Ellora Cave (Indra Sabha)
At a distance of 1.4 km from Kailasa Temple and 1.5 km from Ellora Caves Bus Stop, Cave 32 is a Jain cave situated to the north of Kailasa Temple in Ellora. Known as the Indra Sabha, it is the largest and finest of all Jain temples in Ellora.
There are five Jain Caves at Ellora belong to the 9th and 10th centuries AD. They all belong to the Digambara sect. Jain Caves reveal specific dimensions of Jain philosophy and tradition. These caves reflect a strict sense of asceticism – they are not relatively large as compared to others, but they present exceptionally detailed art works. The most remarkable Jain shrines are the Chhota Kailash (Cave 30), the Indra Sabha (Cave 32) and the Jagannath Sabha (Cave 33). Cave 31 is an unfinished four-pillared hall and a shrine. Cave 34 is a small cave, which can be approached through an opening on the left side of Cave 33.
Cave 32 is actually a series of shrines dedicated to Mahavira and other Jaina divinities aesthetically arranged in double storeys. The ground floor is plain, but the upstairs has intricate carvings. A simple gateway leads into an open court, with its sides adorned with lions, elephant friezes. There is a monolithic shrine of the Tirthankaras in the middle, a huge monolithic pillar known as manastambha is to its right and a colossal monolithic elephant to its left. The manastambha measures 28 feet in height and is crowned by four seated images facing the cardinal directions. The monolithic elephant reminds one of the elephants sculpted in the court of Kailasa, but, here it is more elegant and well preserved.
A flight of steps leads into a large shrine on the first floor, with side entrances on the east and west leading to smaller shrines. Invariably these shrines are also dedicated to Mahavira. Here one can see the remains of murals executed on the ceilings and the wall portion of the caves. The exit on the west leads to two smaller shrines dedicated to Mahavira.
The important sculptures here are Ambika, the mother goddess, with a child seated on her lap, a lion beneath and a spreading tree above. Other panels within the hall show Indra seated on the elephant, Mahavira flanked by guardians of Tirthankaras. The ceiling is richly carved with a massive lotus at the center. Paintings on the ceiling of the upper Mandapa show couples and maidens flying through the clouds.
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