anciently known as "Gharapuri" or the Fort Town, the island
capital of Konkan Mauryas, is celebrated for its colossal image of
Maheshamurti with three heads each representing a different form. Later
the Portuguese took possession of the island and as they first found a
monolith elephant the island was named Elephanta.
Many Faces Of Shiva - Elephanta Caves
There are seven caves out of which the most important is the
Mahesha-Murti cave. The main body of the cave, excluding the porticos on
the three open sides and the back isle, is 27 metres square and is
supported by rows of six columns each. The gigantic figures of
Dvarapalas, or doorkeepers here are very impressive.
The cave temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was excavated sometime in the
8th century by the Rashtrakuta Kings who ruled the area between AD
757-973. Elephanta closelyfollows the pattern of the Dumar Lena cave in
There are sculptured compartments in this cave with remarkable images
of Ardhanarisvara, Kalyana-Sundara Shiva, Ravana lifting Kailasha,
Andhakari-Murti (slaying of Andhaka demon) and Nataraja Shiva.
Elephanta - A Tourist Spot
Elephanta also makes an ideal holiday spot with plenty of pretty nooks
and corners as well as pleasant picnic spots to visit. For the ones
interested in archaeology and architecture Elephanta caves provide a
fascinating study in the rock architecture and sculptural art of India.