The Elephanta caves are situated on Elephanta Island in taluka Uran, district Raigad on island hills about 11 km north-east of the Apollo Bandar, Mumbai and 7 km from the shore of the mainland, approximately covering an area of 7 km in circumference. The Elephanta Caves are also known as ‘Gharapuri Caves’.
The island, located on an arm of the Arabian Sea, consists of two groups of caves the first is a large group of five Hindu caves. Another, a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The rock-cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries and the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Also, The caves were designated as a World heritage site by UNESCO in 1987.
The origins of the temple caves, thought to date from about the 7th century, are obscure. It is known, however, that the island was originally called Gharapuri. The Portuguese renamed it Elephanta after they found a large stone elephant near their landing place. The figure collapsed in 1814 and was subsequently moved to the far-off Victoria Gardens and reassembled.
Architecture Of Elephanta Caves
The prime deity in the temple is Ardhanarishwara, a blend of half man and half woman representing Shiva and Parvathy. The temple which is a rock cut. It is designed based on the Hindu astrological knowledge base, clearly taking into account the geometrical “Mandala” and energy levels.
The main cave is universally famous for its carvings to the glory of Shiva, who is exalted in various forms and actions. The cave consists of a square plan mandapa whose sides measure about 27 m. The caves were originally built during the reign of the Rashtraputa kings. They contain huge images of Brahma, Parvati, Natraja, and Shiva.
The best and most famous of these is ‘Maheshmurti’ – a three-headed bust of Shiva which is about six meters high. At the very entrance to the cave, to the north of an esplanade reached by a steep flight of steps. The pilgrim or visitor to this high place of Shivaism is greeted by two large carved panels depicting. These are, on the left, Shiva Yogisvara (Master of Yoga) and, on the right, Shiva Nataraja (King of Dance), both treated in a monumental style still close to that of the Gupta period.
Also, Famous sculptures of Hindu caves are Ravana holding up the Kailash, Shiva-Parvati on Kailash, Ardhanarishvara, Trimurti, Wedding of Shiva, Linga, Nataraja, Kartikeya, Yogishvara, and Matrikas.
In the second group of caves, various Buddhist architectures can be spotted depicting numerous pictures of Gautam Buddha and several sculptures from Buddhist literature, Jatak Kathayein.
Elephanta Caves Timing and Entry Fees
The caves remain open on all days except Mondays from 9:00 am to 5 pm.
Entrance Fee: Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) – Rs. 10 per head.
Others: US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head (children up to 15 years free)
November to March is the ideal time to visit the island.
How to Reach
|By Road||Nearest Railway Station||Nearest Airport||Google Map|
|1. A distance between Mumbai – Elephanta Caves 7 km via catamarans||Mumbai||Mumbai|