Travel Review: "To Witness the Mystical and Mythical"

Travel Review - "To Witness the Mystical and Mythical"
Dr. Neelakandan Pradeesh Kumar
Insight article written date
26-11-2022
Insights written date
Review

The Kailasha temple, considered to be one of the largest of the rock-cut Hindu temples at the Ellora Caves, located in the remote terrains of Aurangabad District, Maharashtra, in India.

It is considered to be a UNESCO heritage site and its one of kind megalith carved from a rock cliff face, as well as considered to be one of the most remarkable cave temples in the world, due to its size, detail in architecture and the intrinsic work exhibited in sculptural treatment. Not just a Cliche, it is considered to be and known as the "climax of the rock-cut phase of Indian architecture".

The Megalith is believed to be made of a single rock, as confirmed and observed archaeologists globally, as the top of the superstructure is found to be 32.6 metres (107 ft), above the level of the court at the bottom, and the rock face observed to be sloping downwards from the rear to the front of the of the temple.

This megalith temple “Kailasa”, well known as cave 16 is the largest of all the 34 Ellora caves and monasteries (Buddhist, Jain and Hindu) Spread over two km along the basalt cliff that slopes downward, and is notable for its vertical excavation—carvers those who started carving and chiselling from the top of the original rock and proceed excavating downwards. It is believed that the master architects, artisans and sculptors used traditional rigid traditional methods which were not perceivable or achievable by excavating from the front of the caves.

The excavation made in the temple are attributed to the eighth century Rashtrakuta king Krishna I (r. c. 756 – 773), with some elements completed later. The temple architecture shows traces of Pallava and Chalukya styles. The temple contains a number of relief and free-standing sculptures on a grand scale equal to the architecture, though only traces remain of the paintings which originally decorated it.

The entrance to the temple courtyard features a low gopuram or Vimana. Most of the deities at the left of the entrance are Shaivaite (affiliated to the Hindu deity Shiva) while on the right hand side the deities are Vaishnavaites (affiliated to the Hindu deity Vishnu).

The two-storeyed gateway opens to reveal a U-shaped courtyard. The dimensions of the courtyard are 82 m x 46 m at the base. The courtyard is edged by a columned arcade three stories high. The arcades are punctuated by huge sculpted panels, and alcoves containing enormous sculptures of a variety of deities. Originally flying bridges of stone connected these galleries to central temple structures, but these have fallen. Some of the most famous sculptures are Shiva the ascetic, Shiva the dancer, Shiva being warned by Parvati about the demon Ravana, and river goddess.

Within the courtyard, there is a central shrine dedicated to Shiva, and an image of his mount Nandi (the sacred bull). The central shrine housing the lingam features a flat-roofed mandapa supported by 16 pillars, and a Dravidian shikhara.

The shrine – complete with pillars, windows, inner and outer rooms, gathering halls, and an enormous stone lingam at its heart – is carved with niches, plasters, windows as well as images of deities, mithunas (erotic male and female figures) and other figures. As is traditional in Shiva temples, Nandi sits on a porch in front of the central temple.

The Nandi mandapa and main Shiva temple are each about 7 metres high, and built on two storeys. The lower stories of the Nandi Mandapa are both solid structures, decorated with elaborate illustrative carvings. The base of the temple has been carved to suggest that elephants are holding the structure aloft. A rock bridge connects the Nandi Mandapa to the porch of the temple. The base of the temple hall features scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Finally, it is a recommended visit for anyone who really loves to learn about architecture, culture and explore History. Give it a try…!!!

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