A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Elephanta Caves are a collection of cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva…
Holding ancient caves dating from 6th century, those of you who are looking to relive the spirit of Buddhism and Hinduism can do so right there, through the fascinating stone reliefs and rock statues honoring the cult of Shiva, among other deities. The artwork encompassing the temples include stone structures cut into the very rock walls of the caves depicting gods- of both Hindu and Buddhist origin. In fact, the caves that make up the collective we call the Elephanta Caves include five Hindu temples and two Buddhist temples. The caves are intricately designed with their sculptures and wall carvings often bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Shiva temple in the Ellora caves.
Even though most of these caves are now delipidated- mainly because most statues were used as target practice by Portuguese soldiers who took control of the Elephanta Island in the 1500s, the overall design of the caves is able to convey the scale of grandeur they undoubtedly once possessed. Luckily ever since being recognized as a heritage site, efforts have been made to maintain the cave temples to prevent any more damage in the future.
And better yet, all this is only an hour ride away from the bustling city, so even those of you desiring a moment of quiet will find Elephanta an enjoyable experience as the sights provide a charming, serene view of the Arabian sea. Though the heart of this tour is inarguably the Great Cave, which spans almost 40 meters and prides itself with impressive architecture, along with many entrances that are symbolically aligned for the passage of sunlight during the dawn. The sacred statues residing within it watch over the visitors, the stone telling century-old tales of medieval kings and worship of mysticism.
Experiencing this tour can be done in many options, either with a guide or individually, as all the information on the statues can be read in the small museum nearby. Additionally, the pace of the tour is self-determined, as people can trek through the system of caves freely, taking pauses along the way to enjoy the nature, or stop by the restaurant to refill their energy. Everything is within reach in this island, though the despite its name, there are no elephants.
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Just a few miles off the Mumbai Harbour from the Gateway of India, you will find the beautiful Elephanta Island, home to one of the country’s most mesmerizing and historic monument: The Elephanta Caves.
Seemingly a small island near the coast of Mumbai, the Elephanta Island represents one of the oldest, UNESCO protected landmarks of both Indian history and religion.
Elephanta Island which is also called the city of caves. The Elephanta Island has originated 10 Km away from the Gateway of India in Mumbai. It trusts that Elephanta island can be a flawless strategy to treasure out about Hindu God Lord Shiva courting to 4th to 5th century, BC. The Elephanta Island was termed by the Portuguese, as soon as the sculpture connected with an elephant close to the landing section of the island. The whole Island is a UNESCO World Inheritance Testimonial.
Two teams of rock-cut cave temples come in island five Hindu caves and two Buddhist caves. Hindu caves are located more on the west, even though the high hill towards the east from ravine possesses a brick stupa at the top and a couple Buddhist caves with few rock-cut cisterns.
The caves take prescription an island about 7 miles (11 kilometers) from Mumbai’s city center. Boats depart from the Gateway of India pier about every half an hour, having a 1-hour journey time. Spend the money for an extra fee to take a seat included upper deck for impressive views of Mumbai’s harbor. Admire landmarks including the Gateway to India along with the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
Trimurti in Elephanta Caves
There are amazing things happening in one of the world’s most populated city that is worth exploring. You may wonder what this could be, I am talking about Trimurti in Elephanta caves, Mumbai.
Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism which connotes three forms. It represents where creation, destruction, and maintenance are personified by the three gods; Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. They are also considered to represent the three earth’s elements, here we talk about the water and fire and the live birth stages; then life and death.
Trimurti in Elephanta cave is not far from Mumbai. It is about 10 kilometers away from Mumbai. You can reach this place from the gateway of India with the use of the ferry. The three heads Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva actually represent Creation, destruction, and protection.
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The Unique Features of Trimurti in Elephanta Caves
The three head depict some unique features which are discussed below.
The right-hand side of the faces depicts a young person with gorgeous lips which shows the vitality of life. It has an object in the hand that also display the promise of creativity and life. It is believed that this side of the face is closest to that of Brahma, the one who is believed to have created Vemadeva or Uma. There is also the feminine side of Shiva which is believed to be the creator of beauty and joy.
The left side of the face is like that of mustache young man with anger on the face. This side of the face displays the terrifying Bhairava or Aghora the one with great fury. This face represents Rudra-Shiva, the one who destroys.
There is also a meditative and benign side of the face. This is the central face which represents Vishnu. This is believed to be the preserver that is known as “Tatpurusha”, which means the master of positive and negative principles that guide the existence and the preserver of their unity or harmony.
On the Trimurti’s right side, the image that can be easily spotted is Gangadhara, which is a group of divinities gathered around the central figures of Parvathi and Shiva. In this statue, Lord Shiva is shown bearing the Ganges River as she falls away from heaven. The height of the carving about 17 feet and the width is about 13 feet. The damage on the image is highly noticeable, mostly the lower part. In the statue, Lord Shiva has four arms which are adorned with ornaments, she sat with Goddess Parvathi. There is a cup that is displayed which has a triple-headed female like the figure from the crown that which represent the three rivers of that are considered sacred. The rivers are the Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswathi.
Gangadhara: A Relic of Ancient Thought
For at least as long as we have been recording history, and almost certainly for much longer than that, the human race has striven for a deeper understanding of the world. The architectural and sculptural representations of our findings and beliefs have been the foundation of this journey. The Gangadhara, which can be found at the Elephanta Caves near the Indian city of Mumbai, is a relic of this kind. This mysterious piece of human history, yet to be understood – and might yet prove never to be – is a sculpted representation of Lord Shiva standing beside his wife Parvati. Lord Shiva is a pivotal figure in the Yogic tradition and belief system. Lord Shiva’s messianic status is not only a result of the mythology synonymous with his name, as he is also understood to have been a man of flesh that once walked the earth.
He was a man who, by the definition observed in Eastern belief systems i.e. Hinduism and Buddhism, to name the most prevalent – achieved holiness. A holiness defined not as perfection, but rather an integration with the imperfect and darker aspects of the psyche. This holiness constituted an indifference to worldly affairs, combined with a journey towards the ultimate understanding of the human condition. A journey that the fruit of which has subtly but significantly contributed to the general man’s understanding of consciousness. The most important factor of which is the destruction of the ego, which leads to one’s true understanding of Self. An understanding which today, thousands of years later, remains unsurpassed in sophistication. This ties in with the more mythological aspect of Shiva, as he is additionally believed to be the God of Death and Destruction – at the heel of Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Preserver. The three of whom are bound to an eternal tug-of-war between creation and destruction. One of many historical and mythological representations of chaos and order.
In this particular sculpture, Shiva stands beside Parvati, one of his numerous love stories in his long journey. Parvati is the most famous of Shiva’s wives, thanks in no small part to the Gangadhara and the influence of the Elephanta Caves in general. These are love stories within which each partner bears high esteem in their own right, and are praised and worshipped as Goddesses. As each of Shiva’s wives was a specific representation of the divinity of femininity. Parvati, in particular, is the Goddess of Love and Romance. The story she shares with Shiva is one of sacrifice and the ultimate in romantic gestures. She observed a lengthy penance with no food, water or clothing for shelter. This was all in an attempt to woo by finding common ground – the rigorously disciplined and cold Shiva, who was only expressing an interest in his meditations and internal journey. This gesture moved Brahma, who subsequently provided her with a boon. The wish she was granted was to become an immense beauty which Shiva could not resist. He then accepted her and married her, even the holiest of men is still a man.
It is stories such as these and relics such as the Gangadhara which connect us to our ancient ancestors and their teachings and the belief systems. In modern society, we may know more about what things are and how to use them. However, when we turn to the biggest questions, such as how we came to be and what it means to be alive. We know just about as the sculptors of relics such as the Gangadhara. Long may they stand and perhaps become the key to our further education.
Elephanta Caves timing and days, Mumbai-
9:30 AM- 5:30 PM
Elephanta Caves Entry fees-
10 INR- Indian, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan,
250 INR- Other foreign citizens
10 INR– For Villagers
25 INR- For carrying Video camera inside.
For carrying the camera, it is free.
Ferry timing- 9:00 Am to 5:00 PM
How to reach
By Airway- Mumbai airport.
By Railway- Mumbai junction.
By Road- You can take a taxi to reach the Gateway of India.