Kailasa Temple in Ellora Caves

Kailasa Temple; Ellora Caves; Maharashtra; rock cut caves; uasatish;
Kailasa Temple Ellora Caves

Kailasa Temple in Ellora Caves is an extraordinary Shiva temple. It is hundreds of years old. The temple is a monolithic structure of basalt stone. Beautiful carved sculptures fill the temple. There are 32 caves in Ellora. Kailasa Temple is in cave no. 16.

History of Kailasa Temple

There are no inscriptions in the temple to track its history. But historians attribute the construction to Rashtrakuta king Krishna I in the eighth century. Later rulers further extended the temple.

Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; Galalakshmi; four elephants;
Gajalakshmi with Four Elephants

The picture shows elephants spraying water on Gajalakshmi. This magnificent panel is in front of the entrance gate. The goddess is sitting on a double louts in  kshirsagar (Milk Ocean). She is the goddess of fortune and wealth. The two small elephants are filling the vessels with water.

Kailasa Temple Arcade; Ellora Caves; cave no 16;  Kailasa Temple; Maharashtra; uasatish;
Kailasa Temple Arcade

Construction of the Temple

The master architect had chosen to excavate from the top of the mountain. Massive amounts of stone were dug out, without the help of modern machinery. The temple stands independent of the surrounding rock. There are carvings on the inside and outside.

Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; Shiva Thandava;
Shiva Thandava

The sculpture of Shiva in Tandava dance is in the rare abhanga pose, balanced delicately by four hands on each side. He stands gracefully with weight of the body placed on one leg. The pose shows meditation, repose and serenity. 

Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; unsupported rock ceiling;

Unsupported Rock Ceiling

On either side of the main temple on the exterior walls are two panels depicting scenes from Mahabharatha and Ramayana. The Ramayana panel in the southern wall portrays a number of events in seven rows. 

Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; Ramayana;
Depiction of Ramayana

The northern wall has carvings showing scenes from Mahabharata. The panels are again in seven rows. The lower two rows display the childhood escapades of Krishna. The upper five rows have scenes of Arjuna’s penance, the Kirata-Arjuna fight and the Mahabharata war.

Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; Mahabharatham;
Mahabharatham Story

Architecture of Kailasa Temple

The temple architecture has Dravidian influences. The main temple has a U-shaped courtyard. A columned arcade three stories high surrounds the courtyard. The arcades contain enormous sculptures of deities and sculpted panels. 

Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; Lord Shiva;
Yogeshwar Lord Shiva

There are five subsidiary shrines around the main temple in the 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).

Kailasa Temple; Ellora Caves; Maharashtra; elephant figures; uasatish;
Elephant Figures in Kailas Temple

Elephants are auspicious animals in Hinduism. They are part of some religious ceremonies and functions in India. You will find life-size sculptures of elephants in Kailasa Temple.

Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; victory pillar;
Rock Cut Pillar

There are two free-standing victory pillars (kirti stambhs) in the temple

Kailasa Temple; Ellora Caves; Maharashtra; cave no. 16; uasatish;
Corridor Flanking Kailasa Temple
Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; Nandi;
Nandi Bull

A sculpture of the sacred bull Nandi paying obeisance to Lord Shiva is in the centre of the temple.

Kailas Temple; Ellora Caves; cave no. 16; rock cut caves; India; Maharashtra; temple; UNESCO heritage site; uasatish; Narasimha;
Narasimha

The sculpture shows Narasimha, tearing out the entrails of his enemy. 

Kailasa Temple; Ellora Caves; India; rock cut temple; cave no 16; uasatish; erotic sculpture;
Mithuna Couple on Outer Wall

There are a few erotic sculptures on the outer walls of the temple.

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