ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How They Carved Temple in a Rock?

Updated on September 6, 2007
Fig. 1 A Rock Cut Temple in Mamallapuram
Fig. 1 A Rock Cut Temple in Mamallapuram

Rock Cut Temples

The first examples of stone temples in India are Rock Cut. These are created by carving large rocks. Carving rocks are harder than working with wood, the material used for building temples prior to the introduction of stones for the purpose. Rock cut temples were introduced in Tamilnadu in 7th century AD. During the initial period, the sculptors were not experienced working with stone and at many instances the work had to be abondoned halfway due to mistakes. These incomplete works give us clues to understand the techniques the ancient sculptors used. Fig. 2 shows a rock where a temple carving work had been abondoned at a very early stage. This shows the techniqe used for carving out rocks to form space in the rock.

Fig.2 Left abondoned carving work. Right: Enlarged carved area.
Fig.2 Left abondoned carving work. Right: Enlarged carved area.

In Mamallapuram there are several examples of incomplete works. These are at different levels of completeness. One can see columns cut to rough form which were to be refined later, but the work had to be abondoned due to unknown reason. Fig. 3 shows two rock cut examples where the work had stoped at a rough cut stage. In the right side example the columns are seen at a higher level of completion than the left hand side ones. However, the bases and the top portions are still incomplete. Note the back side walls in both these photographs, the techniques employed to cut and remove the unwanted portions of the rock is clearly visible.

Fig.3 Columns and other incomplete elemets.
Fig.3 Columns and other incomplete elemets.

Fig. 4 shows two examples of incomplete lion columns. The final forms have been acheived to a large extend, but the final bit of work is still to be completed. Lion columns are Typical to Dravidian architecture during Pallava rule in Tamilnadu.

Fig.4 Incomplete columns.
Fig.4 Incomplete columns.

Mamallapuram has number of good specimens of completed works. The examples in the pictures below (fig.5) are showing elaborately carved columns of rock cut temples found there. These columns belongs to early Dravidian style.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      i visted a stone quarry in sicily where they had abandoned around thirty unfinished sections of column for a greek temple, still attached to the rock face they were @ 4 metres diameter and 3.5 in height, cut by slaves around 40,000 of them building the temple over a period of three was never finished.

      I hope the unfinished rock cut temple you show was built by artisans who went on strike as its a lot of work to walk away from!

      on the subject of unfinished temples have a look at josep jujol, a modernista catalan architect, two churches of his that might interest you are vistabella and montferri completly different to your indian buildings but unique in quality and form

      kind regards


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)