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Shubhyatra >> Maharashtra Yatra >> Elephanta Caves

Elephanta Caves

Location : Elephanta Island, 10 km from Mumbai
Established By : Silhara Kings from 810 to 1260 AD
Famous As : UNESCO World Heritage Site
What To Do : Watching Trimurti Sculpture, Halls, Idols and Cruising

Elephanta Caves - Island of Reverence

Elephanta Caves
Elephanta Caves

Elephanta Caves Tour

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.

Elephanta – Ninth Century Wonder

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.

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Art That Depicts God's Different Facets

"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
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.

Visit These 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.

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Getting There

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

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Top 5 Reasons to Visit Elephants Caves

Elephanta Caves

Elephanta – City of Rocks
Visit this city of rocks and its mesmerizing beauty will arrest your senses, the majestic stone sculpture and the art work on its walls needs to be observed keenly as it is the definition of beauty for the people of aesthetic sense.

Trimurti – Sculpture of Faith
The three headed Shiv's stone sculpture on the entrance of the cave reminds you about the three Gods Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver and Maheshwar, the destroyer. Pay a tribute to Lord Shiva and you will be blessed.

Origin of The Name Elephanta
The Elephanta came to be known by this name only after Portuguese came across the huge stone sculpture of Elephant on the shore of this island and called it Elephanta Island.

To See Inside the Cave
The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the Basic attraction besides you can see the collection of shrines, grand halls, courtyard and porticoes designed in the perfect alignment

Music and Dance Festival
Every year MTDC organizes a festival of music and dance in the vicinity of the Elephanta caves. The world renowned musicians and dancers perform in this festivals and it is a real opportunity to see them perform live.

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