Kailasa Temple

The Cave 16 at Ellora Caves, hosts the Kailasa temple. It is 100-odd rock cut caves temples of Ellora’s Hindu influenced section. Located 30km from Aurangabad city in the state of Maharashtra, it is believed to share similarities with the Virupaksha temple in northern Karnataka. Legend has it that, it came into being when around the 8th century the Queen of the Rashtrakuta ruler Elu made a vow that she would not eat till a magnificent temple was built for Shiva. Built under the ruler Krishna I, its architect was Kokasa from Paithan who undertook and completed the task. This story is mentioned in M.K. Dhavalikar in ‘Ellora: Monumental Legacy’. The temple represents mount Kailasha, the Himalayan abode of Lord Shiva. The temple carvings are unique in a way that the rock is cut internally and externally with exquisite precision, to build a monolithic rock temple. Goddess Ganga and Yamuna flank the entrance gate of the temple. The life size elephants and victory pillars are an exceptional feature of the temple. On the top through the steps is the Nandi and a 36-column ‘mandap’ with a Shiv Ling located. It is believed that Mughal ruler Aurangzeb tried to destroy it many a times, but was only successful in damaging minor sections but not the main structure.