World Heritage Sites – Ellora Caves – Ghrishneshwar Temple
Ghrishneshwar is an important Brahmanical religious center as it is believed to be one among the twelve jyotirlingas of the Indian sub-continent. The temple of Ghrishneshwar, however, is of later period, its construction ascribed to Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore who ruled between 1765 and 1795. The temple is constructed of red basalt and presents a characteristic look. The architecture also represents the local style and departs very well from the contemporary Islamic styles.
On plan the temple consists of a garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum), antarala (antechamber) and a sabha mandapa (pillared hall). The exterior surface of the wall portion is relieved vertically and horizontally with short depth projections. The horizontal mouldings were utilised for carving different motifs.
The most striking feature of this temple is the five tiered shikara rising in diminishing height. The height of the shikara is enhanced by the high wall portion of the sanctum. The shikara is crowned by a couchant bull at each corner along with a monkey behind it. The shikara is beautifully decorated with geometric motifs and also images of Brahmanical deities including Siva and Parvati.
Ghrishneswar is the presiding deity of the locals and Verul (Ellora) was under Maloji Bhosle, the grandfather of Chhatrapati Shivaji. During Mahasivaratri, a large fair is organised and attended by a huge number of devotees even today. On Mondays, special pujas are performed for the presiding deity.