supply an interesting stage in the evolution of the Dravida style. Each of the
rathas, except the Draupadi, exhibits a storeyed elevation of the roof, each
storey terminating in a convex rolled cornice, ornamented with chaitya
window arches. The walls of the ground storey are broken up by pilasters and
sculptured niches, while the upper storeys are surrounded by small pavilions.
In these rathas, one may recognise the origin of the twin fundamental
features of the Dravida temple, viz., the vimana (representing the sanctum
with its tall pyramidal tower) and the gopuram (the immense pile of the
gateway leading to the temple enclosure). With its beginnings in the Pallava
rock-cut rathas in the first half of the 7th century AD, the Dravida style passes
through a long process of evolution and elaboration under different dynasties
of the South. The style flourished for nearly a thousand years and, confined
within a comparatively small area, remained more or less compact and
unilateral. The rock-cut method of the initial phase was replaced by the
structural one during the reign of Narasimhavarman II, also known as
Rajasimha. The Shore temple at Mahabalipuram, possibly the first structural
temple to be built in the South, consists of two shrines, symmetrically joined
to each other. An organic and unified conception of a temple scheme, in
which all the trappings of the Dravida style are clearly expressed and
harmoniously adjusted to one another, first comes into view in the celebrated
Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram, also built by Rajasimha. With all the
appurtenances, like the walled court, the gopuram, the pillared mandapa and
the vimana, all complete and in their forms and positions, the Kailasanatha
temple at Kanchipuram may be described as one of the key monuments of the
early Dravida style. A more developed sense of composition is clearly
evident in the Vaikunta Perumal temple at Kanchipuram, built by
Nandivarman II. Architectural activity in the South continued in the later
phase of the Pallava rule. The rich heritage of the Pallava tradition passed on
to the Cholas, under whom the Dravida style enters yet another brilliant and
distinctive phase.
Vesara Style The Vesara style is also known as the Chalukyan or Deccan
style. Its beginnings may be traced back to the days of the early Chalukyan
kings in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. At Aihole and Pattadakal and other
places, Dravida and Nagara temples were being erected side by side. This