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Some of the most impressive buildings around the world are not at all marvels of modern technology in architecture and engineering. These structures are the product of ancient building practices. They were built with a skill that is so difficult for modern humanity to comprehend. How at that time they could even dream of such a thing, let alone build? Kailasa Temple is one of 32 temples and monasteries known as Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest buildings in the world, completely carved out of solid rock - a true architectural wonder.
It is difficult for a modern person to even imagine the construction of such objects as the pyramids in Egypt or the Parthenon in Greece, without a crane, forklifts and other delights of civilization. Nevertheless, they were built not even centuries, but thousands of years ago. Another of these wonders is the Kailasa Temple in Aurangabad, India, built in about 20 years, between 757 and 783 AD.
Kailash Temple still inspires even after 1200 years
The construction of the great Kailasa temple (also known as the Kailasa or Kailasanatha temple) is shrouded in mystery. The sculptors started from the top of the cliff and carved out the entire building in it. This is incredible considering the fact that this piece of architecture was built over 1,300 years ago. An amazing structure as high as a modern five-story building, and as wide as a football field.
If this temple were built even in the 20th century, when the architect had all the modern tools and achievements of engineering at his disposal, it would still be an extraordinary structure. The fact that all this splendor was carved by hand from a single stone, and the workers did not use anything but a chisel, is simply amazing!
It is impossible not to wonder how people in antiquity could not only carve such intricate figures and patterns, but also somehow export more than 200,000 tons of volcanic rock every day. According to experts, about two million tons of rock were removed.
The temple is built in the shape of the letter U. At the entrance to the courtyard there is a "gopuram", a monumental tower. A little further along the walls are several deities. On the left are the followers of Shiva, and on the right are the followers of Vishnu. Another interesting sculpture depicts Ravana, the Great King of Lanka, rocking Mount Kailash. The sculpture is considered one of the finest pieces of Indian art.
No historical records have survived about who and when the temple of Kailash was built. Historians believe that it was built by Krishna I. Some researchers claim that the temple was built in just 19 years. However, based on the many different architectural and sculptural styles present in the temple, combined with its size, many scholars are inclined to believe that it was built over several centuries.
There are a total of 32 temples in the Ellora Caves, numbered according to their age. Temples 1 to 12 on the south side are Buddhist caves. Temples 13 to 29 are Hindu caves, and on the north side are Jain temples. The Kailash Temple has number 16 and is dedicated to Shiva, one of the main gods of the Hindu religion.
The temple was the embodiment of the desire of King Krishna I of the Rashtrakut dynasty to pay tribute to the god Shiva. According to the monarch, he helped his beloved wife recover from a serious illness. In gratitude, Krishna I ordered to build a temple and make it an exact copy of the mystical house of Shiva in the Himalayas. Those charged with carrying out this royal command began at the top of the cliff and descended. The ancient sculptors had only hands, shovels and chisels at their disposal.
Carvings, elephants and lions are nothing short of miracles! There are also many stories carved in Sanskrit on the walls. Each of which is illustrated with intricate engraved images. These texts have yet to be translated by archaeologists and historians. The Kailash Temple is truly unique. For all its splendor, it is still not one of the wonders of the world, like, for example, the Taj Mahal in India. But in 1983 it received the status of a World Heritage Site.
Today mankind values the beautiful temple, but once upon a time many centuries ago, a ruler came to power, who did not appreciate this great miracle. The Mughal ruler Aurangzeb wanted to destroy the temple. But no matter how hard his people tried, they could not do much harm to him. Some evidence of these attempts has survived to this day. Fortunately, the temple, with its many levels, images and sculptures, has largely remained completely intact.
Visit to Kailash
At the moment, India, like most other places around the world, is seeing a surge in COVID-19. Therefore, for everyone who wants to visit the Ellora Caves, there are some restrictions. It is relatively safe overall, though. After all, visiting the temple and the surrounding buildings means being in the open air. However, appropriate public health measures for travelers and tourists are still being taken. Fortunately, the Kailash Temple will be here long after the coronavirus is history.
This magnificent structure is a testament to the determination of humanity, its spiritual convictions and dreams. Regardless of what religion someone adheres to, seeing the Kailash temple, everyone, without exception, is in awe. Those who built it in 20 years or several centuries did so because they were inspired. Art and creativity are God's blessings.
If you are interested in evidence of the greatness of ancient human civilizations, read our article on what secrets of the ancient Greeks the unusual island-pyramid of Daskalio discovered to scientists.