Pallava Sculpture, Kanchipuram

Pallava Sculpture, Kanchipuram


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Kanchipuram in the pre-Pallava period

The Kanchipuram district of North Tamil Nadu is considered to be the first region in the Tamil country to be Aryanized. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar believes that in the pre-Pallava period, this region was the southernmost outpost of Sanskrit culture. He cites the etymological derivation of the word "Kanchipuram" and other evidence in support of his claim. However, despite such claims, Kanchipuram is believed to have been mentioned in the Tamil epic Manimekhalai.

In the 4th century AD, Kanchipuram emerged from an obscure past to become the capital of the Pallava Empire. The city was at the height of its power during the 7th century AD when it was visited by the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang.


Indian history

Aparajita style. This is more ornate resembling the Chola architecture.

A few temples built in the style are found at Dalavanur. The note

worthy feature of some shrines is that they are aborned by beautiful

life-like images of Pallava kings and their queens. All told they are

unique in the history of temple architecture.

Pallava sculpture owed more to the Buddhist tradition. On the whole it

is more monumental and linear in form, thus avoiding the typical

ornamentation of the Deccan sculpture. The free standing temples at

Aithole and Badami in the Deccan and the Kanchipuram and

Mahabalipuram in the Tamil country, provided a better background for

sculpture than the rock-cut temples. And the Pallava sculpture was

monumental and linear in form resembling the Gupta sculpture.

Although the basic form was derived from the older tradition, the end

result clearly reflected its local genius.

Now for literature it has been recently proved that Bharavi and

Dandinlived in the Pallava court. Bharavi's Kiratarjuniyam and Dandin's

Dashakumaracharita were the two masterpieces. One of Dandin's

poems was written with such skill that when read normally it gives the

story of the Ramayana and whe read in reverse, the study of

Mahabharata. Dandin was the author of a standard work on poetics.

Till the eight century Pallava influence was predominant in Cambodia.

Saivism was the of ficial form of worship. And the Pallava type of

sikhara is to be found in the temples of Java, Cambodia and Annam.

This dissemination of Hindu culture proves that it was dynamic till

1,000 A.D. in southern India.

Thus, the Pallavas rendered invaluable service to the country both

within and without as they were one of the torch bearers of Hindu

civilization to south-east Asia. Far more singular is their contribution to


Kanchipuram in the pre-Pallava period

The Kanchipuram district of North Tamil Nadu is considered to be the first region in the Tamil country to be Aryanized. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar believes that in the pre-Pallava period, this region was the southernmost outpost of Sanskrit culture. He cites the etymological derivation of the word "Kanchipuram" and other evidence in support of his claim. However, despite such claims, Kanchipuram is believed to have been mentioned in the Tamil epic Manimekhalai.
In the 4th century ad, Kanchipuram appeared from the dark past to become the capital of the Pallava Empire. The city was at its peak in the 7th century ad when he visited the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang.

1. Etymology. (Этимология)
Some scholars believe that Kanchipuram might have been derived from "Kanjiyur" which is mentioned in early Tamil poems. Kanjiyur place in the Chola country and its name means "place surrounded by the Kanji trees." Kanjiyur mention in several ancient texts, one of which Puṟanāṉūṟu.
However, an expert on Dravidian languages group and the history Professor P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar, in his book history of the Tamils from the earliest times to 600AD, argues that Kanjiyur mentioned in early Tamil poems is not old at all, but a different city as a whole.
Srinivasa Iyengar says that Kanchipuram was a Sanskrit word and that the city had no Tamil name. In support of its claim, he said that Kanchipuram is mentioned in the books of the Sanskrit grammarian Patanjali, who lived in the 3rd-2nd century BC. On the contrary, the first mention in Kanchipuram in Tamil literature, in Perumpānāṟṟuppatai the Eulogy of Ilandiraiyan, which was written in the late 2nd century ad. Here, though, Kanchi is not mentioned in the Sanskrit form Kanchi, but in its Prakrit form Kacci.
On the basis of this evidence, Srinivasa Iyengar concludes that Kanchipuram might have been the southernmost Outpost of the Sanskrit culture.

2. Northern frontier of the Ancient Tamil country. (Северную границу Древней тамильской страны)
The northernmost province of the ancient Tamil country was the area Aruva modern South Arcot district. Areas outside the Aruva was known as Aruvavadadalai. Kanchipuram district had no specific name until the end of the pallava period, when he received the name of Tondaimandalam.

3.1. History. Pre-historic Kanchipuram. (Доисторические Канчипурам)
Henry Bruce Footes discovery of a prehistoric stone axe at Pallavaram in 1863 suggests that the region may have been occupied since the stone age. Archaeological finds of a later period even indicate a thriving iron age settlement. Animal fossils and stone tools found in Kanchipuram to the North-West of Chennai may be for 85.000 years.

3.2. History. Dravida. (Волны)
The earliest mention of Kanchipuram was the Sanskrit texts of Patanjali. Kingdom waves in Mahabharatha should be focused on the field of Kanchipuram. According to one tradition, Chandraguptas Minister chanakya, Maura was a native of waves. One of Chanakyas various names was Dramila, the Sanskrit form of "Tamil". Kanchipuram is also referred to as Satyavrataksetra in the "Bhagavata Purana," after king Satyavrata, who ruled over the region. In the end, all the kings of Kanchi before the time of the Pallavas, held the title of "Satyaputra" or "the son of Satyavrata".

3.3. History. Rise of the Agamic cults. (Подъем культы бесполый)
The region of Kanchipuram-one of the first regions in the Tamil country, to witness the growth of cults asexual. Sanskrit texts a century immediately preceding the Christian era mention Kanchipuram amongst the seven Holy temple cities in India. A number of Buddhist monasteries were constructed during Emperor Ashoka Maurya. Buddhist and Jain relics in the region attest to fairly significant Buddhist and Jain presence in the city at the time.

  • traveller Xuanzang visited Kanchipuram during Pallava rule and extolled their benign rule. The word Pallava means a creeper or branch in Sanskrit. They were
  • visited the place. It was during the reign of the Pallava dynasty from the 4th to the 9th centuries that Kanchipuram attained its limelight. The city served
  • accomplishments are the single rock temples in Mahabalipuram and their capital Kanchipuram now located in Tamil Nadu. The earliest examples of Pallava constructions
  • years until the demise of the Chalukyas around 750. The Chalukyas and Pallavas fought numerous battles and the Pallava capital Kanchipuram was occupied
  • Nadu and lived around the time the Pallava dynasty ruled the area. He is considered a historical figure from the 6th century CE, pre - dating Appar Tirunavukkarasar
  • probably enjoying subordinate position under the Pallavas of Kanchipuram After occupying these areas from the Ananda Gotrikas, Madhav Varma II made Amarapura
  • originally Pallava Puram is a residential locality in Chengalpattu district, Tamil Nadu, India. It is a selection - grade municipality located to the South
  • his struggle against the Pallavas He marched towards Kanchipuram but the Pallava inscriptions suggest that he suffered reverses in battles fought at Pariyala
  • constructed accomplishments are the single rock temples in Mahabalipuram and their capital Kanchipuram now located in Tamil Nadu. Pallava art and architecture represent
  • Nākacāmi 2002 Buddhism among Tamils in pre - colonial Tamilakam and Īlam: Prologue. The Pre - Pallava and the Pallava period Almqvist Wiksell. pp. 287 290
  • own, away from the dominating influences of the Pandyas and Pallavas The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang, who spent several months in Kanchipuram during 639 640
  • first king of the dynasty and was the ruler during the time of Pallava King Vishnugopa of Kanchipuram After losing to North Indian Emperor Samudragupta
  • constructed by Mahindra Pallava 1500 years ago by the order of Lord Shiva. Both the temples were built in Pallava era. Many devotees from in and around Chennai
  • over Pallava Nandivarman II, but also for his benevolence towards the people and the monuments of Kanchipuram the Pallava capital. He thus avenged the earlier
  • for the cause of their overlords against the Pallavas of Kanchipuram The Chalukyas were replaced by the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta in 753 CE as the dominant
  • Pallava temples with sculpture surviving in good condition are the Kailasanathar Temple, Vaikunta Perumal Temple and others at Kanchipuram and the cave
  • the word pandya means old country in contrast with Chola meaning new country, Chera meaning hill country and Pallava meaning branch in Sanskrit. The etymology
  • or Kanchipuram In his Avantisundari Katha, the 7th 8th century Sanskrit scholar Dandin who lived in Tamil Nadu and was associated with the Pallava court
  • note was the early progenitor of the Pallava Dynasty. He went on to rule Tondai Nadu from Kanchipuram Nainativu was referred to as Manipallavam in ancient
  • defeated the Pallava king Aparajita and extended the Chola territories to Tondaimandalam. The centers of the Chola Kingdom were at Kanchi Kanchipuram and
  • one of the Pallava rulers during his regime. The place around the water tank was called thaangal in Tamil. As it was built by a Pallava king, the place
  • Pulakeshin II who may have died in battle. A century later, Chalukya Vikramaditya II marched victoriously into Kanchipuram the Pallava capital and occupied it
  • appeared in the dreams of the Azhwar who felt that he is viewing Bhatavatsala in Tirukannapuram. The temple was built during the Pallava period of 9th century
  • at Kanchipuram Their power increased during the reigns of Mahendravarman I 571 630 and Narasimhavarman I 630 668 The Pallavas dominated the southern
  • century. The Pallavas who had so far been merely viceroys, then became independent rulers of Kanchipuram and its surrounding areas. The Pallavas held sway
  • epic Mahabaratha. It was originally built by the Pallavas in the 8th century by king Narasimhavarman I. The temple has icons of five forms of Vishnu: Narasimha
  • 22nd - most in Asia, and the 40th - most in the world. The CMA consists of the central city of Chennai and its suburbs distributed in Kanchipuram Chengpattu and
  • temple from the Pallava era and a notified heritage structure by the Archaeological Survey of India, is located in this suburb. One of the oldest temples
  • invasions of the territory of Tondaimandalam and his subsequent victories over Pallava Nandivarman II and the annexation of Kanchipuram The Pallava dynasty
  • near this small town. The road from Vandalur to Walajabad via Oragadam is known as Padappai road that connects Chennai and Kanchipuram an alternate road

Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period Visually.

Is considered to be the first region in the Tamil country to be Aryanized. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar believes that in the pre Pallava period, this region was the. Kanchipuram wand. The Pallava sea port Mamallapuram is known for its cave temples, rock cut just six km north of Mamallapuram, Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu, India, The original construction made during Sangam period pre Pallava. Statue meaning in tamil Stevens Dining. Kanchipuram was the old capital of the Pallavas and was the city of the 1000 of Pondicherry, from the days of the pre Christian era, down to the present day.

Kanchipuram – BLOG ACADEMY.

Pre Sangam period. Sangam age 700 728 Pallava Rajasimha builds the Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram and many of the shore temples in. WBK Photography Kailasanathan Temple, Kanchipuram Facebook. Cheyyur Dont confuse this with Cheyyar which is near Kanchipuram is The Lords idol belongs to pre pallava period and was found in the nearby pond.

The Majestic Vaikunth Perumal temple: Kanchipuram Part 3.

See more of WBK Photography on Facebook. Log In. Forgot account? or. Create New Account. Not Now. Related Pages. Pre Wedding Shoot. Photographer. Kanchipuram – Art, History & Architecture Part 1 Aparnas blog. According to Thirumoorthy, the shrine is the biggest brick temple complex dating to the pre Pallava period. The temple is built on a cushion of alluvium on. Recent excavation of ancient temple – Mahabalipuram part III. Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period The Kanchipuram district of North Tamil Nadu is considered to be the first region in the Tamil country to be Aryanized. Are Pallavas Telugu kings? Quora. Опубликовано: 18 июн. 2013 г. Unit 2 Art and Architecture of Tamil Nadu Free TNPSC Materials. In vogue prior to a more beatific phase of thirteenth century worship to which it is usually Exploring the presence of Nataraja in the Pallava period temple in Kanchipuram confirms that Narasimhavarman Pallavan II AD 695 728 was a.

Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period pedia.

According to A.J.V. var ezouid 1 The Pre Pallava and the Pallava period, Page Kanchipuram is one of the oldest cities in South India, and was a city of. How to pronounce Kanchipuram HowT. Phrases that contain the word kanchipuram: station Kanchipuram taluk Kanchipuram District Kanchipuram Silk Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period​. Kanchi Series – A Hidden Away Pallava Beauty… – Traveller. Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period. The Kanchipuram district of North Tamil Nadu is considered to be the first region in the Tamil country to be Aryanized.

Pallava dynasty Project Gutenberg Self Publishing eBooks Read.

Seventh century construction by pallava king Rajasimhan. Vaigundaperumal temple in Kanchipuram, was also constructed in the same period. Prior temples were either built of wood or hewn into rock faces in caves or on boulders,​. Sangam period Murugan temple unearthed at Mahabalipuram. Продолжительность: 3:46. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar Unionpedia, the concept map. See more of WBK Photography on Facebook. Log In. Forgot account? or. Create New Account. Not Now. Related Pages. Pre Wedding Shoot. Photographer. Следующая Войти Настройки.

Indian History Part 36: THE PALLAVA DYNASTYSanu Kainikara.

The Pallavas, who reigned from 275 AD to 897 AD, were Telugus. Andhra region and then extended till kanchipuram of present day Tamilnadu. What is the history of Telugu kingdoms and people of India since the pre historic times till the 20th century? Was Telugu born by Kannada, or was it born in the same period?. File:Thanjavur media Commons. Many temples in Kanchi as it is also referred to date back to the Pallava era, but many pre date that too. While the Ekambareswar and.

Review of Kailasanatha Temple, Kanchipuram, India TripAdvisor.

The significance of the Pallava period is that it is the culmination of what had The Pallavas, who ruled prior to the beginning of the 7th century, are known in. Pallavas South India History BrainKart. Click on a date time to view the file as it appeared at that time. Tondaiman Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period Ramnad estate Tamil. Kanchipuram Temple Pallava Period 7th 9th century. Nocturnal Animals, Pre historical Animal Sector, Aviary and Reptilium are some Tirupporur is an ancient temple dating back to the Pallava period and is one of​.

Kadiyalur Uruttirangannanar Mili, The Best pedia Reader.

There is no scholarly consensus about the origin of the Pallavas. Kanchipuram was an important trading centre in the Pallava period. influence of Aryan culture in the south was the pre eminent position given to Brahmins. Subrahmanya Temple, Saluvankuppam World eBook Library. It is in this period that the Pallava style fully attained its individuality. The Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas continued the pre existing tradition of rock cut art. are Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram where the Pallava artists deliberately and. Kanchi Silks South India Jainism Scribd. District of North Tamil Nadu is considered to be the first region in the Tamil country to be Aryanized. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar believes that in the. ELBON Conferences and Events Pvt Ltd. 1 The Pallava era witnesses a transition from rock cut to The best examples of this period are the Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram and the Kanchi assuming or handling much of the pre development phase risks such as.

Tondaimandalam Synonyms of tondaimandalam Antonyms of.

Kanchipuram has been ruled by the Pallavas, the Medieval Cholas, the Later Cholas, the Later Pandyas, the See also: Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period. The Great Relief at Mamallapuram article Khan Academy. The magnificent ancient Vishnu temple from the rich Pallava heritage is a sight to behold. and the requirement of a ritual bath before the darshan of the Lord. Alwar and the copper plate inscriptions of the Pallava era.

Historical analysis of the Art and Architectural Edifices of Tamil Nadu.

Kanchipuram sometimes simply called Kanchi or Kanci is an ancient city The city was at one time the capital of the Pallavas 4th to 9th centuries CE. reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. Pallava Period High Resolution Stock Photography and Images. This enigmatic artwork was created during the Pallava Dynasty 3rd 9th centuries​, C.E. the nearby capital at Kanchipuram while utilizing Mamallapuram as a port city Pallava rule peaked in the seventh and eighth centuries C.E. During this time, Math: Pre K 8th grade Math: Get ready courses Math: high school &. Remains of Subramanya Temple of Sangam period excavated at. Pandyan, Jeeva Samadhi, Tamil Buddhism, Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period, Henry Alfred Krishnapillai. Velirs, Vedanayagam Sastriar, Tamil history from. Pallava Dynasty History Dynasties of Ancient India YouTube. Karnata Drāvi∂a, before the thirteenth or fourteenth century disappearance of the afterward at the nearby Pallava capital at Kanchipuram, the Kailāsanātha These temples are more representative of the period than Chidambaram alone. South Indian Kingdoms Pallavas, Chalukyas & Rashtrakutas, Cholas. Mahabalipuram is a treasure trove of Pallava era 7 8th century CE evidence of construction dating back to a period before the Pallavas.

Books LLC ASQ Orange Empire.

, this region was the southernmost outpost of Sanskrit culture. Pallava Dynasty Map, Pallava Empire Maps of India. Where does kanchipuram jump into this as we are talking about pre pallava period and that time shows that kanchi was not even biggest city of. Vedic Roots of Early Tamil Culture CiteSeerX. See also: Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period. precinct of a temple with sculptures on either side. Sculptures inside Kanchipuram Kailasanathar Temple – the. Review of Research Journal:International Monthly Scholarly. Tamil Capital of Pallavas Kanchi Name the popular learning centre in Kanchi. inscription contains a note on the notation of vocal music of Pallava period?. PALLAVAS UPSC STUDYMATERIALS. During the reign of the Pallava dynasty, between the 3rd century CE and 7th and other artefacts excavated from this region also indicate a pre existing trade of the common era may be Mahabalipuram or Kanchipuram.

Phrases with kanchipuram RhymeZone.

Though today it is only a destination for pilgrims, and a repository of major architectural monuments, in antiquity it occupied a more pre eminent place in the history. Destination Tamil Nadu: Places to see Mamallapuram Indtravel. Chola Nadu was a region of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. It encompasses Kanchipuram in the pre Pallava period. The Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram pedia, the free encyclopedia. Theories of the Origin of the Pallavas: Pre Pallava History of Kanchipura. form Pahlava? in connection with the Pallavas of Kanchi in any record of their time. SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 NOVEMBER 2018 INSIGHTSIAS. The temple is Tamil Nadus oldest shrine to Murugan. It is also believed to be one of only two pre Pallava temples to be discovered in the state, the other being the​.


Pallavas Dynasty | List of Pallavas Rulers of Kanchipuram and their contributions

The Pallava Dynasty was one of the South Indian ruling dynasties which gained prominence after the eclipse of the Satavahanas dynasty, whom the Pallavas served as feudatories. They were patronage of architecture, the finest example being the Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mahabalipuram. They developed the Pallava script from which Grantha ultimately descended that gave rise to several other Southeast Asian scripts. Here we are giving the list of Pallavas Rulers of Kanchipuram and their contributions for general awareness.

List of Pallavas Rulers of Kanchipuram and their contributions

Name of Pallavas Rulers of Kanchipuram

Contribution (s)

2. He was the first Pallava monarch who extended his authority beyond Kanchipuram (Kanchi) in the South.

3. A drama written by his son Mahendravarman I in which he was portrayed as a great conqueror in Mattavilasa Prahasana (drunken revelry).

1. He was the son of Simhavishnu, who defeated the Kalabhras and re-established the Pallava kingdom.

2. Tamil literature flourished under his rule, with the rise in popularity of Tevaram written by Appar and Sambandhar.

3. He was the author of the play Mattavilasa Prahasana and another play called Bhagavadajjuka.

4. He built five-celled cave temple at Pallavaram, the Kokarneswarar Temple, and Thirukokarnam of Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu.

5. He was initially a patron of the Jain faith but under the influence of the Saiva saint Appar patronised the Saiva faith.

1. He was also known as Mamallan (great wrestler), and Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) was named after him.

2. He shared his father Mahendravarman I's love of art and completed the work started by Mahendravarman in Mamallapuram.

3. During his reign, the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang visited Kanchipuram in 640 AD.

1. He was the son of Narasimhavarman I who ruled from 630-668 AD.

2. He was succeeded by his son Paramesvaravarman I.

1. He was an efficient and capable ruler, known for his military exploits, his love for poetry and his devotion to Siva, to whom he erected many temples.

2. He was succeeded by his son Narasimhavarman II also called Rajasimha in 695 AD.

1. He was one of the greatest rulers of Pallavas like Mahendravarman I and Narasimhavarman I.

2. He constructed the Shore Temple, Isvara and Mukunda Temples in Mahabalipuram, the Panamalai Temple in South Arcot, plus the Kailasanathar Temple and Vaikuntha-Perumal Temples in Kanchipuram.

3. He was a great devotee of Shiva and constructed the Kailasanathar Temple at Kanchipuram.

1. He ruled from 728 to 731.

2. He was killed by the Chalukya king Vikramaditya II.

3. He was the last ruler of the Simhavishnu line of Pallavas.

1. He was Pallava ruler but not come from Simhavishnu family lineage.

2. He ruled from 720 – 796 AD.

3. He built the Vaikuntha-Perumal Temple.

4. He was an intellectual with aptitude in many arts like writing, poetry, music and philosophy.

5. He is credited with augmenting temple dramatized dance worship like Kutiyattam and chakyar koothu with many plays of his own.

1. He was the son of Nandivarman II.

1. He was the son of Dantivarman and grandson of Nandivarman II.

2. He was a powerful monarch who tried to reverse the decline that began in the reign of his father.

3. He had a powerful navy and maintained trade contacts with Siam and Malaya.

1. He was the last ruler of Pallavas Dynasty.

2. The last known use of stylistic tradition of was commissioned by him.

3. He was killed by Aditya I (Chola Ruler) in 897 AD at the battle field.

The Pallavas were the contemporaries of Chalukyas. The Sangam literature i.e Manimekalai that attributes the origin of the first Pallava King from a liaison between the daughters of a Naga king of Manipallava named Pilli Valai (Pilivalai) with a Chola king. In the above the list of Pallavas Rulers of Kanchipuram and their contributions will enhance the general knowledge of the readers.


Kailasanathar Temple – Oldest Of Shiva Temple In Kanchipuram

Kailasanathar Temple in Kanchipuram was the third big temple I visited after the Kanchi Kamakshi Temple and Ekambareswar Temple. Both the earlier temples were so full of Shakti or the devotional energy that I was still wrapped in that when my auto stopped in front of Kailasnathar temple. An array of bronze Murtis were stacked on a pushcart in front of the temple welcomed me.

Now, this is a temple that scholars love. They have written a lot on this temple, interpreting every sculpture on its walls. They have built so much aura around it that I was all excited to visit this temple. However, I found it a rather small and stand-alone temple compared to the other temples. I was the only visitor on a September Morning at the temple. I had it all to myself.

It is breathtakingly beautiful and stunning, to say the least. The clear blue skies added their own brilliance to the sculpted walls.

Meditation Caves or Shrines

I had read about and even seen images of the meditation caves at Kailasnathar Temple in Kanchipuram. However, I did not expect a row of 8 of them in front of the temple, almost like a screen standing to shield the temple. In fact, these 8 caves in front of the main temple are 8 shrines with a Shivalinga installed in them.

The main door through the Gopuram asymmetrically stands between these cave shrines, 2 on one side and six on other. The architecture is unique, no wonder students of architecture and art history find it intriguing. The round pillars with bottom carved in the shape of mythical animal lions are the signature stamp of Pallava dynasty.

All around the temple wall called the Prakara, that goes around the temple, there are small meditation caves. Or, are they really the smaller shrines surrounding the main shrine? They are just big enough to allow just one person to sit. There is no space to move or look around. The walls facing the meditation caves are sculpted and painted with mostly Shiva-Parvati sculptures with occasional Ganesha sculpture. Sculptures have managed to stay in some shape. Paintings can be only imagined from what remains in a few of them.

There are 50 of them surrounding the main temple. One can only wonder what was their purpose, and how did the temple look when they all were worshipped.

Main Temple

I entered the temple after passing the initial 8 shrines. I found myself standing in front of a wooden blue door with two giant Shiva sculptures on either side. They stand out for their size as well as their white color. They are facing each other but looking the other way. At their feet are again the Pallava lions that you see everywhere in Kanchipuram. The temple Shikhara was still not visible.

One naturally walks towards the left, as if ready to do the parikrama or circumambulation. I walked with a series of meditation caves on my left, each raising my curiosity. After a few steps, the main temple and its lovely Shikhara made an appearance. My eyes and my senses struggled between the two sides of the corridors. On one side was this unique piece of architecture, the smallest possible stone caves, on the other another lovely example of the Pallava architecture. Sculptures on every visible part of the walls are enchanting and captivating.

Pillared Mandapa

A pillared mandapa stands in front of the main temple. It is closed as of now. This was the independent mandapa of the temple that was later joined with the main temple by building an Ardh-Mandapa between them. When you stand there, you can sense some disproportionality. I tried to visualize how the temple would have looked without those plain walls connecting the mandapa and the sanctum. The answer is a lot more balanced and proportionate.

Little ahead, there is a side entrance to the temple. A lone priest manages the temple. Compared to the army of priests that I had seen at Ekambareshwar Temple who were busy running around, he seemed to be waiting for devotees. Having said that it does not mean he was polite or has any less airs about his priest status.

Sanctum

Inside the sanctum, the temple is rather simpler. There is a 16-faced Shivalinga in black granite. Behind the Shivalinga is an image of Somaskanda that is Shiva, Uma with Skanda or Kartik. This is something I have seen only in the temples of Kanchipuram.

A very narrow parikrama path goes around the sanctum. It is so narrow that I did not dare to go around, feeling claustrophobic. I wonder what was the reason to build such a narrow circum-ambulatory path. In fact, it is not even a straight path, you need to climb a flight of stairs and then crawl down on the other side to do the parikrama and repeat the same at the exit. I was not comfortable for some reason so skipped it. The priest did suggest I do it anti-clockwise, which was a bit simpler, but the Hindu in me disagreed this time.

Later I read that it has a philosophical meaning like going through a re-birth. I am not sure. It sounds more like a strategic escape route that most kings would build for themselves.

Pyramidal Shikhara

This temple has a pyramidal Shikhara, with sculpted figures on each later. It looks like the stone plates are delicately balanced on each other while holding the stories they must tell. On the top is a spherical dome-like finish, almost like a cherry on the cake. The Nandis sit in all four directions on the layer just below the top.

No matter where you stand, you can not miss the series of lion base pillars. If you stand in the corner facing the temple, it would feel you are in the sanctuary of lions.

You can see every conceivable form of Shiva on the walls. There is one shrine behind the main temple’s back wall that is dedicated to Kartikeyan. Here you can see his Vigraha in black stone. There is a lovely Durga sculpture and Saptamatrikas.

The Kailasanathar Temple Complex

This temple is a stand-alone single temple with no other temple in its complex. As you know, in Kanchipuram Shiva Temples do not have the Devi temple inside them, as is the norm in Shiva temples across India. In Kanchipuram, Devi lives in her own abode only.

I saw a few Nandi figures behind the back wall of the temple facing the meditation caves. I assume they are for the Shiva Vigrahas in the caves.

Nandi Mandap

The main Nandi Mandap is about 100 meters away across the sprawling lawns from the temple. The Nandi is mid-sized and facing the sanctum, although there are distance and multiple layers of stone that separate the Linga and the Nandi. Four independent pillars stand on the mandap, but it all looks patched up. I wonder if the Nandi Mandap was always located so far or it has been moved away during some conservation effort.

When you walk in the lawns away from the temple, that is when you see the lions coming out of the outer wall at the regular intervals. I wonder if they were also free-standing pillars once and got plastered together later on. The Shikharas of smaller shrines or meditation caves is visible from the outside like a miniature version of the bigger one. Nandis sit in between them on the wall, as they do in every Shiva temple in Kanchipuram.

A tank is located diagonally across the temple at the other end of the lawns.

History and Architecture of Kailasnathar Temple, Kanchipuram

The temple in stone dates back to late 7th CE and is attributed to Pallava king Narsimhavarman II. The façade that seems to be built later was added by his son Mahendravarman II. It is believed that Rajaraja Chola who built the mighty Brihdeeswara temple in Thanjavur, was inspired by this temple.

The base of the temple is made in hard granite stone while most of the superstructure is in softer sandstone. The main shrine is almost rectangular as is its pyramidical shikhara. The meditation caves or the shrines surrounding the temple are a unique feature of this temple that I am yet to see elsewhere. They do remind me of the meditation caves at 84 Kutiya in Rishikesh.

It is probably a royal temple, built by the royal family, probably for their private Sadhna. It is now under ASI and they maintain this temple. The absence of devotees makes it like a relic of the past even though it is pretty much a practicing and living temple. I am told it is full of people on Shivratri as most Shiva Temples are.

What makes this important is the fact that this may be the first standalone stone temple in the region. Temples earlier to this were built by carving out the rocks in situ or what we know as cave temples. Many of these can be seen at Mahabalipuram nearby.


Pallava art and architecture

Pallava art and architecture represent an early stage of Dravidian art and architecture which blossomed to its fullest extent under the Chola Dynasty. The first stone and mortar temples of South India were constructed during Pallava rule and were based on earlier brick and timber prototypes. [1] [2] [3]

Starting with rock cut temples, built between 695AD and 722AD, and archaeological excavations dated to the 6th century and earlier. [4] [5] Pallava sculptors later graduated to free-standing structural shrines which inspired Chola dynasty's temples of a later age. Some of the best examples of Pallava art and architecture are the Kailasanathar Temple at Kanchipuram, the Shore Temple and the Pancha Rathas of Mahabalipuram. Akshara was the greatest sculptor of their time. [6] [7] [8]

Pallava architecture was sub-divided into two phases: the rock cut phase and the structural phase. The rock cut phase lasted from the 610 AD to 668 AD and consisted of two groups of monuments, the Mahendra group and the Mamalla group. The Mahendra group is the name given to monuments constructed during the reign of Mahendravarman I (610 AD- 630 AD). The monuments of this group are invariably pillared halls hewn out of mountain faces. These pillared halls or mandapas follow the prototype of Jain temples of the period. The best examples of Mahendra group of monuments are the cave temples at Mandagapattu, Pallavaram and Mamandur.

The second group of rock cut monuments belong to the Mamalla group in 630 to 668 AD. During this period free-standing monolithic shrines called rathas (chariots) were constructed alongside pillared halls. Some of the best examples of this style are the Pancha Rathas and Arjuna's Penance at Mahabalipuram.

The second phase of Pallava architecture is the structural phase when free-standing shrines were constructed with stone and mortar brought in for the purpose. Monuments of this phase are of two groups - the Rajasimha group (690 to 800 AD) and the Nandivarman group (800 to 900 AD). [9] The Rajasimha group encompasses the early structural temples of the Pallavas when a lot of experimentation was carried out. The best examples of this period are the Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram and the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple at Kanchipuram both constructed by Narasimhavarman II who was known as Rajasimha. The best example of the Nandivarman group of monuments is the Vaikunta Perumal Temple at Kanchipuram. During this period, Pallava architecture attained full maturity and provided the models upon which the massive Brihadeeswarar Temple of the Cholas at Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram and various other architectural works of note were constructed.


Pallavas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas

After the decline of the Sangam Age in the Tamil country, the Kalabhra rule lasted for about 250 years. Thereafter, the Pallavas established their kingdom in Tondaimandalam with its capital at Kanchipuram. Their rule continued till Tondaimandalam was captured and annexed by the Imperial Cholas in the beginning of the tenth century A.D.

Pallavas

There are different views on the origin of the Pallavas. They were equated with the Parthians, the foreigners who ruled western India. Another view was that the Pallavas were a branch of the Brahmin royal dynasty of the Vakatakas of the Deccan. The third view relates the Pallavas with the descendents of the Chola prince and a Naga princess whose native was the island of Manipallavam. But these theories on the origin of the Pallavas were not supported by adequate evidence. Therefore, the view that the Pallavas were the natives of Tondaimandalam itself was widely accepted by scholars. They are also identical with the Pulindas mentioned in the inscriptions of Asoka. When Tondaimandalam was conquered by the Satavahanas, the Pallavas became their feudatories. After the fall of the Satavahanas in the third century A.D., they became independent. The Pallavas issued their earlier inscriptions in Prakrit and Sanskrit because of their Satavahana connections, and also patronized Brahmanism.

Political History

The early Pallava rulers from 250 A.D. to 350 A.D. issued their charters in Prakrit. Important among them were Sivaskandavarman and Vijayaskandavarman. The second line of Pallava rulers who ruled between 350 A.D. and 550 A.D. issued their charters in Sanskrit. The most important ruler of this line was Vishnugopa who was defeated by Samudragupta during his South Indian expedition. The rulers of the third line who ruled from 575 A.D. to their ultimate fall in the ninth century issued their charters both in Sanskrit and Tamil. Simhavishnu was the first ruler of this line. He destroyed the Kalabhras and firmly established the Pallava rule in Tondaimandalam. He also defeated the Cholas and extended the Pallava territory up to the river Kaveri. Other great Pallava rulers of this line were Mahendravarman I, Narasimhavarman I, and Narasimhavarman II.

Mahendravarman I (600 – 630 A.D.)

The long-drawn Pallava – Chalukya Conflict began during his period. Pulakesin II marched against the Pallavas and captured the northern part of their kingdom. Although a Pallava inscription refers to the victory of Mahendravarman I at Pullalur, he was not able to recover the lost territory.

Mahendravarman I was a follower of Jainism in the early part of his career. He was converted to Shaivism by the influence of the Saiva saint, Thirunavukkarasar alias Appar. He built a Shiva temple at Tiruvadi. He assumed a number of titles like Gunabhara, Satyasandha, Chattakari (builder of temples) Chitrakarapuli, Vichitrachitta and Mattavilasa. He was a great builder of cave temples. The Mandagappattu inscription hails him as Vichitrachitta who constructed a temple for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva without the use of bricks, timber, metal and mortar. His rock-cut temples are found in a number of places like Vallam, Mahendravadi, Dalavanur, Pallavaram, Mandagapattu and Tiruchirappalli. He had also authored the Sanskrit work Mattavilasa Prahasanam. His title Chitrakarapuli reveals his talents in painting. He is also regarded as an expert in music. The music inscription at Kudumianmalai is ascribed to him.

Narasimhavarman I (630-668 A.D.)

Narasimhavarman I was also known as Mamalla, which means ‘great wrestler’. He wanted to avenge the defeat of his father at the hands of Chalukya ruler Pulakesin II. His victory over Pulakesin II in the Battle of Manimangalam near Kanchi is mentioned in Kuram copper plates. The Pallava army under General Paranjothi pursued the retreating Chalukya army, entered Chalukya territory, captured and destroyed the capital city of Vatapi. Narasimhavarman I assumed the title ‘Vatapikonda’. He regained the lost territory. Another notable achievement of Narasimhavarman I was his naval expedition to Sri Lanka. He restored the throne to his friend and Sri Lankan prince Rama Varma. During his reign, Hiuen Tsang visited the Pallava capital Kanchipuram. His description of Kanchi is vivid. He calls it a big and beautiful city, six miles in circumference. It had 100 Buddhist monasteries in which about 10,000 Buddhist monks lived. According to his account the people of Kanchi esteemed great learning and the Ghatika at Kanchi served as a great centre of learning. Narasimhavarman I was the founder of Mamallapuram and the monolithic rathas were erected during his reign.

Narasimhavarman II or Rajasimha (695 -722 A.D.)

Narasimhavarman I was succeeded by Mahendravarman II and Parameswara Varman I and the Pallava – Chalukya conflict continued during their reign. Thereafter, Narasimhavarman II became the ruler of the Pallava kingdom. He was also known as Rajasimha. His regime was peaceful and he evinced more interest in developing the art and architecture. The Shore temple at Mamallapuram and the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram were built in this period. He was also a great patron of art and letters. The famous Sanskrit scholar Dandin is said to have adorned his court. He sent embassies to China and the maritime trade flourished during his reign. Rajasimha assumed titles like Shankara Bhakta, Vadhyavidyadhara and Agamapriya. He was succeeded by Parameswaravarman II and Nandivarman II. The Pallava rule lasted till the end of the ninth century A.D. The Chola king Aditya I defeated the last Pallava ruler Aparajita and seized the Kanchi region. With this, the rule of the Pallava dynasty came to an end.

Administration of the Pallavas

The Pallavas had a well-organized administrative system. The Pallava state was divided into Kottams. The Kottam was administered by officers appointed by the king. The king was at the centre of administration in which he was assisted by able ministers. He was the fountain of justice. He maintained a well-trained army. He provided land-grants to the temples known as Devadhana and also to the Brahmans known as Brahmadeya. It was also the responsibility of the central government to provide irrigation facilities to the lands. A number of irrigation tanks were dug by the Pallava kings. The irrigation tanks at Mahendravadi and Mamandoor were dug during the reign of Mahendravarman I. Detailed information on the tax system could also be traced from the Pallava inscriptions. Land tax was the primary source of the government revenue. The Brahmadeya and Devadhana lands were exempted from tax. Traders and artisans such as carpenters, goldsmiths, washer-men, oil-pressers and weavers paid taxes to the government. The Pallava inscriptions throw much light on the village assemblies called sabhas and their committees. They maintained records of all village lands, looked after local affairs and managed temples.

Society under the Pallavas

The Tamil society witnessed a great change during the Pallava period. The caste system became rigid. The Brahmins occupied a high place in the society. They were given land-grants by the kings and nobles. They were also given the responsibility of looking after the temples. The Pallava period also witnessed the rise of Saivism and Vaishnavism and also the decline of Buddhism and Jainism. The Saiva Nayanmars and the Vaishnava Alwars contributed to the growth of Saivism and Vaishnavism. This is known as the Bhakti Movement. They composed their hymns in the Tamil language. These hymns revealed the importance of devotion or Bakthi. The construction of temples by the Pallava kings paved the way for the spread of these two religions.

Education and Literature

The Pallavas were great patrons of learning. Their capital Kanchi was an ancient centre of learning. The Ghatika at Kanchi was popular and it attracted students from all parts of India and abroad. The founder of the Kadamba dynasty, Mayurasarman studied Vedas at Kanchi. Dinganaga, a Buddhist writer, came to study at Kanchi. Dharmapala, who later became the Head of the Nalanda University, belonged to Kanchi. Bharavi, the great Sanskrit scholar lived in the time of Simhavishnu. Dandin, another Sanskrit writer, adorned the court of Narasimhavarman II. Mahendravaraman I composed the Sanskrit play Mattavilasa Prahasana. Tamil literature had also developed. The Nayanmars and Alwars composed religious hymns in Tamil. The Devaram composed by Nayanmars and the Nalayradivyaprabandam composed by Alwars represent the religious literature of the Pallava period. Perundevanar was patronized by Nandivarman II and he translated the Mahabharata as Bharathavenba in Tamil. Nandikkalambagam was another important work but the name of the author of this work is not known. Music and dance also developed during this period.

Pallava Art and Architecture

It was a great age of temple building. The Pallavas introduced the art of excavating temples from the rock. In fact, the Dravidian style of temple architecture began with the Pallava rule. It was a gradual evolution starting from the cave temples to monolithic rathas and culminated in structural temples. The development of temple architecture under the Pallavas can be seen in four stages.

Mahendravarman I introduced the rock-cut temples. This style of Pallava temples are seen at places like Mandagappattu, Mahendravadi, Mamandur, Dalavanur, Tiruchirappalli, Vallam, Siyamangalam and Tirukalukkunram.

The second stage of Pallava architecture is represented by the monolithic rathas and Mandapas found at Mamallapuram. Narasimhavarman I took the credit for these wonderful architectural monuments. The five rathas, popularly called as the Panchapanadava rathas, signifies five different styles of temple architecture. The mandapas contain beautiful sculptures on its walls. The most popular of these mandapas are Mahishasuramardhini Mandapa, Tirumurthi Mandapam and Varaha Madapam.

In the next stage, Rajasimha introduced the structural temples. These temples were built by using the soft sand rocks. The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi and the Shore temple at Mamallapuram remain the finest examples of the early structural temples of the Pallavas. The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi is the greatest architectural masterpiece of the Pallava art. The last stage of the Pallava art is also represented by structural temples built by the later Pallavas. The Vaikundaperumal temple, Muktheeswara temple and Matagenswara temples at Kanchipuram belong to this stage of architecture. The Pallavas had also contributed to the development of sculpture. Apart from the sculptures found in the temples, the ‘Open Art Gallery’ at Mamallapuram remains an important monument bearing the sculptural beauty of this period. The Descent of the Ganges or the Penance of Arjuna is called a fresco painting in stone. The minute details as well as the theme of these sculptures such as the figures of lice-picking monkey, elephants of huge size and the figure of the ‘ascetic cat’ standing erect remain the proof for the talent of the sculptor.

Fine Arts

Music, dance and painting had also developed under the patronage of the Pallavas. The Mamandur inscription contains a note on the notation of vocal music. The Kudumianmalai inscription referred to musical notes and instruments. The Alwars and Nayanmars composed their hymns in various musical notes. Dance and drama also developed during this period. The sculptures of this period depict many dancing postures. The Sittannavasal paintings belonged to this period. The commentary called Dakshinachitra was compiled during the reign of Mahendravarman I, who had the title Chittirakkarapuli. Besides the Pallavas, the Western Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas in the Deccan constitute important political forces. Both these kingdoms had their rivals in the far south, namely the Pallavas and later the Cholas. Their period has also been important in the history of India for their cultural contributions.

Chalukyas (543 – 755 A.D.)

The Western Chalukyas ruled over an extensive area in the Deccan for about two centuries after which the Rashtrakutas become powerful. The family of Western Chalukyas had its offshoots like the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi and the Chalukyas of Kalyani. Pulakesin I was the founder of the Chalukya dynasty. He established a small kingdom with Vatapi or Badami as its capital.

Pulakesin II (608-642 A.D.)

The most important ruler of this dynasty was Pulakesin II. The Aihole inscription issued by him gives the details of his reign. He fought with the Kadambas of Banavasi and the Gangas of Mysore and established his suzerainty. Durvinita, the Ganga ruler accepted his overlordship and even gave his daughter in marriage to Pulakesin II. Another notable achievement of Pulakesin II was the defeat of Harshavardhana on the banks of the river Narmada. He put a check to the ambition of Harsha to conquer the south. In his first expedition against the Pallavas, Pulakesin II emerged victorious. But he suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Narasimhavarman I near Kanchi. Subsequently, the Chalukya capital Vatapi was captured and destroyed by the Pallavas. The most important event in the reign of Pulakesin II was the visit of Hiuen Tsang to his kingdom. The successor of Pulakesin II was Vikramaditya. He once again consolidated the Chalukya kingdom and plundered the Pallava capital, Kanchi. Thus, he had avenged his father’s defeat and death at the hands of the Pallavas. Kirtivarman II was the last of the rulers of the Chalukyas. He was defeated by Dantidurga, the founder of the Rashtrakutas dynasty. Administration and Social Life under the Chalukyas The Chalukya administration was highly centralized unlike that of the Pallavas and the Cholas. Village autonomy was absent under the Chalukyas. The Chalukyas had a great maritime power. Pulakesin II had 100 ships in his navy. They also had a small standing army. The Badami Chalukyas were Brahmanical Hindus but they gave respect to other religions. Importance was given to Vedic rites and rituals. The founder of the dynasty Pulakesin I performed the asvamedha sacrifice. A number of temples in honour of Vishnu, Siva and other gods were also built during this period. Hiuen Tsang mentioned the decline of Buddhism in western Deccan. But Jainism was steadily on the path of progress in this region. Ravikirti, the court poet of Pulakesin II who composed the Aihole inscription was a Jain.

Art and Architecture

The Chalukyas were great patrons of art. They developed the vesara style in the building of structural temples. However, the vesara style reached its culmination only under the Rashtrakutas and the Hoysalas. The structural temples of the Chalukyas exist at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal. Cave temple architecture was also famous under the Chalukyas. Their cave temples are found in Ajanta, Ellora and Nasik. The best specimens of Chalukya paintings can be seen in the Badami cave temple and in the Ajanta caves. The reception given to a Persian embassy by Pulakesin II is depicted in a painting at Ajantha. The Chalukya temples may be divided into two stages. The first stage is represented by the temples at Aihole and Badami. Among the seventy temples found at Aihole, four are important.

  1. Ladh Khan temple is a low, flat-roofed structure consisting of a pillared hall.
  2. Durga temple resembles a Buddha Chaitya.
  3. Huchimalligudi temple.
  4. The Jain temple at Meguti.

Among the temples at Badami, the Muktheeswara temple and the Melagutti Sivalaya are notable for their architectural beauty. A group of four rock-cut temples at Badami are marked by high workmanship. The walls and pillared halls are adorned by beautiful images of gods and human beings.

The second stage is represented by the temples at Pattadakal. There are ten temples here, four in the northern style and the remaining six in the Dravidian style. The Papanatha temple is the most notable in the northern style. The Sangamesvara temple and the Virupaksha temple are famous for their Dravidian style. The Virupaksha temple is built on the model of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. It was built by one of the queens of Vikramaditya II. Sculptors brought from Kanchi were employed in its construction.

Rashtrakutas (755 – 975 A.D.)

The Rashtrakutas were of Kannada origin and Kannada language was their mother tongue. Dantidurga was the founder of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. He defeated the Gurjaras and captured Malwa from them. Then he annexed the Chalukya kingdom by defeating Kirtivarman II. Thus, the Rashtrakutas become a paramount power in the Deccan. His successor Krishna I was also a great conqueror. He defeated the Ganges and the eastern Chalukyas of Vengi. He built the magnificent rock-cut monolithic Kailasa temple at Ellora. The next important king of this dynasty was Govinda III. He achieved victories over north Indian kingdoms.

His successor Amoghavarsha I (815- 880 A.D.) ruled for a long period of 64 years. He had lost control over Malwa and Gangavadi. Yet, his reign was popular for cultural development. He was a follower of Jainism. Jinasena was his chief preceptor. He was also a patron of letters and he himself wrote the famous Kannada work, Kavirajamarga. He had also built the Rashtrakuta capital, the city of Malkhed or Manyakheda.

Among the successors of Amoghavarsha I, Krishna III (936- 968 A.D.) was famous for his expeditions. He marched against the Cholas and defeated them at Takkolam. He marched further south and captured Tanjore. He went as far as Rameswaram and occupied it for some time. He built several temples in the conquered territories including the Krishneswara temple at Rameswaram. Throughout his reign he possessed the Tondaimandalam region including the capital Kanchi. After his death, the power of the Rashtrakutas declined.

Administration

The Rashtrakuta Empire was divided into several provinces called rashtras under the control of rashtrapati. They were further divided into vishayas or districts governed by vishayapatis. The next subdivision was bhukti consisting of 50 to 70 villages under the control of bhogapathi. These officers were directly appointed by the central government. The village administration was carried on by the village headmen. However, the village assemblies played a significant role in the village administration.

Society and Economy

The Hindu sects of Vaishnavism and Shaivism flourished during the period of Rashtrakutas. Yet, they did not affect the progress of Jainism under the patronage of Rashtrakuta kings and officers. Almost one third of the population of the Deccan were Jains. There were some prosperous Buddhist settlements at places like Kanheri, Sholapur and Dharwar. There was harmony among various religions. There was a college at Saratoga, situated in modern Bijapur district. An inscription gives details of this educational centre. It was run by the income from the endowments made by the rich as well as by all the villagers on occasions of functions and festivals. The economy was also in a flourishing condition. There was an active commerce between the Deccan and the Arabs. The Rashtrakuta kings promoted the Arab trade by maintaining friendship with them.

Cultural Contributions

The Rashtrakutas widely patronized the Sanskrit literature. There were many scholars in the Rashtrakuta court. Trivikrama wrote Nalachampu and the Kavirahasya was composed by Halayudha during the reign of Krishna III. The Jain literature flourished under the patronage of the Rashtrakutas. Amoghavarsha I, who was a Jain patronized many Jain scholars. His teacher Jinasena composed Parsvabhudaya, a biography of Parsva in verses.

Another scholar unabhadra wrote he Adipurana, the life stories of various Jain saints. Sakatayana wrote the grammer work called Amogavritti. The great mathematician of this period, Viracharya was the author of Ganitasaram. The Kannada literature saw its beginning during the period of the Rashtrakutas. Amoghavarsha Kavirajamarga was the first poetic work in Kannada language. Pampa was the greatest of the Kannada poets. His famous work was Vikramasenavijaya. Ponna was another famous Kannada poet and he wrote Santipurana.

Art and Architecture

The art and architecture of the Rashtrakutas were found at Ellora and Elephanta. At Ellora, the most remarkable temple is the Kailasa temple. It was excavated during the reign of Krishna I. It is carved out of a massive block of rock 200 feet long, and 100 feet in breadth and height. The temple consists of four parts – the main shrine, the entrance gateway, an intermediate shrine for Nandi and mandapa surrounding the courtyard.

The temple stands on a lofty plinth 25 feet high. The central face of the plinth has imposing figures of elephants and lions giving the impression that the entire structure rests on their back. It has a three-tiered sikhara or tower resembling the sikhara of the Mamallapuram rathas. In the interior of the temple there is a pillared hall which has sixteen square pillars.

The Kailasa temple is an architectural marvel with its beautiful sculptures. The sculpture of the Goddess Durga is shown as slaying the Buffalo demon. In another sculpture Ravana was making attempts to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva. The scenes of Ramayana were also depicted on the walls. The general characteristics of the Kailasa temple are more Dravidian. Elephanta is an island near Bombay. It was originally called Sripuri. The Portuguese after seeing the large figure of an elephant named it Elephanta. The sculptural art of the Rashtrakutas reached its zenith in this place. There is a close similarity between the sculptures at Ellora and those in Elephanta. They might have been carved by the same craftsmen. At the entrance to the sanctum there are huge figures of dwara-palakas.

In the walls of the prakara around the sanctum there are niches containing the images of Shiva in various forms – Nataraja, Gangadhara, Ardhanareeswara and Somaskanda. The most imposing figure of this temple is Trimurthi. The sculpture is six metre high. It is said to represent the three aspects of Shiva as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.


Pallava Dynasty Administration

Kingship was hereditary and, on some occasions, the king was being elected. Since Pallavas had a vast empire ranging from Nellore in the North to South Pennar River in the south a planned administration was required. Most of the kings were scholars and had good knowledge about the administration. Mostly the rulers of Pallavas followed the Mauryan system of administration.

The council of ministers consisted of officials variously called Matras, Mantris, etc. The king, however, was the supreme judicial authority. There were many servants in the king’s palace who held office hereditarily. The goldsmith and the minor poets in the court held such offices. The army consisted of the land army as well as the navy and the mode of fighting did not seriously differ from that of the earlier period. Salt manufacture was a monopoly of the state. Toddy tappers, the cattle breeders, the priestly community, the potters, the goldsmiths, textile dealers, weavers, oil mongers, brokers, dealers in milk products, armament makers, owners of public places, etc., were all taxed independently.

Hieun Tsang visited the Pallava Kingdom also. He says that the people were honest and followed Hinduism and Buddhism. They were also Jains. Mahendra Varman himself was a Jain before he started worshipping Lord Shiva. Thereafter, All the Pallavas kings worshipped either Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and believed in Hinduism. But, they practiced tolerance towards other religions. The Pallava capital, Kanchi was a city of temples and Vedic learning. The Pallavas proved to be pretty generous rulers. Numerous villages were granted free of taxes to the Brahmanas by them. The Pallavas also found their colonies in Sumatra, which is present-day Indonesia, in the initial centuries of the Christian era.

Want to know more about the glorious past and Royal rule of the Pallavas. The Pallavas portrays every inch of the empire beautifully and unveils many facts and mysteries which were veiled for a long time. The Pallavas by G. Jouveau Dubreuil is really a beautiful depiction of The Royal history of The Pallavas.


Pallava Sculpture and Architecture

Pallavas sculpture have a lot of passion and we can see slender skills of the artists in the carving of the sculptures. Pallava dynasty was a famous dynasty in South India. The Pallava kings played a patron role to flourish art and architecture in their kingdom. The present Pallava art and sculptures are dated back to the 610 AD to 690 AD. Probably the rock cut caves also came into existence during the period of Pallavas. The kings of Pallavas encouraged the artists to construct the temples and replaced the old temples with innovative rock sculptures and architecture.

Pallavas and Their Style of Sculptures:

During the rule of Pallavas, the artists improved their skills of excavating temples from the rocks. There were special institutions to teach the techniques of carving the architecture. They brought the Dravidian style of art and introduced in the temple construction. The development of temple and architecture changed from one king to another. They brought the cave based constructing temples to structural temples. The Pallavas constructed many monuments around the temples. According to the Historians, the temple construction styles changed in four stages.

The great Mahendravarma I encouraged the rock cut temples, we can see them at Mahendravadi, Mamandur, Dalavanm, Vallan and some other places in Tamilnadu. We can see the second stage of Pallava style of temples at Mamallapuram. Here the temple’s architecture constructed by Monolithic rathas and Mandapas. Narasimhavarman constructed the temples with magnificent architectural monuments. The mandapas in the temples had the decorations with stunning sculptures, which were narrating the stories of Hindu epics.

Rock Cut Temples to Structural Temples:

Kanchipuram temples Muktheeswara, Matagenswara, and Vaikundaperumal temples belonged to the style of Pallava architecture. At the beginning of the Pallava dynasty the rock architecture in peak stage. The Pallavas encouraged structural temples. The Pallava king Mahendravarman I involved in the evolution of rock cut structural temples like Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram. During the 6th and 9th century most of the temples in Tamilnadu constructed in the style of Pallava architecture.


Unique Architecture of Vaikuntha Perumal Temple

There are few architectural and design elements that make this temple very different and special. Let me share some of them with you:

3 Tier Sanctum

This temple has 3 sanctums on three floors. Yes, you heard it right. Unlike a single sanctum in most temples, this one has three one on top of the other. 3 sanctums have 3 Vishnu images in 3 different poses.

Sanctum on the ground floor has Vishnu in a sitting position. There is a small mandapam in front of the Murti supported by the lion face pillars. The Vishnu Murti is large, almost overwhelms you with its size. It is believed that Vishnu advises the king in this sitting posture as Acharya.

The Murti on the first floor has the Vishnu is in lying pose known as Sheshashayee Vishnu, as he sleeps in the Kshirsagar. This murti rests in a rather smaller room with plain walls. In this pose, King serves Vishnu as a disciple would serve his Guru.

You can approach this middle floor through the staircase that goes around the temple. The catch is this floor is opened only on Ekadashi or the 11th of every fortnight of lunar calendar followed in India. I was there the next day and had to really request the priest to open it for me. He made me wait for 3 hours before opening it for less than a minute and after taking a promise that no photographs would be clicked.

Second Floor

Second floor used to have a Vishnu Murti (some say Krishna) in standing pose. The image has been stolen and no one knows where it is at the moment. So, this floor is closed and inaccessible. In this standing posture, it is believed Vishnu taught the king as many as 18 different art forms.

The architecture of the three floors is such that you can do circumambulation at each level & the staircase is not visible from anywhere in the temple complex.

3 floors, 3 Vishnu Murtis in 3 different poses – sitting, sleeping and standing. I am not sure if the order has any significance, but I found this architecture quite unique.

The staircase from behind the ground floor sanctum opens up a huge sculpture of Vishnu in sitting posture. It is probably the best-maintained sculpture in the temple complex.

Moat Around the Temple

The plinth of the main temple or sanctum sits below the level where you enter the temple. Or you can think of a moat separating the pillared corridor that runs around the temple and the platform on which the temple stands.

You naturally wonder how would the temple look when rains would fill up this area. I remember visiting Airateshwara Temple in Darasuram when it was full of water. The temple reflecting in the waters was a stunning scene. Though, here, space is limited to see the full reflection of the temple.

I found this feature quite unique in this temple. I am yet to understand if there is a practical reason to build the moat around the temple.

Walls with Stories

The walls of corridors surrounding the sanctum are full of stories. Now, most Hindu Temples have sculptures carved all around them. What makes this temple special is the fact that panels on the left walls depict the stories of Vishnu, whose home this temple is. On the other hand, stories of right wall depict the parallel stories from the life of King Nandivarman who is credited with building this temple.

This juxtaposition of parallels between the stories of Vishnu and the King makes these sculptures interesting.

24 sculpted panels tell the Krishna Katha. There are Ganga & Yamuna on walls. Some interesting stories include the inclusion of a temple architecture on the walls, of traders from far and wide indicating the trade connections of Kanchipuram in good old days.

Sculptures are not in great shape. It does not look like they faced any vandalism, but the stone has started eroding with time. I hope some kind of conservation can be taken up to preserve these stories.

Lion Pillars of Pallavas

Tapering pillars with their base carved in the shape of a sitting lion are the hallmark of Pallava architecture in Tamil Nadu. You see them almost everywhere in Kanchipuram too, for it was the capital of Pallavas for a long time.

At this temple, these pillars in a neat clean row, stand out. Like I said before, standing in front of the sculpted walls, they look like guarding the stories. The visual they present is stunning. As this temple is not really crowded, you do get to see them without anyone blocking the view.

You would notice different colors of different pillars from pale sandstone to a dark granite color. Even the stylistic details are different in pillars of different colors. This is because the pillars were restored during the Vijayanagara empire that much later ruled Kanchipuram. So, in a way, this tells you the history of temple restoration and gives you the imprint of each dynasty that contributed.

108 Divya Desam Temple

This temple is one of the 108 Vishnu temples that collectively make 108 Divya Desams. The followers of Vishnu make it a point to visit all of them in their lifetime. Kanchipuram alone has 14 of these 108 temples.

History of Vaikuntha Perumal Temple

This temple is the second oldest temple in Kanchipuram after Kailasanathar Temple. It was built by Pallava King Nandivarman II in late 7th CE or early 8th CE and later maintained by the ruling Cholas and Vijayanagara kings. This makes it one of the earliest stone temples with Dravidian architecture. It would inspire the later temples in the region.

During Nandivarman II’s time, the temple was called Parmeshwara Vishnugriham, after the original name of the king Parmeshwara. It later came to be known as Vaikuntha Perumal Temple. Perumal is the name used for Vishnu in Tamil country.

Vishnu here is known as Vaikunthnathan. He lives here with his consort Vaikunthavalli.

Temple tank is called Airammadha Teertham.

Temple Legend

After I had admired the temple enough, I had this question – why was this beautiful Vishnu temple built in Shiva Kanchi when there is whole Vishnu Kanchi in Kanchipuram. Out, comes the story that explains it all.

The story says that King Viroacha who ruled from here was childless. He prayed to Shiva seeking the blessing of progeny. Shiva blessed him that Dwarpalas of Vishnu will be born to him as sons. In time he was blessed by two sons. They grew up as great Vishnu devotees and Vishnu lives here as Vaikunthnathan. Vaikuntha, as you know, is Vishnu’s Dham or heaven or home, as you like to perceive it.

To me, this legend brings the two main sects of Hinduism – Shaivas, and Vaishnavas together as followers of deities who respect each other and co-exist peacefully.

Vaikuntha Perumal Temple Festivals

Every Ekadashi, i.e. the 11th of every lunar month, a day associated with Vishnu is celebrated in the temple. Vaikuntha Ekadashi is a big festival apart from Ram Navmi and Krishna Janamasthmi.

As per D Dennis Hudson in his book on Vaikuntha Perumal Temple, the Murti in the middle floor is worshipped in 12 different forms of Vishnu –

  1. Keshava
  2. Narayana
  3. Madhava
  4. Govinda
  5. Vishnu
  6. Madhusudan
  7. Trivikram
  8. Vamana
  9. Sridhara
  10. Hrishikesh
  11. Padmanabha
  12. Damodara

Each form is worshipped for a lunar month beginning with the 10th of each month.

Unlike Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Vishnu Kanchi, this temple is visited by very few people. That lets you appreciate the nuances of the temple architecture. However, you find that buzz and energy missing that comes from the prayers of the devotees.


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