Art and Architecture of the Rashtrakutas

The art and architecture of the Rashtrakutas were found at Ellora and Elephanta. At Ellora, the most remarkable temple is the Kailasa temple. It was excavated during the reign of Krishna I. It is carved out of a massive block of rock 200 feet long, and 100 feet in breadth and height. The temple consists of four parts – the main shrine, the entrance gateway, an intermediate shrine for Nandi and mandapa surrounding the courtyard. The temple stands on a lofty plinth 25 feet high.

The central face of the plinth has imposing figures of elephants and lions giving the impression that the entire structure rests on their rashtrakutas art and architecture kailasa temple at elloraback. It has a three-tiered sikhara or tower resembling the sikhara of the Mamallapuram rathas. In the interior of the temple there is a pillared hall which has sixteen square pillars. The Kailasa temple is an architectural marvel with it beautiful sculptures. The sculpture of the Goddess Durga is shown as slaying the Buffalo demon. In another sculpture Ravana was making attempts to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva. The scenes of Ramayana were also depicted on the walls. The general characteristics of the Kailasa temple are more Dravidian.

Elephanta is an island near Bombay. It was originally called Sripuri. The Portuguese after seeing the large figure of an elephant named it Elephanta. The sculptural art of the Rashtrakutas reached its zenith in this place. There is a close similarity between the sculptures at Ellora and those in Elephanta. They might have been carved by the same craftsmen. At the entrance to the sanctum there are huge figures of dwara-palakas. In the walls of the prakara around the sanctum there are niches containing the images of Shiva in various forms – Nataraja, Gangadhara, Ardhanareesvara and Somaskanda. The most imposing figure of this temple is Trimurthi. The sculpture is six metre high. It is said to represent the three aspects of Shiva as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.

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