Kailasa temple - Ellora cave complex - 10 interesting facts

 Among the  numerous rock cut temples of ancient India the most popular and elaborate  one is the cave complex at Ellora near Aurangabad city, Maharashtra. 

Kailasa temple, Ellora, MH upload.wikimedia.org

Kailasa temple, Ellora, MH upload.wikimedia.org

The following are the interesting and unique facts about Kailasa temple, Ellora: 

01. The Ellora complex comprising  34 rock-cut Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temples and monasteries   is dated from 7th to 10th centuries.  Developed during the reign of the Rashtrakuta king, Dantidurga (735-757 AD). 

02. A UNESCO  designated  World Heritage site in 1983 the complex covers over a distance of 1.2 miles (2 km) in the mountainous terrain.

Kailasa temple, Ellora, MH upload.wikimedia.org

Kailasa temple, Ellora, MH upload.wikimedia.org

03. An astonishing  feat  is  the skilled artisans of yore   cut and carved a wide and  long swathe of  vertical face of the basaltic rock cliff from the top to the bottom highlighting a large fa├žade in Elapura  (now known  as Ellora). The most fascinating  work is the Kailasa Temple.

Front view Kailasa temple, Ellora, MH upload.wikimedia.org

04. The complex is  the largest single monolithic excavation in the world with superior quality  artistic work.  Excavating multi-storied temple complex in the rock terrain  more than 1300 years ago  covering a vast area is quite mind-boggling and  it needs special skill and planning.  The artisans carefully chose  a single volcanic basaltic rock block of the Charanandri hills to display their skill in stone work. 

05. Architecturally and aesthetically  quite impressive  and appealing, no other rock-cut cave complex can surpass it beauty,  amazing sculptures, massive size and  tantalizing workmanship

 06. Carving a rock-cut temple from the top to the bottom  is a time-consuming work and needs careful planning and execution. When mistakes are made, they can not be rectified as the medium is hard rock. Perhaps,  Kailasa Temple is the only structure in the world that  is craved from the top to bottom on a huge rock face. 

07. Dedicated to the Hindu trinity god  Shiva, the  design of the temple  resembles the sacred Mount Kailash, the abode of  God Shiva.  A Shiva temple will be incomplete without his vahana - bull (nandi), here it faces the Shiva lingam. Both the temple and nandi mantap are 7 m tall -  constructed over  two floors and are accessible by a stone bridge. 

08 An epitome of architectural excellence, Kailasa Temple has beautiful carvings from   the two major Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana along with 10 panels depicting the different avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. The sculptural representation of demon king Ravana of Lanka (Sri Lanka) attempting to lift Mount Kailasa is worthy of mention.

09. About 145 feet wide, 195 feet long and 90 feet high,  the Kailash temple that covers an area twice the size of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece looks as if it is being supported by the elephants at the base.  

10. The treacherous Mughal King Aurangzeb who was known to have killed his won brothers to ascend the throne and who was a basher of  countless Hindu temples, made a futile attempt to erase the Ellora complex, including  Kailasa temple. In 1682 an army of  1000 people descended on this place to destroy the complex. Having failed to achieve their mission, they returned to Delhi disappointed. It shows the durability of the rock terrain and the way it was planned as a big complex.