Ellora – El Dorado of India

ellora-coasterPrologue:

Preparing for the festive season and visits from family members to celebrate the long Thanksgiving Weekend, I came across
a coaster for the drinks to be served
that had a striking black-and-white
etching of one of the caves of 
Ellora on it.

That brought back fond memories of our own visit to the City of Aurangabad in the last century
and its environs, including of course
the stunning Ellora complex.

Visiting Ellora:

Any visitor to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) should make a point of including that El Dorado of India – Ellora – in the itinerary: it is one of the major hot spots for ancient rock caves in the western State of Maharashtra.

Indeed, Ellora is considered one of the seven wonders of India and is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple caves complexes in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. [See its official video via YouTube right here.]

The site includes monuments and artwork of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism from the 600-1000 CE period. Cave 16, for instance, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

ellora_kailasa_templeThe Kailasha temple excavation also presents the gods, goddesses and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism and relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics. Alongside is a color picture of the portion of Ellora depicted in the drawing at the top.

Postlogue

Ellora is located nearly thirty kilometers away from the Aurangabad. The caves were excavated and carved out of the vertical, basalt face of the Charanandri hills. Near the cave numbered 32, we can still see the channels through which the volcanic lava once flowed. These basalt rocks are ideal material for the kind of architecture and craftsmanship that the Ellora represents, enabling the craftsmen to express their vision and art on rock as a permanent memorial.

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