Kailash Temple is situated at Ellora and is believed that it was constructed by excavating approx. 200,000 tones of rock and is possible the world’s largest monolithic structure. Representing Shiva’s Himalayan home, the temple is exquisitely sculpted and is considered as one of the most astonishing ‘buildings’ in the history of architecture. A crowning glory of the art, Kailash temple at Ellora is indeed unique. Instead of carving down into the face of a cliff and creating underground halls which had been the practice, the sculptors/architects set aside all convention and created a full temple, identical in every detail to a structural, ‘built-up’ example, by carving vertically down into the living rock.
The scheme of the Kailash temple is basically divided into four main parts: the body of the temple itself, the entrance gateway, an intermediate nandi shrine and the cloisters surrounding the courtyard. Much of the imposing character of the main shrine is due to its substantial plinth, which on first examination seems to be a floor by itself. Above and below this, the sub-structure is heavily molded, while the central space is occupied by a frieze of elephants and lions.
The Kailash temple is not only the single largest work of art executed in India, but as an example of rock-cut architecture it stands unrivaled. One gradually becomes aware of the stupendous labor that it involved (over a hundred years), and finally, the sculpture that adorns it. Standing within its walls, one cannot help but be aware of the spiritual energy that went into its creation – a jewel hewn out of the rock itself.