Ellora’s magnificent Kailasa Temple, also referred to as Cave 16, is probably its grandest and rightfully best-known structure. Fashioned out of a single excavated rock, the ornately carved megalith is believed to have been constructed in the 8th century AD during Rashtrakuta rule. To access the imposing structure’s top and enjoy sprawling views of the area, visitors usually have to take the ramp or the staircase. But if all goes to plan, two elevators for the imposing cave structure have been approved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Milan Kumar Chauley, superintendent archaeologist of Aurangabad circle, told PTI on Sunday.
The official added that the lifts will be small (approximately nine square feet in area and based on a hydraulic system) and installed on either side of the structure without any construction activity necessary. The hoist will help wheelchair-bound visitors or those with locomotion difficulties to cover the 107 feet that the temple runs for vertically, with greater ease. The steps of the staircase often prove too steep for elderly visitors.
In addition to the lifts—set to become the first ever to come up at a World Heritage Site under the ASI—earlier this year, local authorities also proposed rolling out EVs to boost connectivity in the cave complex. In-principle approval has also been granted for installation of lights at the site, sanitary-pad vending machines and counters for hiring guides.
Tourist numbers at the historical site have dropped over the pandemic, starting with 2020 when the reported losses in tourism revenue amounted to over ₹1,000 crore. The impact of COVID-19 was such that the total number of foreign tourists in Aurangabad in 2021 was a meagre 159. The city is a premier tourist destination in the region, offering a clutch of attractions including the Ajanta and Ellora caves, Bibi ka Maqbara, Daulatabad Fort, and is also a base for Lonar Lake and the Shirdi Saibaba Temple.
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Prannay Pathak dreams about living out of a suitcase and retiring to the island of Hamneskär to watch films in solitary confinement. He is Assistant Editor (Digital) at National Geographic Traveller India.