The Cave Temples of Mahabalipuram
Called as mandapas or rock-cut caves the cave temples in Mahabalipuram are sanctuaries or temples covered with bas-reliefs. Traces of such architecture are known to have been used during the Buddhist period. Much similar cave architecture was excavated on rock faces. There are eleven mandapas in Mahabalipuram out of which the Varaha Cave Temple, Krishna Cave Temple, Panchapandava Cave Temple are noted ones.
An impressive sculpture panels on the walls of the Mahsisuramardhini Cave Temple has the goddess Durga depicted as killing a demon with a buffalos head. The sculptures realism and artistic elegance is an achievement in itself. You will find many incomplete remnants near the caves from the Pallava period.
The basic procedure involved in creating a temple involved smoothening of a rock face, cutting columns through the smooth surface and then carving out the required size and shaped from the outside.
Many caves have UNESCO inscriptions while others do not have them. The caves are noted for their well-designed and graceful look and significance.
The design of the cave temples by the Pallava’s is different when compared to the Ajanta Caves. The Mahabalipuram cave temples have smaller dimensions and have simple plans. The columns are slim and multilayered and sometimes found in furrowed or round shapes. A unique feature of Pallava cave temples is the finely carved columns which are mounted on lions at the bottom which can be found across many cave temples in Mahabalipuram.
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