Temples were a focus of communal life - the bhakti movement emphasized worship as a community in temples. The south Indian of building temples has some unique features and its called the dravida style. Within Tamil Nadu, each area's temples had its distinctive features.
Pallava rulers like Mahendravarman I (600-625 CE), Narasimhavarman I (625-70 CE), and Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha (700-28 CE) were patrons of art and architecture. Under them were built most of the extant medieval temples in Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram.
Pallava cave shrines are found in Mandgappattu and Mamallapuram. They usually have pillars, and have sculptured dvarapalas to guard the doorway. In Mamallapuram, there scenes from mythology carved in relief at the Adi-Varaha cave and the Pancha-Pandava cave.
The open air relief sculpture known as Arjuna's Penance is the most impressive of the Pallava relief sculpture. This is nearly 15 meters high, and designed to include a water fall.
The rock cut temples are probably the most famous in Mamallapuram. There are five of them clustered together known as the Five Rathas, dedicated to the Pandava brothers and Draupadi. Their outer walls are decorated with scenes from Hindu mythology.
The structural temples were built during Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha's time. The Shore temple is an example.
The Rajasimheshvara or Kailashantha temples in Kanchipuram were built by the same rulers. These are Shaivite temples built in the dravida style with heavy ornamentation, and with over 50 subsidiary shrines nearby.
Buddhist and Jain temples in Kanchipuram
There are several living Jain temples in Kanchipuram, and some like the Thiruparuthikundram are almost one thousand years old.