Elephanta Caves: A Fancy Blend Of Heritage And Thrill

Elephanta Caves, a cluster of Shiva and Buddhist rock-cut temples near Mumbai, is a unique blend of art and legacy. Nobody knows for sure who created these caverns or when they were built, but there is little doubt that these centuries-old caves are among India’s greatest rock-cut architecture. The cave complex is roughly 10 kilometres from Mumbai Harbour. To get to the site, you’ll need to take a ferry from the Gateway of India. From Apollo Bunder, near the Gateway of India, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) runs ferries to Elephanta Island.

Elephanta Caves Architecture

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai: How To Reach, Best Time & Tips

On Elephanta Island, there are two sets of caves, each with a rock-cut architectural style. The caves encompass an area of 60,000 square feet and are cut out of solid basalt rock. There are five caves in the bigger of these two groups, each with numerous Hindu sculptures. The smaller group at the site includes two Buddhist caves, as well as water tanks and a Stupa.


Each cave has been sculpted into the shape of a rock-cut temple, complete with a large central chamber, courtyards, two lateral chambers, and minor shrines. Cave 1, also known as the Grand Cave, is the largest of the group, measuring 39 metres from entrance to back. This cave temple is primarily dedicated to Lord Shiva, and it contains a number of structures and carvings depicting the deity in various incarnations.

Elephanta Caves: History

The ancient carvings at Elephanta Caves are fading, and no one cares - The  Hindu
The interiors of the caves are a sight to behold

The Elephanta Caves’ early history is unknown, but many historians agree that the temples and reliefs on the site date from the 5th through 9th centuries. The site is on Elephanta Island, also known as Gharapuri, which means “village of caves” in Marathi. Elephanta was given to the caves and the island by Portuguese conquerors after they acquired control of the area in 1534. The discovery of a massive rock-cut sculpture of an elephant on the island prompted them to give the location that name. The island came under the control of colonial British overlords in 1661.


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