Elephanta Caves

Slip into the thought-provoking monument, Elephanta caves in Mumbai that present an unmatchable rock-cut architectural beauty from the yesteryears. It is located in an offshore Elephanta Island which lies 10 km away from Mumbai. The site is replete with a string of Shiva cave temples adorned with sizeable sculptures, carvings and iconography overflowing with art forms. It is for the majestic beauty that garnered it a place in the list of UNESCO World heritage sites.

History aficionados frequent the place to get into the depth of its enigmatic history and marvel at the sublime craftsmanship. It will beckon you to the glory of Silhara Kings who reigned from the 9th to 13th century. Albeit, the sculptures of Shiva like imposing Ardhanarishwara (a half-Shiva, half-Parvati composite), the Nataraja and the Sadashiva emanate the traces of Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta. The masterpiece figure of Trimurti Shiva imbues the three supreme Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar.

Elephanta Island was earlier known as Gharapuri Island, which comprises two hillocks with a narrow valley in between. It is speckled with two groups of caves that house multiple temples majorly dedicated to Lord Shiva. Of all them, the most striking is Cave 1 spreading in an area of 39 m. This cave lies in the western hill and shares an uncanny resemblance with Dumar Lena cave at Ellora Caves in Aurangabad city. At its entrance, you will be greeted by an astounding 7 m tall sculpture of 'Sadashiva'. The enormous image depicts the three aspects of Shiva: the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer. Its left half exhibits Aghora or Bhairava; central full face depicts Taptapurusha or Mahadeva and the right half shows Vamadeva or Uma. The place is packed more such aesthetic and mind-blowing things to see serving as the testimony to prosperous era.

Take a step back in time and let its arcane charisma fill you with wonder and curiosity of the effort that wonderfully evolved as the quintessence of cave architecture.

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