The ratha is built on a platform where a frieze of alternating lions and elephants is carved out. A pillar is placed at each corner, the projected beams on its top, suggests the influence of similar structures in wood in the earlier times. Three niches are provided on the three walls. These niches are topped with a Makara-torana having two bends. Figures of Durga standing on a buffalo head are placed in all the three niches. Only the figure on the eastern niche is complete, the rest were left in incomplete state. The entrance, on the west, has a makara torana above its lintel. The entranceis guarded by two female dvarpalas (guardians). the dvarpala on the right is shown holding a sword and the one on the left is shown holding a bow.
The cell inside the ratha is a not a square and measures 6.5 feet by 4.5 feet. On the back wall is a figure of Durga in form of Korravai2. She is shown standing on a lotus in samabhaga posture. She has four hands, carrying shankha (conch) and chakra (discus) in her upper hands, one lower hand is in abhaya mudra while another lower hand is resting on her thighs. Two devotees are shown on her either side. One is shown offering flowers while another is holding his hair to make his neck tight in order to put an incise with a knife held in his one hand. Four ganas, two on either sides, are shown in the upper corners. We have discussed this form of Korravai and blood sacrifice in our earlier article on Varaha Mandapa.
In front of the western entrance is carved a 6 feet high lion out of a separate boulder. Whether this lion was associated with this ratha may be contested, however presence of the female dvarpalas, an image of Durga inside the sanctum and in the niches suggest that this ratha was dedicated to Durga and therefore presence of a lion in front of the entrance should not be a surprise. Instead, carving out this animal on a separate boulder, suggest the ingenuity and innovative skills of the artisans of that period.
1 Brown, Percy. Indian Architecture: Buddhist and Hindu Period.
2 Gift Siromoney (http://www.cmi.ac.in/gift/Archeaology/arch_mahabalipuram.htm)