Spanning a period of about 600 years between the 5 th and 11 th century AD, the earliest excavation here is of the Dhumar Lena (Cave 29).The most imposing excavation is, without doubt, that of the magnificent Kailasa Temple (Cave 16) which is the largest monolithic structure in the world. Interestingly, Ellora, unlike the site of Ajanta, was never ?rediscovered?. Known as Verul in ancient times, it has continuously attracted pilgrims through the centuries to the present day.Ajanta & Ellora has been designed as a World Heritage Site, to be preserved as an artistic legacy that will continue to inspire and enrich the lives of generations to come.
The largest monolithic structure in the world
The other Buddhist caves as well as the first few Hindu caves are fairly unremarkable and do not prepare you for the magnificence of Kailasa Temple or Cave 16. Believed to have been started by the Rashtrakuta king, Krishna I, Its excavation must rank as an architectural wonder.
The temple is dedicated to Shiva and named for his mountain home in the Himalayas, the snow- peak Kailasa. The main shrine and the Nandi mandapa are built on a plinth, over 7.8 metres high, with its entire vertical surface carved with mythical animals and gargoyles.
The Main temple
This is flanked on either side by two free- standing pillars, soaring some 15.9 metres high. These gracefully proportioned pillars are believed to have once borne the trishul or trident of Shiva.
Two storeys of corridors have been carved into the mountain, ringing the temple on three sides. These corridors are studded with small alcoves, all containing a wealth of sculpted figures telling the tales of the great Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Among the narrative friezes is the descent of river Ganga, and one of Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa. The architectural style and intricate sculpture is similar to Virupaksha Temple at Pattadakal that had been completed a decade before.
How to Reach Ellora
Rail: Aurangabad, the closest railhead, is directly connected to Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, and Bhopal. Alternatively you could take a bus or taxi to Jalgaon, a mainline junction from where you get faster express trains to Mumbai and Delhi.
Road: Aurangabad is connected to all major cities and towns by good roads. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation runs ordinary and luxury buses from here to Mumbai (392 kms)
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm, except Mondays and national holidays.
Best time to visit Ellora
October to March, although the monsoon months of July-August are also highly recommended for the heightened scenic beauty of the area.