In Cave 16: the Kailasa temple

Headline : In Cave 16: the Kailasa temple

Details :


  • Kailasa temple in cave 16 of Ellora is one of the largest rock-cut temples in the world.


Story behind the temple

  • According to a legend cited in the 10th century book Katha Kalpa Taru, sometime in the 8th century, the queen of the Rashtrakuta ruler Elu made a vow that she would not eat till a magnificent temple was built to Lord Shiva, and she saw its amlaka (finial).
  • The king invited many architects, but none of them was able to fulfil this vow.
  • Finally, an architect named Kokasa from Paithan completed the task in no time.


Construction of the temple

  • The construction of the temple began during the rule of the Rashtrakuta king, Dantidurga (735-757 AD).
  • A group of skilled artisans cut and carved the vertical face of the basalt rock of a hill in Elapura, known today as Ellora, near Aurangabad.
  • Unlike the Buddhists who made carvings inside the rock to construct cave temples, this group cut the rock internally and externally, with precision, to build a monolithic rock temple.
  • The result is that the magnificent Kailasa temple is one of the largest rock-cut temples in the world.
  • Major work on the temple was done by King Dantidurga’s successor, Krishna I (757-773 AD), although work continued under many successive kings for more than a century.



History of the temple

  • The Kailasa or Kailasanatha temple is one of the largest rock-cutancient Hindu temples located in Ellora, Maharashtra, India.
  • It is considered one of the most remarkable cave temples in India because of its size, architecture and sculptural treatment.
  • The Kailasanatha temple (Cave 16) is one of the 32 cave temples and monasteries known collectively as the Ellora Caves.
  • Its construction is generally attributed to the 8th century Rashtrakutaking Krishna I in 756-773 CE.
  • The temple architecture shows traces of Pallavaand Chalukya styles


Features of cave 16

  • At the entrance there is a huge rock screen with carvings and a two-level doorway with eaves on top.
  • A door on the lower level leads into the double-storey gopuram, which has exquisitely carved sculptures on the walls.
  • Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna flank the entrance gateway.
  • The gopuram at the lower level leads to the portico.
  • On the either side of the portico are the north and south courts with life-size elephants and a victory pillar framing the Kailasa.
  • There are five subsidiary shrines around the main temple in the circumambulatory path that runs along the side of the hill.
  • This includes a shrine dedicated to river goddesses Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, and a yajna-shala (hall of sacrifice).
  • However, the main temple is the most impressive.
  • The elephants and lions that form the high plinth of the main temple signify Rashtrakuta power and prosperity.
  • Rock steps in the left court lead up to the top where Nandi and a 36-column mandap with a Shiv ling are located.
  • There are many beautiful carvings: of Durga, Mahishasuramardini, Gajalakshmi seated in a lotus pool, Shiva as Ardhanari and Virbhadra, Ravana shaking the Kailash parvat , and the Mahabharata and Ramayana panels.


Features of the main kailasa temple

  • Apart from the gopura , the main temple has a sabha griha ( hall), vestibules and a Nandi mandap which leads to the garba griha (sanctum) with the Shiv linga, all of which are profusely carved and with Dravidian shikharas (towers).
  • A bridge connects the Nandi mandap to the gopuram.
  • The stiff climb up the hill was made worthwhile by the loveliness of the lotus on the roof of the sanctum.
  • The lotus is crowned by a finial with four mythical lions, each facing one cardinal direction.


About the Ellora caves

  • Ellora, located in the Aurangabad districtof Maharashtra, India, is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world.
  • It is a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site, featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600-1000 CE period.
  • There are 32 caves in Ellora, numbered according to their age.
  • Temples 1 to 12 in the southern side are the Buddhist caves.
  • Temples 13 to 29 are the Hindu caves, and in the northern side are the Jain temples.
  • All of the Ellora monuments were built during Hindu dynasties such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu & Buddhist caves, and the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves.
  • Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders and the wealthy of the region.
Section : History & Culture