The evolution of Dravidian art and sculpture was primarily concentrated in South India. It had emerged in these parts of India thousand years ago and was patronized by the Pallava, Pandava, Nayakkar, Chola, Chalukya, Hoysalas, Rashtrakutas and Vijayanagara kingdoms. Today most of the architectural grandeurs from these eras are concentrated in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka. Having its origin in the 6th century the Dravidian monuments basically comprise of pyramid shaped structures and the temples are ornamented with outstanding figure sculptures, towering mandapas, colossal pillars and carved out miniature towers.
The main units of Dravidian art and sculpture are the vimanams; manadapas; gopurams; pillars and pillared halls or Chaultris. The principal parts of the temples are referred to as the `vimanams.` These are decorated with beautiful sculptures.
The `mandapas` can be referred to as the porches of the temples. They lie just outside the vimanams. The manadapas are dome shaped or square shaped and stand on the colossal pillars.
The `gopurams` are the gateways to these Dravidian temples that display rock cut sculptures that mainly comprise of figurines from Hindu mythologies and gods and goddesses. The gopurams are sky high and they are topped by the shikharas or the towers. Last but not the least the Chaultris or the pillared halls are also an integral part of the Dravidian temples.
The Dravidian art and sculpture also takes heed of the practical purposes. Each temple architecture comprised wells for the convenience of the priests. The Dravidian art and sculpture found their patrons in different South Indian kingdoms.
Sculpture in south India actually flourished under the Pallavas. Some of the most popular rock cut temples, such as, the Shore Temples at Mahabalipuram, was built by them.
The Dravidian art and sculpture received great patronage from the Chola kings. Some of the most mammoth temples were constructed under the Chola regime. The features of their architecture included tall gateways and grand temple buildings. Brihadeshvara Temple and Thanjavur Temple are two outstanding instances of their art and sculpture.
As far as the Dravidian art and sculpture is concerned Chalukya Dynasty can be divided into Badami Chalukyas and Western Chalukya.
The well rendered 150 temples, built by the Badami Chalukyas, reflect the artistic wizardry that was predominant in their age. The features of Badami Chalukyan
sculpture are include garbhagrihas, columned halls and pillared verandah.
Also known as the Kalyani Chalukyas they ruled the modern Karnataka. The features of Western Chalukya sculpture
keenly follow the Dravidian art and sculpture. This era was probably the most important one in which the temples were built on a large scale and till date they stand as exemplary examples to the Dravidian architecture.
Rashtrakutas built the Ellora cave temples, Jaina Narayana temple at Pattadakal and others by following the Dravidian form of art and sculpture.
Apart from these kingdoms the Hoysala and Vijayanagar Empires had also built several temples and monuments that follow the Dravidian idiom.