Image8 and 9: Entrance to the Kailash TempleThe entranceof the Kailash temple is a low two-storied gopuram (gateway), reminiscent ofChola architecture. At first glimpse, from afar, the entrance looks like ablank wall, presenting an unassuming, almost unfinished looking façade.
It isonly upon further inspection that the sculptures adorning the gopuram appear. Thestructure is in the form of a fortification wall, with niches divided bypilasters, and is replete with sculptural representations of various Hindudeities, the asta-dikpalas, as well as the various incarnations of Shiva andVishnu (main Hindu deities), Narsimha, Nataraja, and Varaha.11The gateway is flanked on either side by sculptures of Hindu river goddesses,Yamuna and Ganga, representing the symbolic purification of the visitor bythe waters of the rivers.12 Image 10: A symbol of prosperity:Upon entering the temple, a vertical plane, embellished with a carving ofGajalakshmi flanked by elephants takes centre stage. Image 11: The entrance opens into an imposing U-shaped courtyard with enormous carved pillars on either side known as Dhwajasthambas, or twin pillars.
The pillars are the highest point of the temple, and are said to represent the individual’s ascent to the sacred- the spiritual connector between man and God. Image 12: A sketch I made of the Dhwajasthambam while at the Kailash Image 13: One of the most important sculptures of theKailash is probably the one depicting Ravana, the 10-headed antagonist in theancient Hindu epic Ramayana, shaking Kailash, the home of Shiva, the deity whothe temple is dedicated to, in the south panel. The sculpture has been carvedon the south face of the temple, and has been deeply inset in the stone framethat it is only visible at certain times of the day.
The sculpture is in the Rashtrakuta style, characterisedby its display of tremendous movement and energy.13 Image 15: Above and below the splint, the substructure has been worked upon and contoured. A frieze of elephants and lions occupies the space in the centre. The base of the main temple is so skilfully excavated that it gives the impression that elephants are holding up the entire structure.
The rising plinth represents the detachment of the individual from the earthly realm and expresses his ascent to the heavens. Image 14: Arcades Image 16: The incarnations of two deities, Vishnu andShiva appear frequently in the temple carvings. This may indicate theprevalence of the Vaishnavism and Shaivism sects of Hinduism in that regionduring the time, or the belief of the kings who commissioned the temple to bebuilt. The temple, though dedicated to Shiva, also pays homage to other Hindudeities. Image 17 My Visit tothe Kailash Temple Entering the Kailash, it feelslike you have entered a different realm.
You’re surrounded by towering rock on all four sides. It’s evident fromthe moment you enter that an entire cliff was excavated to build it, and theeffect is absolutely amazing. Image 18 You can still see the marks leftby a waterfall, which existed thousands of years ago. This probably served as awater source, and must have been critical in the excavation and construction ofthe temple. This allows the structure to blend seamlessly into the surroundingenvironment, and reminds us of the traditional water harvesting techniques thatare so relevant to today’s India, and that great art does not have to be at theexpense of the environment. The Kailash temple, no matter what lens you approachit with, holds the ability to teach you something. Image19 Image 20 For anartist, there are several things to note about the temple.
The entire complexwas initially covered with white plaster, over which artisans painted designswith coloured dyes. Although a lot of the plaster has faded away, the fewpatches which remain display an exceptional understanding of colour. The white,since it reflects light, enhances the colour of the dyes painted over it; makingthem appear more vibrant. Although the pallet used is simplistic, the paintingsstand out, adding to the temple’s splendour.
Another significant aspect of the temple is the ingenious way thecreators used light. The free standing forms are awash with light, with everydetail being displayed clearly and in totality, and stand in contrast to thedark and mysterious cavernous chambers. The darkness obscures the details,leaving things to speculation.14This, for me, enhanced the experience of visiting the Kailash. The rough hewn treatment of therock- cut forms of the temple, juxtaposed with the finely detailed and sculptedfree standing works, presents a contrast. To me it speaks of permanence andendurance – and of team effort. Whereas the art we so often see now veers towards individualism; theKailash temple was a collective effort that spanned generations. Image 19 Image 21 Conclusion Inmany ways, the Kailash temple is an artistic achievement like no other.
It isnot just a structure with extraordinary technical and stylistic properties, buta tribute to the artists’ and architects’ vision and ingenuity. Theircontinuous, collective effort lasted generations and could perhaps serve asinspiration in today’s world of extreme individualism and instantgratification. It certainly inspires me and I have a feeling that I will returnthere sometime later in my life. Image 22and 23: Me at the Kailash temple List ofImages 1.
Taken by me in September 20172. Taken by me in September 20173. Taken by me in September 20174. Taken by me in September 20175. Taken by me in September 20176. A sketch I made of a pillar in theKailash 7. Downloaded from http://elloracaves.
org/about.phpin October 20178. Taken by me in September 20179.
Taken by me in September 201710. Taken by me in September 201711. Taken by me in September 201712. A sketch I made of the Dhwajasthambam while at the Kailash 13. Taken by me in September 201714. Taken by me in September 201715. Taken by me in September 201716.
Taken by me in September 201717. Taken by me in September 201718. Taken by me in September 201719. Taken by me in September 201720.
Taken by me in September 201721. Taken by me in September 201722. Taken by my mother in September 201723. Taken by my mother in September 2017 Bibliography Title Author Publisher Year Kailasa — The Stylistic Development and Chronology M. K. Dhavalikar Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune 1982 Carving Devotion in the Jain Caves at Ellora Volume 41 of Brill’s Indological Library Lisa Owen BRILL 2012 Archaeology As History In Early South Asia Himanshu Prabha Ray, Carla M. Sinopoli Indian Council of Historical Research 2004 The Kail?sa of Ellora and the Chronology of R?shtrak?ta Art H.
Goetz Artibus Asiae Publishers 1952 Ellora, an Enigma in Sculptural Styles Deepak Kannal Books & Books 1996 Hindu Notions of Space Making Pranali Parikh SID Research Cell, School of Interior Design, CEPT University 2008 Encyclopaedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations Charles Higham Facts On File 2004 Websites: 1. https://www.architectural-review.com/rethink/the-rock-cut-temples-in-india-preceded-stone-building/10004233.article2. http://elloracaves.org/about.
php in October 20173. “Section II: Periodic Report on the State of Conservation ofEllora Caves, India, 2003″4. https://www.revolvy.com/topic/Kailasa%20temple,%20Ellora=topic5.
article7. http://ancientvisitors.blogspot.com/2014/09/incredible-hidden-secrets-of-kailasa.html8. https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=4_H6bExNYeY9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JvqnawI-Es 10.http://www.ancient-origins.
net/ancient-places-asia/kailash-temple-ellora-preserving-ancient-wisdom-mankind-00162211.https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/01/16/the-kailasa-temple-in-ellora-is-the-worlds-largest-monolithic-structure-carved-from-one-piece-of-rock/ 1 Lisa Owen, Carving Devotionin the Jain Caves at Ellora2 Charles Higham, Encyclopaediaof Ancient Asian Civilizations3 https://www.architectural-review.com/rethink/the-rock-cut-temples-in-india-preceded-stone-building/10004233.
article 4 https://www.architectural-review.com/rethink/the-rock-cut-temples-in-india-preceded-stone-building/10004233.article 5 Lisa Owen, CarvingDevotion in the JainCaves at Ellora6 HermannGoetz The Kail?sa of Ellora and the Chronology ofR?shtrak?ta Art 7 M.
KDhavalikar, Hermann Goetz8 https://tvaraj.com/2015/07/29/the-awesome-monolithic-kailasanatha-temple-at-ellora-india/ 9 from myvisit to the Ellora Visitor Museum10 PranaliParikh, Hindu Notions of Space Making11 Kailasa — The Stylistic Development And Chronology by M.KDhavalikar12 Kailasa — The Stylistic Development And Chronology by M.KDhavalikar13 M.
KDhavalikar , Kailasa — The Stylistic Development and Chronology 14 HinduNotions of Space Making Image 7: A plan of the Kailash Image 6: A sketch I made of a pillar in the Kailash The complex consists of a large scooped- outenclosure, measuring approximately 100 metres by 75 metres. 10The scheme of the Kailash resolves itself into four main parts: The templeat Ellora, along with the traditional Rashtakuta architecture, also displaysfeatures of Chalukya, Pallava, and early Chola sculptural styles, possibly dueto the migration of sculptors in the wake of a Rashtrakuta expansion. Thesechanges mark the political alignments and interactions of the Rashtrakutas inthe midst of their most successful period; with their reign tinged withsuccessive victories and imperial prerogatives. 9 Style and Architecture Image 5 Havingprepared the field, the builders undertook the lengthy task of hewing theirregular mass of rock into shape. This was followed immediately by sculpting,and each portion of the carved detail was completely finished as the workprogressed downwards, thus avoiding any need of scaffolding.” The firststage of work, for the builders at Kailash, involved the builders excavatingthree huge trenches at a right angle out of the mountain, cutting downvertically to the level of the base of the hill, creating a rectangle of 300feet by 175 feet. The templediffers from others in Ellora in the matter of the technique used for itsconstruction.
While most structures in the caves use the techniques “cut-inmonolith”, hewing out rock from the front and carving inwards, in the Kailash,the sculptors did the exact opposite, starting work from the top, and cuttingand carving on rock downwards with cautious precision. The technique is knownas “cut out monolith”, and resulted in the formation of the largest monolithicstructure in the world.8 By observing the chisel marks on the stone walls, they have cometo the conclusion that primarily three types of chisels and hammers were usedto excavate and sculpt the temple.
Thecreation is believed to be the work of more than 7000 craftsman, and wasconceived and executed by architects and sculptors from the Pallava andChalukyan kingdoms of South India. Image 4 All the experts’ views coincide on one area, though, that thetemple was constructed in the Dravidian style, with clear influences of Rashtrakutanarchitecture, and as such, agree that the temple was commissioned by aRashtrakuta ruler, with later additions (such as some subsidiary shrines andthe plinth) by succeeding rulers, who wanted to leave their mark on the temple.7 Many scholars, including Hermann Goetz, a German art historian hold the view that the structure could not have been constructedunder the reign of a single king; claiming that its sheer size alone disproves thetheory of it having been sculptured and excavated within the fifteen years ofKrishnaraja’s reign.
Goetz attributes the construction of the Kailash temple toseven Rashtrakuta kings and one Pratihara king; ranging in time from 8thcentury BCE to 13th century AD. 6An archaeologist, M.K Dhavalikar, disproved some of Goetz’s theories, butagreed that the construction could not be limited to the reign of one king. Theactual time it took to complete the construction is disputed; with varyingclaims from experts, but estimates are near a 100 years for its construction.
Considering the size of the temple and the sculptures that adorn it, this estimate seems likely. Image 2 Krishnaraja(King Krishna I) of the Rashtrakuta dynasty is generally credited with thecreation of the Kailash temple, owing to inscriptions on the Baroda platescommissioned 20 years after his reign, stating Krishnaraja had created a temple”so wondrous it astonished the gods and even the architect who made it.” 5However, archaeologists have found evidence of work being done to the temple indifferent phases. Inmost countries, rock-cut architecture was preceded by free-standing stone. InIndia, however, the latter is observed. In the ancient Indian civilizations, solidrock has long been preferred to hewn stone as the material to grant permanenceto religious buildings.
4 Origins andHistoryImage 1:Shiva killing a demon I’ve always wanted to visit theKailash temple, and this essay provided me with the perfect opportunity. Togather information for this essay, I visited the Kailash temple in Ellora, andthe Ellora Visitor Museum, located approximately half a kilometre away from thecaves. The temple is dedicated to Shiva (a Hindu deity), and is intendedas an architectural representation of the god’s home, Mount Kailash. Therepresentation is not just a symbolic one: the profile elevation of thebuilding is said to bear a resemblance to that of the actual mountain in theHimalayas. 3 Although allthe caves in Ellora are noteworthy for their intricate workmanship and wellthought out design, Cave 16 of the Ellora Caves, (also known as the KailashTemple) stood out to me. One of the things that have always fascinated me aboutthe Kailash temple was that it was carved out of an entire mountain. The skilland technology required to construct such a monument, especially when expertsestimate that the artists removed three million cubic feet of stone to createand shape it2,would be massive.
Even with today’s technology, this construction would beconsidered a remarkable feat. The ElloraCaves, in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, have been a World HeritageSite for 35 years, since they were declared such by UNESCO in 1983. Carved scrupulouslywith both hollowed out and free-standing forms, they form one of the mostbeautiful expressions of Indian art in the subcontinent. The coexistence ofmonuments dedicated to three different religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, andJainism) in Ellora is a representation of the religious harmony during thisperiod.1 Introduction · Bibliography page20· List of Images page19· Conclusion page 18· My Visit to the Kailash Temple page 15· Style and Architecture page7· Origins and History page4 · Introduction page 3· Table of Contents page2· Abstract page2 Table ofContents Thisessay was meant to cover the artistic and architectural properties of theKailash temple in Maharashtra, India. I also attempted to briefly describe thetemple’s history. My research was greatly enhanced by my visit to the site inSeptember 2017, when I was able to study the temple first hand, and collect agreat number of photographs. I also made sketches.