chariot has a curvilinear roof and a square cell is like modern Bengali Huts. The Dharmaraja chariot has a three storeyed vimana (plane). On the interior of the Draupadi chariot is carved the image of Draupadi.
On the back wall of the Arjuna chariot is an image of Indra (a God). Close to all these chariots a lion and a huge elephant have been carved. These rathas have open verandahs on the ground storey and the pillars are typically of the Pallava style which has crouching lion bases.
The temples that were built in southern India after these rathas were formed have been greatly affected by the Dharmaraja and Arjuna ratham styles.