Kailash Mandir at Ellora is one of the miraculous human creations in the world. Ellora is an archaeological site located around 30 kilometers away from the city Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra in India. In local language the place is known as ‘Verul ‘. The site is popular in the world for the monumental caves; Ellora is a World Heritage Site and this extends over an area of more than 2 kilometers.
There are 34 caves which are excavated out of the vertical face of rock from Charanandri hills. These are estimated to have been made between 5th and 10th century and comprises of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist sculptures. There are 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves in the site. The proximity of the caves throws light on the religious harmony prevalent in that period. 16th cave is Kailash Temple.
The uniqueness of this Kailash Temple is in its creation. The Temple is not built but cut and carved out of a single gigantic and huge rock. The Temple is noted for its vertical excavation. The rock was cut from top to bottom yet it has maintained the beauty of architectural planning. The astonishing factor is that almost 4, 00,000 tons of rock is carved out in a period of 20 years for completion of the temple. The Kailash Mandir is estimated to have been made in 757 to 783 CE, during the reign of King Krishna I of the Rashtrakul dynasty. The Temple is a masterpiece with elaborate workmanship with the striking proportions of the sculptures decorating the rock.
Kailash Mandir is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the caves in Ellora. This masterpiece is designed to resemble the place mount Kailash which is construed as the abode of Lord Shiva in Himalayas. The temple is indeed a jewel in the crown outstanding in the range of other caves. This looks like a freestanding multi-storied temple complex. Interestingly the entire temple is made from just one single rock. The temple expanse is very huge and the area it covers is double the size of Parthenon in Athens. The temple was initially covered by white plaster so that the resemblance to snow clad Mount Kailas may be depicted.
Another stunning feature in this temple is that he temple premises has the largest cantilevered rock ceiling in the world. The Kailash Temple is a supreme example of one of those few rare occasions when the mind, heart, and hands of men work in unison for creation of an outstanding masterpiece
The visitors are stunned at the scale of the work that was undertaken. First the entire temple is carver from monolith, single rock. The area covered is twice the area of Parthenon in Athens, with the height 1.5 times. It is believed to be made by almost 7000 workers and taken 150 years to complete the project; still the harmony and sync of the various sculptures are par excellence.
The rear wall of the courtyard is 276 feet X 154 feet and is 100 feet high. The Kailash temple itself is 164 feet deep and 109 feet wide with the height of 98 feet. Such a vast yet uniform and lovely structure consists of a gateway, assembly hall, sanctuary and tower. Each and every surface is lavishly covered with symbols and figures from puranas and epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. There are a number of images of deities, animals and other mythical creatures. There is a bridge that connects the temple to the gallery wall.
Image credit@Maheshwari Ande
Devotees get energized and experience immense power flowing through the body, the way sound moves inside the temple. The perfection of every carved sculpture imparts meaning to the sacred Symbols of Hinduism. The Kailash Mandir only establishes the fact that during the ancient era the Indian workmanship was excellent and had used rudimentary hand tools but have created masterpiece.