The Allure of Ellora

ELLORA (also known as Elura and, in ancient times, as Elapura) is a sacred site in Maharastra, central India. Ellora is a UNESCO world heritage site and is celebrated for its Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples and monuments which were carved from the local cliff rock in the 6th to 8th century CE. The most spectacular example is the 8th century CE Kailasa temple which, at 32 metres high, is the largest rock-cut monument in the world. Located in the Sahyadri hills near Aurangabad, Ellora is the most important second-wave site of ancient rock-cut architecture in India. In the western face of one hill, composed of volcanic Basalt rock, there are 35 caves and rock-cut temples, largely produced during the reign of the Kalachuri dynasty in the 6th and 7th centuries CE. The earliest cave, the Hindu Ramesvara (no. 21), dates to the 6th century CE. Typical of early Hindu temples there is an inner sanctum (garbhagriha), a circumambulatory corridor for worshippers to walk around, vestibules with double porticoes, and extensive decoration via high-relief friezes and carvings depicting scenes from the Puranas sacred texts. Cave 21 has carved river goddesses on the exterior, a Nandi sculpture at the entrance and inside are both a large dancing Shiva surrounded by musicians and Durga slaying the buffalo demon king. Other points of interest are the use of couple figures for brackets (salabhanjikas) as well as reliefs of elephants and mithuna (lover) figures.

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