[North porch of the Kailasa Hall from the Lanka Cave, Hindu Cave XVI (Kailasanatha), Ellora.]
Photographer: Cousens, Henry
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the north porch of the Kailasanatha temple from the Lankeshvara Cave at Ellora in Maharashtra, taken by Henry Cousens in the 1870s. The Kailasanatha, 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, 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 (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 that are 17 m high and decorated with carvings. To the right of the main shrine on the upper level of the complex is the Lankeshshvara temple (8th-9th centuries) which consists of 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.