Jainism - Ellora
Type of Spiritual Experience
Ellora is an archaeological site, 30 km (19 mi) from the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Famous for its monumental caves, Ellora is a World Heritage Site. The 34 "caves" – actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills were built between the 5th century and 10th century.
The site has Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples and monasteries. There are 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain caves (caves 30–34), built in proximity
Most famous of the Buddhist caves is cave 10, a chaitya hall (chandrashala) or 'Vishwakarma cave', popularly known as the "Carpenter's Cave". Beyond its multi-storeyed entry is a cathedral-like stupa hall also known as chaitya, whose ceiling has been carved to give the impression of wooden beams. At the heart of this cave is a 15-foot statue of Buddha seated in a preaching pose.
The Hindu caves were constructed between 500 CE and 1000 CE and represent a different style of creative vision and execution skills. Some were of such complexity that they required several generations of planning and co-ordination to complete. Cave 16, named The Kailasa or Kailasanatha Temple, is the unrivaled centerpiece of Ellora. This gargantuan structure – designed to recall Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva – looks like a freestanding, multi-storeyed temple complex, but it was carved out of one single rock, and covers an area double the size of Parthenon in Athens.
The Jain caves have the specific dimensions of Jain philosophy and tradition. They reflect a strict sense of asceticism – they are not relatively speaking large in comparison with the others, but they have exceptionally detailed art works. The most remarkable Jain shrines are the Chhota Kailash (cave 30), the Indra Sabha (cave 32) and the Jagannath Sabha (cave 33). The Indra Sabha is a two storeyed shrine with a very fine carving of the lotus flower on the ceiling. In another cave, an imposing image of Ambika, the Yakshi (dedicated attendant deity) of Neminatha is found seated on her lion under a mango tree, laden with fruits. All other Jain caves are also characterized by intricate detailing. Many of the structures had rich paintings in the ceilings – fragments of which are still visible.
A description of the experience
Cave 16 Kailashnatha Temple