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Elephanta Caves

Location: Near Mumbai
Carved Between: 9th And 12th Centuries AD
Designated As: World Heritage Site
Famous For: Lord Shiva temple

Elephanta Caves in MaharashtraElephanta 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 Ellora.

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.

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