Ellora – Cave 21, The Ramesvara

DSC05259Close to the last temple, and behind a fine large platform, is a lofty and interesting Saiva temple, locally known as Ramesvara. In the court before it, on a lofty pedestal with bas-reliefs on the side of it, couches a Nandi; in a chapel on the north side with two pillars in front is Ganapati, and between it and the pilaster is a gigantic female standing on a makara, with dwarf attendants. On the south side is a similar figure on a tortoise. A screen wall half the size of the pillars connects the front ones. The capitals of the four in front are carved in representation of a DSC05269kamandala with plants growing out of it and drooping over on each side. To this are added struts carved with female figures standing under foliage, with their attendant dwarfs. The frieze above is carved in compartments of arabesques divided by fat ganas.

The hall is 16 feet in height and measures 69 feet by 251 feet with a chapel at each end, cut off by two cushion capital pillars. Each of these chapels are surrounded by sculptures. On the south one, we find the following.

DSC05280a. On the right wall, a tall four armed skeleton with a broad and short pointed knife. Another skeleton clasps its leg while it looks up to Kali; just behind, who seizes it by the hair, while she holds a disserved head in her left hand and wears a snake round her neck. Another skeleton with a snake around its neck is over Kali. A more hideous group more than this could not well be conceived. In front of the tall skeleton stands a figure with a sword, and overhead is a gandharva.

DSC05281b. On the back wall is Ganesha and the Saptamatrikas with a musician. The emblems of each of the idol has rotten away and they all look similar with elaborate head dresses.

c. On the left is Siva dancing, eight armed, while Gods riding on peacock, elephant, ox, eagle etc. appear in the clouds over his shoulders. Parvati and musicians look on below, and a small Bhringi dances behind Siva’s legs.

The following are the figures in the north chapel.

DSC05272a. On the left end, is a tall four armed figure standing with a chick in one left hand, and holding a large bird by the neck with the other; right and left are attendants with ram’s heads.

b. On the back wall are Brahma seated on a DSC05267chair, with an attendant behind him, addressing a squatting figure with a female behind.

c. The marriage of Siva. Brahma is on the extreme left, with a fire before him, while a bearded figure is seated on the other side of it. Behind him are two males, one carrying a box. Then comes Parvati with a female behind her, and a male with a round jar. Siva takes Parvati’s hand; and in front is a small figure of Ganesha, while behind Siva and four other attendants – one with a conch.

DSC05270d. Parvati, the daughter of the King of mountains, as an ascetic, amidst four fires, a rosary in one hand, and rocks behind her; She has taken up this penance to gain the love of Siva. Her maid kneels at the right hand. and on her left is a tall female with a box. Siva approaches her with a water bottle, aDSC05271nd behind him are lotuses and fruits. To the right, is a tall female addressing a figure.

e. On the base of this tableau is a remarkable row of ganas.

f. On the east end of this chamber is Mahishasuri slaying the buffalo demon; a four armed figure with a club stands in front and one with a  sword behind.

On each side the approach to the shrine is large sculpture. On the left side is Ravana under Kailasa with five heads and an animal’s possibly a boar’s rising out of the top of his high cap; Siva and Parvati with their attendants are represented above. On the right, Siva and Parvati playing the dice game, with Bhringi beyond resting his chin and hand on his knee. Parvati is attended by females, one plaiting her hair. The dispute between the gamesters is very well represented, Below is the bull with usual ganas.

DSC05266In front of each pilaster of the ante-chamber stands a female chauri bearer with dwarf elephants. The two columns here are of the Elephanta style, or with compressed cushion capitals, but in place of brackets, they have figures carved. The door of the shrine is also elaborately carved. On each side it has a gigantic dwarapala with wigged dwarf attendant., one of them with a high cap having the prongs of the trisula projecting from the top of it, broad dagger, a sword, and round his loins a cobra.

The shrine contains a square pedestal with a water rotted linga in it. A wide and lofty circumambulatory surrounds it.