The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed

Tripoto
9th Jun 2019
Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee
Day 1

It is believed that the Rashtrakuta dynasty and Yadav dynasty were behind the deployment of unimaginable craftsmen to chisel Ellora out of the hills, many civilisations back.

We went looking for any mystery and caught the best of it through some of our explorations.

Movies and books portraying this amazing cave series such as the Satyajit Ray classic "Kailash e Kelenkari" acted as positive catalysts to my curiosity.

View from top of cave 12 right after the rains. The rain drenched cave amidst the green surroundings is a retreat for the soul.

Photo of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India by Debapriya Banerjee

Myths about Ellora or are they real?

Myth 1:
Caves are boring!

Caves are interesting if you are fond of going beyond the big eye catchers that pull most of the visitors like a magnet. Many of the caves may look ordinary from outside but you don't know what's inside unless you are into them. The emptier caves were the surprisingly more mesmerizing ones.

You must control your urge to visit the Kailasa cave which is a straight walk from the entrance at the beginning. Taking this route had cost us enough time. It is a good idea to start with the southernmost part that is caves 32-34 as you head left from the entrance.

•Cave 32 | Mini Kailasa | Jain cave series

Entrance to cave 32 | Mini Kailasa

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

The entrance to the last in the series which are Jain caves.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

Things to notice-
i.You will love the combination of Dravidian and Buddhist architecture in this cave. 

ii.The cave is dedicated to Mahavir and the upper storey is known as the "Indra Sabha".

iii.The chamber at the back was smelling of bats signalling their presence and my tshirt was justified!

Though this snap was taken at Kailasa, it was finally justified at the Mini Kailasa cave.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

You can visit the Kailasa next returning to the starting mid-point.

•Cave 16 | Kailasa Temple | largest monolithic structure | Hindu cave series

The entrance to the stairway that leads to the Shiv Temple above

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

Things to notice-
i.I thought it is not just a single cave as I walked past pillars and chambers engraved with stories from Ramayana and more.

ii.A single source of light provides view of the temple inside.

Photography was not allowed. There is a Shivlinga inside with a narrow opening for the water or milk to flow through when Shiva was worshipped here.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

A pillar inside the temple.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

Kailasa at a glance.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

iii.You can recognize the ten-headed Ravana trying to hold the Kailasa with all his might in the figure below. 
Shiva sits quite effortlessly above pushing down the mountain with his foot (which is half-broken in this statue).

Ravana holding the Kailasa inside the cave engraved on the outer wall below the temple.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

Myth 2:
Unknown or hidden statues!

• Cave 12 | Tin Taal Cave

Visiting a few caves post cave 16, this was our best and most intriguing find!

Things to notice-

i..The third storey of this 3 storey ( tin taal)  cave holds a chamber with fourteen Buddha statues.

Seven statues of Buddha in meditating pose. There were seven others in teaching attitude.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

ii. What is behind the locked doors of the second storey of this cave?

The statue to the left of Buddha is not visible under the normal darkness inside the caves.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

The statue of the Buddha as seen behind closed doors.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

I am amazed of my friend who got this sudden idea out of his mind by just seeing colorful reflections in the Buddha, that there must be statues beside it. It was a delight that a jinx could get real!

The Buddha inside locked bars soon showed us several other companions flanking it's left and right.  Flashlight and good mobile camera came to our expedition rescue.

Statues caught in flashlight.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

Entrance to caves 9-11

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

The rains are a bliss. Setting foot onto a cave post the rains.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

Myth 3:
Dents on cave floors.

The purpose of the dents on the cave floors has remained a mystery for a long time. I have found pretty large number of dents on the cave floors to rouse the curious-monger within me. The dents form peculiar shapes like bones at certain places. Probably a real bone-like object could have been present there which eroded over time.

Dents were a common site. Some appeared to have served a purpose.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

This dent shaped particularly like a bone is a mystery. It might have resulted out of a bone decay.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee


Myth 4:
Underground caves.

Due to the presence of a large number of dents which are believed by many to be vent holes for underground breathing, it is believed that a civilisation lay there many years back, hidden from the common eye. On asking the security personnel however,  he said all the caves are on the surface.

Myth 5:
Eeriness inside the caves.

This is the last myth that is questionable and up to your own justification. You can feel a bit uncomfortable inside the caves,  especially if they are empty.  (It is mostly a trick played by the mind).  It might be a truck of mind but I noticed a flick of shadow pass through this statue as I was staring at it alone for a while.

A flicker of light seemed to pass behind the Shivlinga

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee

A lone dust-laden handkerchief lies inside one empty chamber.

Photo of The Saga of Rock-cut Statues | 5 Myths about Ellora Unleashed by Debapriya Banerjee
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