The Pancha Pandava Rathas

The Pancha Pandava Rathas Pancha Rathas, also known as Pandava Rathas is found in Mamallapuram near the Coastal regions of the Bay of Bengal. The monument is an integral part of the Kancheepuram District. It is a living example of ancient architecture. The Pancha Rathas is rock cut architecture that showcases the reign from Mahendravarman 1 to Narasimhavaraman 1. The Rock's history dates back to early 7th century. The Pancha Rathas is the brainchild of Narasimhavarman and a picture of his passion for Indian Architecture. Today, Pancha Rathas is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And is inscribed as a Group of Monuments in Mahabalipuram.

History of the Pancha Rathas

As suggested by its name, the Pancha Rathas are named after the five pandavas from Mahabaratham. Namely, this include Arjuna, Bhima, Dharmaraja, Nakula and Sahadeva; Along with Draupadi. Though the monument is named after the Pandava kings, the inscriptions in the monument doesn't have any link with the iconic characters. Additionally, Pancha Rathas does not have any reglious significance too. The monument has many unfinished regions, which are also known as vimanas.

Architecture of Pancha Rathas

The five monuments have a seperate chariot. Locally, Rathas means Chariot. The chariots are carved carefully in a single, long stone that is inclined slightly in the north-south direction. Some mistaken the Rathas as temples, However, these are clear portraits of how the Pandava's Chariots looked like. Conversely, there are five chariots named after the Pandavas: Dharmaraja Ratha, Bhimma Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Nakul-Shahadev Ratha and Draupadi Ratha.

The Pancha Pandava Rathas


The Rathas

The very first Ratha is the Draupadi Ratha with a hut-styled vimana. This is one of the simplest Rathas in the entire region. It has a square base and simple yet mesmerizing carvings on it.

Next is the Arjuna Ratha, which is a two tired temple with many customized structures. The Arjuna Ratha has a Sikara (head), Griva (neck), Salas (boat structure on all sides), Karnakutas (a hara unit) and salas above the roof. The Arjuna Temple is filled  with many astounding features. It has an enticing basement that is split into equal projections and compartments known as Bhadras.

Moving on, the Bhima Ratha is a single rectangular structure with a tilted boat on top of it. This is also known as the Sala. Historically, the Vimana is known as the Sala Vimana. All around the Bhima Ratha you will see many Nasikas and text inscriptions.

The Pancha Pandava Rathas


The tallest Ratha is the Dharmaraja Ratha. It has three separate tiers with an architecture that is completely different from every other Ratha in the region. The first tier has pillared entrances, the second has a Garbhagiriha and the final one has a parapet wall. A new inclusion in the Dharmaraja Ratha is the Panjara structure in the Hara. The Panjara structure looks like a wagon with sides that over look the Salas.



The Pancha Pandava Rathas

Finally, the Nakula-Sahahdeva Ratha has an elephant next to it. There are many prominent similarities between the elephant and the Ratha. Some call this as the Gajaprishta Vimana where Gaja represents the elephant and prishta showcases the back. This is another two tiered Ratha with many miniature inscriptions and texts.

All around the Pancha Rathas you will find the sculptures of Arjuna, Dharmaraja and Draupadi. Some of the most distinctive carvings are those of Indra, Nandi and Brahma.

Quick Facts:

Best Season to Visit : Winter and Late Monsoon Season
Timings : 6 AM to 9 PM
Entrance Fee : Visitors above 15 years of age should pay Rs 250

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