The elephanta cave, which houses one of the celebrated Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is off the coast of Mumbai.
It is declared as one of the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
It’s a collection of many caves with rich sculptures.
The statue of Lord Shiva as Trimurthi on the main cave at the Northern entrance is the centre of attraction and a celebration of Indian sculpture. The serene- yet gentle mood of Lord Shiva is noteworthy.
This remarkable sculpture depicts Shiva in his three-headed aspect: as Creator (facing right), Protector (the crowned face at the center), and Destroyer (facing left, with serpents for hair).
There are many other statutes; Lord Shiva being the central theme. One statue shows Shiva bringing the river Ganga down to Earth, letting it trickle through his matted hair. He is also depicted as Yogisvara, lord of Yogis, seated on a lotus, and as Shiva Nataraja, the many-armed cosmic dancer.
The entire complex was constructed through a process of rock removal.
The origin of these cave temples is still not clear. Historians cite many possibilities.
The modern history of the caves starts from the Portuguese rulers of Mumbai. They named it as Elephanta caves after a big Elephant statue that they saw here on arrival. Later the statue became mutilated. It was removed from the caves and now stands at Jija Matha Udyan in Mumabi. Many of Elephanta’s priceless statues were damaged or destroyed by the Portuguese, who apparently used the Hindu gods for shooting practice (!!!).
Now a spectacular dance festival is held at Elephanta Island every February, hosted by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTD).