Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ellora Caves - Part 2 - Hindu Caves

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Hindu caves at Ellora are the apex of rock-cut architecture in India.

The modern entrance to Ellora Caves is directly in front of Cave 16, the “Great Kailash Temple”. This temple, 100 m deep, 75 m wide, and 33 m high was created from a single block. Unlike the “caves” which were excavated and carved from front-to-back, Kailash was excavated from the top down. The planning that went into making such a massive piece is beyond my comprehension: no mistakes allowed! The temple follows the pattern of contemporary stone-built temples with a free-standing Nandi pavilion, a mandapa (columned pavilion) before the garbagriha (sanctum) and secondary shrines on the outside.
The main (middle) structure of the temple.
Here and in the next photo, you can see the three surrounding cliff walls that remain after the temple was excavated. Under these walls are shallow excavations with sculptures illustrating the lives of Shiva and Krishna.
The other side of the temple.
Like Ajanta, originally the structures were entirely covered with a thin layer of plaster and painted with elaborate designs and murals. Very little survives, since unlike “caves”, the entire structure is open to the elements.
More examples of painted designs and murals.
There are many fine sculptures in Cave 16, but the lighting conditions were so contrasty, that it was difficult to get good photos.

These three goddesses represent the three holy rivers of Hinduism: The Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati Rivers.
Here I “inverted” a black-and-white version of the photo above. It de-emphasizes the pillars and draws attention to the sculptures.
For another look at Ellora, see my post from an earlier trip.

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