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Monolithic Madness - The Enigmatic Kailasa Temple in India

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posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 11:16 AM
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The Kailasa temple (link) is one of those inexplicable marvels of the distant past that impresses through its gargantuan dimensions and the sheer facts related to its construction: it's the largest monolithic structure in the world -made out of one piece- with an estimated 400,000 tons of deccan basalt having been removed from a cliff by means of vertical excavation (top-down) over a period of 20 to 100 years or, according to a local legend, within a week... depending on the source you trust most. Here's a nice photo of this unique masterpiece of Indian architecture:

Source

Interestingly, no one knows where the 400,000 tons of excavated rock went. No traces in the area have been found and speculating that the material simpy got "vaporized" in the process will certainly be met with ridicule, especially without related evidence. It's not surprising, then, that historians generally assume that the rock was transported away from the site and reused for other projects elsewhere.

Here's a short animation I created to illustrate how the structure must have been hewn out of the rock. It seems like they needed to have the entire masterplan in mind before starting to excavate:

Excavation (illustrated)


Due to it's unbelievable architectural complexity, I didn't have the time to recreate the whole temple with all its fine details, but the animated sequence does hint at how tricky this method must have been. Let's not forget that for each detail, every statue and every decorative element that we see, one would have had to leave rock material (eg. cubes and rectangular solids) in place that would later be carved to match the desired detail. Obviously, this is necessary because you simply can't add anything later on once the rock has been removed. The error margin here would have been really, really small.

Groundplan


The Kailasa temple belongs to the category of "rock-cut architecture", similar to the churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia. The construction of rock-cut temples in India has quite a tradition but the Kailasa temple is by far the largest example of its kind. It's also called "Cave #16" since it's part of the Ellora Cave complex consisting of 100 rock-cut structures built along a two kilometer long section of the Charanandri Hills close to the village of Ellora. Of these 100 caves, only 34 are currently open to the public. Here are some more impressions of the temple complex:


If you'd like to see more photos of the site, here's an excellent must-see Flickr photo album.


Stone Material and Origins of the Temple
The deccan basalt, which was excavated and carved, reaches a hardness of 6 on the Moh-scale of mineral hardness. Although it's neither andesite nor granite, it's still a fairly hard rock and the builders wouldn't have gotten very far if they used copper (Moh: 3) or iron (Moh: 4) to work the stone, unless they used something harder as an abrasive. Otherwise, tools of hardened steel would have been required or, alternatively, pounding stones made of rock types harder than basalt.



No claims of ownership have been found in any of the carvings. The true origins are therefore unknown, although it is generally assumed that the project dates back to somewhere between 700 and 800 CE and was initiated by Krishna I, an 8th century Rashtrakuta king. This has been concluded by scholars based on two epigraphs (found elsewhere in India) which are generally believed to reference the temple and its builder.

The carvings and ornamental details feature scenes from ancient Indian scripture, such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana, whereas the temple itself represents a mix of different architectural styles (with its central shrine dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva - the temple is believed to be a replica of Shiva's homestead, the Kailash mountain).

Inside the cave sections of the Ellora complex, there are many beautifully carved reliefs, pillars and statues. One of those interior sections is particularly interesting since the floor seems to be unfinished, potentially hinting at some of the construction techniques involved:

Source

When trying to imagine the stone working and excavation process, we may also be able to gain some insights from another temple in India, which had not been completed. At the Vettuvan Koil temple, we can see an intermediate state of construction, with the left part being crisp and intricately carved, whereas the section on the right is unfinished and crude:



The most amazing thing to me about the Kailasa complex is (apart from the intricate ornamental details) the rather unusual method the builders applied. Today, we would call such a top-down vertical excavation "substractive manufacturing", and the devices we use to accomplish that are CNC machines. It's almost incredible to contemplate this having been done manually on such a scale back in the remote past in India.

Hope you enjoyed the write-up and, as always, feel free to add your thoughts further below!





SOURCES AND LINKS:
------------------------------------------
01. History of the Kailasanatha Temple
02. Kailasa Temple at Ellora, Wikipedia
03. How was a Massive Hindu Temple Carved out of a Single Rock?
04. UNESCO Report on Ellora Caves, 1983 (PDF)
05. Vintage News: Kailasa - The Worlds Largest Monolithic Structure
06. More Details About Indian Rock-Cut Architecture
07. Sandatlas: Definition of Basalt
08. Moh's Scale of Mineral Hardness
09. PDF-Document Describing the Geology and Architecture at Ellora
10. History of the Hardening of Steel: Science and Technology
11. More Information About Ellora Caves at unesco.org
12. History of the Ellora Cave Complex
13. YouTube: Cultural, Political & Historical Context of the Ellora Complex

edit on 25-6-2017 by jeep3r because: text




posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 11:48 AM
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I can't help but be amazed by such ancient works.

I mean, the task seems so impossible to achieve when you think about it, but there it is.

More than the dedication needed to achieve that, those who created it were absolute masters of their craft.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 11:55 AM
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It is amazing the amount of monoliths and megaliths that are out there. Most of these, it appears, we wouldn't be able to recreate today with our current technology. It is also fascinating that a lot of the walls and aqueducts have a very similar construction across a very wide area.

They certainly raise a lot of questions.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 11:59 AM
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originally posted by: NowanKenubi
I can't help but be amazed by such ancient works.

I mean, the task seems so impossible to achieve when you think about it, but there it is.

More than the dedication needed to achieve that, those who created it were absolute masters of their craft.


Indeed, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to go about like that. Why stack stones (or even megaliths) when you can cut the whole thing out of a mountain? They really, really wanted to impress Shiva, I guess...



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 12:01 PM
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Incredible

Although I disagree partially with your theory on how it was created and that they needed the master plan before they started.

That would be absolutely INSANE if they did it that way, and it would have taken much longer.

Instead, what I think happened... similar you your gif, is that they excavated the area surrounding the potential building all the way around at first. That way they had a huge block to work with in the center.

Then they probably designed it from there and sculpted it, much like any stone/marble/wood sculpture would. It mesage more sense I think.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 12:17 PM
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originally posted by: Lucidparadox

Instead, what I think happened... similar you your gif, is that they excavated the area surrounding the potential building all the way around at first. That way they had a huge block to work with in the center.


I think that would indeed be a reasonable alternative, it would provide more space to actually work the rock and set up scaffolding. It does make it "easier", but the word easy is of course a rather relative term in this context.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 12:18 PM
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Carving something out of a hill is easy, making the details like that takes skills..or a concrete veneer.

Built by the same people who built Lalibelum, meso America, Chinese pyramids, etc. The traveling agents of Satans society, an artificial system of control within an artificial system of control. Take man out of Nature and putting him in a tax bracket. All started with cut stones.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 12:36 PM
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originally posted by: NowanKenubi
I can't help but be amazed by such ancient works.

I mean, the task seems so impossible to achieve when you think about it, but there it is.

More than the dedication needed to achieve that, those who created it were absolute masters of their craft.


I am even more amazed it could be completed. What if they got halfway down and found the material of the strata changed or something?

Definitely a fascinating feat of engineering to do this.



edit on 25-6-2017 by NarcolepticBuddha because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 01:34 PM
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a reply to: jeep3r

It was aliens what did it!



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 02:30 PM
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Great post! I have often wondered what our world would look like if man hadn't also destroyed so many wonders along the way when warring and just out of spite.

I also wonder what magnificent things like this are under the sea that we haven't seen. I know they are there because we have managed to discovery some of them at various depths and again they are seemcto made of different stone too.

Then I get a little depressed thinking of the crap we Americans are going to leave behind. Seems all we really build are different kinds of boxs, really tall or small and efficient.
Rarely do you come across the amazing sculpture that was accomplished down through history anymore. Seems even most of our best stuff was done when this country was a baby.

Sorry I drifted a bit there, this really was a great post



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 02:42 PM
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Wonderful post, thank you for bringing this to my attention...

When ever I see or read about things like this I cannot help but wonder at all the skills that are lost, or nearly lost in today's modern world.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 03:50 PM
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originally posted by: ClovenSky
It is amazing the amount of monoliths and megaliths that are out there. Most of these, it appears, we wouldn't be able to recreate today with our current technology. It is also fascinating that a lot of the walls and aqueducts have a very similar construction across a very wide area.

They certainly raise a lot of questions.


We can, it's just that in order to build something like this can you imagine the bill? Unless it's slave labor, which I could imagine there was a lot back then. Also, people dedicated their entire lives, lived in that area, etc. basically had nothing better to do. Remember within' probably a 100 mile radius of where a person lived was the entire world to them.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 06:13 PM
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I had no idea these structures were carved out of a single piece... My mind went straight to 3D print / CNC-like techniques as well.

By the way nice work OP! S&F. What an excellent post. You deserve a shoutout for going the extra mile with those animations and all that additional information and links.



This is what ATS is all about, I am definitely going to check out your other work now. I am on an ancient enigma kick as well.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 07:46 PM
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a reply to: jeep3r

Excellent work. This is what ATS is all about!



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 07:56 PM
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a reply to: jeep3r

Excellent writeup and a lovely set of links to explore.

I should point out that India developed steel fairly early, so the technology to carve the temple (around 750 AD) was certainly there.

That said, they must have had a huge workforce!



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 08:23 PM
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a reply to: BigBangWasAnEcho

Haha, that got grim fast



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 10:12 PM
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a reply to: jeep3r

Awesome find dude ive always thought hows this temple been ignored.probaly harder to build than khufu(supposed)pyramid.indian history and buildings have been massivley ignored by mainstream for some reason👍



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 10:18 PM
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a reply to: jeep3r

Check out drerinkuyu turkey the underground tunnel system could house 20000 people .theres a lot more going on than were aware of😀



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 11:48 PM
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a reply to: jeep3r

Great post!! I'm looking forward to checking out those links.

I was recently researching the topic of Metrology, and came acrross this Ancient Metrology – Numbers Don’t Lie


When the late Professor Alexander Thom surveyed over a thousand megalithic structures from Northern Scotland through England, Wales and Western France he was amazed to find that they had all been built using the same unit of measurement. Thom dubbed this unit a Megalithic Yard (MY = 2.72 feet = 0.829m) because it was very close in size to an imperial yard, being exactly 2 feet 8.64 inches (82.966 cm). As an engineer he could appreciate the fine accuracy inherent in the MY but he was mystified as to how such a primitive people could have consistently reproduced such a unit across a zone spanning several hundreds of miles. The answer that eluded the late Professor lay not in the rocks, but in the stars

Pretty cool article if your into numbers and measurements.

Here is another more straight forward article on Metrology



posted on Jun, 26 2017 @ 02:04 AM
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a reply to: jeep3r

This is a wonder.

You write...

"Interestingly, no one knows where the 400,000 tons of excavated rock went. No traces in the area have been found.... ... historians generally assume that the rock was transported away from the site and reused for other projects elsewhere."

Have any projects anywhere in India usi g the same type of stone been found?!!?

Also could the temple have been built much earlier, subsequently buried, and then
excavated around 800CE?




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