Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories

A view from a distance
On that morning, from Aurangabad central bus stand, I boarded an old government bus to historic Ellora caves (29km). City’s traffic slowed us down; after city limits we gained speed and passed through the lanes which were once frequented by armies of Devagiri, Delhi Sultanates, Mughals etc. At a distance, one can see the bald head of hills sweating under bright sun. Bus was very much crowded; a Korean tourist standing opposite to me was firmly holding to an iron bar in the ceiling. I was very happy, till then I saw Ellora in the pages of history books, photos in web etc.

Ellora Caves

Built by Rashtrakuda dynasty, this cave complex (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was excavated out of Charanandri hills in between AD 600 and 1000. Here, one can see the temples from Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

According to UNESCO,
“These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over... 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff... Progressing from south to north along the cliff, one discovers successively the twelve caves of the Buddhist group, which appear to be the oldest and comprise monasteries and a single large temple (cave 10); then... Brahmin group... finally the Jain group (caves 30-34) whose sanctuaries were created by the sect of the Digambara...
The Buddhist Caves were excavated between the 5th and the 7th centuries AD, when the Mahayana sects were flourishing in the region; among these cave 5 is the largest. Cave 10 is a chaitya hall and is popularly known as 'Visvakarma'. It has a highly ornamental facade provided with a gallery and in the chaitya hall there is a beautiful image of Buddha set on a stupa...
The Brahmin caves are mostly Saivite. Kailasa (cave 16) is a remarkable example of rock-cut temples in India on account of its striking proportion; elaborate workmanship architectural content and sculptural ornamentation. It is said that cave 16 have been started by the Rashtrakuta king, Krishna I, and it is dedicated to Shiva and named after his mountain home in the Himalaya, the snow-peak Kailasa. The whole temple consists of a shrine with lingam at the rear of the hall with Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa supported by sixteen pillars, a separate porch for Nandi surrounded by an open court entered through a low gopura. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, with his full might is a landmark in Indian art” - UNESCO


Most famous among them is this frees standing, multi storied, and magnificent work in stone – The Kilasanatha temple, built by Krishna I of Rashtrakuda dynasty. With a size, double that of Parthenon of Athens, this abode of Lord Shiva is an epic in itself. As I was running short of time, my main focus was on this temple – aka cave no 16.

Our bus stopped close to this temple. After buying tickets, I had to walk a little to reach the entrance. That place was crowded, a lot of people were moving in and out of the complex. I slowly moved in. Entire complex was dug out from the hill. Why they tried digging, while they might have provisions to build a new temple at another place using stone or bricks? May be this is a statement, a way for eternal glory... I don’t know. After some time, I reached the sanctum. Linga was really a big one.

After coming out, took a round around the sanctum; reading stories our forefathers written in stone. Numerous stone elephants are standing at the bottom, as if holding the weight of the temple. Sculptures of various gods were looking towards me from the walls. In the outer ring, there were a number of statues carved in the walls.

Finally, it was time to go. After waiting for some ten minutes, got a shared auto to Daulatabad Fort (aka Devagiri fort). With a group of Korean tourists, I also moved out.

But let me tell you one thing, there is a lot more in Ellora than you could explore in half a day.


For more reading

3. Wikipedia

Another sculpture in the walls
For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

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