A short ferry ride from the Apollo Bunder near Gateway of India takes you to the island of Elephanta Caves also known as the Gharapuri in the local language meaning fortress city. These rock cut caves belong to the ninth century and are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Visit this island approachable only by ferry and you will be amazed to see the rock cut caves lying in the midst of this island.
The rock cut caves of the Elephanta dates back to ninth through 13th century (810-1260) of the Silhara kings and some sculptures where added to this site by the imperial Rashtarkutas of Manyakheta, now Karnataka. It was only in the 16th century that this island was named Elephanta by the Portuguese when they came across a 13 foot high stone elephant standing in greeting on the shore. After this mighty stone sculpture of Elephant collapsed in 1814 the Britishers relocated it in the Victoria gardens of Mumbai zoo where it stands even today. So a visit to Mumbai zoo is mandatory for all the tourists to see the elephant sculpture that has given a name to the Island of Elephanta caves.
"The three countenances of the One Being are here
harmonized without a trace of effort. There are few material
representations of the divine principle at once as powerful and as well
balanced as this in the art of the whole world".
Historian Grousset points out about the Trimurti.
Trimurti at Elephanta Caves
On the entrance of the cave you will be welcomed by
Trimurti, the most celebrated trinity in Elephanta. This three headed
sculpture of the Lord Shiva represents the three faces of Lord Brahma,
Lord Vishnu and Lord Maheshwar. One shows the young man with sensuous lips
and holds something in hand resembles a rose bud and this is the face of
Shiva that is closest to Brahma, the creator. The other face on the side
shows the young and angry mustachioed man, this is Lord Shiva as Rudra, a
destroyer. And there is central face where the Shiva is in deep meditation
praying for the preservation of humanity and this is Shiva as preserver.
The other sculpt present in the cave complex are Rashtrakuta, relief of
Natraja, Sadashiva and splendid sculptures of Ardhanarishvara.
Inside the cave you can find collection of shrines, courtyard, inner cells, grand halls and porticoes designed in the perfect symmetry. The exquisite stone carvings and sculpt of Hindu gods and goddesses adore the cave complex and represent the most perfect expression of the Indian Art. Besides the sublime beauty of these rock cut caves this place blesses you with the spiritual energy of India. This famed island is also a designated UNESCO's World Heritage Site.
The best time to visit this place is during the Elephanta classical music and dance festival held ever year in the month of February by the Maharashtra Tourist Development Corporation (MTDC) in the backdrop of caves where the world renowned artists perform in live concerts and bring life to the audiences. It is the perfect getaway place where you can spend some time watching the mighty colossal statues inside the cave complex and intricate design on the walls of caves and listening to the roaring sound of tidal waves on its shores, the greenery on its hills is really pleasing. So come and let us enjoy.
To get to the Elephanta caves just 10 kilometers from Mumbai there is launches and catamarans available after every half-hour from the Gateway of India. The service is open throughout the season but is subjected to weather conditions. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) also conducts daily tours to the island
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Elephants Caves
Elephanta City of Rocks
Trimurti Sculpture of Faith
Origin of The Name Elephanta
To See Inside the Cave
Music and Dance Festival
Caves and Beaches
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