Elephanta Caves - A dark cave on a tiny island, houses one of the most imposing examples of early rock- out architecture.

must see | MUMBAI

Elephanta Caves
The magnificent Elephanta caves, contains beautiful reliefs, sculptures, and a temple to the Hindu god Lord Siva. It is now been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Near the Gateway of India , I bought a ticket for Elephanta Island. The boats that carried people to Elephanta were colorful, crowded with people wearing colorful dresses.I could see container vessels, tankers and ships far away on the waters of the sea. It took us one hour to reach the island which is 9 km north-east to Gateway of India. At Elephanta, a guide attached himself to me and led the way to the cave temples.

I somehow admired the beauty of the caves, it was something that I have never seen before. Michalle told me that these caves are spread over an area of 500 sq mt, these are a complex of temples. The cave complex is a collection of shrines, courtyards, inner cells, grand halls and porticos arranged in the splendid symmetry of Indian rock-cut architecture, and filled with exquisite stone sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. At the entrance to the caves is the famous Trimurti, the celebrated trinity of Elephanta : there's Lord Brahma the Creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva the Destroyer The temple houses large pillars that seem to hold the ceiling which is made of cross beams. Opening out from three sides, the temple lets in light from many angles making the sculptures seem to move with the changing angles of light.
She also told me that in the month of February is the Elephanta Festival iscelebrated with great enthusiasm , "You know! that Indain artists perform outside the caves in the open, filling the atmosphere with dance, music and colour." informed Michalle.

As far as the hitory of the Elephanta Caves is concerned, Michalle gave me a briefing about them. Michalle is a post graduate in Indain history and she knows every bit of it by heart. She told me that the Elephanta caves are thought to date back to the Silhara kings belonging to the period between 9th - 12th centuries. With the Brahminical resurgence during the reign of Gupta dynasty in 3rd century AD, these great caves exploded into existence at Elephanta. Legends and history suggest that the great warrior prince of Chalukya dynasty Pulkesin ll raised the shrine to celebrate his victory. Some historians also suggest that the Kalchuri king Krishnaraja built these caves in 6th century AD. The island was the capital of the powerful coastal kingdom but later the Portuguese took possession of the island and as they first found a monolith elephant the island was named Elephanta. As the worship of the figure of the Buddha began to be encouraged with rise of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, a shrine was introduced to house Buddha's image, replacing the cells at the centre of the back wall. My exploration ended with short brush with Mumbai and I went back to my resort.

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