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Elephanta Caves (Gharapurichi Leni)

The Elephanta Caves are a complex of ancient cave temples on Elephanta Island, an hour-long ferry ride from Mumbai.

The Elephanta Caves are a  great tourist attraction in the vicinity of the large Mumbai meteropolis. The Elephanta island is located 10 km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai. These caves house rock cut temples dating back to the 5th century CE.

The origins of the temple caves, thought to date from about the 7th century, are obscure. It is known, however, that the island was originally called Gharapuri or Gharapurichi Leni - the Portuguese renamed it Elephanta after they found a large stone elephant near their landing place. The figure collapsed in 1814 and was subsequently moved to the far-off Victoria Gardens and reassembled.

Things to See:

Tour the Elephanta Caves or “City of Caves,” on a unique island. See a collection of rock art linked to the Shiva sect and discover Indian art at its most perfect expression in the high reliefs of the main cave.

Elephanta Island is quiet and picturesque, with light-green foliage and monkeys scampering about. Try not to bring food to avoid harassment by the monkeys.

One statue shows Shiva bringing the Ganges River 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.

Left of the Mahesamurti is Shiva as both male and female, Ardhanarishvara, an aspect suggesting the unity of all opposites.

Things to Do:

  • Visit the unique Elephanta Caves in the Sea of Arabia
  • Cruise over to Elephanta Island
  • Enjoy round-trip transfers
  • See one of the best examples of Brahmanical rock-cut architecture

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