How They Carved Temple in a Rock?
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.
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. 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.
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.