Kailasa Temple Is A Unique Architecture Wonder

Kailasa Temple Is A Unique Architecture Wonder

Kailasa Temple

The Kailasa Temple, also known as Kailasanathar Temple or Ellora Cave 16, is one of the most stunning examples of rock-cut architecture worldwide. Located in the Ellora Caves, Maharashtra, India, this remarkable structure is renowned for its grandeur and size and the mystery surrounding its construction.

The History

The Kailasa Temple is believed to have been built in the 8th century under the patronage of the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I, although there is some debate among historians about this. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the primary deities in Hinduism, and is named after his mountain abode in the Himalayas.

It is often misquoted that the Kailasa Temple was ‘discovered’ by the British. The Temple, part of the Ellora Caves complex, was not exactly ‘discovered’ in the modern sense, as the site has been known and revered for many centuries. Its existence was continuous, and it has been a pilgrimage site since its creation.

However, during the British colonial rule in India in the 19th century, the Western world was first introduced to the architectural wonders of Ellora, including the Kailasa Temple. In 1819, while on a hunting expedition, British officer John Smith accidentally discovered the Ajanta caves, another nearby rock-cut Buddhist monastery-temple complex. This sparked interest in the region, leading to a more systematic exploration of the surrounding areas, including the Ellora Caves.

It is also worth noting that the temples at Ellora, including Kailasa, were continuously maintained by the local populace even before the arrival of the British. Thus, they were not ‘lost’ or ‘abandoned’ as some ancient sites sometimes are.

The Architectural Marvel

The Kailasa Temple is a masterpiece of monolithic architecture. This means that unlike other structures built brick-by-brick or stone-by-stone, this entire Temple was carved out of a single rock. It is estimated that about 200,000 tonnes of rock were excavated to construct this Temple.

The Temple’s design is symbolic of Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. The temple complex consists of several interconnected structures, including a gateway, a Nandi shrine, a pillared hall, and the main temple. The Temple is a multi-storied structure with intricate carvings depicting various deities, mythological scenes, and decorative motifs.

Kailasa Temple is the world’s largest monolithic structure, carved from a single rock. The sheer enormity of creating a grand temple, replete with intricate carvings and detailed artistry, from a single rock is mind-boggling. This feat of construction makes it a unique marvel not just in India but in the world.

The Temple’s construction was carried out using a ‘vertical excavation’ technique. The artisans started at the top of the rock and excavated downwards, an extraordinary approach that required accurate planning and immense foresight. Any mistake would have been irreversible, highlighting the precision and skill of the artisans involved.

The architectural style of Kailasa Temple reflects a mix of South Indian (Dravidian) and North Indian (Nagara) styles. The Temple includes all the elements of a traditional Hindu temple – the sanctum sanctorum (garbha griha), the assembly hall (mandapa), and the entrance gate (gopuram). The temple complex includes numerous subsidiary shrines, grand pillared halls, and imposing towers.

Despite being over a thousand years old, the Temple has withstood the ravages of time, maintaining its grandeur and intricate details. This solidity in design testifies to the durability of the construction materials used and the quality of the construction.

The Intricate Carvings

The Kailasa Temple is an exquisite canvas of ancient Indian artistry. The walls, pillars, and the surface of the Temple are covered with elaborate carvings depicting scenes from Hindu scriptures like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas. The most striking of these are the enormous panels depicting the ten avatars of Vishnu and the different forms of Shiva.

The intricate carvings of the Temple provide insights into the mythological, historical, and cultural contexts of the period in which it was constructed. The depictions range from divine entities to secular life, showcasing the exceptional skills of the artisans of the time.

Major episodes from the Indian epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, are vividly carved on the panels of the Temple. They are brought to life three-dimensionally with meticulous detailing, narrating tales of valor, devotion, and moral dilemmas. The portrayal of these narratives showcases not only the artistic brilliance but also the narrative capabilities of the sculptors.

The temple walls also feature an array of deities from the Hindu pantheon. The central deity is Lord Shiva, who is present in various manifestations. He is shown as the cosmic dancer (Nataraja), the fierce warrior (Bhairava), and the serene yogi (Dakshinamurti). There are also images of his consort Parvati, and the divine couple’s elaborate wedding ceremony is depicted with great precision.

Kailasa Temple Shiva Lingam

In addition to the deities, the Temple also features various mythical creatures, such as Kirtimukhas (faces of glory), Makaras (aquatic creatures), and Ganas (attendants of Shiva). These mythological beings add an element of fantasy to the Temple and serve symbolic or protective roles.

The artisans have also portrayed contemporary socio-cultural life with precision. Scenes depicting musicians, dancers, and even common people engaged in everyday activities offer a glimpse into the period’s lifestyle and traditions. These secular depictions provide crucial information about the historical and cultural context of the Temple.

Apart from the figurative carvings, the Temple is adorned with ornamental details like floral motifs, geometric patterns, and friezes. Pillars, doorframes, and ceilings bear intricate designs, adding to the overall aesthetic appeal of the Temple.

Significance and Influence

The Kailasa Temple is a testament to the architectural prowess of ancient India. It has greatly influenced Indian architecture and has served as a model for other rock-cut temples in the country. Despite being over a thousand years old, it continues to be a major pilgrimage site for devotees of Shiva and a popular tourist destination.

Sadhguru mentioned that this task required exceptional planning, skill, and foresight, as there was no room for mistakes in this kind of construction methodology. He has also emphasized that the Kailasa Temple demonstrates a dimension of the human mind that was so organized and capable that it could envision something as complex and grand as this and make it a reality.

Sadhguru has often linked such marvels to the profound spiritual tradition of India. He describes these structures as architectural or engineering accomplishments and tools for spiritual growth and transformation.

The Kailasa temple complex’s unique architecture, where a single, massive rock was carved from top to bottom to create a free-standing temple and its associated structures, has made it a subject of fascination and study for historians, architects, and scholars worldwide. Today, the Ellora Caves, including the Kailasa Temple, are a UNESCO World Heritage site celebrated for their remarkable contribution to global architectural heritage.

The Kailasa Temple is an enduring monument to human creativity, devotion, and ingenuity. It stands as an architectural marvel, symbolizing ancient India’s profound spirituality and vibrant culture. Its mystery and beauty continue to draw people worldwide, inspiring awe and admiration for this unique testament to human endeavor and faith.