Elephanta Caves: The 6th century old Elephanta Cave temples are located on an island along Mumbai’s eastern shore. The temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The caves contain some great masterpieces of Indian sculptures. Originally theElephanta Caves place was called Gharapuri or Fort City but was renamed as Elephanta by the Portuguese. The Elephanta Caves have been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and can be reached by boats from the Gateway of India.
A pleasant half an hour motor-boat ride from the hustle and bustle of city life brings one to the vicinities of the famous Elephanta caves located in the quiet island by the same name. This island is home to a series of seven magnificient rock cut caves which dates from the 4th-9th centuries A.D. These caves are situated at a height of about 76metres above sea-level. The most impressive of these caves has a 40 metre square main hall with two wide columnades. At the western end of the hall, there is a lingam shrine which stands guarded by stone doorkeepers leaning on dwarfs. The lingam symbolic of lord Siva is still worshipped by devotees during festivals. One of the most striking features of this cave is the 6m high Maheshmurti, the three headed bust of lord Siva depicting his three facets-creator, destroyer and protector. Besides, the cave contains a series of nine massive sculptured panels which show various incidents in the life of lord Siva and other dramatic moments from Hindu mythology. These are chiselled with immense artistic finesse.