Mamallapuram – Dharmaraja’s Rock-cut Throne


This singular structure is located above the hill whose facade has the famous Arjuna’s Penance. This stone platform, 10 feet in length and 3.5 feet in breadth, is carved from an outcrop of rock and accessible by a flight of stairs. On its one end is carved a lion, 18 inches high, forming a cushion. The presence of this stone platform indicates that once it was used as a throne by the king when the latter used to take a temporary residence at the site supervising the work as well as taking care of other routine duties. There may have been a palace-like structure surrounding it, maybe a make-shift arrangement, suiting to a king for his residence.


Dharmaraja’s Throne
Dharmaraja Throne |

Chambers1 mentions the Brahmins of the town told him that this throne was used by Dharmaraja or Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandavas. Kavali2 mentions seeing the remains of a recently built palace on the hill near this throne (simhasana). Lockwood3 tells that the spot is supposedly thought of as the site of a palace in the Pallava period. Rabe extends the narrative stating, “The recumbent but tensely alert throne lion faces squarely north, the better to support its royal occupant, who, by turn, might have faced cooling off-shore breezes from the east, or faced westwards for a commanding view of irrigated paddy and orchards, stretching off towards Mount Tirukkalukkunram, sixteen kilometers inland and beyond to Kaficipuram, the Pallava capital. King Narasirhha had special reason to scan the horizon for glimpses of Tirukkalukkunram, the “Sacred Mount of Hawks,” for near its summit and facing back toward the coast, is located an extremely archaic cavetemple, possibly the oldest in Tamilnadu, one whose land endowment he renewed after conquering Vatapi (Badami) in 642″.4

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1 Chambers, William (1788). Some Account of the Sculptures and the Ruins of Mavalipuram, a Place few Miles North of Sadras, and known to Seamen by the name of the Seven Pagodas published in Asiatick Researches vol. I. Calcutta. p 149
2 Carr, M W (1869). Descriptive and Historical Papers relating to the Seven Pagodas on the Coromandel Coast. Government of Madras. Madras. p 212
3 Lockwood, Michael (1993). Mamallapuram. Tambaram Research Associate. Chennai. pp 168-169
4 Rabe, Michael D (1997). The Mamallapuram Prasasti: A Panegyric in Figures published in Artibus Asiae vol. 57, no 3/4. pp 189-190