The Pinnacle of Indian Architecture

 Kailasa Temple, one of India’s most spectacular cave temples, was fashioned from a single, excavated stone block. The Kailasa Temple is one of the magnificent Ellora Caves’ 34 cave temples and monasteries.The caves, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and comprise monuments dating from between 600 and 1000 CE, are situated in the western part of Maharashtra. Although there are numerous exquisite buildings there, the megalithic Kailasa temple is arguably the best-known.

It is not precisely known who ordered the construction of the Kailasa temple, which is renowned for both its magnificence and spectacular embellishments. Although there is no documentation, researchers commonly credit Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta, who ruled from approximately 756 to 773 CE. This claim is backed up by a variety of epigraphs that attribute the temple to “Krishnaraja,” regardless of the fact that no writings concerning the king specifically mention the temple.

                      Kailasa Temple 

Even though precise origins remain unclear, a medieval legend describes the vast temple. According to a tale described in Katha-Kalpataru by Krishna Yajnavalki, the queen of a sickly monarch prayed to the deity Shiva for the healing of her husband. The queen promised to build a temple in Shiva’s honor and to abstain from food until the temple’s shikhara, or peak, was completed in gratitude for his better health.

The king recovered, and work on the temple proceeded, but to the horror of the couple, they learned it would take years for the shikhara to form. Fortunately, an engineer named Kokasa approached and explained that by beginning at the peak of the mountain, he could create the shikhara of the temple in less than a week. The queen was greatly relieved since she could now finish her fast.

Although the tale might be a myth, the truth is that the temple was constructed from the top. Excavation of 200,000 tons of volcanic rock was required due to this unconventional choice. A gopuram, or tower, stands at the entrance of a horseshoe-shaped courtyard and is approximately three floors tall. The work is thought to have begun with Krishna I, although it may have continued for centuries with other kings adding their own flair, given the size of the building and the elaborate ornamentation.

                   Top view of Kailasa temple 

The architecture of Kailasa Temple is remarkable, with its Gopuram, the massive tower at the courtyard’s entrance; Nandi Mandapa, the pavilion honoring Lord Shiva’s sacred bull Nandi; Gudh Mandapa, the closed sacred hall; and Vimana, which houses the Shiva shrine, or Garbhagriha.

The beautifully sculpted walls of the Kailasa Temple depict intricate stone-carved sculptures of various deities and also depict some of the episodes from the Hindu Mythology. These marvelous sculptures and the outstanding engineering of the Kailasa Temple make it an incredible example of Indian art, architecture and culture.

                Sculptures at Kailasa temple

The temple is the pinnacle of Indian architecture. It not only paved the path for Indian architecture, but it also maintained an unique air of mystery that gave it a wondrous aura.

The Kailash Temple of the Ellora Caves is a structure of hardwork and determination- which has led to the creation of such beauty. If this wonder doesn’t amaze you, then probably nothing in life will.

                                                                                                                                          -Ketaki Deshpande

                                                                                                                                      FY B.Sc.

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