A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - Carved from a rock cliff face, the Kailasa Temple is named in honor of the sacred mountain-dwelling place of the god Shiva.
It is considered one of the most remarkable cave temples in the world.
Credit Adobe Stock - Konstantin
The temples at Ellora were sculptured by Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists, and according to standard textbooks, the earliest ones were carved around 300 BC, but most in the period of the 4th to the 9th centuries AD.
In his book "Ellora," M. K. Dhavalikar, an author and retired Professor of Archaeology and Director of the Deccan College Post-Graduate Research Institute, Pune, India, writes that "all these shrines and the Kailasa were not excavated at the same time, but belong to different periods." ("Ellora", M. K. Dhavalikar, 2003, p. 44).
"There is a perforated window in the west wall [of cave 15, a Hindu cave] over which is engraved a Sanskrit inscription in the Brahmi script of the eighth century. It is, however, incomplete, and much of it has been damaged due to weathering.
It gives the genealogy of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, from the founder Dantivarman (c. 600-30), and records the visit of Dantidurga (752-7) to the cave. It can, therefore, be placed in the middle of the eighth century. "Ellora", pp. 36-7.
Indian craftsmen and master builders made a tremendous job that provides evidence of structural efficiency and technological skills.
This, of course, only proves that the caves existed in the 8th century and were engraved at that time with this inscription.
Again, "There were inscriptions on pillars [in cave 33, a Jain cave] which are now mostly worn; a few letters that have survived suggest that the cave may have been built at around the ninth century" (ibid., p. 96).
Some experts on India’s cave temples admit openly that still almost nothing is known about their origins and builders.
Kailasa temple lacks a dedicatory inscription, but there is no doubt that it was commissioned by a Rashtrakuta ruler, so its construction is most commonly attributed to the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I, who ruled 756-773 CE. The Kailasa is one of the 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km and dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff in the complex located at Ellora Caves, near Aurangabad (Maharashtra), India.
The temple is the largest of the rock-cut Hindu temples built on a single rock, and it is 164 feet deep, 109 feet wide, and 98 feet high. Isn't it the world’s biggest monolithic structure, carved out of a single rock?
The lion is the symbol for royalty (Buddha was of royal blood); wheels are symbols of Buddha’s Law; four Lions=Four Noble Truths
The replica of the home of Shiva stands in an open country yard as three separate structures. The main temple rests on a base 25 feet high which appears to be supported by friezes of elephants. This temple measures 150 by 100 feet under a gabled front and a tower in three tiers beneath a cupola. An overhead bridge links the three buildings of Kailasa and its outer gateway.
A most impressive feature of Ellora caves is the hand-made rock-cut sculptures created using only chisel and hammer. Indian craftsmen and master builders made a tremendous job that provides evidence of their efficiency and technological skills.
One of the cave rooms in the rock-carved Kailasa Temple.
Buddhist caves, Hindu caves, and Jaina caves coexist and share the place from the south to the north.
The temple represents an interpretation of the cosmic mountain - in this case, the celestial palace of the great god Shiva, who was believed to dwell on Mount Kailasa in the Himalaya Mountains.
Credit: Adobe Stock - saiko3p
Completed in 785 AD, the Kailasa Temple is a complete celestial abode with pillars, corridors, towers, statuary beautifully decorated with ornamentation.
The temple is not a building - it is a sculpture created on a scale never achieved anywhere else on our planet.
Percy Brown, a leading authority on Indian Art and Architecture, said: “The Kailasa is an illustration of one of those rare moments when men’s minds, hearts, and hands work in unison towards the consummation of a supreme ideal”.
Written by – A. Sutherland AncientPages.com Staff Writer
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Dhavalikar M. K. Ellora