[The Lankeshvara Shrine from the Kailasa, Hindu Cave XVI (Kailasanatha), Ellora.]
Photographer: Cousens, Henry
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Lankeshvara Shrine from the Kailasanatha Cave Temple (Cave XVI) at Ellora in Maharashtra, taken by Henry Cousens in the 1870s. The site of Ellora is renowned for its series of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cave temples excavated into the rocky façade of a cliff of basalt. The works were carried out under the patronage of the Kalachuri, the Chalukya and the Rashtrakuta dynasties between the 6th and 9th centuries. The Kailasanath, the most noted of all the splendours of Ellora, 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, abode of Shiva. To the right of the main shrine is the Lankeshshvara temple (8th-9th centuries). This shrine is on the upper level of the complex and comprises a columned mandapa and a sanctuary at the rear. Large sculpture panels on the side walls illustrate different aspects of Vishnu and Shiva. The columns have shafts decorated with jewelled bands and cushion-shaped capitals.