Kanchipuram: Kailasanatha Temple

Kanchipuram is one of two important centers of Pallava temple architecture in northern Tamil Nadu, the other being Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram). The Pallava dynasty was dominant in north Tamil Nadu from the 7th to 9th c AD. Kanchipuram was their capital, and Mamallapuram a major port.

The early-8th c Kailasanatha Temple is the oldest, largest and most important Pallava temple in Kanchipuram, and was built at the same time as the smaller Shore Temple at Mamallapuram. These two are the earliest extant examples of structural temples in Tamil Nadu.


The Nandi mandapa which stands a little distance from the temple

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Kailasanatha Temple from the Nandi mandapa

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Views from outside the walled enclosure

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The outside of the enclosure walls lined with rearing-lion-yali-with-rider pilasters

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The tops of shrines that line the inside of the enclosure wall

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Row of shrines outside the north east corner of the enclosure wall

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A larger shrine which might have originally been the eastern gopuram/entrance to the enclosure

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Temple mandapa from the entrance

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The mandapa (with sculpted walls covered in white plaster) was originally detached from the main temple sanctum (with pyramidal tower). The intermediate structure is a later addition and stylistically different

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The junction between the original sanctum structure and the later addition

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Small shrines line the inside of the enclosing walls

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The enclosing walls are quite close to the main temple structure, creating an intimate open-air circumambulatory passageway

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Sculpture work in and on the shrines that line the enclosure walls

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Sculpture work on the main temple structure

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