Monday, December 22, 2008

Ellora Caves - Ellora, Maharashtra, India

The whole temple consists of a shrine with a ling at the rear of the hall with a Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa supported by sixteen pillars, a separate porch for Nandi surrounded by an open-court entered through a low gopura. There are two Dhvajastambhas (pillars with the flagstaff) in the courtyard. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva, with his full might is a landmark in Indian art.

All the carvings are done in more than one level. The lower storey consists of several large shrines while the gallery along the three sides at the rear contains huge sculpted panels. A two-storeyed gateway on the west side provides access to the main temple and the Nandi Mandapa, both on the same level, and is approximately seven meters high. The lower storey of the main temple as well as the Nandi Shrine are solid and cannot be entered. Stone bridges carved from the living rock connect the Nandi pavilion and the entrance porch of the temple. The main temple has a southern style superstructure. The lower storey has almost life-size elephants carved as if they are holding up the temple.

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