Sculpture inside the left entrance of the Kailasanatha rock-cut temple, Ellora
Photographer: Nepean, Henry Mack
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the sculptures at the entrance of the Kailasanatha temple, 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. Sculptural friezes in the temple depict tales from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and of the life of Shiva. The sculptures in this view represent a guardian figure, Krishna lifting the Govardhana mountain and figures of gods.