Located in the western region of Maharashtra, the Ellora caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and include monuments dating between 600 to 1000 CE but among all 34 structures in Ellora caves the Cave- 16 the divine Kailash temple stands out. It lacks an exact inscription, but it’s believed that it has been influenced by different dynasties like Pallavas and Chalukyas and has contribution of Indian rulers like Rashtrakuta kings Krishna raja and karakraja.
For most architects today, this would be a dream project and an example of fine workmanship. The Kailash temple at Ellora is considered notable for being the largest monolithic structure in the world that was carved out of a single gigantic rock face and has several stories and beliefs attached to its construction and constructors and here are the some of them that we gathered.
Marathi legend of Kailash Temple
As per a Marathi legend which says about Kailash temple in Maharashtra that the temple was made in 1/100th span of time than expected as ordered by an Indian queen as his king suffered from a severe disease. Queen prayed to Shiva to cure her husband and vowed to construct a temple if shiv fulfils her wishes also she committed to fast until she see the shikhara (top) of this temple. The queen’s prayers were answered, and she moved ahead to fulfil her vows. Most of the architects were concerned about her fast, as a long time would be required to complete such a magnificent temple, only one of these architects, named Kokasa, assured her that he will be able to build the temple in a week and he actually did as said and started carving a rock from top to bottom so the shikhara appears first and completed the temple in a weeks’ time.
Made from top to bottom and carved out of a single rock
Research says that the temple was built using the vertical excavation method and carved from top to bottom with only simple hammers and chisels isn’t that amazing!
This Puranic temple is marvellous example of architecture and known for its size being a cave temple completely carved out of a single rock. Inspired by Mount Kailasha the abode of lord Shiva, a multi-storeyed temple modelled along with a gateway, assembly hall and garbha grihya (sanctum sanctorum) where Shiva linga is placed along with other shrines entirely carved out from the same rock are Yamuna, Sarasvati , Ganga and all ten Avatars of lord Vishnu and other Vedic and non-Vedic gods Also in carvings twelve episodes from the childhood of Lord Krishna has been remarkably depicted on the basement level of Temple as it also features a number of Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakti works. Carved at Temple’s front Shiva’s mount Nandi‘s (the sacred bull) image stands on a porch and in the main temple house two of the walls are decorated with the carvings of Ramayana and Mahabharata in south and north sides respectively.
Unbelievable construction and carvings!
To build the temple top-down, three trenches were first dug vertically into the basalt in the Charanandri Hills and without jack hammers in those days a team of artisans with simple tools excavated total of 200,000 (other estimations range from 150,000 to 400,000) tons of rock out of a vertical basalt cliff .
Completing such a task is almost impossible provided a 10-ton JCB machines available in today’s time.
Small holes like cave structures have been found in unique construction of Kailash temple, surprisingly the holes are so narrow that a normal human being cannot carve them even if they are of just 3 feet. Digging and making of narrow lanes, numerous shafts and small holes make you wonder whether they used something like hi-tech computers to do the job.
Or does small people from Patal lok (Patalvasis) crossed the dimensions in order to assist in the completion of the edifice.
Tools used from other dimensions?
According to the sacred books of India like Ramayana and the Mahabharata we find mentions of a powerful tool called “Brahmastra”. The Brahmastra was a powerful weapon, capable of vaporizing rocks as per the texts. It makes one wonder that whether this ancient Hindu temple was built with the Brahmastra.
So what were the exact tools used to build this Glorious piece of unbelievable architecture, well this remains a mystery!