Monolithic rock cut Architecture in India
There is more than 1000 Monolithic rock cut Architecture in India. Kailash temple, the 16th Ellora cave is the largest monolithic monument in the world. Monolithic architecture connotes monuments or historically caves and temples carved out from a single piece of rock. As difficult it sounds, the view of these structures are truly breathtaking. Structures are grazed out of single rock attached to its base.
It’s seen in various structures, the surrounding rocks are also carved. Not just temples, but also caves and single pillars are carved. Rock cut architecture combined with monolithic architecture enabled many structures to block a spot in UNESCO’s heritage site.
Famous Monolithic rock cut Architecture in India
Adorned with Rashtrakuta style of work, Kailash Temple is a megalith carved from a single rock. Built in the 8th century it has traces of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all over the structure. It’s a fine example of Dravidian works. The temple is also famous its mystical connection with the Vedic cosmos when one pays obeisance to the deity. It’s a representation of Lord Shiva’s holy abode, Mount Kailash.
When monolithic monuments come into the picture, Pancha rathas can’t be missed. Ratha meaning chariot, are the rock-cut structure at Mahabalipuram. These chariots, five in number are named after Pancha Pandavas’s and Draupadi. Another beautiful example of the Dravidian style of work, these are incomplete structures. Thus, one can’t offer prayers there. And these structures are no way closely related to Mahabharata or the Pandavas.
Another heroic monument from Mahabalipuram is the Shore Temple. The temple is predominantly dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. One of the earliest structures of south- India, the temple is five-storied. It’s a fine work by the Pallavas. It’s also the sole survivor among the seven pagodas built.
Formerly known as Elapur, Ellora caves are total 34 in number. These caves are dedicated to Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains as well. It consists of the famous Kailash Temple, the dasavatar caves, Buddhist caves or monasteries and Jain caves. In the dasavatar cave, there is an inscription of dantidurga (founder of rastrakuta empire).
Among the temples of Mahabalipuram, Varaha cave temple Is a standout. These temples narrate mythological tales. Various panels of the cave show different tales. One of them shows Varaha(boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu) rising from the ocean, tri Vikram panel, Ga JA Lakshmi panel etc. Another is the mahisamardini cave showing Maa Durga killing the demon Mahishasur. Also panch Pandava mandap, dharma raj mandap can be seen.
Udayagiri caves in Odisha are a simple example of monolithic architecture. Dedicated to Buddhism, these caves are 18 in number. The largest of them is Rani Gumpha or the queen’s cave. It’s also the most beautiful and ornamented. Neighbouring it, are the khanda Giri caves. Similar architecture and exquisite portray of legends. The most famous of them is the snake cave which has twin serpents arching on the doors.
The cavern stone beds in Sittanavasal are a beautiful example of monolithic architecture. Designed for Jaina cohorts, the cavern has the total of 17 beds. Many beds bore inscriptions in Brahmi script. This place was specifically used for performing austerities by the Jaina followers and attain nirvana. it’s a low roof spacious natural cavern.
India has abounding culture and ways of displaying the rich culture of respective royalties. Starting from Pallavas culture to the very famous Dravidian style of arts, techniques have evolved. Monolithic architecture being a primitive method provides the substantial base to the foundation of other forms. These practices will slowly be wiped clean of my country if not protect well. Every state has its own form of art and they all are in touch with the monolithic style. As seen, the majority of the temples in Southern India follow monolithic architecture. Harappan arts style and lifestyle of Jains inspired and enforced different cultures to follow monolithic style. Intrinsic carvings, unique sculptures, and mesmerizing tales will always keep our interests bound.