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Timings : All days of the week except Tuesday: 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Time Required : 3 to 4 hours

Entry Fee : INR 10 per person (Indians and Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries ), INR 250 per person (Foreigners)

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Kailashanatha Temple, Aurangabad Overview

The Kailasha or Kailashanatha temple is the largest monolithic rock-cut structure in the world located in cave 16 of Ellora Caves in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Carved out of single basalt rock from Charanandri Hills, it is one of the exceptional temples of India owing to its massive size, amazing architecture and mind-boggling carvings. With its intricate designs on panels, monolithic pillars and statues of animals and deities, Kailasa Temple is an engineering marvel perfect for history and architecture lovers.

Constructed in the 8th century under the direction of Krishna I, the temple is dedicated to Hindu deity, Lord Shiva. Associated with many legends, the temple stuns every visitor as only one rock has been carved immaculately using only traditional methods. Considered similar to Virupaksha temple of northern Karnataka, it was built in 18 years using 2,00,000 tonnes of rock. 

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Architecture of Kailashanatha Temple

The temple is known for its vertical excavation- the carvers started at the top of the original rock and excavated downward. Different from the architectural style prevalent in the Deccan region, the Kailasa temple is based on the Virupaksha Temple at Pattadakal and the Kailasa temple at Kanchi. The entrance has a low gopuram with Shaivaite deities on the left and Vaishnavaites deities on the right.

Kailasa Temple

The U-shaped courtyard is edged by arcades carved with huge panels and alcoves containing enormous sculptures of a variety of deities. Famous among these are Shiva the ascetic, Shiva the dancer, Shiva being warned by Parvati about the demon Ravana, and river goddess. The central shrine has a flat-roofed mandapa resting on sixteen pillars and a Dravidian shikhara. It is dedicated to Shiva and features a temple with Nandi bull built on two storeys decorated with elaborate illustrative carvings.

The base of the temple hall features scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana. The central shrine is carved with niches, plasters, windows as well as images of deities, mithunas and other figures. Three of the five detached shrines are dedicated to river goddesses Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. A notable sculpture is that of the Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa.

Kailasa Temple at Ellora

Sculptures and Carvings at Kailasa Temple

Kailasa Temple located in cave 16 of Ellora caves is a masterpiece and known for exotic carvings and sculptures. In the double-storeyed gopuram, you will see exquisite sculptures on the walls. On leaving the portico, you will come across huge elephant statues. There are many beautiful carvings of Durga, Mahishasuramardini, Gajalakshmi seated in a lotus pool, Shiva as Ardhanari and Virbhadra, Ravana shaking the Kailash mountain, and the Mahabharata and Ramayana panels. The main temple has a sabha griha, vestibules and a Nandi mandap which leads to the Garba griha with the Shiv Linga all of which are intricately carved. On the roof of the sanctum is a lotus crowned by a finial with four mythical lions. 

Kailasa Temple Aurangabad

Facts About Kailasa Temple

1. The entire temple was carved out of a single rock without adding stone blocks. Every single design and measurement was planned accurately as there was no chance of adding any extra stone or piece of rock.
2. The temple is the only structure in the world with vertical carvings from top to bottom. 
3. It took only 18 years to build the largest monolithic structure using only traditional methods and about 2,00,000 tonnes of rock was carved out of Charanandri hills.
4. The architecture of the temple resembles Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, to whom the temple is dedicated. 
5. It is believed that Mughal king Aurangzeb sent 1000 people to destroy the temple in 1682. However, it took them three years to disfigure only a few statues. Even though artisans used only hammers and chisels, the temple is impossible to demolish. 
6. The Kailashanatha temple is considered amongst the remarkable cave temples of India due to its massive structure which covers an area twice the size of Parthenon in Greece. 

History & Legend

The Kailashanatha temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Shiva whose Himalayan abode is Mount Kailasa. Hence, the name Kailasa was given to the temple. It is believed that it was constructed in the 8th century AD under the reign of Krishna I, a ruler of the Rashtrakuta Empire. Due to the use of multiple architectural designs, it is believed that its construction spanned the reigns of multiple kings.

However, as per the legend of Marathi people, the temple was built within a week. There was a queen whose husband was very ill. She prayed to Shiva to heal her husband and vowed to build a temple and fast until the temple was completed. When the lord fulfilled her wish, she began her fasting. However, the architects were concerned as the construction would take a long time. One of the architects named Kokasa ensured that he would construct it within a week. 

Kailashanatha Temple

How To Reach Kailasa Temple

This extremely fascinating location is situated about 30 km away from the Aurangabad which is the nearest city to the destination. Aurangabad is well connected to the major cities of the country through rail, road, and air. You can also take a bus to Aurangabad from where you can hire a cab to reach the location.

An ideal place for all the history buffs, travelers and explorers the premises of Ellora caves is paradise especially The Kailash temple given the many historical references, stories, and myths that revolve around the temple.

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