Elephanta Caves are well known for its Hindus sculptures. The inner walls of the caves have various sculptures of the gods from the Hindu mythology that appear in almost same sizes. At the end of the north-south axis, the image of Trimurti, a manifestation of Lord Shiva
is carved. The colossal 20-feet high image of Sadashiva Shankara is a three-headed structure called Trimurti. This famous statue depicts the three aspects of Shiva as creator, preserver and destroyer. The head from the left is believed as the life-giving Shakti
of Shiva, Uma
, while the head from the right shows him as Rudra
, a fearful figure with hanging snakes in his hair and neck. The noteworthy face is the swarupa or true self of Shiva, who is calm and serene giving blessings with right hand.
At the doorways giant dwarapalas and their attendants work as guards. The appearance of the dwarapalas is carved with all minute details of sculptured image. The shrine itself has a meter- high lingam of Shiva. In the main mandapa, at the four corners various images depicting Shiva in different moods are noteworthy. The carving of Shiva as Ardhanarishwara seems to be important as in this form he combines the female and the male aspects in his own self. There is also a panel with Ardhanarishvara
, depicting the descent of the heavenly river Ganga to earth is carefully carved. Along with Ganga
and Saraswati rivers are marked.
An individual and distinct image of Shiva is placed at the centre of the pillared hall. This allowed light to infiltrate the darkest depth of the cave. Lord Shiva`s image is a major attraction. In relation to the three entrances, it is arranged on such a place that is receiving the accurate amount of light. The light is falling on image. This image has become the focus of the entire temple as it is placed in a chamber at the end, away from the entrance. In sculptures of the cave minor decorative carvings are less. Such carvings are employed only to heighten the effect of the monumental sculpted panels depicting Shiva in myriad forms.
In the vestibule of the cave one notices a carving of Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja
, the god of dance at the right & at the left Lakulisa is sculptured. This image is carved in the Buddhist mould that shows a 7th century priest engaging in an activity of reabsorbing Buddhism
. He is sculptured as seated on a lotus, which is the symbol of enlightenment.