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to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. These caves are located at a distance of 11km from Mumbai and are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island of Elephanta, being a commercial, military and religious center for centuries has traces of early Buddhist culture
The Elephanta Caves are a great tourist attraction in the vicinity of the large Mumbai meteropolis. The Elephanta island is located 10 km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai. These caves house rock cut temples dating back to the 5th century CE.
The island is easily accessible by ferry from Mumbai, being about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the south east coast of the island city. Boats leave daily from the Gateway of India, taking about an hour each way for the journey.
IF U WANT TO GO THERE The tickets for these can be bought at the Gateway itself (130 Rupees [round-trip ticket] for "luxury boats"; should you choose to sit on the upper deck of the boat you'll need to pay 10 Rupees more each way on the boat). The first ferry leaves at 9 am, the last at 2 pm. ABOUT IT
Known in ancient times as Gharapuri, the present name Elephanta, was given by 17th century Portuguese explorers, after seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant found here near the entrance. They decided to take it home but ended up dropping it into the sea because their chains were not strong enough. Later, this sculpture was moved to the Victoria and Albert Museum (now Dr Bhau Daji lad Museum) in Mumbai, by the British. The island has an area of 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi). It is located at approximately 18°57 N 72°56 E18.95°N 72.93°E. The area comes under the jurisdiction of the Raigad district in Maharashtra State. A narrow gauge train takes tourists along the 1 km pier to the base of the steps that lead to the caves. The island is thickly wooded with palm, mango, and tamarind trees. The island has a population of about 1,200 involved in growing rice, fishing, and repairing boats. It was once the capital of a powerful local kingdom. There are total three villages viz; Shentbandar, Morabandar, and Rajbandar, of which Rajbandar is known to be the capital. Caves and Stalls can be seen in Shentbandar. Morabandar has thick forest.
Above the temple is the mass of natural rock. courtyards and several subsidary shrines. false profiled beams have been carved in the roof of the cave and the supports. There are three entrances to this temple. bear a unique testimony to a civilization that has disappeared. The entire cave temple complex covers an area of about 60000 squrare feet and it consists a main chamber and two lateral ones . and are crowned with fluted cushion capitals. columns and capitals found in bonded stone architecture. Here. The entire complex was created through a process of rock removal. and on its western end is the cella in shich is enshrined a Shivalingam. one of which is unfinished. which are complex structures. consists of seven caves on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Mumbai which. the internal spaces and the images. the glorious abode of Lord Shiva and an epitome of Hindu cave culture. They constitute one of the most striking collections of rock-art in India. This elephant was cut into pieces. The island of Gharapuri. Stupa Hill (thus named because of a small brick Buddhist monument at the top) contains two caves. to the north of an esplanade reached by a steep flight of steps. The main cave is universally famous for its carvings to the glory of Shiva. There are two groups of caves. A 20 pillared hall lines the axis. the larger group consists of five rock-cut Hindu shrines. Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions. the shapes of the pillars. on the left. removed to Mumbai and somehow put together again. who is exalted in various forms and act ions. Some of the rock surfaces are highly finished while some are untreated bare rock. The whole shape carefully imitates a building. and several cisterns. The entire temple is akin to a huge sculpture. particularly in the huge high reliefs in the main cave. The date of the famous Elephanta Caves is still very much debated and varies from the 6th century to the 8th century according to different specialists. To the west. the great metropolis of Maharashtra State and India's second city population-wise. Shiva Yogisvara (Master of . the 'City of Caves'. It is today the melancholy guardian of Victoria Gardens Zoo in Mumbai. with their decorated temples and the images from Hindu mythology. owes its name to the enormous stone elephant found there by Portuguese navigators. The pillars consist of fluted columns standing on square bases. The ones on the east and the west marking the axis of the temple.HOW THEY R CONSTUCTED This rock cut temples were created by carving out rock. the pilgrim or visitor to this high place of Shivaism is greeted by two large carved panels depicting. To the east. The cave consists of a square plan mandapa whose sides measure about 27 m. and creating the columns. combine. At the very entrance to the cave. through whose corridors and chambers one can walk. The interior is divided up into smaller areas by rows of supports. from bottom to top. Long Description The island of Elephanta. situated about 10 km from Mumbai on the east side of the harbour.
Shiva receiving the waters of the Ganges (Gangadhara). Vamadeva. . androgynous Shiva (Ardhanarisvara) and. placed in each angle of the main hall and in the aisles to the east and west. such as the marriage of Shiva to Parvati. Ten other reliefs. On either side of this central figure there are two other reliefs depicting. particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave. Maharashtra Tourism organizes a colorful festival of classical music and dance in the third week of February each year. contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva.Yoga) and. It is the time when the Elephanta Island has an otherworldly look to it with sonorous music in the air and classical Indian dance conjuring a surreal impression on the audience. master of positive and negative principles of existence and preserver of their harmony. Shiva killing the devil Andhaka. situated some 75 meters above jetty level. who captured the island from the Sultan of Gujarat in 1535AD and named it so for its huge sculpted elephant. On each wall of the mandapa. A veritable spiritual retreat the locale of the Elephanta cave temple turns into virtual carnival during the weekends when day trippers from Mumbai converge for merrymaking. Here. terrifying destroyer. symbol of the Supreme Being and principle of all energy. The island is specifically popular among tourists for its number of cave temples also called Elephanta caves. both treated in a monumental style still close to that of the Gupta period. is the famous and unforgettable three-headed bust of the Mahadeva. enormous high-reliefs (maximum height 5. the Elephanta cave is a worth visit. on the left. Indian art has found one of its most perfect expresElephanta Island is also called Gharapuri Island or place of caves. etc. closely follows the pattern of the Dumar Lena cave in Ellora.sions. It is one among a number of islands in Mumbai harbor. to the east. Aghora or Bhairava. depict further episodes from the legend of Shiva. This chapel has four doors.out architecture. those mediator guardians whose task was to admit the faithful and keep out ill-intentioned visitors. on the right. and in the centre. Opposite the entrance. Elephanta caves have imposing examples of early rock. which have been carved out of rock. This temple was excavated sometime in the 8th century by the Rashtrakuta kings who ruled the area between AD 757-973. Shiva Nataraja (King of Dance). east of Mumbai. on the south wall. The cave temple in Elephanta is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Elephanta name owes to the Portuguese. to the west.70 m) present further pictures of Shiva. The cave temple. Not of the high tenor as the Ajanta or Ellora caves. In a chapel on the right of the entrance stands the cylindrical lingam. The 15 large reliefs surrounding the lingam chapel in the main Elephanta Cave not only constitute one of the greatest examples of Indian art but also one of the most important The 'City of Caves'. creator of joy and beauty. incarnated by a woman's head. Tatpurusha. each flanked by colossal figures of dvarapala. on the right. on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Bombay. whose three faces are the incarnation of three essential functions.
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