Elephanta Caves

About ten kilometers north east of Apollo Bunder lies the island of Elephanta, the glorious abode of Lord Shiva. An epitome of Hindu cave culture, Elephanta consists of seven caves of which the most notable is the Mahesa-murti cave. It has a very impressive size with a main body of 27 meters square supported by rows of six columns each. The main temple consists of a large pillared mandapa (hall) and a freestanding square shrine at the west end of the hall. The pillars and reliefs in the cave are gigantic in scale. Set in various niches are a number of large reliefs depicting different aspects of Shaivaite iconography. Around the perimeter of the cave are sculptured compartments in this cave with images from the Hindu mythology. They depict Lord Shiva as Andhakasuravadha, impaling the demon of darkness, as Kalyanasundara-the gentle loving god, as Ardhanarishwara, Shiva and Shakti, male and female, Nataraja-Shiva as the cosmic dancer and as Ravana anugraha -the destroyer of enemies.

Construction of The Caves
The rock cut temples in Elephanta caves are carved out of rock. There are columns, internal spaces and images within these temples. The entire temple is related to a large sculpture. In fact one can walk through the corridors and chambers of this sculptured temple. Created through a process of rock removal, the entire complex is an interesting monument. Some of the rock surfaces here are finely finished whereas some are unfinished bare rock. The Elephanta rock caves are sprawled over a large area of about 60000 square feet. These temple caves consist of a main chamber, courtyards and several subsidiary shrines. There is also a mass of natural rock, above the temple. There are three entrances to the temple. The eastern and the western entrances mark the axis of the temple. There is a 20 pillared hall that lines the axis, and on its western end is a cell in which a Shivalingam enshrined.

The Mystical Images
The magnificent image of Sadasiva, a manifestation of Shiva, is carved in relief at the end of the north south axis. The stupendous 20 feet high image of the three headed Shiva, known as Trimurthy is a magnificent one. It is regarded as a masterpiece of Indian art. This huge image represents Panchamukha Shiva, whose only three faces are carved into the wall. It attracts your attention just as you enter the temple through the northern entrance. Along with this image there are grand sculptured images of Kalyanasundara, Gangadhara, Ardhanariswara and Uma Maheswara on the southern wall. Other sculptured images of Nataraja and andhakaasuravadamoorthy are to the west of the northern entrance and the images of Yogiswara and Ravanaanugrahamurthy are to its east.

Reach Elephanta Caves    
The Elephanta Island can be reached only by boat. Ferry rides are available from the Gateway of India and it takes just 15 minutes to reach the Elephanta Island. It is one of the most adventurous ride as the boat cruise up and down the wavy sea making it a life time experience.