1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ellora

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ELLORA, a village of India in the native state of Hyderabad, near the city of Daulatabad, famous for its rock temples, which are among the finest in India. They are first mentioned by Ma′sudi, the Arabic geographer of the 10th century, but merely as a celebrated place of pilgrimage. The caves differ from those of Ajanta in consequence of their being excavated in the sloping sides of a hill and not in a nearly perpendicular cliff. They extend along the face of the hill for a mile and a quarter, and are divided into three distinct series, the Buddhist, the Brahmanical and the Jain, and are arranged almost chronologically. The most splendid of the whole series is the Kailas, a perfect Dravidian temple, complete in all its parts, characterized by Fergusson as one of the most wonderful and interesting monuments of architectural art in India. It is not a mere interior chamber cut in the rock, but is a model of a complete temple such as might have been erected on the plain. In other words, the rock has been cut away externally as well as internally. First the great sunken court measuring 276 ft. by 154 ft. was hewn out of the solid trap-rock of the hillside, leaving the rock mass of the temple wholly detached in a cloistered court like a colossal boulder, save that a rock bridge once connected the upper storey of the temple with the upper row of galleried chambers surrounding three sides of the court. Colossal elephants and obelisks stand on either side of the open mandapam, or pavilion, containing the sacred bull; and beyond rises the monolithic Dravidian temple to Siva, 90 ft. in height, hollowed into vestibule, chamber and image-cells, all lavishly carved. Time and earthquakes have weathered and broken away bits of the great monument, and Moslem zealots strove to destroy the carved figures, but these defects are hardly noticed. The temple was built by Krishna I., Rashtrakuta, king of Malkhed in 760–783.