Ellora

Monolithic marvel

Print edition : July 25, 2014

The main Kailasa temple with the three-storeyed vimana.

A bird's-eye view of the Kailasa temple complex with the vimana, a mahamantapa (in the middle) with a shikara, and a gopura in the foreground with a wagon-shaped finial.

The northern corridor with a gallery of sculptures, and the plinth (right) of the Kailasa temple. The cantilever supports a mass of rock 30 metres tall.

The plinth of the main Kailasa temple, with elephants depicted as bearing the weight of the temple and its vimana.

The monolithic kirti stambh and the sculptures in the portico of the complex. Experts call the pillars a "measuring rod of the stature of the Kailasa temple itself".

A panel with eight rows of friezes, on the southern plinth, on episodes from the Ramayana.

The Mahabharata panel on the northern side depicting episodes from the epic.

The vimana of the mahamantapa has four sculptures of lions, each with a raised paw, standing in a circle. These animated lions are believed to be the guardians of the temple complex.

A monolithic shrine excavated in the passage around the main temple.

Siva as Rishabavahana with Parvati.

Siva as Gajasamharamurti. A demon called Gajamukhasura, in the guise of an elephant, was troubling the devas, who prayed to Siva to slay him. The picture shows Siva spreading, behind him, the hide of the slain elephant.

A female door guardian (dwarapalika) in front of the sanctum of the main temple.

Siva as maha yogi, or Sadasiva, or Kevala Siva, in deep meditation. Musicians are depicted as playing their drums in order to disturb his meditation.

The Gangavatara panel, showing Siva checking the might of the Ganga by arresting its flow towards the earth in his matted hair. Bhagiratha is shown doing penance standing on one leg.

Professor G.B. Deglurkar, president, Deccan College.

Rajesh Waklekar, Conservation Assistant, ASI, Ellora.

A.M.V. Subramanyam, Superintending Archaeologist, Aurangabad Circle, ASI. Photo: by a special correspondent

Tejas Garge, Assistant Archaeologist, Aurangabad Circle, ASI. Photo: by special arrangement

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