Kailash Temple is located near the village of Ellora which is 30 km from Aurangabad. This temple is considered as one among the most astonishing buildings in the history of architecture. This temple is one of the largest 34 excavations at Ellora, which took almost a century. The Kailash Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the idol here is 109 feet wide by 164 feet long.
Video - In and Around Kailash Temple
Significance of the Temple
Kailash Temple consists of a number of images of deities, animals, and other mythical creatures from the puranas in a very much unique manner that leaves one in rapturous delight. Entire panels here are carved showing scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
There also the depiction of the demon Ravana shaking Mount Kailash which is considered as a masterpiece that contain the scenes of semi-mythological history, the royal court and popular life of the ancient times which are told in romances and plays. Some pictures here at the temple recall the Greek and Roman compositions and proportions, few late resemble to Chinese manners to some extent. But majority of the pictures belongs to a phase which is purely Indian as they are found no where else.
The monuments here were constructed during two different periods of time separated by a long interval of four centuries in the history. The older ones were the product of last two centuries before Christ and belong to Hinayana period of Buddhism in later part of 2nd century AD when Buddhism was divided into two sections, after the conduct of the Fourth General Council under another great king, Kanishka.
The new feature of Mahayana Buddhism was about the concept of future Buddha's. The Buddha, himself probably had thought that he was the last of the long succession of earlier Buddha's who lived before him. According to the Buddhist traditions and culture these former Buddhas were revered even in the historical Buddha's lifetime. By this time, king Ashoka and their cult was widespread and was patronized by Ashoka. Later, when these stupas were constructed and beautified, the carvings were executed in a very much symbolic way.
A very inspired sculptor began to carve images of Buddha himself and within the few generations, all the Buddhist sects took to worshipping images. The universe of Mahayana contains numerous Bodhisattava, the chief of whom is Avalokitesvara with attributes of compassion. He is also called Padmapani or the lotus bearer. The Manjushri with a naked sword in one hand stimulates the understanding. The sterner Bodhisattava who is a foe of the sin and evil and bearing a thunderbolt in the hand is Vajrapani. The future Buddha, Maitreya will take birth to save the world.
Who built the temple and when
It is believed that the construction of the famous Kailash Temple in Maharashtra was started in the mid 8th century under the direction of King Krishna I (757-775) of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The Kailash temple is one of the world's largest monolithic structure carved from one piece of rock and the most extensive rock-cut projects ever undertaken in history.
The temple is located at Ellora caves which is the world’s largest and most complicated rock cut architecture. Legends says that it took over hundreds of years to scoop out 200,000 tons of rocks to bring the temple in shape.
The unique part of this temple is its marvelous architecture. Instead of creating underground halls, this famous temple has been carved vertically down on the rock. The architecture of the temple is been divided into four sections that firstly the temple itself, the entrance grate, Nandi shrine and the passages surrounding the courtyard. The idol of Lord Shiva inside this famous temple is huge. It measures 109 ft wide and is 164 ft tall.
The walls of the temple are adorned with images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, several animals related to Hindu mythology, characters from Puranas, and various scenes from the two great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The construction of Kailash temple dates back to 8th century.
All the carvings are done in more than one level. A two-storeyed gateway opens in the temples complex to reveal a U-shaped courtyard. The courtyard is edged by a columned arcade three storeys high. The arcades here are punctuated by huge sculpted panels, and alcoves containing enormous sculptures of a variety of deities. Originally there were flying bridges of stone connected with these galleries to central temple structures, but these have fallen.
Within the courtyard there are two structures. As is traditional in Shiva temples, an image of the sacred bull Nandi fronts the central temple housing the lingam. In Cave 16, the Nandi Mandap and main Shiva temple are each about 7 meters high, and built on two storeys. The lower storey of the Nandi Mandap are both solid structures, decorated with elaborate illustrative carvings. The base of the temple has been carved to suggest that elephants are holding the structure aloft.
Time to Visit
The best time to visit Kailash Temple would be in December, when an Indian classical music festival is held at Ellora. Every December at the Kailash temple the MTDC organises the Ellora festival of music and dance at the Kailash Temple. Ellora is well connected by all means of transport. Accommodation is available at the hotels in Aurangabad.