- Ellora in the state of Maharashtra is a rich archaeological site containing caves, cave art, and monolithic rock architecture dating from the fifth to the eighth century C.E. Most of the work is Hindu, but some is associated with Jains (see JAINISM) and Buddhists. There are a total of 34 caves at Ellora. Some, cut out of solid rock, were used as dwelling places for Buddhist or Jain monks.A Hindu sculpture at Ellora Caves, c. 900, C.E., in Aurangabad, Maharastra (Constance A. Jones)The most elaborate monument at Ellora is the Kailasanatha Temple (to Shiva who resides on Mount KAILASH), built by the Rastrakuta emperor Krishna I (c. 756–773 C.E.). This entire temple, cut from solid rock, includes a shrine room, hall, gateway, votive pillars, lesser shrines and cloisters. There are many carved divine figures and narra-tives on the walls. The ground plan is said to be about the same size as the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.The facades for the caves inhabited by the Jain monks, as well as the Jain temples cut into the rock, exhibit sculptures featuring the full pano-ply of Jain religious imagery. There are images of the TIRTHANKARAS (great personages), gods and goddesses (subordinate to the Tirthankaras in importance in the Jain context), and scenes from traditional Jain stories.Further reading: Doris Clark Chatham, “Myth, Cult, and Cetana at the Kailasa Temple, Ellora,” in Michael Meister, ed., Discourses on Siva: Proceedings of a Sympo-sium on the Nature of Religious Imagery (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1984), pp. 156–169; Jose Pereira, Monolithic Jinas: The Iconography of the Jain Temples of Ellora (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1977).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.