The Kailasa temple, one of major tourist attraction in India located in Ellora, Marathwada region of Maharashtra, India is one of the largest rock-cut ancient Hindu temple. The temple is one of the 34 temples and monasteries known collectively as the Ellora Caves built in the 8th century by the Rashtrakuta King Krishna I as attested in Kannada inscriptions. The Kailasa’s (cave 16) Striking proportion, elaborate workmanship, architectural content, and sculpture ornamentation of rock-cut architecture made under Dravidian architecture, which is a remarkable example.
The temple covers the wide area of 2 kms and were dug side by side in the wall of high basalt cliff in the complex located at Ellora. It took a long time to complete the temple. Accurate time and year was unknown but it is said that it was commissioned and completed between 757-783 CE, when Krishna I ruled the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The temple is made of a large stone that forms a prehistoric monument with unique sculpture, inscription on it and designed to recall Mount Kailash, the home of Lord Shiva.
Method of Construction:
The temple was not constructed by adding stone blocks, but an entire mountain was carved to create this temple. This is the only example in the whole world where a mountain was cut our from the top, to create a structure. In all the other temples and caves, even in Ellora and the rest of the world, the rock was cut from the front and carved as they went along. The whole world has followed a rock cutting. Technique called “cut-in monolith” while Kailasa temple is the only one that has used the exact opposite technique called “cut-out monolith”.
It took years of work, carving accurately on the huge rock that historians and archaeologists are also confused. Archaeologists confirms that over 400,000 tons of rock had to be scooped out, which would have taken not years, but centuries of human labour. But historians have no record of such a monstrous task and they think that it was built in less than 18 years. They told that people worked every day for 18 years and for 12 hours straight with no breaks at all and it is assumed that people worked like robots ceaselessly.
In the temple you can find carvings which are more than one level. There is U-shaped courtyard and two-storeyed gateway. 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.
Within the courtyard are two structures. As is traditional in Shiva temples, an image of the sacred bull Nandi fronts the central temple housing the lingam. In Cave 16, 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.