Friday, March 2, 2012

Marvelous 'Cavicatures', Cave Temples of Ancient India

Hindu and Jain rock-cut architecture can be seen mainly at Badami, Aihole, Ellora, Elephanta, Aurangabad and Mamallapuram. The Rashtrakutas constructed Brahmanical Kailasa temple at Ellora. Badami has four cave temples executed at various levels of the sand stone hill. The first cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the second and third caves are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the fourth cave  is a dedication for Jaina structure. Aihole has two rock-cut temples, one Jaina and the other Brahmanical.

At Ellora there are 17 Brahmanical caves and 6 Jaina caves. The 6th century Shiva temple in the Elephanta caves is one of the most exquisitely carved temples in India. The central attraction here is a twenty-foot high bust of the deity in three-headed form.

The Pallavas of Kanchi initiated rock-cut architecture in the South. They used the available hard granite to cave out their structures. Because of the hardness of the granite rock, there was a limitation on the size of the caves as well as the details on the sculptures. The earliest temple structures were not made of stones or bricks, which came much later. In ancient times, public or community temples were possibly made of clay with thatched roofs made of straw or leaves. Cave-temples were prevalent in remote places and mountainous terrains.

Laksitayatna Trimurti cave temple at Mandagapattu dedicated to Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Iswaran or Lord Shiva. A minimum of nine other temples were carved out during his time. Other Pallava kings also followed his style, with a few negligible differences. One among the Pallavas, Narasimha Pallava built the coastal town of Mamallapuram (Chennai). The Mamalla style cave temples were more elaborate. Monolithic rathas and vimanas belong to Narasimha 's period.

The art and architecture of the ancient times were matchless and the material used and the style of construction were both of an excellent combination, paving way to these architectural marvels of India today.


ravindran said...

photo misleads. coorect it. It's delhi akshardham.

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