Some important info : Timings : 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM , Mondays closed.
Carry DSLR camera for best results as its all dark inside the caves, p.s. a torch too shall be handy, esp. for the famous Mahesh Murti.
there are seven rock cut caves at the sites. Examples of Rock cut architecture, is a distinctive feature of Asian Indian art particularly of Maharashtra about 1500 rock cut caves, from the 2 nd centuary B.C. to the 13th centuary A.D. In fact the earliest Hindu rock cut shrine is in Mumbai itself, The Jogeshwari Caves, is believed to be the first Hindu temple.assigned to the first half of 6th centuary A.D.
The Main Cave
So let's get started with our entrance to the Main cave at Elephanta.
The Main cave at Elephanta can be considered as one among the most impressive Hindu temple in India. Colossal bust of Shiva, the presiding deity is carved in the southern wall. The principal figures are larger than life and are marked by forceful gestures and postures.In fact the cave is almost identical to the dumar lena of Ellora cave no. 29.
The Main Sculptures
Shiv as Mahayogi / Lakulisha
The first most eminent sculpute that we noticed was the Shiva as Mahayogi / Lakulisha, seated in the yogic posture , Padamasana , on a lotus, wearing the Jata Mukuta. In fact the identification of the image as Lakulisha is sometimes questioned as it seems to represent Shiva as mahayogi.
Ravan shaking Kailasha
Ravananugraha : Shiva and Parvati are depicted seated on Mount Kailash in the upper portion of the portrayal, while Ravana, lifting the mount is portrayed in the lower register.In the upper register, the central figures are the four-armed Shiva and to his left hand side, Parvati, who clings to her husband with her two arms flung around him.Shiva is calm, comforting his terrified consort, embracing her with one or two arms.
Ardh narishwar Shiv
The union of Shiv and Shakti , the half male and half female form of the God , the left side of female and the right being male, representing God Shiva as the God of Creation. This figure is four armed and the two left hands that of the female part, holds a mirror in the upper left while the lower left is resting in waist probably holding the tuft of the lower garment. One of his right hands rests on Nandi’s left horn, Shiva's mount. The other right hand holds a serpent. Shiva is surrounded on all sides by different Hindu God and devotees; Brahma, Vishu, Indra, Varun, Kartikeya besides attendants such as fly whisk bearers.
The right side of the God represents Aghora or Rudra which is the destroyer aspect.
The central one is characterized by gentle expression with half closed eyes in deep meditation.
The third head on the left side of God is known as Vama-deva (Uma). the female form , as in this aspect he is the preserver of the universe. The face is fringed by ringlets on the forehead which can be seen below the jata mukuta. A bangle is seen on the left hand holding a lotus.
Kalyan Sundar Murti
In south India the ritual of marriage is called Kalyanam so the panel showcasing the marriage of shiv and Parvati is kalyan sundar murti. The main figure of Lord Shiva is of gigantic proportions about 3.30 mt. in height. and Parvati though smaller than Shiva is also quite tall. both are shown standing, Parvathy to shiva's right, Shiv holding the hand of the bride.
Kalyan Sundar Murti is beautifully evident at Ellora Caves and also at Anwan group of temples of Hadoti region.
Andhakasura vadha Murti
Andhakasur murti of Shiva is an ugra form of God. It is undoubtedly a masterpiece.
Siva as Natraj
Saivagamas described a total of 108 dancing postures of Siva. According to some scholars the Natraj image of Elephanta represents the Lalita variety of dancing of Lord Shiva.
The Eastern wing
Elephanta Caves is undoubtedly a blend of marvellous pieces of sculptures which are not just stones or rocks but an example for human kind to be positive and look forward with a fresh approach with a faith in himself and in God.
The Experience of visiting Elephanta Caves not only gave us an insight to the various forms of Siva but also got us acquainted to the various reasons why we consider him as the Supreme Power of creation and destruction, both birth and death. -Dr. Sushma Ahuja