All About Elephanta Caves Of Mumbai

One of the most perplexing sites in India, Elephanta caves is a stunning specimen of rock-cut architecture and sculptural art. It is located about 7 km away from Mumbai and has been declared as world heritage under UNESCO.  Once known as Gharpuri or Puri, the Elephanta island fell under the powerful coastal kingdom.  Several centuries later, the Portuguese took over its possession and named it Elephanta.  The historical marvel showcases legends of Lord Shiva through intricate carvings. It features two hillocks seceded by a narrow valley. The cave complex is dotted with numerous courtyards, shrines, grand halls, inner cells and exquisite stone sculptures that stand as the testimonies to the cave’s rich and glorious past. These archaeological remains also serve as evidence of inhabitation that prevailed in the area during the 2nd century BC.

Elephanta caves consist of 7 marvelously carved out caves out of which cave no. 1, measuring 39 meters from the front entrance to the back is the most significant. The huge excavation is supported by several rows of massive pillars with a square base, cushion capital, and fluted shafts. Three square recesses can be spotted bearing huge dwarapalas. The massive pillars are believed to have been constructed to support the rock. The most striking part leading to cave no. 1 is a 7-meter high masterpiece “Sadashiva” that dominates its entrance. Three aspects of the Shiva’s personality as a Preserver, Creator, and Destroyer are represented brilliantly by the sculpture. Cave number 3 again is a huge complex comprising cushion capital pillars. The rich carvings are evident on door panels that lead to the recesses but due to severe damage are difficult to decipher.  While this must have lured you enough to witness the marvel live, there are many other reasons that might compel you to plan Mumbai as your next vacay spot topping which is the fine dining in Mumbai. Now that you have already tasted the same in your imagination, let’s roll it back to where we were- The Caves!

The layout of all the caves including their placement, division and pillar components depict significant developments in rock-cut architecture. Despite originating from an old artistic tradition, Elephanta Caves serve as a refreshing and innovative glorification of historical developments.  With a perfect amalgam of sculptural beauty and aesthetic art, Elephanta  Caves reserves the right to awestruck any ordinary visitor.

The eastern side of the caves comprise of panels depicting Ravana in his mischievous avatar. There are also panels showcasing the entire family of Lord Shiva on Mount Kailasa in addition to recesses featuring saptamatrikas’ images. The cave no. 4 embraces a Shiva shrine, sculpted lion images at the entrance and a lingam in the sanctum.  Besides, there are also dwarpala figurines at the entrance that have been sculpted to perfection.  On walking up further, two cannons can be spotted which are believed to be used by the Portuguese.  There is also a museum inside.

The island can be reached from Gateway of India via ferry.  A walk of about a km, once you’ve reached the island would lead you towards the stairs that lead to the caves. If you don’t prefer walking, there is also a small train that can be taken to reach the flight of stairs.

After you are done with the cave expedition, a luxury hotel in Mumbai is ideally enough to cater to your relaxation needs.

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