The Elephanta Caves are situated in the Elephanta Island which is in the heart of Mumbai city, in the state of Maharashtra, India. UNESCO listed the Elephant caves as the World Heritage Site in 1987.
The name was kept by the Portuguese when they passed through the elephant statue of 13 foot at the door. The Elephanta Caves comprise an area of about 6000 square feet. The temples inside the caves were created as a practice of rock carving and the removal of rock. The temple complex consists of additional shrines, courtyard and a hall. Inside the caves, there are several rock temples, which belong to the 5th century. In the main cave of the temple, there is a huge three headed statue of Lord Shiva displayed in three different forms. The three different forms resemble Lord Shiva as the Destroyer, inventor and preserver.
The temples stand as a fine example of great architecture. Inside the temple, there is a large space, descriptions of the ancient past history and columns. The temples are created in such a way that one can freely move inside the temple. The temple three main entrances, the entrances from the east and west spot the temple axis. To the western end of the temple, a 20 pillared hall is situated, where a Shiva lingam (a symbol of Lord Shiva) is placed.
To the ends of north and south points of the temple, there is a 20 feet high Lord Shiva, portraying him as a three headed, also known as Trimurthy (three), which stands as a masterwork in the Indian Architecture. Also, the image of Panchamukha Shiva (an image having five faces) is carved on the walls. On the southern wall, there are majestic images of Ardhanariswara Uma Maheswara Gangadhara and Kalyanasundara. Also, there are Andhakaasuravadamoorthy and Natraja, Ravanaanugrahamurthy and Yogiswara images at the north entrance gate.
In the present days, the Elephant Caves is a great tourist destination spot. The Maharashtra government organizes the Elephant Festival every year where dance events and illumination of lights is being conducted.
Traveling to Elephant Caves
The only way to reach the Elephant caves is by boat. At the gateway of India, several boats are available frequently, which takes about 15 minutes. In addition, there is cruise and the journey on the cruise is really adventurous.