Whats so great about Ellora Kailasanatha temple?

A friend casually asked me…whats so great about Ellora Kailasanatha temple…India is strewn with such temples everywhere….? My friend this is unique ..infact its so unique that it cannot be envisaged as a human creation…that too going back 1400-1500 years ago. Envisaging such projects in todays ` advanced’ technology itself is mindboggling…but for that period its magical.


Look at the pictures…this is just a bird’s eye view. Incourse of our travels we will revisit this splendid creation many time.


There is a similar work deep into the tamil country…vettuvankoil..

6 thoughts on “Whats so great about Ellora Kailasanatha temple?

  1. Dear Arunn and vj,

    While one wouldn’t disagree on the beauty of creation plus effort that went behind the Ellore Kailasanatha, your comment on the enormity of effort actually takes us back not to around 1100-odd years (pls. remember the Ellora Kailasanatha was created by the Rashtrakuta King Krishna II or III sometime between 870-900 AD…. actually when we go back to the period when rock cut and chiseled temples were built for the first time, mainly under Mahendra Pallava, his son Narasimha and their worthy successor Rajasimha. What I want to convey is that the more we appreciate the Ellora Kailasanatha, more we have but to marvel at the monumentous effort that went into the creation of the Kanchi Kailasanatha and of course, the Virupaksha at Pattadakal, with Pallava artisans being taken to Kannada country by King Vikramaditya Chalukya after he won Kanchi. In fact, the Kanchi Kailasanatha was a temple which was the model for both the Virupaksha and the Ellora Kailasanatha. If one were to coin the term technology (in terms of tools and techniques, the most primitive tools and techniques were used in the Kanchi Kailasanatha)… So these facts enhance the greatness of the Kanchi Kailasanatha. I have given the link of Tiruchy Tourism to VJ, and that links gives (hold your breath!!!!) to a Kailasanatha temple (probably built just after the Kailasanatha of Kanchi and the Vaikunta Perumal koil) by the Pallavas on the outskirts of Tiruchy…. May be one day our knowledgeable VJ would like to do a story on that temple (it is actually a complex of three or more temples and shrines in near vicinity.

  2. yes friends, in continuation of my previous post about a Kailasanatha temple in Tiruchy distt. (Thirupattur to be specific), here are the links to the sites showing these temples.


    and see this link also


    Hope the info given therein is useful to art lovers. (a recent aqddition in the tiruchy tourism link given above is an invitation to art lovers and 27 photos of sculptures and paintings at the Ranganathar temple are given in seriatem. An absolute feast for the eyes… want the link? here it is?


    also visit http://www.srirangam.org

  3. One more point, I would say that in comparison to the Virupaksha at Pattadakkal and the Ellora Kailasanatha, the Kailasanatha at Kanchi seems better maintained, though the previous two-named are directly under the care of the ASI, Government of India.

  4. dear Cheenu,

    Kanchi Kailasantha is a structural temple ( not cut out of live rock) – with due respects to the myriad of amazing sculptures there, I would still place Ellora Kailasantha a couple of pedestals above in terms of sheer scale, grandeur, skill and complexity.

    On your comment on the maintenance of the Kailasantha temple in kanchi – have you been there recently. I will post shortly the newly touched up sculptures, i do not agree to your views. They look like plaster models /replicas.

    As regards Mahendra, he did claim that he built the temple for the trinity without using brick, wood, metal or plaster – but did he say he was the first to do. Just the above statement would probably mean that he did it for the first time himself, for there are pandya caves which date to the same period. some Jaina caves predate so too the Pillaiyarpatti caves ( by atleast a few 100 years)


  5. Dear VJ,

    Without trying to argue, I only remarked that the Pallava dynasty was among the first to construct or create such temples. No doubt, they would have constructed or played a part in construction of the Jaina temples also for at least time, both the Pallava and Pandiya kings had not only honoured and given space to Jainism but some of the kings of both dynasty were even Jains. Certainly this attribute would or should belong to the Pandiyas too because they were contemporaneous to the Pallavas and vied for supremacy in Tamizhagam and surrounding areas before the rise of the Cholas. Yes, certainly other than Kazhugumalai and Jaina sanctuaries in the Pudukottai/Karaikudi belt, I do not think Pallavas have built rock cut temples like the Rashtrakutas did with Ellora Kailasanatha. But when you look at Tirugokarnam, Brahmapuriswarar (though it is widely believed to be a Chola creation – but has a complete Pallava touch) Kudumiyamalai, Nartamalai (all temples named malai or certainly located on or below the hills, and the unforgettable Thirumayam duo (Satyagiriswarar, Satyagirinathar temples) these are mainly temples situated on or under hillocks which were carved by the Pallavas and Pandiyas.

    Regarding Ellora Kailasanatha, certainly it looks grander (though it does not have a profusion of sculptures, as there are at Kanchi) with gigantic pillars and wide halls and tall shrines etc., the fact that cannot be missed (I do confess I haven’t yet been to Ellora personally, and whatever I know about it is only through literature and the net) is that it certainly is the youngest of the major three ancient Siva temples… i.e. Kanchi, Virupaksha and Ellora, which were built in that order. The plastering which you speak about and certainly I am aware that the ASI or the TN Archaeological Deptt. has not been able to restore them to their original beauty, is again, in my view a pointer to the antiquity of the Kanchi Kailasanatha. There is a plethora of sculptures at Kanchi (especially as compared to the Vaikunta perumal temple, which immediately followed the Kanchi Kailasa, which seems much more spacious and less hurried as you could walk through its spaces in a breeze, unlike the Kailasanatha where every corridor makes you stop and gaze in amazement at the diverse sculptures (I do not mean even to compare the sculptures between Vaikunta and Kailasa temples – both built by Rajasimha).

    Let me repeat it is only my impression that the Pallavas (that too was a mistake because I think I should have added the name of Pandiyas to it) were among the first dynasties to build rock cut shrines. I also did not describe the Kanchi Kailasa as a pillar-less temples. But among temples or shrines (mainly singular) without pillars etc. would be Thirumayam (both temples – mainly the sanctums) plus certainly Namakkal that come to mind.

    Do continue with your enlightening views.

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