Ellora, Maharashtra, India
GPS: 20.026381198036, 75.178552656467
Admirable from the point of view of their construction, the Ellora Caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, about 30 kilometres north-west of the town of Aurangabad. Together with the neighbouring site of the Ajanta Caves (about 100 kilometres away), they form the most remarkable cave sanctuaries with troglodyte and Indian rock-cut architectures in India.
The underground complex of Ellora (formerly Elapura) comprises a series of 34 successive caves, temples and monasteries, carved into the rock of a basalt cliff. The site is believed to have been developed between the 6th and early 11th centuries AD during the Kalachuri, Chalukya, Rashtrakuta and Yadava dynasties after the completion of the older Ajanta Caves. It coincides with the decline in the influence of Buddhism in the region in favour of Hinduism. From their conception, the Ellora Caves served as a place of expression for three religious communities. They are still used today as a sanctuary dedicated to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. These excavated structures are carved by the force of arms into the vertical and rocky wall of the Charanandri Hills, after titanic work. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of tons of basalt rock were extracted from the site by the builders of the place, a real feat for the time. In total, thousands of sculptures, drawings, decorations and wall inscriptions can be seen in the Ellora Caves, which are numbered in chronological order of construction. The Hindu achievements seem to be part of the architectural continuity of the Buddhist temples that predate them in time.
Arranged side by side over a length of more than 2 kilometres, the temples, caves and monasteries of Ellora bear witness to the respect, tolerance and acceptance between the different religions of ancient India. The jewel of the place is undoubtedly the Kailasa or Kailasanatha temple, a colossal Hindu rock-cut temple, handcrafted in a gigantic monolith. Built from top to bottom on more than 30 metres high, this temple represents Mount Kailash, home of the god Shiva. According to tradition, this mountain located in the Himalayan range symbolizes the centre of the Buddhist Universe.