Kailasanatha in the Ellora Caves

Asia | | September 26, 2011 at 12:30 am


Kailasanatha, also referred to as cave 16 is the unparalleled part of the Ellora Caves. It was designed following the structure of the Mount Kailash, which according to Hindu mythology is Lord Shiva’s abode. From a distance, the Kailasanatha appears like a separate multistoried temple complex. The most surprising fact about Kailasanatha is that it was curved from a single rock; moreover, the area covered by this magnificent cave is double that of Parthenon, Athens. Earlier, the entire temple complex was coated by white plaster, which made it look almost similar to the snow covered terrain of Mount Kailash.

Kailasanatha at Ellora

Each carving of this temple complex is consisted of more than 1 level. The gateway of the Kailasanatha is a two-storied structure; it has significant resemblance with gopuram i.e. the South Indian version of gateways, mostly used in temples. As you cross the gateway, you will reach the Kailasanatha’s U-shaped courtyard.  On the edges of the courtyard there are columned galleries, which are three-storied structures.

Kailasanatha Temple

Like majority of the traditional temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kailasanatha also has 3 primary segments. The first segment has the idol of Shiva’s sacred bull, Nandi. Then comes the central temple, locally referred to as the Nandi Mandap; here, you will come across the Shiva Lingam. Nandi Mandap is a structure built on 16 columns and has a height of 29.3 meters. The next segment is the Shiva Temple, situated just behind the Nandi Mandap. The Nandi Mandap is connected to the Shiva Temple by a rock bridge. The Shiva Temple is a lofty pyramidal structure having distinct similarities with the Dravidian temple of South India. The shrine is designed excellently and comprises of outer and inner rooms, windows, pillars, gathering halls and a huge Lingam, worshiped as Lord Shiva.

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