Ellora – Cave 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28

DSC05288A little further along, a door leads into the court of Cave 22, 42 feet square, within which an ascent of three steps leads to a slightly sloping platform on which stands the Nandi Mandapa – a four door chamber partly ruined. On the south side of the court is a chapel with the Ashtamatrikas, or the eight mothers, all four armed and the eighth with three arms. Thirteen steps lead up to the cave, in front of which at each end is a dwarapala besmeared with paint. This excavation is 70 feet by 44 including the chapels and the vestibule of the shrine, and DSC0529012 feet height.

It has four pillars in front and two on each of the other three sides of the hall – all plain with bracket capitals. At each end is a chapel with an altar. On the walls of this vestibule are a few sculptures, Ganesha, the three Devis – one on a crocodile, and a four armed Vishnu. In the shrine is a pedestal and a highly polished linga. The locals smear blue streaks upon the linga, so the name Nilakanta.

Cave 23 is a low cave at a rather higher level DSC05292consisting of a partly double verandah  with five doors entering into small cells, one of them containing a round pedestal and lings, with a Trimurthi on the back wall.

Cave 24 is a series of five low cells called Teli-Ka-Gana, the Oilman’s Mill. They contain of small sculptures of no special interest. A little to the north, in the course of a torrent, just where it falls off a cliff, a beginning of a cave had been made, but has stopped progress because the rock would have been unsuitable for carving.

DSC05295The front part of Cave 25, which is also called Kunbharwada, which must have been supported by six large columns and pilasters, has fallen away. The hall, including recess is 95 feet long by 27 feet with a height of 14 feet. An image has been placed on a pedestal at the north end, and at the south is a recess with a shine behind it containing an oblong altar. Between the front of this recess and the pilaster at the front of the cave is a fat male seated on a seat, with bag in his hand.

DSC05297At the back of the hall are four free-standing and two attached square pillars with moulded bases. The smaller hall behind this measures 57 feet by 23, and has two pillars in the ends and two at the back, with two attached ones dividing it from the vestibule of the shrine. On the ceiling of the vestibule is a figure of the Sun God, in his chariot drawn by the seven steeds and a female at each side shooting with a bow. This could have been a temple dedicated to the Sun God.

The Columns of Cave 26 are quite of the Elephanta pattern. It has four in front and two pilasters; and at the back two with pilasters. At each end of a spacious hall 16 feet high is a chapel raised three or four feet above the ground on a moulded base. The total length including these chapels is 112 feet and the depth to DSC05303the back of the circumambulatory is 67 feet.

In front of each pilaster of the vestibule is a female chauri bearer – her hair carefully crimped – with dwarf attendant. At the shrine door are two large dwarapalas one with a flower; and stout attendants one with a very high cap in a sharp spear-point, with a skull on the right side of it. In the shrine is a large square pedestal and linga. The circumambulator is wide DSC05308and lofty.

Cave 27, also called he Milkmaid’s Cave is on the right edge of a ravine that separates it from the last Saiva cave, and over the scarp at the head of which is a fine waterfall after heavy rain. This waterfall is also called Sita-Ki-Nahani.

One octagonal pillar and fragment of another are left in the verandah; it had perhaps two more pillars. The back wall of the verandah is pierced for a door and four windows. On thisDSC05309 wall are few carvings – Lakshmi with two male attendants; Vishnu, four-armed with club, chakra and rosary; Siva with cobra and trident; Brahma, three-faced with staff, water-pot and rosary; and Mahishasuri with the buffalo. In the left end is Varaha with Prithvi, and in the south Vishnu in the form of Sesha Sayana, half finished. Inside is a hall 53  feet by 22, beyond which is a vestibule to the shrine, 23 feet by 10 with a raised floor and two short square pillars in front.

In recesses on each side the shrine door are Vaishnava dwarapalas and inside is a long oblong altar at the DSC05314back of the shrine. It was doubtless a Vaishnava cave, but the style of it says but little for the wealth or influence of the sect in the days when it was executed.

Cave 28 is under the cliff over which the stream falls. It has a couple of cells, and a vestibule and shrine with dwarapalas, perhaps Vaishnava at each side of the door. Inside is the base of a square altar, and on the inside of the front wall is an eight-armed Devi with attendants.

We now move to the famous Dhumar Lena.

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