The Elephanta caves are
located on the small Elephanta Island in the Arabian Sea, 10 km from the
gateway of India. This ultimate location is half an hour boat ride from the
Mumbai harbour. The Elephanta caves have already been listed in the UNESCO
World Heritage Site in the year 1987.
These rock cut old caves temples on the Elephanta island dates back to the
Shilhara Kings belonging to the 9th and the 12th century. It is believed
that the prince of Chalukya dynasty Pulkesin II, raised the huge shrine of
the Lord Shiva in order to celebrate his victory. While some of the
historians also suggests that the caves were built by the Kalchuri King
Krishnaraja in 6th century AD. The region was known as the Gharapuri or the
Places of caves in the ancient times. These caves were termed as the
Elephanta caves by the Portuguese, who found here the large elephant stone.
There are many priceless statues of the Elephanta caves which have been
destroyed by the Portuguese.
The Elephanta caves are the architecturally rich. The beautiful sculptures
as well as the art and craft of these caves are the archaeological treasure.
There are total of seven caves, which are located at the height of the 76
meters above the sea level. The entire work in the caves has been completed
through the process of rock removal. The whole complex of these caves
consists of inner cells, grand halls, portico's, shrines and courtyards. It
has a huge collection of exquisite stone sculptures of Hindu God and
The most interesting part of these caves is the 40 metre square main hall
with two wide columnades. On the western side you can check out the lingam
shrine symbolizing the Lord Shiva, which is guarded by the stone doorkeepers
leaning on the dwarfs. You can see the huge pillars carved from the rock.
The most exotic feature of the caves is the Maheshmurti, depicting the three
facets of Lord Brahma the creator, Lord Shiva the destroyer, and Lord Vishnu
the protector. On the left side of the Maheshmurti is the Ardhanarishvara,
Lord Shiva both as the male and the female. One of the sculpture shows how
Lord Shiva brings out the River Ganges on the earth through his hair. On the
other sculpture he is also seen as Yogisvara, the lord of the Yogis seated
on the Lotus and also as Shiva Nataraja the many named cosmic dancer.
The rate of the tickets are fixed, Rs 10 for the Indian and Rs 460 for the
foreigners. You can take the video cameras along with yourself, which are
charged for Rs 25. The caves remain open from 9:30 morning to 5:30 in the
Tourists can also be a part of the spectacular dance festival held in the
month of February every year on the Elephanta Islands. The festival hosts
many colourful dance program mes, performed by the renowned artists. The
festival is conducted by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Cooperation.