Elephanta caves are a group and Hindu and Buddhist caves located 10 kilometers east of Mumbai in the Mumbai harbor. It is basically an island in the Arabian sea.
It is a group of caves that is also famous by the name of “City of Caves” and is located at Mumbai Harbor which is about 10 kilometers away from the main Mumbai city. It is a very popular tourist destination in Mumbai.
Tourists generally reach Elephanta caves with the help of special boats that have been specially introduced for the purpose of taking tourists to the Elephanta caves.
They are situated to the East of Mumbai and count as a very famous tourist destination in the state of Maharashtra. It is basically an island which is located in the middle of the Arabian Sea.
Elephanta Caves Information
|UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription||–||1987|
|UNESCO Site Id||–||244|
|Construction||–||mid-5th to 6th centuries A.D.|
|Timings||–||9:00 AM to 5:30 PM|
History of Elephanta Caves
There is no registered history of these caves and as these caves are divided into two groups that are Hindu caves and Buddhist caves, it is believed that the Hindu caves were established by the Pandavas.
Pandavas were the great warrior brother mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Some other stories suggest that these caves were built by Banasura who was a demon but also was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, who is more popularly known as the “Neelkanth”.
The story of the Pandavas is more reliable because the Pandavas lived in exile for many years and Maharashtra was one of the states in which they were supposed to have stayed for a very long time.
These caves could have very well been the home of the Pandavas during their exile period. As for the Buddhist caves they were supposed to be built by the Buddhist monks to tell the story of Buddha and his teachings.
These Buddhist caves are similar to the Ajanta caves and the Ellora caves. These caves are also Buddhist caves and tell the story of Buddha’s enlightenment through paintings, sculptures and inscriptions and carvings on the walls and ceilings.
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The Architecture of Elephanta Caves
The architecture of the Elephanta caves can be divided into two parts. Group 1 caves cover the maximum majority of the whole Elephanta caves and are a group of Hindu caves. While group 2 caves are a randomly smaller group of caves and are basically Buddhist caves.
These caves are believed to be constructed from the 5th to 8th century. The rocks used in the construction of Elephanta caves are solid basalt rocks.
They perfectly painted in the times but with moving times the paintings are sculptures have degraded and only traces of the original painting or sculpture can be seen. It is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The Elephanta caves are generally rock-cut architecture. The Hindu set of caves is totally dedicated to Lord Shiva and is therefore also known as the Shaivya Caves.
They were a Hindu worship ground till the starting of the 15th century. But the Portuguese invasion in the 15th century put an end to that.
Before the Portuguese, this island was known by the name of “Gharapuri” but the Portuguese named this island as Elephanta after seeing the huge elephant on its gateway. That is how this island is known as Elephanta and the caves called Elephanta Caves.