Shrine in the cloisters of the Kailasanatha rock-cut temple, Ellora
Photographer: Nepean, Henry Mack
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a shrine in the Kailasanatha temple at Ellora in Maharashtra, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections, taken by Henry Mack Nepean in 1868. The spectacular 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 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, 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. Two monolithic columns, or dhvajastambha, decorated with relief carvings, are situated on the side of the main temple. This is a view looking towards the entrance to the shrine on the south side, the opening supported on two pillars carved with the figures of goddesses.