Dharmaraja Ratha - true beauty in dravida style

Gigantic with respect to all the other rathas found here, the dharmaraja ratha is a chariot of the Lord Shiva. A larger version of the Arjuna ratha, it displays all the aspects of true dravida style. A pyramidal structure with 3 tiers before the shikhara appears, here also called the stupi.

There are various interpretations to this stupi. One is that it represents the peak of Mount Meru, the other is that its has been influenced by the buddhist stupa, which is actually a mound for the dead (a sort of ancestral worship where the ancestors were the various gurus in the buddhist sangha and not exactly blood relations). The largest of its kind can be seen on a 10 ton rock atop the brihadeshwara temple in Tanjore.

The haras contain smaller rooflets called karnakutas(corners) and shalakutas (broader in center). One can walk along the first floor through a flight of steps. The next best temple to really show the true characterestics of dravida architecture under the pallavas is at kailashanatha temple at kanchipuram, where entry into the top floors is from the back of the temple. This ratha is obviously incomplete. yet there are hints of squarting lions supporting pillars. This temple is rich in iconography as it displays shiva in various roles around the main body of the temple. It has to be noted here that pallava sculpture compare to their neighbours was very simplified puerly becuase of the hardness of the rock like granite. Its in the later periods that they manage to handle the stone far better. This also indicates the adventurous move into stone from wood.

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