One of the most sought after temples on the tourist circuit in Tamil Nadu is the unbelievably beautiful Siva temple of Pallava times in Kanchipuram, now known as the Kailasanatha temple. Constructed in the eighth century, during the reign of Narasimhavarman II, better known by his title Rajasimha (c. 691-728 AD), this temple, almost completely built of sandstone, and known for its architectural excellence, is a treasure-house of Saivite iconography. The original name of this temple, eulogised in an inscription here as “one that robs Mount Kailasa of its beauty”, was Rajasimheswara.


However, what most visitors to the temple do not know is the fact that Rajasimha, like many other kings of India, before and after, was a connoisseur of the fine arts, especially music and dance. The Nataraja aspect of Siva gained great prominence during Pallava times as seen from Sanskrit and Tamil literature and stone and bronze sculptures. Beautiful sculptures of Nataraja are seen in Pallava shrines earlier to the period of Rajasimha, but the culmination was reached in the Kailasanatha temple.