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The Dharmaraja Ratha

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  1. Introduction
  2. The plan of the temple
  3. The temple's details of elevation
  4. The reason behind the placement of the superstructure
  5. Conclusion


The temple site of Mamallapuram contains many impressive examples of mostly unfinished south Indian architecture. The Dharmaraja ratha is one of the better, if not just bigger, examples. It's unfinished as well, but the telltale signs of South India influence can be seen in its components. This southern style is indicative of what the temple represented and how it functioned for the devotees. Here I will discuss the aspects of this ratha and how it would have been used as a temple had it been finished.

[...] The stories and the supported shikhara are situated above the point where the garbha- grha, or ?womb chamber', would be if the temple were hollow. This is in accordance with the belief of the Hindu temple as the cosmic axis; that is, the shikhara marks the point where a shaft of cosmic energy is supposed to emanate from the deity that resides in the garbha-grha. In the case of the Dharmaraja ratha at Mamallapuram, the temple may have been built to house a Shiva-linga, a shaft-like representation of Shiva. The linga itself may also echo [...]

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