Bright Side

A Mysterious Temple in India Was Carved Out of One Single Rock, and It’s a Sight to Behold

Ancient India found a way to keep us tuned in to new discoveries. India itself is famous for its diverse culture, colorful history, and mysterious structures. Let’s take a look at Kailasa temple, the oldest single rock carving in the world. Being one of the most visited places by both locals and foreign tourists, it is also the focus of archaeologists, since they still cannot find the answer to how they could build this masterpiece by using ancient traditional methods.

Today, at Bright Side, we’d like to show you a mysterious temple located in one of the cradles of civilization. So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s go to explore one of the best kept secrets of India!

World’s oldest and largest rock-carving

The Kailasa temple is one of the most visited places in the world. The charming fact is that almost nothing is known about its origins, sculptors, or builders. Experts and archaeologists are still having trouble even giving it an exact age. Although there is definitive epigraphical evidence to show that Kailasa was executed under the patronage of Rashtrakuta monarch Krishna I (756-774 CE).

At first, it was suggested that the temple was built in a mere 19 years. However, based on the multitude of distinct architectural and sculptural styles that are present in the temple, combined with its enormous size, some scholars believe that it was built over several centuries.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Let’s go inside! Within the courtyard, there is a central shrine dedicated to Shiva. This shrine was carved with niches, windows, columns, inner and outer rooms, gathering halls, images of deities, and a stone lingam (an abstract representation of Shiva) at the center.

It’s carved from top to bottom.

Workers cut the rock temple into a U shape. Towards the top, you see carvings of elephants that point your way down. On the bottom of the main building it appears as if an army of huge stone elephants are holding up the entire temple. The elephants surround a 100-foot-tall pillar that appears to serve as the main edifice in the temple complex. Located in India, it’s part of the Ellora Caves and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

More than 7,000 laborers worked on it.

After thoroughly analyzing the number of man-hours and amount of effort involved, experts summarized that the scale at which the work was undertaken was enormous.

It is believed to have taken more than 7,000 laborers to complete the project. They worked for about 18 hours per day. Since there was no electricity in those days, they used mirrors to reflect the light inside the cave. In modern terms, it would take around 200 days, working 24 hours per day, to excavate the entire site using contemporary technology. That doesn’t even take into account the elaborate carvings all over the monolithic structure.

Undecipherable scripts are part of its secrets.

But this is not all. The temple itself is one big secret and holds incalculable puzzles inside. Archaeologists estimate there are more than 30 million Sanskrit carvings that have yet to be translated.

The tale of Kailasa temple

There is an interesting tale about the temple. Mughal King Aurangzeb, who destroyed thousands of Hindu temples, also tried to destroy the Kailasa temple. It is said that 1,000 people were sent to destroy the temple in the year 1682. They worked for 3 years, but they were only able to break and disfigure a few statues. He finally gave up on this task, realizing that it was impossible to completely destroy the temple.

The rock was simply too hard to demolish, even though the original artisans only used hammers, chisels, and picks to construct it.

Ancient India is one of the most powerful civilizations known to us. Every day archaeologists discover something new and reveal ancient secrets. Who knows what they will find out tomorrow? Have you ever been to India? We would be more than happy to read your comments about your experiences!

Preview photo credit Unknown / imgur