I had discussed about the beauty of Ajanta caves in my previous blog. Well, whenever we think about Ajanta, the other name that pops in our mind is Ellora. Ellora is almost the twin sister of Ajanta. Ellora represents the epitome of rock-cut architecture in India. It is also a World Heritage site like Ajanta.
Built during the rules of the Rashtakuta rulers, Ellora comprises of 34 caves of which 12 caves are Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves. These caves all in the same complex demonstrate the religious harmony present in those ages.
When we reached Ellora, from outside we could just see a hill in front of us with opening to go inside. It was a winter afternoon, but the sun was extremely scorching and there was no shade while we were walking toward the hill which was supposed to be Ellora. We had all covered our head with dupattas or were wearing caps. The heat was unbearable.
Once we reached in front of the hill and entered, the first sensation was “Ah!! It’s so comfortable inside.” Even though the outside temperature was high and unbearable, the interior of the Ellora caves were devoid of the ill-effect of heat. Such was the skill of the artisans that they had crafted the caves in such a way so as to eliminate maximum heat from the same and make the interiors soothing and comfortable.
The first status that greeted us was that of Goddess Kali in a dancing pose. The statue had 10 hands instead of 4 hands. As far as I remember there were 2 statues of Goddess Kali on two opposite walls at entrance. After passing through the entrance portico we reached the courtyard of the Ellora caves. From the courtyard we can get a glimpse of the complex. The massive Elephant in the courtyard followed by a ornate pillar is what attracts our attention at first in the courtyard.
Then as we moved ahead, we came across a number of colonnades and pillared structures. We were surprised to see two or three storied caves with proper rock cut staircases at the corner. There were few multistoried caves with projected balconies. Most of the Buddhist caves were simple and rectangular columnar structures while the Hindu caves and temples inside the campus were highly ornamental.
There were long colonnaded verandahs. Excellent statues of gods and goddesses are engraved on the walls of the Hindu caves amongst which the status of Lord Shiva & Parvati is worth mentioning.
Within the courtyard of the Ellora complex is the 2storied temple of Lord Shiva with the sacred bull Nandi sitting in the front. The lower storey of the temple seemed to be solid and there was no provision to go inside. We climbed the staircase to reach the first floor where the Lord Shiva was worshipped. The temple is loaded with intrigue wall carvings which had given dynamism to the walls of the temple.
When we saw the view of the Ellora complex from the top floor of a multi storied cave, the entire view was simply awesome. I had heard earlier that the entire Ellora was scooped out of a single monolithic cave and the aerial view confirmed that.
We were enchanted by the beauty of this temple complex. But as we stepped outside we were forced to come to our senses by the scorching heat of the mid day sun. I was not in a mood to leave this place and go back. But we had to come back so that we can relish the beauty of this place forever.
WHERE TO STAY
Ellora is 30km on the North west of Aurangabad. It is preferrable to stay in Aurangabad and visit Ellora from there. There are hotels of various budget present in Aurangabad.
The best season to visit Ellora is monsoon as you can see some streams during monsoons which are not present during other part of the year. But I personally preferred visiting Ellora during winter as the real beauty of this rock cut architecture can be fully enjoyed in a bright, sunny day.
For more details on Ellora, please visit the website of Archeological Survey of India.