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Varaha Cave Temple
Varaha Cave Temple also known as Adivaraha Cave Temple is a rock-cut cave temple located at Mamallapuram, on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal in Kancheepuram District in Tamil Nadu.
Varaha Cave Temple – Varaha Mandapam
It is a part of the hill top village, to the north of the main Mahabalipurm sites of rathas and the Shore Temple.
It is an example of Indian rock-cut architecture dating from the late 7th century. The temple is one of the finest testimonials to the ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis, of rock-cur cave architecture, out of many such caves also called Mandapas.
It is also part of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram; the temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as inscribed in 1984.
The most prominent sculpture in the cave is that of Lord Vishnu in the incarnated form of a Varaha or boar lifting Bhudevi, the mother earth goddess from the sea.
The cave is located on a hill which is obscured by another stone mandapa in front of it. The cave chamber, which faces west, is about 33 by 14 feet in width, and has a height of 11.5 feet.
The entrance facade has four octagonal pillars and two octagonal shaped pilasters, the latter abutting the rock face on the sides.
The temple is a small monolithic rock-cut temple with a Mandapa carved into the rock face of pink granite formations, dating from the 7th century.
The cave is of smaller dimension and has a simple plan. The fluted columns separating the openings have cushion-shaped capitals and seated lions at the base.
Certain Greco-Roman architectural styles could also be distinguished and the sitting statues are said to have likeness to the sitting styles seen in European architecture, as against the Indian cross legged style.
The style thus created at Mahabalipuram became a predecessor for Dravidian style of architecture.
The walls inside the cave have several striking mythological scenes engraved in relief. Vishnu rescuing the earth, Vishnu taking three strides, Gaja Laksmi and Durga are all impressive panels carved in the Adivaraha Cave.
At the interiors of the mandapa, the walls have four large sculptured panels, good examples of naturalistic Pallava art.