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Shore Temple of Mamallapuram

Author: Shore Temple
Article Date: 13.12.2012

The shore temple of Mamallapuram is the first of the structural temples built by the Pallava Monarch, Narasimhavarman’', also called Rajasimha (690-715 CE).

The shore temple is a complex of three neighboring shrines: a small, west facing, triple storyed structure known as Rajasimhesvara is dedicated to Lord Shiva. At the back of it is the larger, east facing four storeyed structure known as Ksatriyasimhesvara. Between these two structures abutting the Rajasimhesvara is an east facing, oblong, flat roofed mandapa shrine called Narapatisimha Pallava Visnugraha. This temple enshrines an earlier form of reclining lord Vishnu cut out of an existing rock. The entire complex is built over a low, practically buried, natural rock.

The Rajasimhesvara and the small Lord Vishnu shrine are the earliest part of the shore temple complex. The Kastriyasimhesvara temple, standing in front of the Lord Vishnu shrine, was also built during the reign of Rajasimha. The material of construction for the entire complex is a dark ,coarse, porphyry like stone called leptinite. But excepting the two temple vimanas, all other structures have been completely destroyed by nature's onslaught. Out of the sheer ruins of headless sculptures, badly eroded reliefs. Nandi figures etc. only a vague picture of the former glory of these pallava monuments can be imagined with great difficulty.

The shore temple in some ways is the culmination, not only of the genius of Rajasimha's time but also of the entire Pallava period. Nothing of the sort is created again.