Kailasa temple; Shiva's mysterious abode
Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Mount Kailash is known as the axis of the earth and also the abode of Lord Shiva. It's based in the mysterious mountain region in the trans Himalayan region of Tibet. But there is another Kailash far off from into the hills of Sahyadri mountain. This is know as Kailas Mandir fondly known to the world as Ellora Caves. It is called as Verul Leni in our Marathi language.
This is one can say the replica of the legendary Kailasa mountain as depicted in the ancient scriptures. But this is in the form of beautiful sculptures; a poetry carved in stones. A unique tribute to the Lord Shiva on the back of this earth. This is also a place that signifies love of the devotees to her lord and love of a King Dantidurga ( Rashtrakuta dynasty ) for his Queen and Mahadev. Out of that love which is not restricted to one person but for the whole humanity he offered his riches and best artisans for the world. But this task was going on over the period of 135 years. The grand project completed in the period of King Krishna I. So I wonder how come next generation carries this out? Is it out of vanity or love for the God or society? Maybe all but the love is sublimated in a form that every generation is getting inspired from it. A king devoted to the people and his family , an artist devoted to his task , a labour dedicated to his work and farmers who paid their taxes. Everyone contributed. For me they are the most educated and advanced human beings who understood the importance of the art, social well being and nature.
Story goes like this . One fine day the Queen of King Dantidurga woke up and she narrated her dream to him. And to fulfil her wish she asked to see the Kalasha ( top part of the temple ). She decided not to have food until she can see it. So the visionary architect built the temple from the top. And the love story of the King and queen transformed from a couple's story to an architect's story. A dream turning into the greatest achievement in the history of architecture. Imagine how many of them lived by this place to make it a reality ? Each one a world class sculpture and painter who without a single mistake carried out the work done by the earlier master.
Even after 1300 years you can still see the beautiful work of those artists standing tall. Those who are curious to know the details kindly visit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kailasa_Temple,_Ellora
The three story architecture has been carved out from the top and tons rock was taken out to create the beautiful space with paintings and sculpture depicting scenes of war, celebration, meditation. Humans, animals, Gods, Demi god, Gandharvas, Yakshas and others adorned the walls and surrounding of this temple complex. The sheer size is towering makes us feel humble. The hill is in the area of Verul ( Elapura ) known as Charanadri; it's the place where you can see this cave which is one of the cave out of 34 caves, monasteries and temple. The true example of religious harmony where you find Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves. The importance of this place is since ancient times. To know more you can visit his link. https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/elapura
The peaceful complex makes you humble and takes out the world thought from the mind. It suddenly feel like you are close to the Mount Kailash. The expressions on the meditative sculptures hold your attention instead of getting carried away by any thoughts. Suddenly when you see the celebration and war scenes you again come back to the world.
I personally loved the movement of dancing Shiva. It has a rhythm that automatically transfixed my mind. Of course there are other sculptures, grand pillars, elephants and vast doorways organised in such a geometric perfection makes us think how it is possible in that age ?
But at the same time a thought comes why not this is possible in this age of technological advancement ? When the roads and buildings caves in by rain shower or earthquake ? And this marvel is still standing strong after centuries. The corruption in every assignment, tender is the reason for that. Artist running behind fame and doing what rich people or corporates or gallery owners asking for. How come we can witness the excellence in human imagination and endurance. It needs commitment of giving entire life to the art.
Another thought comes to the mind who is responsible for the destruction ? So many sculptures are disfigured and cut off. How can one person do that ? This needs a systematic movement of ignorant , barbaric people who couldn't digest the growth of culture that thrived here.
As a human being and an art lover this seems painful. Whenever we seen beautiful ancient temples we also have to witness the ruins by default. It shows the proof of invasion, resistance and resilience of the invaders versus locals. This is not only a lesson in great work of art but also a lesson that if one needs to create a grand civilisation it also needs to be protected by strong nation.
The beauty of the sculptures of Ellora is that it’s not only a religious monument but also it is a celebration of Gods, Demi gods, humans, domestic animals and the wildlife. It celebrates the war and peace. It also celebrates the spirituality the celebration of life itself is in every corner of this temple that’s why it is a world heritage because it shows that not only the height of art and culture but it also shows the understanding about the environment and about the humans and also about the otherworldly powers through this piece of art. Any piece of art must not be limited for the elite class but it should be for everyone. The best way to educate a society and elevate their understanding is through the art. I saw this in every visitor's face that was awestruck while exploring the caves.
The destruction of any country starts with banning education, libraries, music and arts. Beware from a society where you will miss these four things. These are the unique gifts makes human civilisations great and rooted to the nature. Fortunately in the past our kings were sane enough to commission the artist to create such a monument. This temple is the height of imagination manifesting in reality by strict discipline, dedication and geometrical perfection. Even though our libraries are burnt down but we have books in three dimension and those are the temples that’s why their survival is necessary not only for India but for the world.
When we go to see new piece of art what exactly we look into it ? Or do we fall prey to the marketing done by media houses ? Any piece of art which is famous whenever we see it it is either through newspaper articles, videos, documentaries, films or maybe a blog. But when you see the very famous work of art what thing comes into your mind? If you see Ellora or Ajanta do you find a similar kind of work of art has been done today? Is there any artist who is capable to create such gigantic work of art if we see if you assume the scene of art is really great today then why there are no master pieces nor temples new sculptures like Ellora and Ajanta ?
Do you think the current work of art will survive the abuse of invaders or will it survive 1000 year in open to confront natural forces? I don’t think so that’s why the exposure to the art history and critical analysis are very important. If it's in the parent's mind then only they can transfer in their daughters and sons.
I don't know if any company has created beautiful work of art open for public that will last long. But I know thousands of Kings, Queens, village heads, merchants commissioned and built great temples, monuments, caves for the public over the period of thousands of years. From Afghanistan to Bali. Nepal to Sri Lanka you will find those master works. Our administrative borders are shrunk. But the cultural borders can be seen through the work done by those artists and their patrons. When we see the work of art in our backyard it is our responsibility to protect the heritage; have a respect about it and give exposure to our next generation of the same. When the future leaders, corporates are aware about the art they will be able to select good artist to commission and will leave lasting legacy. The investment for the nation is not only in gold, industries and bonds but also in the art that lasts long and gives benefits to the next generation. You can see this in Ellora caves where thousands of people are employed and earning because of these caves.
How to reach ?
If you are coming from Mumbai or Pune the road is in very good condition. The distance from Pune is 258 Kms and from Mumbai it's 341 Kms. The nearest railhead or airport is in Aurangabad that is hardly 30kms. So travelling is less hectic and more enjoyable. You will just sail through your trip except a few happy breaks for coffee or lunch.
Stay : There are numerous options for stay. It's a World Heritage Site so you will get most of the facilities and luxuries those are available to near any international destination. If you are a budget traveler still you don't need to worry. There's so much for everyone. Regarding the food you will get international as well as local cuisine. And many souvenirs to carry back home.
Nearby Attractions : There are many attractions like Devgiri fort which is known for it's impregnable structure. This is a legacy of Yadava dynasty. Then comes Sulibhanjan Parvat ; it's a spiritual place associated with Nath Sampraday. Mhaismal hill station is also a place for a long drive. In the month of monsoon it looks really amazing. Ghrishneshwar temple ; that is one of the 12 sacred sites of Shiva temples across the world. This is really close to the Ellora Caves. I am sure you will fall in love with this place so make sure you have at least 3 days to explore it leisurely.
Monsoon and winter seasons are recommended to visit Ellora ( Verul ). Recently ASI has started online tickets due to COVID 19 situation. So book your tickets from their site. The link is given below. https://asi.payumoney.com
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