By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2018

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1. Visited in June 2018. The Dumar Lena (Cave 29) is important cave by the side of “Sita-ka-nahani” a pool created by a waterfall in the Elaganga. It is a huge cave with amazing sculptures must see. U see Kalyansundaram or Minakshisundaram i.e. Shiva Parvati wedding ceremony. Cave is datable to the 8th century.

2. It has 26 pillars with the corresponding pilasters supporting the whole structure. The main hall can be entered from 3 sides except the east. It has a central part that houses the sanctum & isles on either side. The sanctum in the centre has 4 entrances with huge dwarpals accompanied by female attendants at each entrance. The artist has chiselled out the sculptures with beautiful composition and imagination, requiring great skill.

3. Took this pic from cave no 27. Extreme left of pic is cave no 29. Earlier you could walk from 27 to 29 not now. See the rock – how did they cut it and make these caves. Album has few pics of cave 27 & 28.

4. On each of the 3 entrances are these mythical animals. “6 sculptural panels depicting episodes connected with Lord Siva. They are Ravananugrahamurti or Ravana Shaking Mount Kailasa (Siva blessing Ravana, the demon King) pic 6, Kalyanamurti (the celestial marriage between Lord Siva and Parvati) pic 13, Antakasuravadamurti (killing of the demon Antaka) pic 5, Siva and Parvati playing chausar pic 15, Nataraja (the celestial dance of Lord Siva) pic 8, and Lakulisa (form of Lord Siva) pic 9.

5. As enter is ANDHAKASUR ie Siva killing the demon Andhaka who had a boon that when his blood dropped on earth immediately an Andhaka would take birth. So Shiva wants to kill the asura but blood continued dropping. “Shiva stands in the centre of this wall-relief, surrounded by Yogeswari & Sapta Matrikas with trident on this right shoulder”. In one hand Shiva has a bowl full of blood. To avoid it falling Chamunda came & drank all the blood. Now asuras afraid so they surrender & become his followers.

6. Opposite earlier sculpture you see Shiva Parvati sitting on Mount Kailash with Ravana shaking the holy mountain. It Ravananugrahamurti or Ravana Shaking Mount Kailasa (Siva blessing Ravana). Similar scene seen in Meenakshi Temple Madurai and in Banteay Srei in Siem Reap, Cambodia. When Ravana tried to shake Kailasa Shiva pinned down Ravana with his toes. Having humbled Ravana Shiva released him.

7. As you enter cave see this huge hall- u can see linga in the centre. Hall has 26 pillars with the corresponding pilasters supporting the whole structure. Centre is sanctum with linga which can be entered from 4 sides. There are huge doorkeepers on each side. U can turn left or right to see sculptures. Album turns left since i.e. going clockwise.

8. On turning left is sculpture of Nataraja. It is called Gajahasta Murti. In one hand is trishul. It was 9 am ish, little light, not a soul in the cave took some effort to get this and the next pic right. “Cave 29 represents a phase of architecture between the early scooping into solid rock and later out of the live rock into a form resembling structural models.” Caves of this type are Elephants Caves and Jogeshwari in Mumbai.

9. Right opposite is Shiva as the meditating Lakulisa. He is the 28th incarnation of yogic lord Siva, was particularly worshiped in South and Southeast Asia. Lakulisa is the founder of the Pashupata Shaivism.

10. Pillars from northern end to southern end gives you a sense of how big the cave is. On either side there are steps and open area. Left is the sanctum – u can see the doorkeepers. “This cave was excavated during the change-over of regnant power from the Chalukyas to the Rashtrakutas in the middle of the 8th century – its panels lack the proportion & sensitivity of Kailasa cave.”

11. Cave has 26 pillars. Top of pillar right is Yaksha. “They are highly ornate with square basis and the upper portion is fluted and circular shaped and is capped by ribbed cushion capitals.”

12. “This cave also has two enigmatic sculpted depressions, one on south and other on the north that you see. The exact function of these depressions is not clearly understood. Various identifications have been proposed, the prominent among them is that they are religious Vedic altars used at specific important religious rituals.” Left note damaged mythical animal. Note steps.

13. On right side of isle is Kalyanamurti (the celestial marriage between Lord Siva and Parvati) and Saraswati or beautiful lady on extreme right of pic.

14. Close up of SARASWATI or beautiful lady. Note the quality of sculpture – finish.

15. Opposite Shiva Parvati wedding is sculpture of Shiva and Parvati playing game of dice. “In this scene one will observe the subtly varying locutions of mood & expression in the faces of the divine couple & artists’ fanciful indulgences find full play in delineating the frolicking ganas, & the massive bull whose neck is tied with a belt of bells & floridly caparisoned outfit”.

16. Pillar – Dancing Shiva.

17. Close up of the sanctum with doorkeepers on either side with female attendants by their side. Should have taken a coloured pic.

18. Side view. Right of pic note how far the cave goes. Last panel is Shiva Parvati wedding.

19. Vertical view of doorkeeper. So tall goes up to the ceiling nearly. Thread round the Dwarpal’s body is called ‘Yagyopavit’.

20. Close up of Dwarpal or gatekeeper. The “heavy physical forms with their elaborate jewelery and crowns, & the accompanying lady attendants provide an era of dignity and grandeur to the excavation.”

21. Another view of doorkeeper.

22. Pic 3 we saw cave 29 from cave 27. Now we see cave 27 taken from pic 29. Again gives you a sense of the terrain in which these caves were made.

23. We now see cave 27 and 28. At entrance to cave is Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

24. You see Shri Krishna, Subhadra and his brother Balaram.

25. On side of entrance is Sheshnag Vishnu.

26. On another side of entrance is Varaha Avatar of Vishnu. Do see the Badami Caves Karnataka album, wow caves and sculptures.

27. Dwarpals with linga in the centre. Like to thank guide Madhushudan Patil for helping with captions. Sugg guide M Patil 91 75881 97664, Ram Krishna also speaks in Tamil, Japanese, Telegu 91 75881 96674, Amol Basole for Foreign/NRI tourist 91 94222 10571.

28. Doorkeeper with attendant. Stay at Hotel Kailash in Ellora very good 0243 7244446. I stayed there, good cottages and rooms. Nice restaurant too. For a nice & cheaper rest visit Garikipati ie run by a couple. I ate in both places. For captions also referred to book ‘Ajanta, Ellora & Aurangabad Caves by T V Pathy.

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