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Mahabalipuram

Pancha Pandava Rathams

The five rathas are mini shrines which are carved out of one rock constructed in the form of chariots. The Dharmaraja, Bhima, Arjuna & Draupadi rathams have been carved out of one single boulder. Draupadi and Arjuna rathams have a common platform.

The rathams are modeled on different architectural styles:
the Buddhist Viharas - Dharmaraja; Arjuna; & Nakula, Sahadeva's rathams
the Buddhist Chaityas - Vessera style - Bhima's ratham with longitudinal structure, barrel roof
modern Bengali huts - Draupadi's ratham with a square cell, curvilinear roof.

The Dharmaraja ratham has a three storeyed vimana.

In the Draupadi ratham, the image of Draupadi is carved on the inside. On the rear wall of the Arjuna ratham is the image of Indra. There is a huge elephant and lion carved out near the rathams.

These rathams are characterised by open verandahs in the ground storey, with typical Pallava style pillars. The pillars have crouching lion bases. These five rathams are in one spot. There are three more rathams Valayankuttai, Pidari and Ganesha rathams.

The later southern temples have been largely influenced by the Dharmaraja & Arjuna ratham styles.

Draupadi ratham
Photos: Sumathi
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Arjuna ratham
Photos: Sumathi
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