Kailasa Temple
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Location Ellora, Maharashtra, India   map
Date 750   timeline
Building Type Hindu temple
 Construction System rock-cut masonry
Climate underground
Style Hindu
Notes carved from stone of hillside


Photo, interior, detail in the inner courtyard. These elephants appear exactly behind the point of entrance into the inner court.




Detail Drawing

Lower Plan Drawing

Section Drawing

Section Drawing

Upper Plan Drawing

Discussion Kailasa Temple Commentary

"The Kailasa Temple, it is safe to say, is one of the most astonishing 'buildings' in the history of architecture. This shrine was not constructed of stone on stone, it was in fact not constructed at all: it was carved, sculpted in toto from the volcanic hillside! A squared, U-shaped trench was first cut into the slope to a depth of close to 100 feet. The 'liberated' mass in the center was then patiently carved from the living rock to produce a freestanding, two-story Hindu temple of dazzling complexity. The temple, which is dedicated to Shiva, the often threatening god of the Hindu trilogy, measures 109 feet wide by 164 feet long. It stands on an elevated plinth to attain greater presence in its tight surroundings. The complex consists of entry, Nandi (i.e. bull) shrine, open porch, main hall, and inner sanctum. Variously scaled panels, friezes, and sculpture highlight many surfaces."

"The late Percy Brown, whose two-volume Indian Architecture is indispensable to any study of Indian culture, sums up the shrine thus: 'The temple of Kailasa at Ellora is not only the most stupendous single work of art executed in India, but as an example of rock-architecture it is unrivaled....The Kailasa is an illustration of one of those rare occasions when men's minds, hearts, and hands work in unison towards the consummation of a supreme ideal."

— from G.E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. p38.


Rock-cut temple, 164 ft. deep, 109 ft. wide, 98 ft. high.

Est. 200,000 tons of rock excavated, reputedly using 1" chisels over a span of nearly 100 years.

Sources on Kailasa Temple

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. LC 90-30728. NA200.S57 1990. discussion, p38. photo, p38, 39. — Available at Amazon.com

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. photo, p26. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at Amazon.com

Benjamin Rowland. The Art and Architecture of India. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1977. photo of interior, Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa, f243, p311.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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