The Kailasa rock-cut Temple, Ellora
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
This photograph of the Kailasa rock-cut Temple at Ellora, taken by Deen Dayal in the 1880s, is part of the Curzon Collection: 'Views of HH the Nizam's Dominions, Hyderabad, Deccan, 1892'. The site of Ellora has a spectacular 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 the 9th Centuries. The Kailasanatha is the most noted of all the splendours of Ellora, a free-standing temple rather than a cave, entirely sculpted out of a mass of basalt. This royal monument was patronized by rulers of the Rashtrakuta dynasty from the mid-8th century. The temple symbolizes Mount Kailasa, the abode of Shiva. A tall screen with an entrance gateway obscures the exterior of the temple. River goddesses mark the route to the three sections of the temple (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 the life of Shiva. Two monolithic obelisks, 17 m (56 ft) high and decorated with relief carvings, are situated on the side of the main temple. This view shows a side of the temple with an obelisk and a monolithic elephant.