The temple was built during the reign of the Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman (Rajasimha - the
king lion) between AD 700 - 728. This temple lies at the edge of the waters and legend has it
that this is only remaining temple of the seven built during that period. Six more are believed
to be submerged in the sea, still laden with treasure. The temple looks magnificent at any time
of day, though at sunrise it's beauty is unsurpassed.
Rajasimha's influence can be seen in this and many Pallava architectures with many structures
having a smiling lion face carved into the stone. This temple, though is the culmination of the
many temples and sculptures in Mahabalipuram, is only the beginning of the great art of the
Pallavas. The Kailashnatha Temple at Kanchipuram was the next logical step in their experiments.
This temple is unique in that, unlike the previous temples which were monolithic (carved from a
single stone) this was built block by block. Also this temple has sanctuaries for both Vishnu
The temple over the years is being affected by the salty air and water and efforts are now on
to protect this great monument.