Kailasa Temple: The History Insights into Ellora Cave

A Marvel Amidst the Kailasa Temple Ellora Caves in Maharashtra – Exemplifying the Power of Faith in Sculpting a Temple from a Mountain. Its uniqueness and distinctiveness from the other Ellora caves compelled me to delve into its history and intriguing details separately.

Key Information

  • Location: Ellora, Maharashtra 431102
  • District: Aurangabad
  • Affiliation: Hindu
  • Establishment Date: 760 AD
  • Deity: Kailashanatha (Shiva)
  • Dress Code: No specific dress code
  • Temple Hours: 9:00 AM to 05:00 PM
  • Photography: Permitted
  • Entry Fees: Rs. 10 (Indian) and Rs. 250 (Foreigners)

Kailasa Temple at Ellora Cave 16

kailasa temple, ellora photos

The Kailasa Temple is one of the well-known temples that is situated at Ellora Cave 16 in the western area of Maharashtra It is a UNESCO world heritage site that has a structure ranging in age from 600 to 100 CE. It is based on different epigraphs which connect to the structure of Krishnaraja.

Regardless, nothing has ever been written about the monarch mentioning the temple. The cave is recognized as one of the most spectacular cave temples in the world because of its construction, scale, and sculpture application. The stones slope to the front of the temple from the rear.

The structure of the temple is denoted as 32.6 meters above the ground of the courtyard below. The temple contains the elements of Chalukya and Pallava styles. It has a multitude of free-standing along with relief sculptures on a large scale that is equivalent to the architecture. However, only the original paintwork is left as survived.

History of Kailasa Temple

Constructed during the reign of King Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta dynasty in the 8th century, specifically between 756 and 773 AD, the Kailasa Temple stands as a remarkable testament to ancient craftsmanship. Interestingly, there are no surviving written records or inscriptions to document its creation.

The amazing story of this temple’s construction, which took place over the course of 18 years, has been pieced together by historians. It’s important to note that basic equipment like hammers and chisels were used to build the temple. The absence of modern construction equipment continues to baffle historians, archaeologists, and enthusiasts alike, as they ponder the sheer ingenuity required to craft such a marvel with such basic implements.

The architectural style of this temple shares striking similarities with the Virupaksha Temple in Pattadakal.

Tale of the Kailasa Temple

Much like the origin stories of other ancient temples, the Kailasa Temple boasts a captivating legend detailing its creation. The narrative, as chronicled by Krishna Yajnavalki in the Katha-Kalpataru, unfolds as follows:

During a time of grave illness afflicting the reigning monarch, the queen fervently beseeched Lord Shiva for her husband’s recovery. In a heartfelt plea, she vowed to construct a temple devoted to Lord Shiva in gratitude for his restored health. She solemnly pledged to undertake a fast until the temple’s majestic shikhara, or pinnacle, reached completion.

Swiftly recovering from his ailment, the king and queen embarked on the temple’s construction. Yet, they soon realized that the construction of the shikhara would span many years. Providentially, a brilliant architect and sculptor proposed an ingenious solution.

He suggested that by commencing construction from the mountaintop downward, the temple’s shikhara could miraculously manifest within a mere week. This proposal brought immense relief to the queen, who would be able to conclude her fast promptly.

And so, the Temple took shape, its creation unfolding from the summit to its foundation, in adherence to this remarkable plan.

Architectural of the Kailasa Temple

Kailasa Temple

Diverging from conventional construction norms, the Kailasa Temple stands as a remarkable testament. Rather than being assembled from stone blocks, the temple emerges through the painstaking excavation of a singular, solid volcanic rock. The typical construction sequence involves laying the foundation before progressively adding layers upward.

However, in this exceptional instance, the construction process commenced from the pinnacle and systematically extended downward—an approach referred to as the vertical excavation technique. Renowned as the foremost monolithic structure globally, the Kailasa’s distinctly distinguishes itself from a mere cave formation.

The sculptures exhibit unparalleled mastery, portraying intricate curves and evoking profound emotions. Regrettably, time has eroded some of the carvings, softening the sharpness of their features.

Originally adorned with a veneer of white lime plaster, the temple aimed to replicate the snow-cloaked peaks of Mount Kailash. One can only envision the breathtaking spectacle it presented in those moments. Although much of the plaster layer has crumbled away, the temple’s enduring beauty and grandeur remain undiminished. Faint vestiges of painted colors still grace its surfaces today.

Mystery About Kailasa Temple

The Kailasa Temple holds a myriad of enigmatic tales within its ancient walls. This remarkable edifice is thought to have been erected around 300 BC.

Among those deeply inclined towards spirituality, a captivating belief persists that the construction of this temple within the heart of a hill was facilitated by an age-old mystical implement known as Brahmastra, endowed with otherworldly capabilities.

Additionally, adherents of faith hold the conviction that the intricate interior design and the sacred symbols adorning the Kailasa Temple were conceived by a sage with the extraordinary ability to engage in telepathic discourse with sages of antiquity.

According to popular lore, the recitation of mantras in the midst of profound silence causes these sounds to resonate and reverberate exclusively within the confines of the temple and its surroundings. This experience grants a rare sensation of profound connection with the Vedic cosmos. Though the underlying science behind this phenomenon remains veiled in mystery, it continues to intrigue and evade comprehensive explanations.

Facts About Kailasa Temple

  • The Rashtrakuta kingdom constructed the Kailasa Temple at Ellora as a shrine devoted to Lord Shiva.
  • The temple is thought to have been fashioned to resemble Mount Kailash, the fabled location of Lord Shiva’s abode.
  • The Kailash Temple is a standalone edifice with several floors that resemble Mount Kailash in appearance.
  • Despite attempts by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb to damage the Kailash Temple, his efforts resulted in only minor harm to peripheral parts of the structure, leaving the main temple mostly intact.
  • The temple was excavated from rock and takes on a ‘U’ shape, with around 50 meters carved into the rock. Approximately 200,000 tonnes of rock were removed during construction.
  • Archaeological calculations suggest that the construction of the temple would have taken over a century to complete due to its intricate design and rock removal requirements.
  • Surprisingly, the temple was finished in just 18 years, defying expectations. Even with modern technology, replicating the same temple within 18 years is considered a formidable challenge by today’s engineers.

Kailasa Temple: Height, Length, and Width Dimension

The temple’s dimensions stand at 145 feet in width, 195 feet in length, and 90 feet in height. Impressively, the expanse covered by the Kailasa Temple is twice that of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

To bring this majestic temple to life, an astounding 200,000 tonnes of rock were meticulously carved out from the Charanandri Hills of the Western Ghats, also referred to as the Sahyadri (Benevolent Mountains) Range. The temple’s creation involved a top-down excavation process, shaping it into a U-shaped formation that delves about 50 meters deep.

Within the intricate complex of this temple, five shrines can be found. These include representations of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and the revered river Goddesses: Ganga, Saraswati, and Yamuna.

The central sanctum today proudly holds a Shiva Lingam, thoughtfully placed by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar (1765-1795), adding a touch of history and reverence to this remarkable structure.

Attempt to Demolish in Kailasanatha Temple

Adding to the extensive chronicles of the history and details surrounding the Kailasa Temple, there exists a notable endeavor to dismantle it.

In 1682, Aurangzeb, the Mughal monarch known for the widespread destruction of Hindu temples, dispatched a group of a thousand individuals with the intention of obliterating this temple. Despite their incessant labor spanning three years, their progress in dismantling the temple was meager at best.

Their efforts mostly resulted in defacing the statues and structures, with little substantial impact on the temple’s overall structure. Eventually, it appears that Aurangzeb, quite possibly due to a sense of reverence or trepidation towards the temple’s spiritual significance, relinquished the pursuit.

How to Reach Kailasa Temple?

  • Traveling by Air:

The closest airport to this Temple is located in Aurangabad, approximately 35 kilometers away from the temple grounds. Visitors can easily access the temple by taking a taxi or a bus from the airport.

  • Traveling by Rail:

For those opting to travel by train, the nearest railway station is situated in Aurangabad, about 18 kilometers away from the temple. From the railway station, visitors can avail themselves of taxi services or buses to reach the temple.

  • Traveling by Road:

This Temple is conveniently accessible by road, and travelers have the option to use both public and private buses that operate from various major cities across India.


The Kailasa or Kailasanatha temple stands as a monumental testament to ancient Hindu craftsmanship. Situated in Ellora, Maharashtra, India, this colossal rock-cut temple is not only one of the largest of its kind but also a masterpiece of architectural and sculptural brilliance.

Revered as one of India’s most exceptional cave temples, it finds its place within the ensemble of this temple Ellora Caves, a compilation of 32 cave temples and monasteries. Constructed during the eighth century by the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I, between 756 and 773 CE, the temple, designated as Cave 16, showcases an amalgamation of Pallava and Chalukya architectural elements.

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