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katteri
01-07-2004, 06:32 PM
Ellora caves is one of world heritages
There are totally 34 caves.Where in cave number 1 to 12 (i am not sure 12/13) represent Buddhism.Cave 13 to 29 represent hindu and the rest Jain.
What impressed me was how cud people worship and accept other religions bcos the caves are contniuos they run for more than 2 milesin length.Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.
Of all the caves cave no 16 is the BEST CAVE .
Its highly difficul to explain by words...the kailash temple u see below

http://whc.unesco.org/sites/images/243.gif

Beginning sometime in the 7th century, when the Chalukyas (AD 553 - 753) ruled the Deccan, these wayfarers decided to make their presence permanent. And excavation started on a number of Buddhist chaityas and viharas. The place found favour with missionaries of other faiths as well, and over the next five centuries, Hindus and Jains also built their temples in the rocks there

Following are the details given by UNESCO
Kailasa Temple - the largest monolithic structure in the world
the whole temple is carved from single rock
The other Buddhist caves as well as the first few Hindu caves are fairly unremarkable and do not prepare you for the magnificence of Kailasa Temple or Cave 16. Believed to have been started by the Rashtrakuta king, Krishna I,

Its excavation must rank as an architectural wonder. Two great trenches some 90 meters long were dug into the hillside. They were connected at the deepest point by another trench 53 metres across. The temple was meant to appear as though rising from a vast courtyard at ground level.

The great block of residual rock, rising 30 metres, was then carved into the three- storeyed vimana, the main mandapa, two giant dhwajasthambas or pillars, and four sub- shrines. Beginning at the top, the mass of rock was hewn into shape, and as each layer was shaped, the carves began ornamenting the structure. Each layer was thus hewn and decorated completely before moving downward, thus eliminating the need for any scaffolding.

The temple is dedicated to Shiva and named for his mountain home in the Himalayas, the snow- peak Kailasa. The main shrine and the Nandi mandapa are built on a plinth, over 7.8 metres high, with its entire vertical surface carved with mythical animals and gargoyles.

The Main temple

This is flanked on either side by two free- standing pillars, soaring some 15.9 metres high. These gracefully proportioned pillars are believed to have once borne the trishul or trident of Shiva.

Two storeys of corridors have been carved into the mountain, ringing the temple on three sides. These corridors are studded with small alcoves, all containing a wealth of sculpted figures telling the tales of the great Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Among the narrative friezes is the descent of river Ganga, and one of Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa. The architectural style and intricate sculpture is similar to Virupaksha Temple at Pattadakal that had been completed a decade before.

The Chota Kailasa

A further 2 kms along the rock-face are the Jain caves, the most recent of the lot, having been excavcted between AD 800-1100. Of these the Chhota Kailasa (Cave 30) and the Indrasabha (Cave 32) are the most noteworthy. Chhota Kailasa is a miniaturised version of the stupendous Hindu Kailasa Temple.

However, the masterpiece of the Jain caves is the two-storeyed Indrasabha temple. The doorway opens onto a courtyard containing a small shrine, but the temple itself is a large edifice attained by a high flight of steps and flanked by a huge dhwajsthamba and a statue of an elephant. The three-sides of the central quadrangle are carved over to produce a two-storeyed façade containing a series of shrines to the many Jain tirthankaras or saints.

What staggers one at Ellora is the realisation that all that beauty one beholds was fashioned by human hand, more than a millenium ago.

katteri
01-07-2004, 06:36 PM
i checked cave 1 to 12 are budhist is right.
Details abt cave 16:
The Brahmanical caves numbering 13 to 29 are mostly Saivite. Kailasa (Cave 16) is a remarkable example of rock-cut temples in India on account of its striking proportion, elaborate workmanship architectural content and sculptural ornamentation. The whole temple consists of a shrine with linga at the rear of the hall with Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa supported by sixteen pillars, a separate porch for Nandi surrounded by an open-court entered through a low gopura. There are two dhvajastambhas, or pillars with the flagstaff, in the courtyard. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, with his full might is a landmark in Indian art


Cave 16 also conatins the whole RAMAYANA SCULPTURED on the right side of the temple.
http://asi.nic.in/images/ellora_ok.jpg


http://www.sacredsites.com/images/final56/380.jpg
http://www.wildgeesecompany.com/img/photo/Big/EllorCaves/PHOTOG85.jpg
PIC 1
http://www.wildgeesecompany.com/img/photo/Big/EllorCaves/PHOTOG84.jpg
PIC 2
http://www.wildgeesecompany.com/img/photo/Big/EllorCaves/PHOTOG82.jpg
PIC3
http://www.wildgeesecompany.com/img/photo/Big/EllorCaves/PHOTOG83.jpg
IC4
http://www.wildgeesecompany.com/img/photo/Big/EllorCaves/PHOTOG84.jpg
PIC5

http://www.wildgeesecompany.com/img/photo/Big/EllorCaves/PHOTOG89.jpg
PIC6

PIC7

katteri
01-07-2004, 06:57 PM
How did they Construct ????
consider Pic 2 that the height of the mountain.Imagine only mountian exits Two different appraoches were used to make these caves.
Horizontal chiseleing (most of the caves used this approach ,making ahole /removing from front of mouNTAIN ) and vertical(making a hole in the mountian from the top, cave no 16 used this appraoch predominantly )imagine the number of people and time required to do this work.Unlike Ajanta paintings are nt so good here, u cant see paintings on the wall u cud see only sculptures here. But u cud see the paitings on the ceilings (there r some colors used in the paitings which i havent seenin my life) Most of the sculptures and paitings are destroyed and burnt by aurangazeeb.

katteri
01-07-2004, 07:01 PM
This photoshows half the height of whole mountain
http://www.painetworks.com/photos/hf/hf1243.JPG

katteri
01-07-2004, 07:03 PM
Caves 1 to 34 with description
Listing of Caves:

Buddhist Caves :
Caves 1 to 12at the southern end.5th Century to 7th Century AD
Hindu Caves:
Caves 13 to 29 in the middle.
8th Century to 10th Century AD.
Jain Caves:
Caves 30 to 34 at the northern end.
9th Century to 11th Century AD.
Source; Archaeological Survey of India

Cave 1 : This is the first monastery at the southern end of Eilora. It has four residential cells cut into the side walls. The cave is devoid of any carvings or sculptures.

Cave 2 : This has a verandah, with a recess at the right, housing images of Panchika, the god of wealth, and Hariti the goddess of prosperity. The entrance is flanked by guardians, next to whom are figures of the Buddha and other divinities. Each of the lateral wells m the hall has sculptures of five seated Buddhas flanked by celestial figures and by Bodhisattvas, or saintly beings who are destined to become Buddhas. A similar but larger figure of the Buddha can be seen in the sanctuary. The porch to the right of the sanctuary depicts the Miracle ofShravasti when the Buddha manifested himself in a thousand forms.

Cave 3 : This cave has an unfinished image of the seated Buddha in a shrine Pot and foliage motifs adorn the columns of the hall.

Cave 4 : A two-storeyed excavation this cave is now mostly in ruins. At tne lower level is a pain hall, with a columned aisle leading to a shrine, where a figure of the seated Buddha is accompanied by attendants. A similar but smaller shrine is located on the upper storey.

Cave 5 : Excavated at a higher level, this large cave consists of a spacious hall divided into three aisles. Porches in the middle of the side walls have small cells on either side Columns are decorated with medallions and other motifs surrounded by intricate foliage. Severai benches are carved out of the floor. The entrance to the central shrine 's carved with Bodhisattvas bedecked with intricate headgear and jewellery. In the shrine is a figure of the seated Buddha.

Cave 6 : The rectangular hail in this cave has columns with pot and foliage capitals. The walls of an antechamber in the rear of the hall, which leads into a small shrine, are covered with figures of the Bodhisattva and the goddesses Tara and Mahamayuri The doorway of the shrine is carved with elaborate sculptures on either side. On the left is Avalokiteshwara holding a lotus and a rosary in his hands, with a deer-skin draped on hss left shoulder. On the right is the sculpture of Mahamayuri the Buddhist goddess of learning, with a piumed peacock by her side. Within the shrine is the figure of the seated Buddha, flanked by multiple smaller Buddhist figures, attendants and devotees on the side wails.

Cave 7 : This is a simple hail with four plain pillars.

Cave 8 : This is the only monastery at Ellora. where the sanctum is isolated from the rear wail. with a circular passage around it The passageway has three cells on the left. an incomplete columned gallery at the rear and two columns in the front Sculptures of the Buddha adorn the hall.

Cave 9 : This consists of an open terrace with a baicony and a shnne housing figures of Buadhist divinitses The embellished facade has. among other motifs, an unusual scene of the goddess Tara rescuing devotees from the perils of a snake, a sword, an elephant (left). fire and a shipwreck (right).

Cave 10 (Vishvakarma) : Named after Vishvakarma the architect of the gods. this cave marks the culmination of Chaitya architecture in India The hall has porticos on three sides, raised on a basement carved with animals.

A long frieze depicting a hunting scene appears above the brackets in the hall. A Stupa in the middle of the rear wall has a seated Buddha figure. A filght of steps in the verandah leads to the upper gallery. The facade behind this gallery consists of a doorway flanked by Chaitya a window motifs, flying celestials, ana Bodhisattvas with female attendants. On either side of the doorway, to the inner gallery. Are recesses housing the figures of female deities and the Bodhisattva A large figure of the Buddha, in the teaching position, is carved on to the front of the centra! Stupa accompanied by flying attendants and Bodhisattvas

Cave 11 (Do Tal) : A three-storeyed excavation aating back to the 8th century. Do Tal, or two storeys- was the name erroneously given to this cave when its ground floor was buried under deDris. The lowest level has two cells and a central sanctuary with figures of the Buddha in the leaching position Tne intermediate ievei consists of five excavations, the first being incomplete and the last being a cell with a rock-cut bed The remaining three have images of the Buddha extended by Bodhisattvas The uppermost level has a long columned hall with a shrine in the centre. On the rear wall are images of the goddess Durga and Lord Ganesha, indicating that this cave was later converted for worship by the Hindus.

Cave 12 (Teen Tal) : A three-storeyed excavation, this is the last in the series of Buddhist caves. The lowest floor consists of a long hall with small cells carved in the side walls and a shrine in the centre. The intermediate level has similar architecture. The upper level has a hall with rows of seven Buddhas fianked by flying figures on both sides of the antechamber. Within the antechamber, leading into the shrine, are twelve goddesses seated on double-petalled lotus flowers.

Cave 13 : This is the first in the series of Hindu caves at Ellora. It only has a small storage hall.

Cave 14 (Ravana ki Khai) : A single-storeyed excavation dating from the 7th century, this is a small sanctuary with a doorway adorned with large guardians and river goddesses The panels carved on the side walls of the hall include various Hindu deities. On the left walt are sculptures of the goddess Durga. Lord Vishnu seated with Shridevi and Bhudevi and Lord Vishnu with his consort. The right wall has sculptures of Durga, the dancing Shiva, Ravana shakma Mount Kailasa (the sculoture from which the cave derives its name) and Shiva speanng Andhaka the demon.

Cave 15 (Dashavatara) : This was excavated as a Buddhist monastery in the 8th century and, was later, converted to a place of Hindu worship. It has an open court with a free-standing, monolithic Mandapa, or a columned hall, in the middle and a two-storeyed temple at the rear. The doorway of the Mandapa is flanked by the river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. On the roof are reclining lions and seated Ganas, or dwarfs. A flight of steps, to the left of the entrance, ascends to a spacious Mandapa on the upeer floor. Large sculptural panels occupying the spaces between the columns illustrate the ten incarnations, the Dashavatara, of Lord Vishnu and a wide range of mythological subjects. Clockwise, from the front of the left wall, are Shiva spearing Andhaka, Shiva and Parvati playing dice, and the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. Among other sculptures on the rear wall, from the left, are Shiva emerging from the Linga to rescue Markandeya, a young devotee, and Shiva containing the force of the river Ganga in his hair.

Cave 16 (Kailasa) : The most stupendous single work of art ever executed in India, this is an elaborately embellished, three-storey high temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is unique for being carved out of solid rock from top to bottom. The exterior wall has a gateway in the middle that leads into a spacious court surrounding the main temple. In from is the free-standing Nandi pavillion with richly decorated, 17-metre high monolithic columns, spending on either side. A pair of three-dimensional elephants stands nearby.

Porticos and shrines are cut into the side walls of the court. To the left of the entrance is a shrine housing images of the river goddesses and, to its immediate right, is the Lankeshvara Temple.

The west facing temple is raised on a solid lower storey, with its walls sculpted with elephants gathering lotus flowers. At the upper level, is a 16-columned Mandapa with three porches. Bridges connect the front porch with the Nandi pavilion and, in turn, with the upper storey of the gateway.

The sculptural scheme at Kailasa is elaborate. Guardians and river goddesses appear at the gateway of the complex, while Durga (right) and Ganesha (left) flank the interior passageway. The two staircases leading to the Mandapa of the main temple are carved with narrative friezes. These include episodes from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The pannels which adorn the lower storey depict Shiva dancing with the skin of the elephant demon. The upper storey Mandapa walls show. the vulture, Jatayu. attacking Ravana (south), among others. In the subsidiary shrines are images of the goddesses Lakshmi and Durga among other deities.

Cave 17 : This cave, partly incomplete, is noteworthy for its richly decorated doorway and pillars. Caves 18, 19 & 20 : These caves adhere to the usuai pattern of traditional Hindu architecture.

Cave 21 (Rameshvara) : This ss one of the earliest excavations at Ellora dating back to the 7th century. It is approached through a court with a monolithic Nandi. on a plinth. This leads to a verandah. on the left of which is the gracefully posed figure of the river goddess Ganga, while the figure of Yamuna is sculpted on the right. Carved panels in the hall include the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, their warrior son Kartikeya, and Durga (left end of the shrine), the dancing Shiva, the seven Matrikas - a group of seven goddesses, with Lord Ganesha and Shiva holding the Veena, and the skeletal Kala and Kali (right end of the shrine).

Caves 22 to 28 : Except for the free-standing Nandi shrine in Cave 22 and a sculpture of Surya. the sun god, on the ceiling of Cave 25, there is nothing particularly noteworthy in these caves.

Cave 29 (Dhumar Lena) : The earliest excavation at Ellora. this cave has a shrine, with a Shiva Linga inside. The four entrances of the shrine are guarded by Dwarapalas. or guardians. and accompanying lady attendants. On the left and right walls are scenes of Shiva and Parvati.

Cave 30 (Chhota Kailasa) : This is the first in the series of Jain excavations. and an incomplete, miniature replica of the Kailasa Temple (carved ornamentation is mostly restricted to the Jam saints and goddesses.

Twenty-two seated Tirthankaras, or teachers worshipped by the Jains, are located in the Mandapa. An image of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. seated on a lion throne, is enshrined in the sanctuary.

Cave 31: This is an extension of Cave 32 rather than a separate excavation.

Cave 32 (Indra Sabha) : This is the finest excavation of the Jain caves. An open court, with its sides adorned with lions, elephant friezes and Tirthankaras has a monolithic shrine in the centre. A double-storeyed temple is excavated into the rear side of the court.On the lower level is an unfinished Mandapa comprising incomplete cells. Tne upper storey has a similar columned Mandapa which is more complete. With a sanctuary in the middle of its rear wall. Among the sculptures deserving special attention are Ambika, the mother goddess, with a child in her lap, a lion beneath and a huge tree above. Other panels depict Lord Mahavira Gommateshwara- son of Adinatha, the first Tirthankara. and Parshwanatha - the second last Tirthankara. Paintings on the ceiling of the upper Mandapa show couples and maidens flying through the clouds.

Cave 33 (Jagannath Sabha) : This cave has five independent shrines, each with a columned Mandapa and a sanctuary built on two levels.

Cave 34 : The last in the series of Jain caves, this is a small sanctuary-situated at the extreme northern end. The shrine door is carved with figures of Matanga and Sidhaika, on either side. A seated figure of Mahavira is housed in the centre of the shrine.

katteri
01-07-2004, 07:04 PM
some images of Kailas temple
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010060.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010059.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010055.JPG
This is to right of kailas temple
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010054.JPG
This is the highest point of kailas temple
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010046.JPG
Elephant sculpturein kailas temple
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010063.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010081.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010065.JPG
Elephant structure on the left side of kails temple
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010066.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010067.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010070.JPG
Lord shiva in Cave no 16 first floor
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010074.JPG
U can see the sculptures in bad conditon and paintings on ceilings
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010080.JPG
imagine the height

http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010043.JPG
paitings in jain cave
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010038.JPG
buddhist cave
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010036.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010031.JPG
see the pillars ornate
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010027.JPG
buddha under banyan tree
almsot all the staue faces r disfigured by aurangazeeb
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010017.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010010.JPG
stairs to cave 12 (u can see all Tamil godsmurugar (

Jain cave
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010044.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010125.JPG
buddhist cave
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010124.JPG
Jain cave
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010122.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010118.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010113.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010109.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010109.JPG
Budhist cave with triple tecker
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010106.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010106.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010103.JPG
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010095.JPG
lord buddha
http://www.users.muohio.edu/keelerds/india/images/P1010099.JPG

Shy
01-07-2004, 07:20 PM
Thanks much katteri, that was great info.. longing to see them. one picture with a small fall of water.. wow.. super'a irukkum'nu nenaikuraen..

Shy

silican
01-07-2004, 07:29 PM
Wonderful kaateri. That was a clean coverage.. Naan innum nerla pathadhu ilali. avasiyam ellora ajanta caves paaknum.

Silican

katteri
01-07-2004, 07:36 PM
How to go to Aurnagabad from chennai
By Train
Two routes 1) to pune first from pune to aurnagabd by bus or taxi 6 hours jouney by bue,22 hours journey by trains
2) Train to secunderabd and then a connectoing train to aurangabad.
Flight to mumbai and then back to aurngabad.
Bet time to visit
novemebr to februaury. (i wud Prefer Decemebr best season) temperatue may go as low as 3deg
Do not go in summer. Temperature may go as high as 46
I will cover Ajanta caves next week

Shy
01-07-2004, 07:49 PM
Wow kalakunga.. quick question.. both caves in the same place?

Shy

venky1974
01-07-2004, 07:52 PM
That is a great testimony of Indian Architecture. We see the bridges here and some mountains and forget such great examples of man made construction when technology as a word was not even known.

This is the India we know and we need to discover overselves before we take pictures of bridges and high rised buildings.

Venky

anitam
01-07-2004, 08:22 PM
Awesome pics katteris.. Thanks for the Infos..

katteri
01-07-2004, 09:43 PM
Wow kalakunga.. quick question.. both caves in the same place? shy

Ajanta and ellora are two world heritages .Both the caves are located near to aurangabad Ellora is 26 kms from abad and Ajanth 100kms .The best place to reach both these caves is Abad.
Ellora and Ajantha are two extremes.Ellora is famous for its sculptures and structures.Where as ajantha for paintings.
There are many interesting facts abt Ajantha i will reveal them next week.
Can anyone say which is the only one unconquered fort in india???????

venky1974
01-07-2004, 11:32 PM
Is it Red Fort?? :think:

Venky

madhu_aish1
01-07-2004, 11:36 PM
Can anyone say which is the only one unconquered fort in india???????

Janjira
http://www.boloji.com/wfs/wfs049a.jpg

katteri
01-08-2004, 12:31 AM
Can anyone say which is the only one unconquered fort in india???????

Janjira
http://www.boloji.com/wfs/wfs049a.jpg

Madhu i think u got it from google search but ASI staff said its Deogiri fort near Auranagabad.Some books whihc i read also says that ,i am not sure abt ur reply.
janjira is also a good fort but when u compare the defense structure Deogiri stands ahead.I will explain it tomoorow
http://sprg.ssl.berkeley.edu/~matt/india/india26.gif

This close-up view of the east scarp of Daulatabad Fort makes us especially aware of the heights upon which many of these strategic battlements were built. This spectacular fort in the Deccan Plateau stands on a huge conical granite outcrop that rises ninety-one meters above the ground. With three concentric lines of fortification, the formidable hill fort was nearly impenetrable. Built in the twelfth century by the Hindu Yadava dynasty, the fort was later occupied by successive Muslim rulers of the Deccan until it passed to the nizam of Hyderabad upon Emperor Awrangzeb's death in 1707.

The east scarp of Daulatabad Fort rises steep and unassailable ninety metres from the stream below, and the photographer has chosen a viewpoint where he appears to be hovering in mid-air to view the scene. In the foreground, filling most of the right of the picture, it towers above the more distant plain in the left half of the picture, starting far below the camera and stretching into the distance.

The scene is a thrilling combination of horizontal and vertical, with an aerial perspective that enhances its effect, and creates a hovering bulk of distant mountain on the horizon below a radiant sky. The fort, built by Hindus in the 12th century in this imposing position, was one of the many properties belonging to Dayal's employer, the Nizam of Hyderabad

http://web4.si.edu/asia/Images.7/28260.400.jpg



The wall of the fortress is 5 km long and in the centre is a bastion on a cliff face 200m up from the main fort. This cliff or hill is known as Devgiri – or hill of the gods.

The sultan of Dehli in 1338 - Mohammad Tughlaq - was a deranged man who concocted the stupid plan of declaring Daulatabad the new capitol of his empire. Even stupider he forced all his subjects to march 1100 km south from Delhi to the new capitol – and in the process killing tons of them. The fickle sultan then decided 17 years later to march his subjects back to Delhi. Needless to say I don’t think he was a very popular ruler

katteri
01-08-2004, 12:40 AM
Madhu i tried to go for a search i found amazingly two three unconquered forts
1)Kumbhalgarh Fort built 1462AD by the Maharana Kumbha as a retreat for the forces of Mewar. This Fort has a history of many battles and remains as probably the only unconquered Fort. http://www.jetairtours.com/horsesaf.htm & http://heritagehotels.com/safari/ghanerao/it-2.htm
I cudnt find Deogiri.When i explain the fort layout u ll recognise /perhaps i may convince u.

katteri
01-08-2004, 12:45 AM
Deogiri fort has 3 wall defense,1mountain defense,2 outer &5 inner defense.
The fort is in bad shape..Thanks to ASI for their work :(
U cant c all the 5 inner defense now but a guide will explainu where those were.
What is left is 30% of the fort.Rest were ruined.....

katteri
01-08-2004, 12:57 AM
Fortunately i found this article in the web good onetoo it says how the caves r made
Good 2 read

Creation of Ajanta and Ellora: Cultural Canvas of Saint Jnaneshvara's Thoughts by
Pan V. Ranade
It is proposed to present in this script a monumental memoir on the Aesthetics of rock-cut architectonics of the world famous Kailasa cave at Ellora. Rock-cut aesthetics of Kailasa is that prismatic spectrum of Indian fine arts that collected the rainbows of Ajanta and refracted them to the hill fort of Deogiri. Ajanta's rainbows refracting through the architectonics of Kailasa finally kissed the rock cut ditches, scarps tunnels, towers and turrets of rock cut Deogiri. The lyrical notes of Jnaneshvari as a matter of fact scintillate the textural temper of Ajanta, Ellora and Deogiri in variety of ways.

That Jnaneshvara walks in the steps of Halasatavahana Vyasa, Valmiki, Bharat, Bhasa, Kalidas, Bhavabhuti Dandin, Sankarcarya, Rajsekhar is a well known fact. That he owes something to Ajanta hasn't been well argued so far.

Ajanta houses some of the best galleries of ancient Indian paintings. Ajanta speaks the liveliest of the language known to man. This liveliest backdrop of Ajanta is at the back of Jnaneshvara's mind when he composed his verses. The Gita Ratnaprasad of the 18th chapter and Yogadurga of 12th chapter in the Jnaneshvari have permanently connected Jnaneshvara with the rock-cut aesthetics of Ellora and Deogiri, Ajanta backdrop makes Jnaneshvari the prismatic spectrum that refracted the beams of rock cut aesthetics of Ajanta Ellora and Deogiri. They together make a common aesthetic rainbow catchment area



The Kailasa of Ellora and Durga of Deogiri are the best preserved rock cut moments of ancient India. Deogiri fort is the crowning piece of the rock-cut art that had begun in Nane Ghat wherein the early Satavahanas had excavated a Vihara, that has one of the earliest inscriptions of Satavahanas. The Nane pass was however excavated by one Achintya a preBuddhist king of the Deccan who also evacuated a pass in Ajanta ravine as per account rendered in an Ahirani folk song. This Ahirani folk song is perhaps the rarest piece of literature that tells us the story of the earliest phase of rock-cut aesthetics and engineering.

Achintya of this folk song can surely be identified with the Anchantaraj of the Nagarjunkund inscriptions who is credited with having a spiritual sway over to the people of Kashmir, Gandhar Kirata, Aparanta and what not. Though this Ahirani folk song percolates the popular memory of hero and heroine of remote times.

Free English reading will read as:

Lord Buddha had come to Ajanta for gracing Achintya. Una means had come says Ahirana. Achintya's story is more ancient than that of Buddha; Achintya was a South Indian King and his queen Ajitanjya was a beauty incarnate. Achintya had built number of passes and tanks in Bamiyan, Khaibar, Khandala, Kondana, Nana and other places. King and queen were living happily but a malignant star wished them ill. As bad luck would have it, the queen slipped into a mishap. She fell down while carving a pass in the ravine that skirted the Waghura stream. She was followed by her King in the death trap. They had taken a vow to leave this world together.

To visit this sacred place Lord Buddha had come to Ajanta along with Sopara's Purna, Nevasa's Bavari and in the company of Amrapali and alongwith number of mendicants. He had halted at the hut of Vakkal rishi and was greeted by Yaksha Kutadrashtanta at the Mukpat village.

Deogiri, which was renamed Daulatabad in the Muslim period is a fort par excellence of ancient India. Hemadri's Raj Prashasti, dozens of inscriptions, early Muslim chronicles have referred to Deogiri as fort and town of Yadav period. A sixteenth century Rajasthani Hindi Akhyan kavya Chhitai Varta is a composition that has its main theme which centres round the story of the creation of Deogiri fort by a Yadav king. The conical rock on which the Deogiri fort stands is 600 feet high and is isolated from the surrounding hills. One has to see Deogiri to appreciate the skilful manner in which the hill has been scarped all round vertically from the ground level to 150 ft. Around the escarpment is dug in solid rock a ditch or a moat forty cubits in width and thirty in depth. Through the centre of the hill a long dark spiral passage has been dug out to make way for a long ascending tunnel that rises rapidly and without a lamp or torch one cannot traverse this underground tunnel even in daylight.

At the head of the tunnel which rises by flight of steep steps, is a large grating of iron. When a fire is lighted upon it, the ascent of the serpentine tunnel becomes impossible owing to the intense heat. This very Deogiri Fort makes its appearance in Jnaneshvari when the poet describes the eightfold stage of Yoga Durga.

World fame of Ellora rests on the shoulders of Kailasa, an eighth century Indian monument, the rock-cut aesthetics of which keeps us spell bound when we see it. When measured in global scales Kailasa turns out to be biggest of its kind. It will he an interesting thing to read how Indian psyche interpreted its creation over the centuries.




Baroda copper plate date A.D. 812 expresses a sense of bewilderment and excitement at the very sight of Kailasa in the following words:

"When the chariot-bound celestials happened to pass over the wonderful encampment over the edges of Elapur mountain, they were astonished to see a Shiva's Shrine. They continued to discuss and talk about it as 'not a man-made affair but a self-existent matter." After having tried his hand for creating another copy of the same, the architect considered his second effort as a waste of profession. The architect when having a look at this own earlier creation was amazed watch his own accomplishment and exclaimed-nhow could I have excavated such a wonderful composition." And by reason of it, the king was caused to praise his name. The Baroda copper-plate also credits the Rashtrakut king Shubhtung Krishna for having patronised the excavation of this Shiva Sanctuctry.

In the Indian folk psyche the entire rock-cut complex of Ellora was a divine creation. Last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir after visiting the rock-cut site of Ellora was impressed by its aesthetic value and in one of his letters to his son Bidar-Bakht wrote that he had visited Ellora in the company of his daughters and daughters-in-laws and was amazed to see the rock-cut shrines of Ellora, which in his view were god's creation. Aurangzeb was perhaps repeating what an average Indian felt about the creation of Ellora's rock-cut complex. It is possible that Aurangzeb might have overheard a Maharashtra folk tale about Ajanta and Ellora.

An interesting folk tale circulates among the villagers in the vicinity of Ajanta and Ellora. The genesis of the sculptures of Ajanta and Ellora has received a charming version in this folk tale. The story goes that long long ago devas, devanganas, gandharvas and apsaras resolved to spend a fullmoon night on the earth. Indra allowed them to leave the paradise on the condition that they would return to heaven from earth before the next sunrise. Devas and devanganas along with apsaras and gandharvas came to the earth. While descending from heaven they spotted the moonlit Ajanta and Ellora. Some of the celestials went to Ajanta and some of them came to Ellora.

The gods and nymphs danced, sang and played in the valleys of Ajanta and Ellora. They liked the spot so much that they forgot Indra's instruction to return home before sunrise. When the day broke they were still found playing on the cliffs and flanks of the hills of Ajanta and Ellora. This divine folly resulted in the transformation of these celestial creatures into stone images because of Indra's curse. The author of this folk-tale forgot to add that many of these celestial creatures were transplanted into the lovely paintings of Ajanta and Ellora.

Kailasa is an eighth century work of wonder that has no equal in its time either in India or all over the world. As centuries passed more luxuriant refined and beautiful ornamental motifs were to adorn the temples of Mount Abu, Khajuraho's towers were to travel a more wonderful rising crescendo of curves, Bhuvaneshwar was going to present wonderful curvilinear terraces of its Shikhar towers, Konarak was to present endless round of erotic dalliance, Halebidu and Somath were to epresentma never ending masshof delicate ornamental accessories. But that is a later day story Kailasa in eighth century had no equal.

The Rashtrakuta conquest of Karnatak and Tamil territories had brought the so called Dravidian style of temple architecture into the very heartland of the so called Indo-Aryan orbit of cultural entity that is Maharashtra. Shubh Tung Krishna (757-783 A.D.) had carried the Rashtrakut banner to Vatapi Aihole, Kanchi and Mahabalipuram. Metaphorically speaking, he carried the towers of the so called Dravidian temples to the Rashtrakuta capital at Ellora and crowned his own Kailasa shrine by gracing its summit with his south Indian booty. The so called Dravidian devotees must have felt very happy and elated over the honour bestowed on their own towers. Himalaya would have said 'Tathastru' watching the Rashtrakut king putting a Dravidian tower on Himalayan peak.

Kailasa - 300 ft. by 175 ft. rectangular enclosure 200 ft. long, 100 ft. wide and 100 ft. high shrine at its apex, the monument, from top to bottom is studded with iconographical sculptures with Vedic and Puranic connotations. It is a Shaivite shrine but has no aversion for Vaishnavite legends. At least one one group of sculptors was fond of erotic poses. The plinth of Lankeshwar in its parapet wall bears two dozens of lovemaking couples. The hereditary craftsmen who worked and lived in guilds had their own tantric gods who granted them the fun and frolic of erotic pleasure.

These craftsmen dedicated their profession not to any single religion or cult. They worked for every paymaster whether Buddhist, Jain or Brahmanical. These guilds had been working in the rock- cut medium for centuries. They inherited the traditional skills of the rock-cutter, who had been tunnelling into the cliffs and ridges of the mountains. They had been quarrying downward. The unfinished rock-cut sanctuaries at every site from Ajanta, Bhaja to Ellora tell us the story of the rock- cutting technique.

One has to go to the top of the Kailasa to appreciate and measure the colossal endeavour which had gone in the making of Kailasa. A free standing temple with its towers, sanctum, pavilions, an enormous basement, pillared halls balconies, bridges that connect the chambers, and gateway and several monastic vihara, surrounding the courtyard and sub-shrines, galleries and attached monasteries cut in the scarp had to be cut in the rock. Lesser sancturies attached to the main shrine, flag posts and free standing elephants sculpted friezes had to be taken care of while executing the work

How did they do it?

When it was decided to cut a shrine on the hill-side spot which Kailasa occupies, lot of preliminary work must have engaged the attention of the chief architect. First, the slope and slant of the hill-side would have been cleared of shrubs and trees. Then a circuit of a Vastu Mandal and a rectangular frame of Vastu Purush would have been drawn on the slope and slant of the hill side. Mandal with its chakra, centre axis, circumference, cubics, spiral, triangle, circle and square would have been arranged in geometrical motifs, marking the contours of the proposed monument firstly on the cloth and then on the slanting slope of the hill side itself.

The geometrical imprints of the proposed monument had to be worked out first, because most of the dramatic folklore of art work is conceived in the blue-print stage of the work. In ancient Indian dramaturgical aesthetics, Kavyarth Siddhi was made possible by the functional operation of the law of flexion of bhava, anubhav, vibhav and vyabhichar bhav. This dramatic interpretation of rasa presented by Dr. S. S. Barlingay at the Simla Seminar in late sixties, help us to untie the many tangles connected with the architectural aesthetics of Ellora's Kailasa.

The geometrical mould of a traditional Indian chariot was picked by the chief architect of Kailasa from the rathas of Mahabalipuram and then transfixed it with the stone built shrines of Pattadikal and Kanchi.

How they did it is a matter of speculation and guesswork. One line of speculation that has been suggested by most of art historians is that the architect must have drawn an imaginary line on the topmost and lowest level of the hill slope and then all along the line he must have instructed his craftsmen to cut three trenches inward and turn out a lump of rock for making a free standing temple and then hand over the cut-out remains of the lump to the sculptor to do their business on the lump. That was a very simple methodology and technique of rock cutting. But the matter was not that simple in case of Kailasa.

If we see Kailasa from a spot from where one can have a full view of the structural design of the Kailasa, one can have a better hunch of the methodology and technique of the rock cutting business of Kailasa. One has to climb the hill and stand on the ridge crest of back side of the central tower of Kailasa. Looking over the monument makes us aware of the fact that cutting three trenches inside the hill rock and then handing over the remaining block boulder was not an advisable methodology and technique for a simple reason that cut out rock to be thrown out of the pit would have put lots of hazards, before it would be pulled out of the courtyard.

The architect of Kailasa must have found out the way to ride over this difficulty by cutting number of terraces, beginning with the top and then moving slope wise down-ward so that the rock chipped out of the block could be allowed to roll down and tumble out of the site. The technical process of excavating Kailasa shrine at Ellora did not start from the bottom but from the top and carve downward from the central horizontal and vertical criss-cross line side- wise and downward, so that the rock which would be removed form the boulder would be allowed to roll and tumble down without damaging any excavated part of the monument. The proposed chariot shape design of Kailasa had to take care of their descending terrace cuts for executing and completing the excavation business in one generation lifetime.

Looking at Kailasa from the top ridgy crest of back side of its central tower, one is simply impressed by the symmetrical regularity and unity of the entire monument that seems to have been excavated from beginning to end in one stride and operation and that too in the lifespan of one generation of the excavators. We are fortunate to have Baroda copper plate inscription to tell us that the chief architect of Kailasa at Ellora was happy to have completed the work in his own lifetime.

The main shrine in its componental integrity that consists of Gopura torana of the entrance gate, the enclosure wall cuts, the Nandi Mandap, Mukha Mandap, Rang Mandal the vestibule Antaral and Viman Shikhar tower that surmounts the Garbha Griha were planned and executed in the reign of the Rashtrakut king, Krishna, who led Deccan from A.D. 752 to 772. Lankeshwar, Paralankeshwar surrounding galleries were part and parcel of the original plan as the vestiges of bridge cuts inside Kailasa and potholes in the neighbouring cave that descends in Paralanka provide us indications towards this conclusion.

Simultaneous use of trench and terrace cuts used by the Kailasa architect by drawing upto several criss-crossed lines converged at the central verticular line. First the tower, then the roof over central hall, followed by downward steep of the Nandi Mandap and lastly the entrance gate were cut in terraced trench method. For the instruction of the craftsman and for visualisation of the operational technique, a model either wooden or one made of soft stone had to be preferred and put in a glass tub filled with water and a drip drop tap attached to it.




Tub-tap and the model

Before cutting a trial trench in the live rock, the architect of Kailasa must have prepared a model of the proposed monument to be cut in the rock and a rectangular transparent tub made of lamina spread glass or mica, a drip drop tap attached to it at the bottom. After having filled the tub with water the model would have been lowered and put in the tub. The glass tub tap experiment was necessary to mark and check the crisscross, horizontal and vertical level-lines so that chisels, hammers, brushes and pencils would take care of the topsy-turvy contours of the proposed monument.

Tridimensionality of the designed structure needed to be visualised and perceived before the craftsmen would cut the trenches, terraces and stresses on and in the bosom of Ellora's rock When the tap tip was screwed down the water would have eased out of the tub and released various parts of Kailasa model over the dropping levels of the tub water. First the top of the tower, then the ascending and descending terraces, arcades and columnades of the shikhar and the succeeding sequence of architectural and sculptural portions of the entire proposed monument would have come out of tub water.

The architect must have prepared hundreds of sketches, line drawing elevation graphs and paintings before summoning his associate craftsmen to watch the play and replay of the glass tub water tap show so that they would and could visualise in their inner eyes the actual and tridimensional graph of the contours of the proposed monument. Of course this is my own hunch. Nobody really knows if this was the technological preparatory measure taken by the architect before he created Kailasa.

Art And Vision of Ellora

A 13th century Jain inscription names the hillside in the bosom of which nestle the world famous Ellora caves as Charanadri. This hillside is an extension of Sahyadri mountain into the heart of Deccan Plateau. The stooping edges and steepy flanks of this Charanadri range in the Aurangabad district shelter the rock-cut monuments of Ellora. Ellora is about 25 kilometres from Aurangabad and 100 kilometres from Ajanta.

Undulating mountain spurs that mark the skyline of Deccan plateau shelter a chain of rock-cut monuments. Among these rock-cut monuments of the Deccan, Ajanta, Elephant and Ellora are the world famous ones.

A wide flung festoon of terraces and valleys, flat roofs and steep flanks characterise the topography of the Deccan plateau. The Deccan trap rock is ideally suited for the rock-cut architecture. The terraces, valleys and summits of the Deccan plateau consist of extensive horizontal flows of the trap. The soft portions of the trap beds wither and exfoliate leaving suitable fresh rock in the bosom of the hills that rock-cutters could use. This favourable feature of the undulating spurs of the Sahyadri was one of the factors that led to record the heaviest rock-cut activity in Maharashtra.

Slow winding rocky slopes of Khultabad ghat move through the sprinkling of shrubs and wild plants till they reach foothills. When one gets down from the Khultabad ghat, one starts getting the most spectacular view of Ellora caves-curious heaps of cliffs and hill tops intervene between the everwidening sky dome and the green grassy foot-hills that skirt the Ela streamlet. Rock-cut monuments are seen spread over this crescentshaped hill. In rainy season a number of small waterfalls that empty their torrents into deep pools cast a sprinkling arcade over the caves.

Tourist excursions to art centres are often like cocktail! parties where men meet all types of men without knowing them intimately. Ellora caves shelter thousands of aesthetically important pieces. It is difficult to establish a stable rapport with all the objects that one encounters at Ellora. As one moves from site to site, one gets acquaintance with the monument depending on the sensibility of the visitor. The spell of Ellora's magic however leaves no one unmoved and unstirred.

Ellora gets much sun throughout the year and some showers in the rainy days. In winter Ellora draws large picnic crowds. These cocktail picnic crowds propose to see and admire Ellora in one day. Over centuries generations of artists and stonecutters worked in the rocks and hollowed shrines and chambers, dedicated to Buddha, Shiva and Tirthankar. Centuries of labour and art have made Ellora a subterranean township.

Ellora had been a major well-known centre of pilgrimage from the remote times. An early ninth century rashtrakuta copper-plate describing the Elapur situated Shiva shrine Kailasanatha, suggested that even the gods were amazed to watch this wonder. Ellora is the anglicised version of the Prakrit Elura that had undergone a mutation to Verula in Marathi, the local language. The Prakrit Elura was transformed into Sankrit Elapur. The earliest recorded reference to Ellora-Elapur is found in the copper-plate inscription of the Rashtrakuta prince Dantidurga which is dated saka samvata 663 (741 A.D.). The inscription mentions the grant of a village to certain Brahmins. The grant was made by Dantidurga at Elapur after taking bath at the Guheshvara Tirtha. The Elapur of this inscription is Ellora and the Guheshwar Tirtha is obviously the large deep pool that collects water from a picturesque waterfall near Dhumar cave at Ellora.

Unlike Ajanta, Ellora was never lost and therefore question of its rediscovery did not arise. Located on an ancient trade route that connected Paithan and Devagiri with the other eminent indian towns and cities Ellora has always attracted attention of writers and travellers of ancient and medieval times.

Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jain Viharas, Chaityas and temples carved out of the living rock at Ellora enshrine the wisdom, philosophy, mythology and the artistic ethos of early medieval India. Tremendous proportions of the carved pillared halls, long and awe-inspiring colonnaded monasteries, mysterious play of light and shadow on the rock-cut shapes, the graceful fluidity of the flying gandharvas and apsaras, majestic images of Buddha, Jain and Brahmanical gods, the gigantic rock-cut miracle of the Kailasanatha shrine and many other impressive features of this cave complex have made Ellora a wonderland of ancient indian art.

The excavation work commenced at Ellora some tune in the sixth century A.D. and over several centuries creative incitement of early medieval artists continued to playfully chisel the graceful shapes and figures out of the unsouned depth of the Ellora rocks. Over centuries instinctual and cultivated urges of the indian artists had poured into the rocky world of monumental fantasy. The last cave on the top of the shoulder of Ellora hill was excavated as late as early fourteenth century. Rest of the fifty major and minor caves of Ellora were cut sometime between sixth and twelfth century.

The well-known art of Ellora is an architectonic carving of structural models and animated figures. At Ellora to move from one monument to another is to find chambers, pavilions, towers and architraves enclosing a wealth of carved miracles. Gods and goddesses, demons, gandharvas and apsaras, musicians and dancers, yaksas and kinnaras, yogis and warriors, lions and elephants, trees and mountains, oceans and rivers, serpents and crocodiles, giants and dwarfs creepers and flowers, in their simple and fantastic manifestation decorate the walls, roofs and doors of the rock-cut pavilions. The rocky monumentality of the shapes confront us with charming ease and magical touch.

A visit to nEllora is a charmed journey into a fairyland. One has to adjust oneself when one visits a fairyland. Ellora houses many dream sequences of such a fairyland. We cannot go straight into the meaning of the dream sequences but stumble and circle round and try to hold them. A visit to Ellora enables one to enter the dreamland of indian devotional ethos. The labyrinths of ancient Indian cultural heritage with their sectarian intricacies and orthodoxies have received permanent habitation in the wonderland of Ellora.

In between the first and the last groups of excavations at Ellora are found all types, styles and levels of artmanship. There are some clumsy affairs of architectonic exercises in the midst of world famous miracles of art at Ellora. These caverns were cut to make halls, chambers, pavilions, shrines and pendals. In those hollowed parts of the hewn out structures, gateways, doorframes, pillars, roofs and towers are utilised more for decorative purposes than for functional ones. Entire rock-cut architecture at Ellora is therefore a sculpture on magnificent level.

Ellora presents us with some of the boldest geotechnique compositions in world sculpture. Ellora sculptors were imitated and even unproved upon by the later medieval indian artists. Ellora artists however remain unrivalled in their capacity to make use of unsounded depth of the rocks and the nebulous world of light and shade for powerful and effective sculptural representations. Modulation of light and shade and the vibrating atmosphere of rock-cut shelters render magic touch to the sculptures of Ellora.

While moving in the Ellora caves we have a feeling of seeing colossal tableaux of sculptures in the rock-cut shelters where light and shadow chase each other. Tied to the rocks these sculptures glow with lively movements. World sculpture can show few instances of such an artistic creativity. Such an artistic escarpment and projection of volcanic rock was being tried and experimented over a period of thousand years at such far and near places as Dhauli, Bhaja, Karle, Ajanta, Elephanta and Badami. A dramatic consummation of this tradition was achieved at Ellora.

Every cave at Ellora has its own focal point. In certain caves the stately radiant pillars with their massive monumentality and florid beauty impart an impression of a solid living faith of bygone days. In some caves the sculpture galleries draw our main attention. In more than one sense Ellora caves are the finest sculpture galleries of early medieval indian art. In a shrine like Kailasa one is dumbfound to witness the stupendous feat of rock-cut architecture and sculpture. In Indra Sabha the chief attraction is equally shared by the paintings, sculpture and architecture.

In most of the caves, however, the focal points are centred round the figures of divinities - Buddha, Shiva and Tirthankara. Music, dancing and erotic play of all the carved and painted creatures turn to the central figures of divinity. Devas and devatas, apsaras and gandharvas, vidyadharas and kinnaras, dwarfs, makaras, vyalas, elephants and bulls, whether they are in the main hall or in the side chambers, in porches, in balconies, in galleries, whether they are standing or flying, the entire world of these artistically drawn devotees are found switching their attention to the central figure of divinity in the main shrine-either Buddha, Shiva or Tirthankara.

From cave to cave, from pillar to pillar, and from image to image, it needs a long and leisurely attention to appreciate the creative skill and significance of each piece of art. Variety of reasons will draw a visitor to a particular cave and compel him to stay longer than intended. In some caves doorways and window-frames will attract the attention of the visitor. The nagas and naginis, the river goddesses and tree goddesses, birds and flowers, loving couples and fanciful animals playfully cluster around these doorways and windowframes. The exuberance and beauty of the entablature of these shrine doorways in many caves articulate the poetry of the architectonic rhythm and melody. The great paired attendants flanking the doorways display energy, fury, love and fear and all possible shades of passions.

The pillars in these caves really don't support the ceilings. They however create an impression of structural stability within the rock-cut shrines. Apart from fulfilling this psychological function they are used for holding medallions that are replete with foliate decorations, auspicious figures and erotic play. Scenes of discreet erotic play, artistically drawn celestial and earthly creatures and florid forms of anthropomorphic figures, birds and animals make these medallions on the pillars immensely attractive. The female figures from the brackets, dwarfs who play flutes and drums and carry heavy loans, also make these pillars attractive.

It needs patience, devotion and suspense of disbelief to rehear and recall the tones of chanting music that was once played at Ellora. It needs some imagination to inhale the fragrance of the incense that once must have filled the air of Ellora caves.

Proliferation of creeds and cults over the entire Indian sub-continent was a marked feature of Indian cultural history. In early medieval times Ellora functioned as a prism of this cultural proliferation. Geopolitical location of Ellora has rendered it a unique position in the indian cultural dynamics. The part of the Deccan in which Ellora is located represents a terrain of cultural synthesis that involved integration of Northern indian stylistics with South Indian cultural patterns. Ellora is the creation of this early medieval cultural dynamics. Movements of inshtutions and ideas, of art motifs and designs affected Ellora in consonance with its geo-politics. From 6th century A.D. to 12th century A.D. Ellora functioned as a prism through which continental, regional and local cultural trends reffacted in all directions. This period was a time of Buddhist decline, Shaivite resurgence and Jain revival in the Deccan Ellora caves articulate this aspect of indian historical sociology of early medieval times.

Origins of Ellora art are scattered all over the Indian continent. It will be a folly to trace the heritage of Ellora art to any one particular school or centre. Ellora's origins are inextricably entangled with the artistic impulses that were throbbing with life in various regions of India. The contemporary and earlier cultural trends achve elsewhere gave their fluctuating shades to the broad stream of artistic expression at Ellora. The sensibility of the Ellora artists could not escape the influence of philosophy, theology and aesthetic ethos of their times. Ellora's style of composition, its diction, its texture, were a matter of taste and fashion prevailing in its environs.

Artistic expression of Ellora-sculpture, architecture and painting-does not represent a unilinear development of any particular style and diction. Six or seven centuries of art activity of Ellora take in their strides the achievements and accomplishments of various regional styles and schools that had grown over the entire continent. Ellora has its ancestors, it has its fraternities, proteges and descendants. Ellora's affinities are spread over the entire indian continent.

Ellora attracted the attention of all the three major religious orders of ancient thnes-Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jain. These rock-cut monasteries were not only retreats for the monks but they served as inns and rest-houses for merchants and princes. Merchants, bankers, artisans, affluent agriculturists, state officials and feudal warlords gave patronage to these monasteries which lie on the trade routes. The monasteries offered protechon and security to the flow of trade. The monasteries were also important customers for the caravans. Monasteries needed cloth, perfumes and lamps. These caves thus functioned as abbeys which were important stages on the long distance trade routes, as resting places for the Sarthavahas caravaneers-as well as supply house and banking posts. Most of these caves were located near the mountain passes guarded by the forts which protected the kingdom and travellers and collected the tolls ffom the caravans. The kingly obligations, spiritual needs and trade facilities thus converged at the sites of monasteries.

Invariably the cave monasteries of Buddhists, Shaivites and Jains were located in the vicinity of ancient cult sites.

The political sky dome under which the Ellora cave monasteries funchoned during their heydays was overcast with feuds among the various sections of feudal aristocracy. In absence of a central political authority in the country, region was set against region. Perpetual wars of conquests undertaken by the regional warlords often destroyed the economic prosperity and human lives. In the dynastical wars, villages, cattle, grains, women and men suffered. Cities were sacked and granaries burnt. In this background of ceaseless warfare religious monasteries seem to have functioned as islands of peace and quietude. Monasteries had the tranquility and safety which royal places lacked. In a war-torn world of feudal tyranny, religion was the sigh and solace of every helpless creature. Mahayogi trinity of Buddha, Shiva and Tirthankara offered a soul to the soul1ess world, a heart to a heartless world.

The scholarly debates over the dynastical affinities of these cave monuments have often missed this perspective. Great worthies are still debating whether Dhumar-Rameshvar caves of Ellora were due to patronage of Chalukyas or Kalachuris. Perhaps the Shaivite mahantas of Ellora monasteries might have pocketed grants ffom both the royal houses. Who knows, the archpriest of Guheshvara Tirtha might have performed puja and rudrabhisheka for the good of both warring houses!

Over centuries feudal aristocracy and merchant princes had been patronising these monasteries. Their patronage sprang from many motives. These monasteries exercised various functions that helped the common people. Religions are made of that stutf on which dreams are made. Human miseries are partly and illusorily relieved by dreams. In medieval hmes when feudal aristocracy and merchant princes had cornered all the wealth and beauhful women, when all the luxuries of life were the privileged possessions of the rich, common ploughman had to cultivate the fields and also fight the endless wars of the medieval warlords, religion provided a great solace to the common man.

Brahmanism, Buddhism and lainism in ancient thnes were not very different from each other in matters of social system. They together taught the common tnasses to renounce the vanities of this world and seek salvation ffom this or that deity by devotion and austere life. Religion saved the common masses ffom allurement of possession and wealth, and spared the feudal aristocrats to enjoy the luxuries of life.

The monasteries also functioned as transmission houses for passing on the traditional skills and cultural values to the younger generations. Poets and scholars, artists and artisans worked for monasteries as well as for royal palaces. Most of the rock chambers and shrines of the Shramans and Brahmans at Ellora were therefore modelled after royal palaces of the Rajas and Samantas.

Though the patronage of wealthy merchants, guilds and royal houses made these excavations of Ellora possible, the main impressive element that remains hovering in the background of Ellora is the religious ethos of the people. The large paraphernalia of servants and attendants which these cave monasteries must have required for the comfortable living of the monks, would not have been possible without the patronage of the rich people and willing submission of the masses. Whether indian culture is all spiritualism and otherworldliness is a point that can be debated endlessly.

What is obvious in indian history pertains to endless use of religion for secular purposes. Religion provided the cushion that could absorb the shocks and tensions of a war-torn society. Though individual rules had their own sectarian leanings and likings, by and large the medieval Indian rulers showed remarkable spirit of religious tolerance. The great religious monasteries also displayed equal enthusiasm for receiving patronage from all sorts of rulers, just or unjust, cruel and kind. The spirit of accommodation was mutually beneficial.

While the patronage of royal houses and merchant princes made the rock-cut monasteries possible the actual physical labour involved in excavation of these eaves must have been put by a section of humanity called karmakara-karu-shilpi-rangavatari and such other artisans of early medieval India who were looked down by the Brahmin- Ksatriya elites. One of the dramatic ironies of India's age-old culture relates to the position karu- shilpi held in the estimate of classical textwriters. While Bharata and Vatsyayana sang the glory of the arts of drama, dancing and painting, the smriti writers excluded the sculptors, dancers, architects, painters, players, musicians and artisans horn any honourable position in Hindu social hierarchy.

The artists in India were bracketed together with women and shudras as of low and ignoble status. Along with women and shudras, artists were the wretched of the earth. These very karmakaras, rangavataris, shilpis have dropped fluorescent curves on the Ellora rocks. Strokes and beats of their chisels have poured rhythm and rhyme into the shapely figures at Ellora. Strokes of their chisels, thrusts of their hammers and touches of their brushes have tamed the- rocks of Ellora. Lively flora of shapely figures that has blossomed on the walls and ceilings of Ellora is due to them.

It will be better if we separate Indian art and its contemporary legend. To most of the readers Indian art is nothing but plastically rendered indian spiritualism. On closer scrutiy, however Indian spiritualism itself is a by-product of indian material milieu.

At Ellora Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism live face to face. Their myths and symbols and heroes are different and yet they have much in common. The Yogi and the Devi are equally close to heart of Buddhists, Brahmins and Jains. The celestial world of apsaras, gandharvas, yaksas, kinnaras and vidyadharasis equally shared by Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jain Ellora. What is shared absolutely and enthusiastically is the sport of love. At Ellora esoteric mysteries of the festival of love co-mingle with the longings for moksha, nirvana and mukti. Ellora art has been enriched by a wealth of erotic themes. The whole seraglio of Indra's paradise has come down to Ellora. Celestial singers and dancers blessed with youth and beauty are invariably drawn in erotic shade. Though heavenly in origin they possess eloquence of earthly charms. The elongated legs, the enlarged hips, the slender waist and the ******* that don't droop render the feminine divinities with a charm that is certainly earthly.

The art of Ellora whether Buddhist, Bramanical or Jain was shaping under a common canopy of tantric spell. The artists who did the job of cutting and painting the rocks were invariably the followers of various tantric cults that proliferated all over India in this period. The Tantra hovers over the entire early medieval indian art. What these pleasure-loving sensuous figures with their wealth of hairdress, ornaments, costumes meant to the priests and monks who lived in these rock-cut chambers is a question that baffles everyone who sees them.

The erotic couples, swinging across the firmament, do have an affinity with the romantic cycles of ancient indian tales. The repertoire of the contemporary feudal princely harems and courtesans, with which the Tantric artists weren't unfamiliar, largely account for these erotic scenes at Ellora.

Though the vision of Ellora art is divine, the art itself is this-worldly. The fundamental tone of this art, its realism, its liveliness spring from motives that are absolutely this-worldly. Its spiritualism is mythological, its realism is human.

Lilacharitra

The earliest notices of Ellora caves in Marathi literature can be traced in a thirteenth century Mahanubhava text Lilachraritra. According to Mahanubhava tradition Shri Chakradharsvami visited Ellora in A.D. 1268. He stayed for ten months at Elapur, as it was then called. In Lilacharitra there are over fifty lilas that deal with his visit to Ellora. Among these lilas there are eight lilas that have a direct bearing on the caves of Ellora. What follows here is a ffee rendering of those eight lilas. Lilacharitra has two parts-Purvardha and Unarardha The Ellora lilas are found in the Purvardha.

No. 179

Gosavi went to Elapur via Katak. He descended the ghat through the pathway that surmounts the Rajavihara cave. He stayed in Rajaviharacave for three days. On the bench of that cave he relaxed, he offered his prayers, had his mouthwash, chewed the betel leaf. Changdeobhat used to go to Elapur town and bring the purchased goods ffom the market. According to one text, Baisa asked Shri Chakradhar as to who made these caves. Sarvjna said that the caves were made by Kokas, the carpenter.

No. 180

One night Baisa had a disturbed sleep in the cave. The animals were heard crying, someone was heard singing lullabies. Someone was whispering something in someone's ears. Birds were twittering. Baisa heard many such sounds that distarbed hear sleep. In the moming Baisa asked Svami what those frightening sounds meant. Sarvajna said: "Madam these are the deities of this place. They are self-willed spirits." Then Baisa said: "Let us make our lodging somewhere else. This place ffightens me." Sarvajna then asked Changdeobhat to search out a suitable lodging place. Changdeobhat went out and foand out the monastery called Chaturvidhi math. Then Gosavi leR the Rajavihara cave. He reached Chaturvidhi math via Kuaumaswar, Chakrapani, Ekavira and Mahakala. Gosavi stayed in the Chaturvidhi math for ten months.

No. 186

One day moming prayers were over. Gosavi went out for a stroll. Changdeobhat, Baisa and other devotees accompanied hhn. Gosavi entered a cave and took rest in a pillared square. The devotees, were standing and watching a large figure on the opposite wall. The figure had put on a lotus- studded skirt. The devotees kept watching him for some time and suddenly the figure disappeared. The devotees asked the Gosavi about the maner. Sarvajna said: "This is a shadow creature. A Siddha Sanket. One who made the cave, leR his shadow behind."

No. 187

One day, the morning prayers were over. The Gosavi walked to the Manakeswar cave. There was rock-cut tunnel in that cave. Gosavi entered that tunnel. Baisa asked, what was that? Where were they going? Sarvajna said: "Don't get ffightened". Then he led his devotees into the tunnel. One aRer another they trailed behind him. Baisa held the string of Gosavi's turban. The flap of Baisa's gannent was held by the devotees. Holding and supporting each other they kept moving. All of a sudden a floodlight flashed on a spot. A pot was set in the middle and a group of men sitting around it. They had covered their heads with a piece of cloth. Sarvajna said: "Stand still and keep quiet." Then he moved further. Baisa asked what sort of thing was that. Sarvajna said' that was their agamasama. What was agamasama, asked Baisa. "Madam, this is a siddha sanket". Gosavi replied and moved still further. They found the tunnel ushering in a cave called Isaluvache Lene. There was a balcony in that cave. Gosavi sat there; and had a foot-wash. From there they could see the town of Elapur. Baisa asked him, what was that town? "Madam, this is Elapur". Baisa was surprised. How was that possible? They had been walking for along time, and how could they be still in Elapur. Gosavi explained the matter. The entire hill was one and half measure of the town. Its entire mass was excavated and made hollow. Nobody knew its entry and exit. The man who excavated that tunnel and Gosavi himself knew the passage.

No. 188

Once Gosavi had gone for a stroll. He visited a cave. Changdeobhat had gone to Katevasai. Changdeobhat entered a cave and saw a strange sight. Legs of one creature were spread along the legs of another, and face of one creature was turning and staring at the face of another. One was singing, another crying, third one swinging and singing lullabies. They were dead creatures, yet they looked terribly vivid and full of life. Changdeobhat got frightened. He traced his steps back from the cave and ran to the presence of the Gosavi; and narrated what he had seen. Sarvajna said: "Had you talked to them, they would have talked to you, they would have shown you the way further. Had you gone still further, you would have come across things still stranger than what you had seen." According to another text, creatures actually spoke to Changdeobhat. They told him that they were Vidyavanta. Thereafter Changdeo moved still further and visited the Saptapatala lene where he saw men, women, animals illuminated and lighted.

No. 189

Apadeobhat during this time had gone to a cave to wash his clothes. He washed his clothes, spread them for a dry up. As he was sitting in the cave, he saw a figure approaching him. He was a tall creature. He had put on the lotus-studded garment. He had a sword of gold. He hurled Apadeobhat on his sword. He struck him, round. Apadeobhat felt as if the sword was flowing through a pool of water. Apadeobhat experienced a continuum of pleasure. Thus he was delayed in reporting back to Gosavi's presence. When Apadeobhat narrated what he had experienced to the Gosavi, he was told that it was an affair of Pralhad Vidya. "Can I imbibe it? asked Apadeobhat. Gosavi moved the crown and said: "Not possible for you. I have it."

No. 212

One day when Gosavi's morning prayers were over, he went for a stroll to the cave of Sankareswar. Baisa asked him, "Sir, why this cave has such a large entrance gate?" Sarvajna said: "The food-offerings for this deity are brought on the back of an elephant."

No. 214

One day Gosavi went to Manakesvar cave, squatted in the square. Then went to the tunnel. Sarvajna said: vocal and instrumental music as well as the dance of this place have been stolen. Then showed the tunnel.

Kathakalpataru

The earliest Marathi version of the legend that narrates the story of the excavation of the Kailasa cave is found in the Kathakalpataru of Krishna Yajnavalki (circa 1470-1535 A.D.). The Kathakalpataru contains a canto that begins with the title Vidyadharkatha and ends with the terminal legend Vidyadhara Parampara. Vidyadharakatha story of Kathakalpataru may be summed up as follows:

In the Dakshina Desha, there was a Brahmin merchant Dhaneshvara living in the town of Ritpur. He had a son named Vidyadhara. After the death of Dhaneshvara, Vidyadhara took over the charge of his father's profession. While scrutinizing the family papers, he chanced to see a paper that was his own horoscope. The horoscope contained a frightful prediction that Vidyadhara will commit a three- fold sin of cohabiting with his own mother, drinking liquor and killing of a Brahmin. Apprehension of such sinful course of life made him leave his home. He went into wilderness.

Vidyadhara, however, could not escape the sinful cycle predicted in his horoscope. He committed all the three sins, and then died. In his next birth, he was born in the princely family of Alajpur. He was named Yelurai. He married a princess named Manikavati. Yelurai lived happily with her for some time. But the sinful fruit of his earlier birth visited him and he was affected with a strange disease. His body was infested with worms in the night, while he was free from that infection in the daytime. Once Yelurai, accompanied by his queen Manikavati visited the holy shrine of Ghrsneshvara. The queen had prayed at the Jyotirlinga shrine for the health of her husband. She had prayed the lord Shiva and took a vow that if her husband was cured of his disease, she would build a Shivalaya and would not take -her food unless she saw the pinnacle of that shrine. While Manikavati was making this prayer and vow at the Ghrsneshvara shrine, Yelurai had gone to the forest of Mahismal for hunting. In the forest of Mahismal, Yelurai happened to take a bath in the spring water and to his surprise he found himself cured of the strange disease. Yelurai and Manikavati were relieved of the nocturnal distress. Manikavati then told Yelurai about her prayer and vow. Rest of the story centres round the excavation of the Manakeshvara cave of Ellora that need to be cited in Krishna Yajnavalki's words:

Queen said my lord:
I have evoked the lord Rudra
That if your body would regain health
I shall erect a Shiva shrine
and would not touch a morsel of food
and a drop of water before seeing
the crowning summit of the shrine
For your sake I have pledged
this bond and vow in my
prayer to the Lord Shiva. (11.15. 103-4)

Yelurai felt deeply grateful to the Ghrsneshvara but he was in a quandary over the queen's vow. How to erect a Shiva shrine in a shortest possible time so that his queen could take her food, was an agonizing problem. A craftsman named Kokas from Paithan however rescued Yelurai from his anguish. How the job was done is told by Krishna Yanjavalki:

The king then sent for Kokas Vadhai
the carver from Paithan
He lived a pious life
He would not take his food
without taking a dip in Godavari
He was the Vishvakarma incarnate
destined to make a Shiva shrine

King's minister was commissioned to bring Kokas from Paithan. Kokas was brought to he royal prince. He was accompanied by seven thousand artisans.The King explained to the architects his predicament on account of Manikavati's vow.Some of the architects asked for sixteen months time to do the job. The king sighed a breath of anxiety. Kokas however assured him that within seven days he would make it possible for Manakavati to see the summit of the shrine. Then taking leave of the king, Koka proceeded to carve the mountain and before the sun rose on the he morning of the seventh day, showed the rock- cut tower of the shrine to the queen. Manikavati saw the tower and then took her food.

Kokas thus carved out in the topsy-turvy style, the shrine which was named Mankeshvara. He carved many other caves. Thus a beautiful settlement was raised by Yelurai. It came to be named Yelura. This is the last chapter of the Sahyadri Khand of Markandeya Purana.

This legend from the Markandeya Purana's Sahyadri Khand reappears in the nineteenth century Marathi work Verula Mahatmya.

Kokas Vadhai of Lilacharitra and Kathakalpataru is a legendary figure of Indian literature whom we meet in Vasudevahindi, Brhathathashlokasangraha, Avashvakachurni, Avashyaka Vritti and other Jain texts. The first epigraphic note of Kokas can be traced in a Central Indian inscription of 1155 A.D. In the Mahanubhava text Srikrishna Charitra, Kokas is identified with Margajasura, a demon killed by Crishna. Margajasura had a ffiend name Drumil, who was credited to have excavated an underground settlement in the Ellora caves.

Jnaneshvari

Jnaneshvara, another thirteenth century Maharashtrian saint in his works Amritanubhava and Bhavarthadipika has obliquely hinted at the inner similarity between the rock-cut caves of Ellora and the inner spiritual experience of a devotee R.C. Dhere and M.N. Deshpande in their writings of the sixties brought this fact to the notice of the Marathi scholarly circle. Though there is no direct reference to the Ellora caves in the works of Jnaneshvara, there has argued, the image of Ellora's Kailasa, then known as Manakesvar lene, was very much impressed in Jnaneshvara's description of Gitaratnaprasada in the eighteenth chapter of Jnanesvari. Instead of substantiating Dhere's argument, it will be more worthwhile to render a free but faithful translation of the relevant portions from the eighteenth chapter of Jnaneshvari.Here is that textual part of Jnaneshvari which contains the earliest poetic allusion to the rockcut Kailasa cave of Ellora, in Marathi:








Therefore, oh archer, a devotee who has compressed the rock-plinth of the shrine in the basement of penance, and raised the tower of love, whose doors are always open for the devotees, and the pinnacle of which remains four square intact and unblemished, when a devotee installs a gem of the lordship of Gita in such a shrine, the devotee will attain my own stature (18. 1497-99).... One who has assumed the body of a cave and yet whose life and breath are distinct from it is dear to my heart. (18. 1504).

The Bhagavatgita is the jewel-studded shrine. Its towering top is the wish fulfilling stone that illuminates the divine message. It is a popular belief that if one sees the top of the shrine, he gets the vision of the god within that temple. It is true of this chapter also, for when it is read, the true meaning of the Gita is comprehended. That is the reason why I hold the eighteenth chapter as the summit placed on the shrine of the Gita by Badarayana. In a shrine nothing is placed higher than the summit, so this chapter is the culmination of Gita's meaning.

Vyasa was a born master sculptor who cut the Upanishadic rock in the mountain jewel of the sacred texts. Out of the large amount of the waste-stone of the tree purusarthas, he erected the enclosure walls of the Mahabharata all around. Then he skilfully designed the Krishna-Arjuna dialogue by excavating the monolithic rock of self-knowledge. He measured the dimensions with the thread of detachment supplemented by the sacred texts and drew the edifice of liberation. The fifteen chapters of the Gita raised a fifteen fier structure. The sixteenth chapter became the neck. The seventeenth chapter became the abacus and the eighteenth chapter became the towering crown. Vyasa placed the flag post of Gita on such an edifice.

Therefore it may be presumed that each preceding chapter is an ascending tier culminating and fulfilling itself in the eighteenth chapter. Just as the crowning tower of shrine unstealthily recalls the architectonic accomplishment, so the eighteenth chapter of the Gita sums up its message. Thus Vyasa designed the Gita shrine and offered protection to the various creatures. Those who recite the text anain the merit of circumambulafion; those who hear the text, enjoy the cool shade of this shrine; those who pay careful attenfion, place the betelleaf and coin inside the shrine and enter the womb of right knowledge, they embrace the lord with the strength of self-knowledge. There is a place for all sorts of devotees in this shrine of liberation. Thus I have interpreted the eighteenth chapter, the summit of this Vaishnavite shrine by revealing its secrets. (18.30-48).

The rock-cut Mankeshvar lene that is now known as Kailasa lene, was perhaps at the back of Inaneshvara's mind when he described the Gitaramaprasada. This point originally suggested by R.C. Dhere, was well taken by M.N. Deshpande when he drew the attention of his readers to a couplet from Jnaneshvara's Amritanubhava wherein the dialectical unity of god, shrine and devotee is brought out with subtle yet eloquent suggestion: "God shrine and devotee carved in the rocky hill, such is the affair of non-dualist unity of knowledge and devotion."

Deogiri

The rock-cut architectonics had touched the chord of Jnaneshvara's poetic sensitivity at another point wherein he was describing the Yogadurga in the twelfth chapter of Jnaneshvari. The world famous rock-cut fort of Deogiri was at the hack of Jnaneshvara's mind when he drew the world portrait of Yogadurga:

"The fire of detachment would burn the army of desire and curb the unrestrained passions. The yoke of restraint would control the topsy-turvy tums by driving them within the heart's fold. Closing the door of the down-moving breath (apana) and setting a yogic posture a fort of primal bond is excavated. The bonds of desire are broken. The rocky cliffs of timidity are chiselled and the sleepy darkness is swept away."

The wordly elements apanadhatu are burnt down by the flames of thunderbolt (vajragni) and the cannons of pranayarma are worshipped by the offerings of the ailments. Setting the torch of Kundalini on the foundation wheel adharacakra the path to the crowning summit brahmarandhra is illuminated. The nine-door barbican is closed by the curvature of restraint and the window of the Kakaranti (susumna) nadi is made wide open.

Breath is the goddess of energy, resolve is the goat, mind is the buffalo and sacrifice of these animals is the worship. By extinguishing moon and sun and by trumpeting the unsounded music, lunar nectar is won. Then through the intermediary carved stepped central tunnel of the peak of Brahmarandhra is reached. Ascending the staircase, by passing the dark cavern, embracing the sky, the highest point is grasped. "In this manner those who are self-composed, achieve liberation by conquering the fortress of Yoga" (Jnaneshvari 12 46-57).

This long quotation from Jnaneshvari is meant to suggest and substantiate that the Gitaratnaprasada and the Yogadurga of Jnaneshvari are deeply impressed by the rock-cut architectonics of Ellora and Deogiri.



Echoes of Ellora in Marathi Literature-Latest Imprint.

What follows here, proposes to present the latest echoes of Ellora in a Marathi poem. The author of this happens to have composed it. The title of this Marathi poem reads Verulchya Kailas Mandiri. This composition is a poetic response to a sculptural panel carved on the enclosure wall of the Ranga Mandap of the Kailas. As we circumambulate the main shrine and walk on the back side of the plinth, we see many flying figures decorating the walls of this shrine. In the midst of these flying figures one interesting panel of a divine drummer and a celestial dance arrests our attention. The panel is carved on the pillared mini-pavilion in the south-east comer of the outer wall of the Ranga Mandap. Within a gopura topped architrave and an elephant-lion holding basement, the pillared frame of this panel holds a cultural representation of a musical interlude that involves the sky-bound dancer Parvati and the earth-bound drummer Shiva. The sky-earth fixture of this dance is the theme of this poem.

In the Kailasa panel, celestial dance is shown flying, floating and responding to the rhythm of the drum. Parvati is shown drummed up in the sky. But for the drum she would have perhaps fallen to the ground. Parvati's left leg is cast horizontally, right leg is turned upward, right arm is stretched skyward with fingers moving freely. The ******* of the dancer are firm and terse though her entire body is swinging and swaying. The hairdo of Parvati is adding grace to her demeanour. Her face is glowing with joy and pride. Her figure is fleshy suppleness that counter balances the massive terseness of Shiva. The free moving elephants and lions the massive pillars sideways, the frolic and ferocious ganas on the architrave topped by the gopuras and kalasha define the framework of the panel that entails the earthboundness of the drummer and freedom of the dancer. The earth-bound firmness of Shiva and sky-bound freedom of Parvati are dialectically entwined in this sculptural panel of Kailas that has escaped the attention of the scholarly world so far. The poetic fancy of this dance-music dialectics has been impressed in one of my Marathi poems. What follows here is a free verse rendering of that poetic fantasy in English:

In the Kailas shrine of Ellora

Harken the story of a whirlwind dance
That Gauri performed at Shiva's instance
Deep through the sky in rock-cut mode
Kailas of Ellora imprints its ode.

We heard it from the sculptor
straight from the dock
Who carved that tale
in the bosom of a rock.

Tender was his passion
and simple his stock
For sake of the sculptor in loveliest of a dream
Gauri did dance a lyric whirlwind
Her sky-dance mingled in rock-cut mode
Its lyrical flavours vibrate in this ode.

In the olden times when strange were the ways
twelve hundred years back
and some more days.
Ellora's hills were stirred with dreams.
Rocks were big with poetic beams.
Buddha with Shiva and many a Jin
Along with the spirits of tree and wind.
Bloomed on the rocks of Ellora's glen.
Stones were cut subdued was the space.
Wolves of time were tamed in caves.

After seven centuries of Christ had been past
A grand master architect threw a gauntlet last.
Hundreds of hammers and thousands of men
twanged their magic and trimmed rock's mien
Songs of their hearts
were flowers of a bloom
sprawling on the rocks were
hue and perfume
Rhyme kept moving
in step with the beat
Drives of hammer were
singing how sweet.

Sky came out there
from the deep earth
A glance at Kailas is
billion dollar worth.

A sculptor who cut and
shaped this shrine
was helped by artisans
from the continents nine
cutting criss-cross they
floated the rock
with a plastic miracle
of distinct a stock
Having cut the shrine
the master craftsman
Great was his work
but name uncertain.

Was on the point of
just saying Amen
When suddenly he paused
at the Kailas again
A lightning charge
of a doubt and a fear
hit him in his head he could hardly bear
Defying the pulls of time and space
He had done a job that was peerless.

For the lord Shiva and the Gauri of his mind
A better abode none could ever find
Logic of the life but never was so straight
joy makes a single sparrow
sorrow packs a crate.

How senseless and wicked
is the wheel of time
How crooked and dubious
is the world and its rhyme.

Lo! the shrine of my dream
Lo! this shrine of stone
Will this keep untouched?
Will this leave it alone?

At some dark stained hour
of the moonless night
stars and comets of firmament
To escape the fangs of darkness
might descend on the terraces
and towers of this shrine
How shall the shrine of my dream
withstand such a bolt from the blue.

How senseless and wicked
How crooked and dubious
is the world and its rhyme.

Or at some odd hour of the full moon night
the moon itself may walk down here
under the magic spell of Ellora's rocks
may pitch its tent right there.
Alas! the Rahus and Ketus are hovering everywhere.

These monsters will turn my shrine
into a small spoon
and swallow it along with the moon.

How senseless and wicked
is the wheel of time
How crooked and dubious
is the world and its rhyme.

Crestfallen the sculptor sat on the
lower terrace of Kailas
He closed his eyes
and opened the door
of the shrine of his mind.

In the shrine of his mind
he saw a dream
Shiva was confiding
in the ears of his queen
Look at that creature
who sculpted this shrine
He is worried of the future
events unkind.

He is thinking of what
may turn up tomorrow
that might end up in
disaster and sorrow.

His doubts and fears are true...

But tell me frankly what can I do?
The men have raised Shivalayas
in every nook and corner
The fate that awaits them
this shrine will share.

Shiva spoke thus to Gauri
and cast a glance at the sculptor
Suddenly a point flashed in his mind
This sculptor is a creature
of innocent kind.
Turn that side and look at his face
Shiva told Gauri, he deserves our grace
He is a dreamer
let his dreams bloom
If his dreams die
Life will be in gloom.

Shiva also told her
he was helpless.
He would confront things
that stood face to face.
What happens in the future
was beyond his grace.
You are the world's mother
and also its keeper.
This sculptor is in trouble
grace him with a cover.

The trouble with the sculptor
was now made clear to Gauri.
She resolved to do something
about his worry.
She fastened her garment
and tinkling bells
Leapt freely in the sky
sans wings or sails.

Shiva set up
on the terrace
and trumpted the drum
sporting in an
open sky.
Gauri played up trump.
Shiva was handling
beats of sound
skybound Gauri whirling
Gauri leapt
in step with lightning
Shiva's drum
a clouding.
A serpentine stir
torn her body
a violent storm
she played.

Never such a skybound
dance of that sort
till then was witnessed.

Dreamy eyes of the sculptor
watched her sky-bound feat
And heard the tingling grace
of Maheshvara's drum beat.
In his dream he saw
a boon bestowed on him
The cup of Shiva's grace
was filled up to the brim.

As long as the dance of Uma
would adorn the rock-cut shrine
Nobody would dare harm
Nor cause it any ruin.

Mind of the sculptor
then rested in peace
blessed was the shrine
cherished was its crease.

Shiva's boon was honoured
by the sculptor on the wall
He carved the sky- bound dance

And that was all

Shiva beats the drum
And Gauri swings the sky.

Now we know the reason what they do and why.

Since then stands up Kailas
Intact and unhurt
In the bosom of Ellora's rock
well sung and well cut.

We heard it from the sculptor
straight from the dock
Who carved that lovely tale
in the bo

madhu_aish1
01-08-2004, 01:05 AM
Katteri.. I got it after googling only.. Social Science teacher kita kooda Kottu vangi eruken... :D

Evalo periya article post panni erukinga.. padikaa time edukum . but will surely read it...

katteri
01-08-2004, 05:35 PM
u can visit ajantaellora.com
or MTDc.com
u can buy video cds for 15$ or 850 rupees (in india).
The video covers only the exterior of caves.

jak_muthu
08-04-2004, 10:11 AM
அம்மாடியொவ ் நல்லா இருக்கு... Great to see this picture... Thanks...

Shy
08-04-2004, 03:30 PM
jak_muthu :) welcome to geetham !!!

Ithukae eppadi solreenga.. katteri ithu mathiri nariya indian histories pathi topic potu irukaar .. poi paarunga..

Hope u have a nice time while in geetham :b:

Shy

Ponniyin selvan
08-05-2004, 01:26 PM
wow excellent photograph.. this is my fav one too.. ajantha , ellora, chittanna vaasal idhu 3 um india sirakalaiyoda oru mile stone:) thanks mate

vennai1
08-05-2004, 08:05 PM
thanks katteri...fine job ! :clap: :clap:
I am not yet done reading, so please dont move it. :Ksp:
thanks.

ponni anne, yes you are rite, chittannavasal is one place i narrowly missed
visiting on my last india trip. wish i had more time ... :? :?

and for those who dont recollect where chittannavasal is, it is near
pudukotttai and is known for its exquisite cave paintings.. ! :b:
may be katteri will research on it a while later ! ;) :clap: :clap:

katteri
08-05-2004, 08:43 PM
Yes vennai ,
Chittanavasal has one of the best paintings, but i didnt spent much time there.

If u go 2 chittanavasal there s a statue(As i went long back i cudnt remember i think its lord Buddha). If u take a guide he ll demonstrate this: U wud hear the sound only at a particular place from statue.

Dont miss it....

vennai1
08-05-2004, 09:13 PM
oh appadiya.. thats strange ! :think:
heard most of them there are fresco paintings. is it true katteri ?? :think:

katteri
08-05-2004, 10:57 PM
is it true katteri ?? :think:

aaama nan paarkalai.. but veetula sonnanga