Elephanta Caves, India
Elephanta anciently known as Gharapuri, the island capital of Konkan Mauryas, is celebrated for its colossal image of Mahesamurti with three heads each representing a different form. The Elephanta Caves serve as a great tourist attraction in the vicinity of the large Mumbai metropolis. The Elephanta island is located 10 km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai in Maharashtra. The cave temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was excavated sometime in the 8thcentury by the Rashtrakuta kings, who ruled the area between A.D. 757-973.
The Elephanta caves is a conglomeration of seven caves, out of which the most important is the Mahesa-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 are very impressive.
There are sculptured compartments in this cave with remarkable images of Ardhanarisvara, Kalyana-sundara Shiva, Ravana lifting Kailasa, Andhakari-Murti (slaying of Andhaka demon) and Nataraja Shiva.
The cave complex has been given the status of world heritage by UNESCO.