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Notes on the Geography of Peninsular India: Ellora (Hindu): Photo 1

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Fergusson knew better. On Ellora, however, he was also a bit of a killjoy. Writing of the most famous cave, known as Cave 16 or Kailash (or Kailas, as he spells it), Fergusson admitted that it was "in itself one of the most singular and interesting monuments of architectural art in India... it is better known than almost any other structure in that country." He explained that the temple had been carved into the side of a ridge by creating a hole 106 feet deep, 160 wide, and 280 long. The temple, left as a residual monolith, was 96 feet high. And here comes Fergusson's cold water: "...had the Kailas been an edifice of masonry situated on the plain, it would scarcely have attracted the attention of European travellers." It was its method of construction that fascinated visitors, but Fergusson points that that "it is considerably easier and less expensive to excavate a temple than to build one." It was easier, in other words, to chip away and haul off 400,000 tons of waste rock than "to quarry so much, move it, and raise and set it." He insisted that the "excavating process would cost a tenth" as much (i. 349).

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