General view of exterior of the Kailasanatha rock-cut temple, Ellora
Photographer: Nepean, Henry Mack
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the entrance of the Kailasanatha temple at Ellora in Maharashtra, taken by Henry Mack Nepean in 1868, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. The Kailasanatha is a free-standing temple rather than a cave, entirely sculpted out of a great mass of basalt. Patronized by different rulers of the Rashtrakuta dynasty from the mid-8th century, it symbolizes Mount Kailasa, the abode of Shiva. Sculptures of river goddesses flank the entrance gateway which is set into a tall screen wall. Behind the screen the complex comprises three main sections; a Nandi shrine, a mandapa, and the main sanctuary. The principal shrine is topped by a pyramidal tower, or shikara. Sculptural friezes in the temple depict tales from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and of the life of Shiva. On either side of the temple there are two huge monolithic columns decorated with carvings.