The Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram is one of the oldest structural temples of South India and was a pioneer of this style of architecture which eventually replaced the other forms prevalent then. Today the Shore Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Mahabalipuram group of temples, and visited by thousands of travellers every year.
But what exactly is a structural temple?
Well, to understand this better, we need to do a quick overview of evolution of the temple architecture styles over the ages.
The oldest such temples were the cave temples where simple temples were built by excavating the rock and were more or less like the Buddhist cave temples common during that era. An evolution of this style was a rock cut temple in a cave, but chiseled into a free standing structure.