Located at the Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, India, the Kailasa temple is one of the country’s largest and greatest monuments. The jaw-dropping site was, believe it or not, carved out of a single rock. It currently holds the record for the world’s biggest monolithic structure.
Also known as the Kailasanatha temple, it was designed to resemble Mount Kailash, the home of the Hindu god Shiva. Not only is it unique because of its monolithic structure, the temple also features elaborate architectural and sculptural influences.
The Kailasa temple is one of the 34 cave temples and monasteries that form the Ellora Caves.
Seventeen of them are Hindu, while twelve are Buddhist and five are Jain.
The temple was built in 760 AD by King Krishna I, and it shows influences from Pallava and Chalukya architecture. Unlike other temples, the Kailasa temple was excavated downward, making it even more unique. During the excavation, 150,000 to 200,000 tons of solid rock were removed.
Historians believe it took 18 years to build the temple.
A medieval legend from the Marathi people of Maharashtra tells an interesting story. According to the legend, the king was very ill at the time, and his queen prayed to Shiva to cure him. In return, the queen promised to build a temple in his honor and to fast until the construction was done. The god Shiva granted the queen’s wish and construction commenced.
An architect named Kokasa promised the queen he could build the temple in one week, so the queen wouldn’t have to fast for so long and risk her health. Kokasa led the construction, which began from the top and carved the massive stone downward. The one huge stone became a magical underground place filled with various sculptures.
In the base of the temple are carved and painted scenes from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
In the main courtyard, there is a monument to Nandi, Shiva’s bull. There are also elephant sculptures at the base of the temple that make it look like they are holding up the whole structure. There are also a few detached shrines around the temple, three of which are dedicated to Yamuna, Saraswati, and Ganga, the river goddesses from the Hindu mythology.
The Kailasa temple is definitely something you need to add to your list of must-see places.
Would you visit this temple if you get the chance? Tell us what you think in the comments section!
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