Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Heritage Gem called Ellora Caves: A Photo Essay

The magnificent Kailasa temple at Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

I don’t know why the Kailasa temple at Ellora is not one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s excavation, carving and stature is unparalleled in the whole world. After all, it is the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world.

Ellora caves is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world. Dating from the 6th century CE, this UNESCO World Heritage site houses monuments and artwork is dedicated to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Like I mentioned in my earlier photo essay article on Ajanta Caves, the 2200 year old rock cave wonder, photographs don’t allow you to experience the magnitude of its magnificence and size, but it still gives you a good idea about one of India’s best heritage sites.

The idea is to give you a sneak peek into the rich architecture, stunning sculptures, gorgeous carvings and inhuman excavation capabilities of Ellora caves through this photo essay. I hope it takes you on a virtual tour through one of Incredible India’s rich heritage gems while all of us stay indoors during the lockdown.

Above photo: Every nook and cranny of Kailasha temple is carved or sculpted with gods, goddesses, mythological stories and more. Just this one temple can take you a good half day just to see it properly.

Inside the Jain temples of Ellora

Above photo:
Each cave at Ellora looks different because it was built during a different time under a different ruler and with different artisans. This is how it looks inside the gorgeous Jain temples of Ellora, particularly Cave 32.

Admiring the view of Ellora Caves Kailasa temple - one of the top wonders of the world

Above photo: Kailasa temple was built by chiselling a mountain top down for over 200 years. One can simply stare at it and wonder with an open mouth as to how this was possible 1400 years ago with no machines or technology.

Intricate carvings on the lower deck walls of Kailasa temple, Ellora Caves

Above photo: The relief panels on the lower deck of Kailasa temple showcase mythological stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. And just to give you perspective, this panel is over 30 feet tall.

Carpenter's cave at Cave 10, Ellora Caves

Above photo: Cave 10 at Ellora is very similar in design to the Buddhist caves of Ajanta. Known as the Carpenter’s cave, this is a chaityagraha where Buddha is in a preaching position.

Shiva as Natarajar - Cave 15, Ellora Caves

Above photo: Learning about the life of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati is one of the special experiences of Ellora Caves. Each aspect of their life has been beautifully sculpted on the rock temple walls. This is Shiva as Natarajar in Cave 15.

Ellora Caves Kailasa Temple at a glance

Above photo: Kailasa temple or Cave 16, the center of all attention at Ellora Caves. This is how it looks as soon you get your entry tickets and enter the main trail.

Kailasa temple - the single largest rock excavation in the world

Above photo: Kailasa temple’s art and creativity can be experienced at the ground level, but to experience its sheer size, you will have to climb the steep trail along the sides of the temple. This trail which leads you above the temple and that makes you stand on the same hill as the temple gives you an idea of its massive size and also allows you to admire its beauty from a different perspective.

Parvati and Shiva at leisure - Rameshwar temple, Cave 21, Ellora

Above photo: Rameshwar temple or Cave 21 is one of the gems of Ellora Caves. This Hindu temple is full of gorgeous sculptures of the gods and goddesses. Here is a sculpture of Shiva and Parvati sitting in leisure at Kailasa while the devalok watches them.

The top view of Kailasa temple, Ellora

Above photo: Another top view of the Kailasa temple at Ellora shows you the attention to detail even while carving the top of the world. It feels like these 4 lions were to guide the people in the sky to the temple.

The beautiful Jain temples at Ellora, Maharashtra

Above photo: The Jain temples at Ellora might not have the size of the Buddhist temples or the grandeur of the Hindu temples, but they certainly make up through intricate and delicate carvings.

Stunning carvings on Kailasha temple, Ellora caves, Maharashtra

Above photo: A side view of the Kailasa temple at Ellora showing you the multiple levels of the temple, its carved pillars and its attention to detail.

Parvati's wedding to Shiva, Rameshwar temple, Cave 21, Ellora

Above photo: Another gorgeous sculpture from the Rameshwar temple or Cave 21. This is Parvati’s wedding to Shiva while the other gods and goddess look on.

The magical Kailasa temple of Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

Above photo: One of the best experiences at Ellora Caves is to climb to the top of the Kailasa temple. This location gives you a good lay of the land and allows you to appreciate the top down excavation of the mountain that you are standing on.

Lord Varaha killing Hiraniyakashyap - Cave 15, Ellora Caves

Above photo: Ellora caves is full of beautiful mythological stories. This is in Cave 15 where Lord Vishnu takes the avatar of Varaha to kill the demon king Hiranyakashyapa and free Bhudevi from his clutches. This fight took place in the deepest parts of the ocean.

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