1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Indian Architecture - Buddhist (cont'd): Rock-cut Temples. Ellora Caves. Kylas.

(Part 24)

Indian Architecture - (b) Buddhist Architecture (cont'd.)

Rock-cut Temples. Ellora Caves. Kylas.

Of the next two classes of Buddhist architecture, the temples (Chaityas) and monasteries (Viharas), no built examples exist in India. They are, in fact, roc-cut caves. At least one thousand temples are known-one-tenth probably Brahminical or Jain, the rest Buddhist. They are said to form a uninterrupted series, from the first, in Behar, by the grandson of Asoka, 200 years before Christ, to those at Ellora, which, instead of being of an almost diluvian antiquity, as has generally been reported, have been proved to date from the 7th or 8th century of our era, while the most recent is the work of Indra-dyumna, as late as the 12th century. One of these cave-temples at Karli, near Bombay, presents exactly the features of a roman basilica, or early Christian church. It has a circular end or apse, and is divided into three aisle by two rows of columns. Others are simple square buildings, with a circular or oval chamber at the end entered by a small door. The monasteries, which exceed the temples in number, seem generally to have been square caves supported by pillars of the natural rock left in their places, and surrounded by a number of small sleeping-places or cells.

The most wonderful excavations are those at Ellora, near Aurangabad. These are a series of hypogea or caves sunk in the solid rock, extending a distance of 3 or 4 miles. Canina has given plans and interior views of six of them. those called Parasova Rama and Diajannata are simply halls supported on massive piers with level architraves. The piers are richly carved with figures and friezes, and have a sort of cushion capitals, and square abaci, and stand round, forming a kind of atrium. That called Indra has a court open to the sky, in which is a small shrine or temple. In the solid rock are two halls similar to those above described, a larger and smaller. The piers of the Tin Tal are quite plain. In the Viswakarma is a quadrangle, open to the sky and surrounded by pillars. This leads into an atrium with three aisles and an apse, and exactly like a basilican church. The most magnificent of the Ellora caves, and indeed of the native Hindu works, are the chambers and halls called the Kylas, or Kailasa. These are sunk into the rock, and occupy a space of 270 feet deep and 150 feet wide. The roofs are solid rock, supported by pillars, or rest on the walls, or on the divisions of the assemblage of chambers. There is a porch, on each side of which are two columns. This conducts into a hall, supported columns, and leading into a sort of adytum. Round this is passage space and five chambers. The whole forms a temple, with its usual appendages, just such a one as would be built on the ground, and round this a wide open space, with a colonnade or cloister encircling the whole. Great part is open to the sky, for the sake of light and air, but the work is entirely cut out of the solid rock.

The date of the construction of the Kylas is about 1000 AD.

Read the rest of this article:
Architecture - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-23 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries