Mahabalipuram Study Tour: A trip to UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To learn the importance of Art & Architecture as a part of Civil services training.
The students of MCC IAS Academy, Chennai took the Mahabalipuram Study Tour to visit the UNESCO world heritage site at Mahabalipuram. The purpose of the field trip was to learn about the early temple architecture in South India, also called the Dravidian style.
During our trip, we visited three different sites which illustrates various stages of Dravidian Architecture.
The evolution of Dravidian Architecture has three stages.
- Stage 1 – Rock-cut Caves
Eg: Trimurthi cave
Some important features include
– Portico on shallow pillars
– Entire temple on a low platform
– Rock-cut temples
– Square-shaped plan
- Stage 2 – Monolithic Rathas
Eg: The 5 Rathas
– Temples developed with 2 storeys.
– Rock-cut temples were decorated with intricate sculptures.
– Platforms on which the temples stood were higher and more upraised.
– The central shrine holding the principal deity is surrounded by a passageway.
– The Mandap (temple) was now divided into 5 Rathas.
– Rathas are the processional chariots of the king.
- Stage 3 – Structural Temples
Eg: The Shore Temple
– In this stage, the Structural Temples are developed in the place of Rock-cut temples.
– Shikaras began to appear in place of flat roofs.
– Mandaps (shrines) became more elongated.
– Subsidiary shrines existed apart from the principal deity.
The Shore temple was built in the latter half of the 7th century. It is built with granite rocks, and this temple is one of the earliest free-standing temples in India.
We visited the sculptural relief – “Arjuna’s Penance” also called “Descent of the Ganges”. It consists of over 100 sculptures of gods, birds, beasts, and saints. This architecture primarily depicts the penance of Arjuna to obtain a divine bow.
Through our Mahabalipuram Study Tour, we learned about the rich history of Dravidian Architecture and the importance of Art & Architecture as a part of Civil services training.
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