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On Rathas – Chariots Used In Temples In South India

Rathas or chariots are an indispensable part of temples in South India. Mention of Rathas is found in the Sangam literature. Suganthy Krishnamachari has written a wonderful and informative article on Temple Rathas in South India. Design, construction, religious importance, architecture and beauty of the chariots are detailed in the article.

Excerpts from Temple on wheels in the Hindu 
Instructions about the making of the ratha for Vishnu temples, given in the Purushottama Samhita, a Pancharatra agama, conjure up an image of an opulent ratha.
It is emphasised that the chariot should have intricate sculpturing, and that the incarnations of Vishnu are to be depicted.  
However, beyond all this, there must have been a social purpose behind introducing chariots in temple worship. A ratha is a moving temple, a description no other vahana can lay claim to. Like a temple, it has an adisthanam and Vedis. So a ratha makes it possible for the devotees to worship their favourite God in their own place without going to the temple.
You can read the entire article here at the Hindu