One of the oldest architectures in the world is the Dravidian architecture. This unique style of architecture was initially designed and built by Pallava Dynasty from the southern part of India; who ruled this area roughly around 275 BCE. The Dravidian style of architecture (temple) was usually built from stones and the shape of this architecture was either square or rectangular. These temples have gopurams, that have large towers over the entrances, and pillared corridors, halls. So, here we see the types of Dravidian architecture and few of the best Dravidian monuments in Tamil Nadu.
TYPES OF DRAVIDIAN ARCHITECTURE
1. STRUCTURAL ARCHITECTURE
Structural architecture is one of the diverse construction styles which followed the use of granite stones as a primary material for construction. In this style of construction, the lord’s sanctum was built at a position (on the east) where the sun’s initial ray falls directly over the lord’s idol. One of the oldest and classic examples of structural architecture, the shore temple, is located at Mahabalipuram in Kancheepuram district.
2. ROCK-OUT STYLE ARCHITECTURE
This type of Dravidian architecture was started by Mahendra group & developed by Pallava’s Narasimha group. The best feature of rock-out style architecture was that all the structures and idols were carved from a single stone and one of the best examples of such architecture is Pandava Rathas, located at Mahabalipuram.
BEST DRAVIDIAN ARCHITECTURE
I. MEENAKSHI TEMPLE, MADURAI
This temple was established in 6th century BCE by Kulasekarer Pandhya to worship lord Parvati and Shiva.
• The thousand pillars hall were divided into separate rows of the temple, carved with the mythological beast of Nayak (Yeli). This shows the strength of the Nayak Dynasty.
• The lord Shiva’s idol portrays his cosmic dance and the idol was designed with several precious stones including emerald, and metals such as gold, copper and silver.
• This temple has four entrances for four different directions, and you can find some ancient paintings on the walls as well.
II. CAVE TEMPLE, MAHABALIPURAM
This Dravidian architecture was established in 650AD by Mahendra Varman to worship lord Vishnu and Durga.
• Several human structures were sculpted on this temple, and these structures were engraved with high cheekbones, oval-shaped body.
• Some of the sculptures in that temple define the Hindu mythology and various forms of Lord Vishnu.
• The rocks of this temple were manually engraved & the ancient artists sculpted the temple with some chiselled metals like copper and iron.
III. BRIHADESHWARS TEMPLE, TANJORE
This temple is also known as Big temple, established by Raja Raja Chola in 1010 CE and is the best Dravidian architecture of all time.
• The solid base of this temple was constructed with a single large stone in the Rock-out style architecture.
• A large idol of Nandhi (Bull), located at the entrance of the temple (with a length and height of 6, 3.7 metres respectively) is the country’s second-largest giant statue.
• The temple’s complex was designed with several walls & each wall has a variety of sculptures.
Dravidian architectural features are not restricted to above-mentioned architecture, and there are several other unique constructions in South India such as Ranganathaswamy temple ( Trichy), Annamalaiyar temple ( Thiruvannamalai), and Natraja temple ( Chidambaram) displaying unique architectural practises of south Indian architects.