Aurangabad - III: Ellora - Cave 16 Kailasa Temple

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Aurangabad - III: Ellora - Cave 16 Kailasa Temple

The Great Kailasa temple is the largest single monolithic excavation in the world. If you don’t have enough time to visit Ellora and want to have a glance then don’t miss out kailasa temple numbered as cave 16.
This is a must visit once in a life time, to witness the massiveness and extent of rock carvings.
As we entered through the gopura entrance we were fascinated with the imagination of the architect who designed this colossal wonder.

This monolithic structure measures 276 X 154 X 107 feet (length X width X height), was excavated from top-to-bottom with three deep trenches sunk in the parent rock mass. It took over 200 years for getting this marvel completed, through many generations, started from Rastrakuta King Dantidurga (735-757 A.D) and later majorly constructed in the reign of Krishna I (757-773 A.D.).
The Great Kailasa is dedicated to Lord Shiva, consisting of majorly Shiva sculptures.
The Great Kailasa and Pillar of Victory
The Great Kailasa and Pillar of Victory
The two elephants and free standing Pillars of Victory in the courtyard reflect Rastrakuta’s power and supremacy. The whole temple is supported by mostly elephants which illustrates the importance of animals in Hindu Mythology. This superstructure is surrounded by a raised corridor with series of pillars and decorated with mythological stories.
Broader view of the temple complex
Broader view of the temple complex
The main temple was called as Rang-Mahal (Painted palace) because after its completion, the temple was plastered and painted.
This temple resembles closely with the Virupaksha temple at Pattadakkal, an early Chalukyan temple in Karnataka.
The layout of the Kailasa temple complex can be broadly classified into four parts,

1.    The entrance gateway has a double-storeyed Dravidian style gopura with the fortification wall. Images of Ashtadigpalas (guardian gods of eight directions) are sculptured on the main wall. As you enter the gopura, you’ll be welcomed by the huge panel of Gajalakshmi and then passing either sides will take you to the beautiful and spacious courtyard. The courtyard has two giant monolithic elephants and pillars on either sides. The two pillars are square in shape and raised to a height of 45 feet and is crowned by a huge trisula. The pillars are decorated with sculptures.

2.       The main temple, is raised to an height of nearly 23 m located at the center of the temple complex and is also a double storeyed monolithic structure. Once painted entirely, now only traces can be seen. The sanctum inside the shrine contains a huge linga. The main shrine is connected with multiple shrines which makes the excavation more complex being entire complex monolithic. Originally there was a stone bride connecting the southern balcony of the main shrine to the shrines on the parent rock mass. Now the bridge has fallen down and one can see the remnants of support pillars.

3.       The Nandi shrine or the nandimandpa, is in front of the main shrine. After passing through the nandimandapa, the visitor can reach the upper storey of the entrance gopura, and through a window can have a glimpse of the exterior of the cave complex. Two exits branch off from the upper storey of the gopura to an elevated platform, from where one can have a wider view of the temple complex. This passage connecting the main shrine to the entrance gopura through the Nandi Shrine is an engineering marvel, one can only see to believe the understanding of cantilever principles mastered during ancient times and executed here.

4.       The cloisters surrounding the courtyard, consists of multi storeyed excavations done on the parent rock mass. Numerous sculptures are carved along the passage with beautiful pillars. At one side the excavation is raised upto three storey, which was closed for renovation when we visited. On the other side it is two storeyed with beautiful pillars and sculptures.
multi storeyed excavation
multi storeyed excavation
Multi storeyed excavations done on the parent rock mass
Multi storeyed excavations done on the parent rock mass
Huge sculptures, the size is measurable by considering the on looker beside
Huge sculptures, the size is measurable by considering the on looker beside
Giving a view of Elephants holding the weight of the main temple complex
Giving a view of Elephants holding the weight of the main temple complex 
Long Verandah's surrounding the main shrine, all excavated from the same rock
Long Verandah's surrounding the main shrine, all excavated from the same rock
Backside of the main shrine, the hugeness can be compared with the boy standing in the bottom left corner
Backside of the main shrine, the hugeness can be compared with the boy standing in the bottom left corner
One of the sculptures in the first floor of adjoining complex
One of the sculptures in the first floor of adjoining complex
Pillars in the first floor of adjoining complex
Pillars in the first floor of adjoining complex
The Great Kailasa temple will blow your mind with its complex excavations which is beyond imagination, and with full of curiosity of the amazing craftsmanship behind this masterpiece.
Hats-off to the master architect who designed this and to the ones who made it reality.
I wonder how such ancient marvel is silent from even the nominations for the Wonders of the World. Ajanta-Ellora must be definitely considered for the Wonders of the World nominations at least for the next time.
Closer view of main Shrine
cantilever principles mastered during ancient times
cantilever principles mastered during ancient times 
Sculptures on one of the outdoor walls
Sculptures on one of the outdoor walls
Front view of the monolithic temple complex
Front view of the monolithic temple complex
Our Aurangabad trip was complete at this man made marvel.
The journey back to Pune was started at about 6.30pm and we reached Pune by 12 midnight.
The amazing trip was slightly disturbed by the cab driver. We had to complain to Celcabs call center but they said, they can’t help, which made us to never think about their pathetic service again.

Next on our cards was Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar, which is on the other side of Maharashtra.

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