Dadu Aur Madak

We had the same good luck finding a place right in Ellora as we had in Ajanta. This was important because it allowed us to see the caves on the same day, and getting south was seeming more urgent if we were to see all the things we wanted to. It was hard to believe that at this point we had been here for over four months. As I actually sit writing these pages we now have slightly more than a month left on our six-month visa. Still, in spite of how far I am behind on this log, to do justice to Ellora it must be two pages--one the site in general, and one on Temple Sixteen. The remarkable thing about Ellora is that it fell under successive influences with the earliest temples being Buddhist, followed by a staggering Hindu influence, and finally a few temples that were Jain. The Jain temples overlap somewhat in time with the end of the Hindu period. But as I mentioned the most amazing is the complex known as Temple Sixteen. It is actually several buildings, many of several stories, hewn from the solid rock. It is so massive it is difficult to take it all in. It is said that 7000 workers toiled for 150 years to carve this masterpiece. Lonely Planet says it is the world's largest monolithic sculpture.

Some of the earlier Buddhist caves at Ellora seem a little more primitive than those at Ajanta, even though they were begun more than a hundred years after Ajanta had already went into decline. But over a four hundred year period there is an astounding variety of influences.

The style and detail of these interior columns are just one of the details that have changed over this time frame.

Ellora's 34 caves consist of 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu, and 5 Jain. Some like the one at right above are multilevel structures with vast passages.

As the time passes in terms of construction there is evidence of a new pantheon of gods.

The image above of Kali the destroyer is particularly fearsome, while the goddess below left seems almost serene despite the thousands of hands that have polished parts of her anatomy. Below right, architectural detail seems to play a larger role in some of the Jain temples.

Some of the Jain sites are amazing in their detail, while others take on a other-worldly quality in the striated rock. But hitting the next button will take you to the gem of Ellora. I only wish my camera could have captured more.