Elephanta Caves

Elephanta caves are Declared as the World Heritage Site, Elephanta caves are situated on Elephanta Island in Mumbai harbor. The island located in Arabian Sea has two groups of caves. One of these caves are dedicated to Hindu sect Shaiva and second the smaller one is dedicated to Buddhism. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries. The caves were designated as World heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. 

Although the identity of the creators of the architecturial masterpieces built in Elephant Caves is disputed, it is believed that the Chalukyas and later Rashtrakutas are the creators among many others. 

Elephanta was ruled by another Chalukyan dynasty, and then by Gujarat Sultanate, who surrendered it to the Portuguese in 1534. By then, Elephanta was called Gharapuri, which indicates a hill settlement. 

The island of Elephants are  1.5 miles in length with two hills rising to a height of about 500 ft. A deep ravine cuts through the heart of the island from north to south. On the west, the hill rises gently from the sea and stretches east across the ravine and rises gradually to the extreme east to a height of 568 ft. 

The two hills of the island, the western and the eastern, have five rock-cut caves in the western part and a brick stupa on the eastern hill on its top, composed of two caves with few rock-cut cisterns. 

The island has two groups of caves in the rock cut architectural style. Five caves situated on the western hills of the Island are devoted to the Hindu sect Shaiva and various Hindu sculptures are chiseled in these caves. Famous sculptures of Hindu caves are Ravana holding up the Kailash, Shiva-Parvati on Kailash, Ardhanarishvara, Trimurti, Wedding of Shiva, Linga, Nataraja, Kartikeya, Yogishvara, and Matrikas . 

In the second group of caves, various Buddhist architectures can be spotted depicting numerous pictures of Gautam Buddha and several sculptures from Buddhist literature, Jatak Kathayein. 

Although, a numbers of caves have been ruined during the Portuguese period and several damaged by various means, Elephant Caves still presents a rich heritage of ancient history to the tourist. More and more people visit Elephanta Caves to witness the Architectural masterpieces preserved in the caves of Elephanta. 

Elephanta Caves is located on Elephanta Island in Mumbai Harbour. The island is situated in Arabian Sea and has a length of 1.5 miles. While one group of the caves is dedicated to Shaiva sect of Hinduism, the other group of caves is dedicated to Buddhism. The rock-cut architecture of the caves dates back to the period between 5th to 8th centuries. In 1987, the UNESCO designated the Elephanta Caves as a World Heritage Site. 

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