Ellora – the unparalleled enigma
This trip was organised as a part of an academic tour by my Institute and I shall always be indebted to them for this life changing opportunity. The amalgamation of Architectural ingenuity and colossal sculptures of ellora left me astounded and bewildered. The immense area in which the caves are excavated makes one weary and exhausted after a while but for heritage lovers like me it was just another pebble in the way.
Ellora presents an interesting example of cultural homogenisation in an era that was uninitiated to globalisation. The presence of Buddhist, jain and Hindu caves excavated out of the vertical face of charanandri hills from a period of 600A.D to 900 A.D, located in proximity to each other are a case in point.
I did not get the opportunity to explore all the caves since we just had few hours in hand before venturing and I believe that even an eternity is not enough if you wish to explore, appreciate and revel in the beauty of ellora caves.
The one cave which left an indelible mark in my mind has to be kailasa, Cave 16 of ellora. Among the myriad features which makes it a favourite among the tourists is it’s favourable location as this is the cave which attracts visitors attention after as they enter the premises and the scenic view of the surrounding Sahayadri hills. These factors worked for me as well.
The kailasa is a gem of ellora and I say this not according to the popular perception which indeed is true but because of my sheer experience of witnessing it’s magnamity. The fact that it was my project topic, gave me an added reason to explore it to my heart’s content. So, this was where I invested my time and attention. The cherry on the cake was that our professor had hired an authenticated tour guide (approved by ASI), this made sure that the information being disseminated was reliable and not fabricated.
After the group session of information dissemination on various facets of each sculpture in the cave, we got the time to explore it ourselves and this was the moment I was waiting for since i could personally visit each small shrine and sculptures in the cave relinquish my thirst for knowledge (only for heritage sites :p). The iconography of the sculptures in kailash temple leaves one dumbfounded, this feature makes it a contender for the ‘ wonders of the world’ list for me. Since it was built by the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I, a devout follower of lord shiva, the prominence is given to shaivism sculptures even the name kailasa borrows it’s roots from the name of the abode of lord shiva which as we all know is known as kailash. Having said that, I am not reducing the opulence of other sculptures and icons which equally exhibits marvelous iconographic features.
This cave is a marvelous picece of Architectural ingenuity and boasts of sculptures that are yet unrivalled and unparalleled in their grandeur, these include Mahayogi Shiva, Gaja-samhara Murti, Tripurantak shiva and many others. Overall, the whole experience of witnessing this world famous heritage site that is a personification of cultural homogenisation and exudes peaceful coexistence of diversity has left me thoroughly enchanted and definitely deserves a revisit.
World heritage site