The smaller Shiva temple is sculpted in similar design as that of large temple or Dharmaraja Ratha. It has two recessed storeys with usual design of kudus and shrines interconnected with cloister placed above the cornice. The tower is stepped pyramidal in design, topped with an octagonal sikhara mounted on a circular griva. The sikhara is topped with a kalasa and finial above that. The cell has a somaskanda panel at the back wall. There would have been a mandapa in front of this temple, however this is missing now. On external walls are two panels of interest, one showing Ekpadamurti with three heads, one body and one leg depicting the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, second is showing Nagaraja standing under the five hoods of a serpent.
In recent excavations, a compound is found near the main shrine, within the complex. This compound has a circular shrine in the middle which has rampant lions on its pilasters. It has a circular sikhara, which suggests that this is of vesara style of architecture. No kudus are seen, however we see bhuta and lion figures above the cornice. The sikhara is mounted on circular griva and has kudus (maha-nasikas) on four sides. Within these nasikas are shown a figure of Ganesha. There would have been a kalasa above this sikhara however it is missing now. Another interesting discovery is an image of Varaha (boar) placed within this compound. We have seen similar Varaha images at Khajuraho and Eran, however those images are shown representing varaha coming out of the ocean carrying Bhu-devi. This Varaha at Mahabalipuram is in different posture, it is shown with its head down and pressing its hind legs with force such as to plunge into the ocean. There is no figure of Bhu-devi hence it is assumed that the scene represented here is of the start of spectacle of getting Bhu-devi from the depths of the ocean. As the shrine and the Varaha are constructed at the base of the compound, hence when it would have been filled with water, this would have presented a marvelous fascinating scene of Varaha submerged in waters to get Bhu-devi from its depths.
Within the compound of this temple, is a monolith sculpture of a lion. This is partly carved out of rock and partly sculpted. This majestic lion is seated majestically with a hole in its torso. This hole in its torso is perhaps a representation of a cave shrine. Inside the back of the hole, is carved a miniature image of Durga in Mahishasurmardini posture. Creation of this space near the heart of the lion also represents that concept of most loved person residing with your heart, viewers can recall a famous story from Ramayana where Hanuman opened up his heart to shown that Rama with Sita live within his heart. In similar fashion, for lion, being the mount of goddess Durga, it is quite appropriate to carve her image near its heart. A female guardian is shown sitting on lions leg, carrying a bow.
Inscriptions of Shore Temple – There are few inscriptions found in this temple. Some of those are listed below.
1. On the lintel of Vishnu shrine is an inscription which refers this temple as Narapatisimha Pallava Vishnu Griha. Narapatisimha is a title of Rajasimha, as seen among his list of titles from Kailasanatha Temple at Kanchi.
2. On the plinth of two balipithas excavated in the courtyard of this temple, there is found a damaged Sanskrit record of six verses written in Pallava Grantha script. This inscription praises Pallava King Atyantakama, a title of Rajasimha.
3. In the slab of smaller Shiva temple, which is now inserted in the base, are found two inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola I dated in his twenty-fifth year of reign, 1010 CE. The names of the three temples mentioned in these inscriptions are, Kshatriyasimha Pallaveshvara-griham, Rajasimha Pallaveshvara-griham and Pllikondaruliya-devar. The whole complex is referred as Jalashayana. These inscriptions also indicates that the Vishnu shrine was executed first among all the shrines.
Olakkanneshvara Temple – This structural temple is located above the hill, in which Mahishasurmardini Cave is carved out. The temple could be the creation of Rajasimha, as it is mostly accepted that structural temples started during his time. The tower of the temple has not survived. A H Longhurst writes that before the stone lighthouse was built in 1900 CE, this temple roof was used as the lighthouse and for that purpose a wooden shad had been constructed on its flat roof. This wooden shed would have been constructed when the tower of the temple would have fallen. Does that mean that the tower fell very soon after the construction and where was original lighthouse before this wooden shed was constructed. I do not have answers to these now, will try to find out more about this.
However we come back to the discussion about this temple. The temple could be approached by flight of steps carved in the rock, these seem to be the time of Pallavas. The sikhara (tower) of the temple would have been on the same design as that of the Shore Temple, of Dravidian style. The dvarpalas of the main shrine are carved with half-profile, instead of regular posture of front facing style. There is enough space there to carve the front face style however the artists have preferred to go for half-profile. This is one of the examples at Mahabalipuram where we see such a profile of dvarpalas, one another example is Trimurti Cave. There is a theory that as the architecture advances, from Mahendra to Rajasimha, the profile of dvarpalas gets constrained, from full front facing to three-fourth and later to half profile facing each other. However I have few doubts in this, hence this topic goes into detailed study for future. However guardians on the back wall of the temple are carved with full frontal profile. This east facing temple was under worship till nineteenth century. There is a small ardha-mandapa which leads into a rectangular shrine.
On one external wall of the ardha-mandapa, within a niche with pilasters on each side, is carved Shiva as Kalari (?), slaying Kala (Yama). The execution of the sculptures does not suggest any comparison with other Pallava sculptures, such that it seems that this has not been done by those artists. There are three devkoshtas (niches) on external walls of the main shrine, on south we have a nice sculpture of Shiva as Dakshinamurti sitting under a tree, on west is shown Ravana trying to shake up Kailasa with Shiva and Parvati seated over the mountain and on north we see Shiva as Nataraja. The sculptures are much ruined, and were plastered and painted over hence the originality is much less visible. The temple would have been dedicated to Shiva, as supported by his various postures on external walls. Interestingly we do not find any Somaskanda panel here, which is very characteristic feature of Rajasimha. Also no Shiva-linga found inside. In absence of any inscriptions, it is hard to assign the temple to any king, however as rampant lion pilasters are present hence this could be assigned to Rajasimha, still the mystery persists that why other characteristic features are missing.
Mukunda Nayanar Temple – This temple was buried under 12 feet of sand and was excavated at the same time when Sulvankuppam excavations were carried out. This lies little far from town, on the way towards Sulvankuppam. This is a small temple which is very similar to Dharmaraja Ratha in its architecture and design. This east facing double storey temple, thought assigned to Rajasimha’s period, does not have rampant lion pillars, which are very characteristic features of his style and are found in all the temples attributed to him. The temple has a ardha-mandapa supported on two pillars and two pilasters. The pillars are circular in shape with diminishing diameter towards the upper end. The beam and corbel are very simple, resembling style of various cave temples of Mahendravarman I. Over the cornice, we see outlines of kudus, which are very much ruined due to saline nature of the sand and sea water. Above the cornice is seen regular arrangement of mini shrines interconnected via cloisters. There are kudus, or better termed as nasikas, on the roof sides of these shrines. The corner shrines are with square roof however the middle one is with oblong roof. These mini shrines separates the first storey with the ground one. On the first storey are seen niches on all four sides, however all are empty. The cornice of this storey also depicts kudus arrangement. Above this storey is a circular griva which was topped with an octagonal shikhara (tower), which is missing now. This octagonal tower puts this temple into Dravidian category of architecture, as other temples of Rajasimha.
The ardha-mandapa leads into a square garbha-griham. On the back wall of this sanctum is a Somaskanda panel. Shiva shown seated with Uma and baby Skanda, while Vishnu and Brahma are shown standing behind them. Parvati is shown sitting under an umbrella and wearing a karanda-makuta. Skanda is shown seated in her lap. The style is very similar to the other such panels of Rajasimha’s time. The presence of this panel supports the theory of its assignment to Rajasimha. There is a Shivalingam installed in front of this panel, however it seems to be a later addition. L H Longhurst writes that from the style the temple seems to have some foreign influence, however I do not see any such influence in any of the element of this temple.