(Video) Indian Art & Culture in English : Rock Cut Temples of India

Indian Art and Culture in English Medium

(Video) Indian Art & Culture in English : Rock Cut Temples of India

Previously we talked about Rock cut caves. Today we will take you through the Rock cut temples. If we talk about Rock cut architecture, it is the most ancient and prominent among the many architectural marvels present in our country.

One of the marvellous rock cut temples in India is the Kailash Temple in Ellora. Ellora has over 30 caves, out of these some belong to Buddhist, Jain and Hindu. Located in the Western Region of Maharashtra, this temple is one of the UNESCO world heritage site and also one of the largest rock cut Hindu temple. It was built by the Rashtrakuta King Krishna I. It is considered to be one of the most remarkable work of architecture due to its size, architecture and sculptural design. It is dedicated to lord Shiva but also pays homage to other gods as well.

The Kailash temple is present in the cave 16 of the Hindu group. Its Gopura (gateway) and Prakaras (enclosure walls) on both sides are carved out in the foreground from the rock in situ. The kailashnath temple has been carved through the vertical excavation. The carvers started carving from the top of the rock and went downwards. It is a giant structure that is carved inside and outside both. This temple is an example of Dravidian architecture with an influence of Pallava.

The temple complex has four main parts. The first is the gateway to the temple. This is two stories high and opens up into a courtyard. The second part of the complex is the Temple. The third part is the Nandi shrine and the fourth is the cloisters surrounding the courtyard.

The temple is decorated with sculptures and also comprises of windows room and gathering halls. The temple houses several intricately carved panels, depicting scenes from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the adventures of Krishna. There are five detached shrines in the temple premises; three of these are dedicated to the river goddesses: Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati.

It is a most beautiful example of the blend of the north and south, both at its best. It may be called as one of the well-planned and well-designed Temple, excavated with the support of the prosperous Rashtrakuta dynasty.

If we move towards the southern part of India, one of the examples of monolithic or rock cut architecture example is the Badami Cave Temple. Located in KARNATAKA STATE. Badami, earlier known as VATAPI BADAMI, was the capital of the early Chalukya dynasty.

This cave temple is carved out of soft sandstone of the hill cliffs. At the entrance of the cave, is a veranda (mukha mandapa) with stone columns. It leads to a columned main hall (maha mandapa) and then to a small square shrine cut deep into the cave. There are four temple caves here, each representing different religious sects. Cave 1 is dedicated to Shiva, caves 2 and 3 to Vishnu, and cave 4 is a Jain temple. In the cave 1, we can find scriptures of Hindu divinities and themes. One of the prominent carving is of the Tandava dancing Shiva or Nataraja. The cave2, 3 are intricately carved cave that features Vishnu related mythology. The fourth cave is dedicated to Mahavira. Badami cave temples have rock-cut halls with three basic features: pillared veranda, columned hall and a sanctum cut out deep into rock.

The other gem of south India is the Varaha cave Temple. The rock-cut Hindu temple is located in the ancient city of Mahabalipuram. It is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage site named "Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram" located at Coromandel Coast in Tamil Nadu. This temple is one of the greatest examples of Pallava art. The fine specimen of ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis or Indian rock-cut cave architecture, it is a marvellous sight. It was created during the reign of Narasimhavarman I Mahamalla (630 – 668 AD).

The beautiful architectural style hints at the early stage in Dravidian architecture with many dominant elements of Buddhist design. The Varaha Cave Temple is one of the most primitive buildings in Mahabalipuram. The pillars inside the temple are intricately designed with elaborate sculptures of mythical figures. Carved out of a huge piece of granite, the cave-temple took several decades to be complete.

The Varaha Cave Temple is a small shrine. At the entrance through mandapa, a beautiful veranda with two pillars and two semi-columns greets you. All four contain doorkeepers, figures of horned lions at the bases of columns. The entrance in the hall of temple is guarded by two gate keepers. Side walls inside the temple are adorned with four large sculpted panels.

The most important sculptural is Varaha, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, similar to wild boar. Varaha holds up his wife Bhūmī, mother earth in his trunks. He has saved her from Naga, the snake king. Another fascinating sculpture shows Vishnu Trivikrama as a dwarf with one foot on earth, another in clouded sky and the third leg on tyrant Bali, pushing him to underworld. Next to Vishnu stand Brahma, Shiva, Sun and the moon.
Another panel on the east shows goddess Lakshmi with two maidens and two elephants. The fourth panel shows goddess Durga standing on a lotus under umbrella.

Pancha Rathas

Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) (five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjun, Bhīma, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi) is an example of monolith Indian rock-cut architecture dating from the late 7th century located at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These are also referred as Pandava Rathas. It is a monument complex.

The five Rathas were not assembled, while each of them was carved from single piece of stone and each of the different ratha is of granite and was carved in a different style. The Draupadi rath has female door keepers on either sides, one holding a bow and the other sword. Arjun’s rath is dedicated to lord Shiva. There are carvings of Gods and humans inside. Out of all the Rath’s Yudhishthir’s rath is the tallest and the huge one.