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Icons of India 2: Kailash Temple, Ellora

May 13, 2010

Photograph: Ayan Ghosh-India Stretched

The Kailash temple elevates the experience of architecture beyond  physical space by it’s poetry, carved from a singular rock. A step into it and one is enthralled and spell-bound not just by it’s intricate carvings telling a million stories and fables, but  by the sheer quality of space and it’s dwarfing scale and humbling atmosphere.

Plan (Click)

  • It is a monolithic structure,notable for its vertical excavation—carvers started at the top of the original rock, and excavated downward. It  is estimated that about 200,000 tons of rocks was scooped out over hundreds of years to construct it out of a single rock.
  • The excavation is 247 feet long, by 150 feet wide and occupies an area 1.5 times that of the Parthenon, Greece
  • The lower level of the 2-levelled U-shaped gallery has walls lined with various avatars of Shiva.
  • The walls of the temple tell the story of the epic Ramayana through intricate, illustrative carvings.

Ramayana carvings by Ankan Mandal

  • Apart from Lalibela,Ethiopia in 12th Century and Mahabalipuram,India; it is the finest example of free-standing carved-out, rock-cut architecture in the world.
  • Awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 under criteria (i)(iii)(vi).
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