Kailasa Temple Ellora

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Entrance to the temple. The wall sculptures have various manifestations of Lord Shiv and Vishnu. Have presented the pictures in a way whereby have first clicked from the top of the hill and then walked you through inside the temple clockwise. The temple is in north-south direction.

Overview of Temple from northwest side. It stands within a rectangular court that measures 300 feet by 200 feet. It consists of a Vimana (dome like structure at the far end) in its sanctum cell is where Lord Shiv is enshrined as a Linga. Mandapa 1 (main temple) the two occupying an area of app 150 feet (behind the free standing column) consists of a huge pillared hall on top of which are four lions., Mandapa 2 has housed Nandi the carrier of Lord Shiv (next to the free standing column) and double storied entrance (extreme right of picture). The vimana + main temple are on a plinth that has elephants and dhwajasthambhas (columns) on either side. The temple is designed like a chariot.

Side picture of entrance from south side. Note intricate carving on top and its connection with Mandapa 2 (top extreme right).

Temple view from south side. Note the two freestanding columns on either side, manadapa 2 right in front followed by mandapa 1 or main temple and Vimana thereafter.

How did they carve the Temple? The entire edifice was boldly and confidently chiseled out of a single rock. The excavation method adopted by the artists was to create an island of mountain in rectangular shape by cutting it into trenches vertically, from which was chiseled out the main body of the temples. This picture shows that. The work started from the top going downwards meaning that the dome like structure was chiseled first, then lower portion of vihara and so on.

A closer look from south side shows entrance to main temple (extreme left), main temple supported by 16 pillars (see four lions on its top) and Vimana at the end. The main temple + Vimana is raised over a loft plinth nearly 25 feet high that forms the ground storey.

A closer look from south side of the area on the top of the main temple, see four lions and note design on all sides.

A closer look of the Vimana taken from the eastern side i.e. the backside of the temple.

A picture of the plinth on which stand the main temple + vimana. All around the podium, we notice a row of elephants and rampant lions bracketed by a series of deeply carved moldings both from above and below that produce an aura of majesty of massive plinth for monolith edifice. Note that elephant trunks are chopped off.

A closer look from north side of the top of the main temple and vimana behind. Below the main temple is a main hall supported by 16 pillars carved in 4 rows with floral & animal design. There are pillared porches on north south side that provide a balance to the temple.

Picture from northeastern side taken from the hill above the temple. Left to right note the Vimana, main temple, manadapa 2 where Shiv's carrier Nandi is housed and the entrance at the end. Extreme right see the courtyard with column below.

Picture from southeastern side. Height from top of the Vimana to the level of the courtyard is 95 feet. Note well maintained beautiful garden in the background.

Picture from south side gives you an idea of height top of hill to courtyard. Like the small temple that you see there are five such ones surrounding the vimana.

A side picture of the Vimana from the south side.

A closer look of the kalash (dome like structure) from the south side, note the rock behind.

Now we come to ground level. Temple entrance has in the center Goddess of Wealth, Gajalakshmi seated on a full-bloomed lotus in the midst of a lotus pond while elephants above pour water by way of ritual adoration abhishek as we in India call it.

The way to walk around a temple (we call it Parikrama) is clockwise left to right. On northern side is a dhwajasthambhas or freestanding column nearly 50 feet high from court level bearing at the apex a Trishul a symbol of Lord Shiv.

Before we do the parikrama we must purify ourselves with water which is why to the left of the entrance is this pillared chamber in the north that houses the three river goddesses, Ganga in the center, flanked by Saraswati and Jamuna, symbolizing their confluence at Triveni near Allahabad or Prayag.

An elephant outside the pillared chamber. There is a column and elephants on both sides of the courtyard. Imagine carving out an elephant out of a huge piece of rock, note trunk broken.

On northern side where children are standing on the first floor is a big hall called Lankesvara.

Picture of courtyard. On left are pillars because behind them is a huge corridor that surrounds most of the courtyard. Note the rock on top. We were told that the surface was deliberately made rough so that rock does not fall down.

A tourist walking within in the Corridor, has pillars on both sides, on right is the temple, on left are various sculptures of Lord Shiv and Vishnu amongst others, as you shall see next.

A sculpture between two pillars. Lord Shiv killing a demon, holding him in his hand so that not a drop of blood falls on mother earth or else another demon would be born. The entire corridor is full of sculptures like this one.

Picture from southern side, see children, plinth with molding top / bottom elephants in between and main temple structure above.

On south side is a dhwajasthambhas or freestanding column nearly 50 feet high. Behind it is manadapa 2 where is housed Nandi the carrier of Lord Shiv. On extreme right are carvings that depict scenes from the Ramayan.

On south side are scenes from Ramayan as you see here. On north side are depicted scenes from Mahabharat.

Picture from southwest side. Left to right is entrance at courtyard level, above that is mandapa 2, dhwajasthambhas in front and main temple behind.

The dhwajasthambhas clicked from the western side, to your right note the plinth on which rests the main temple and courtyard.

Below the porch that connects mandapa 2 with the main temple are two sculptures of Lord Shiv. Here he is in a meditative posture as Mahayogi.

This picture shows Lord Shiv as many-handed all-powerful killing a demon.

Rear side of double storied entrance, note the carvings.

This entrance has a small balcony, which had great wind blowing, seemed like the coolest place in the whole temple. Here is a view of the garden from the balcony. Very well maintained and clean.