The Five Rathas in Mahabalipuram is a seventh-century architectural wonder that was constructed by the Pallava kings. Each of the Ratha is named after important characters of Mahabharata, an epic Hindu tale.
All the structures in this location were built using a single rock, or monolithic architecture. First, the sculptors chisel small holes into the rock, placing a wooden stick into the hole. Next, they pour water onto the wood to make the wood expand. The wooden stick bulges in the hole, and the sculptors then use a chisel and hammer to break the rock with a chisel-like precision. The head sculptor would start outlining the proportions of the structure from the top all the way to bottom. The construction, however, would start from the bottom and complete at the top. All the structures were not fully completed, because during construction, a war struck. Still, this site served as a prototype for future cities, and is a hallmark of Dravidian architecture. The Pallava kings used this as a testing place to learn the skills to build real temples in other parts of Tamil Nadu like Kanchipuram.
It is still an astounding feat that the Pallavas managed to create such stunning structures with the use of little industrial tools. Despite it being an incomplete prototype, the architecture is still remarkably refined, and would foretell the great architectural wonders that were to come.